While it can be simple to say that you made a mistake and that it is now time to move on, allowing yourself to be rid of the guilt you feel after cheating is another matter completely.

This is because, in order to truly move forward with your life, you have to pull that dishonest behavior out from behind the reasoning and truly take a look at it.

You must acknowledge that you put your wants above your partner’s feelings and in doing so, disrespected them. In being selfish, you lied and manipulated another human being to get what you want.

This is devastating, not only for your partner but also for you, as taking the steps in forgiving yourself after cheating will be a difficult and long road. We are here to help you figure it out.

Step One: You must acknowledge what you have done

The first inclination is to keep it secret, but if you do then you will never be able to release the guilt that you feel.

Justifying keeping it a secret with thinking like, “my spouse doesn’t need the pain” is just you avoiding acknowledgement.

Understand that most affairs happen because the people who cheat, are not happy with their lives or their partners. They happen when you are at your most vulnerable.

In acknowledging the cheating, you are opening yourself up to truly exploring why you are unhappy.

Step Two: Come clean and don’t play the deny card

One of the biggest struggles you will face is coming to terms with the fact that you need to come clean and this can result in you losing everything you know - your partner, your family, and maybe even your home.

In all honesty, this is going to hurt, a lot. However, if you want to heal from the guilt and pain, you must come clean.

In being honest with your partner, you are showing a sign of respect and, in turn, being honest with yourself. This allows you to take responsibility for what you did and own the transgression.

If your partner is not aware of the situation, tell them, regardless of whether you have kids, a house, or a family business.

Why? Until you do, the truth will fester and when they do eventually find out, you will lose out on everything you have.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be and the more likely the severity of the consequences. If your partner is suspicious, do not play the deny card.

You cannot forgive yourself fully while still lying to your partner about it. Please understand that your partner is under no obligation to accept your apologies or to forgive you.

Step Three: Stop demonizing yourself and explore what you want

You are not a bad person. Read that again. Mistakes happen but you owe it to yourself to explore why they happen and what you need to do about it.

Understanding the core reasoning underneath will prevent you from making future mistakes.

It is time to get real with yourself.

Once you understand why you cheated, accept it as truth.

Then ask yourself what you want from life. If you want to continue down the road with your partner, see if they are willing to go to counseling with you to try and work things out.

If they don’t, or you want to move on, tell them the truth and then take the necessary steps to move forward.

Step Four: Understand that excuses set you up for cheating again

When you create excuses for yourself, you dig yourself further into the hole.

It’s all bullshit and you know it.

Yes, one thing may have led to another, but you had a choice of whether to have sex or not, and you chose to.

Excuses are pointless and set you up to cheat again. Why?

Providing yourself with excuses allows you to justify and rationalize the situation in such a way that it paints you as the victim.

We do this to avoid taking responsibility and the pain that comes with stepping up.

Step Five: Change your mindset

While the steps above will help you get to the forgiving stage, you can’t just say that you will never do it again and leave it at that.

As this doesn’t push you to truly learn from your mistake, it just makes you into someone who avoids specific scenarios or situations so that you do not repeat past mistakes.

That’s not enough.

You must change your behavior by changing your mindset and to do this, you must do some soul searching. Dig deep and face it, ideally with professional help.

Author's Bio: 

C Mellie Smith specializes in providing her readers with tools and resources to help them overcome the pain and uncertainty when one partner cheats. Don't end the most important relationship you have ever had without putting up a fight. Get the help you need to forgive yourself and overcome the guilt of cheating on your partner. Visit: InfidelityHealing.com