Most people who have been cheated on are devastated when they are finally confronted with the truth, whether they find out on their own or their partner confesses. A guilty confession may feel like cold comfort. But at least they were honest with you. Worse than the physical transgression is the emotional sharing and the deceit. The lying is what many find the most abhorrent aspect. You may feel angry, sad, betrayed, abandoned, or even rejected. Particularly with anger, one of the things that will eventually cross our mind is revenge. We want to even the score, and make our partner feel as bad as we do. There is a certain delicious delight in the thought revenge sex. Some even up the ante making it someone close to their partner, a sibling or close friend for instance. Not only can this course of action obliterate your relationship, it can hurt your reputation, as well as setting your emotional recovery back a few steps. Psychological research shows that we are hardwired for revenge. Such fantasies even bring people to feel a happiness they think is out of their reach otherwise in the aftermath of infidelity. But studies have shown that those who are successful in their revenge feel worse off in the long run.
The truth is your cheating cannot even the score. The bond of trust has already been ruptured. What you have to decide now is if this relationship is worth salvaging or not, and if each of you have the energy to invest in fixing it. Usually, cheating is a sign of deep seated problems and one or both person’s needs not being met. These can be emotional or physical needs. Another reason it is such revenge cheating is a waste of time. It is likely your infidelity will not impact your partner as theirs has impacted you. They may feel relieved, even justified in crossing that boundary to begin with. These actions might even be used against you, for instance as justification for continuing the affair. In this way, your cheating could also be used for fuel in the argument against you. Instead of trying to see where you are coming from and making amends, they will be further driven away from you. Will cheating teach them a lesson? It will probably display to them that you are vengeful, and perhaps that this relationship is not worth it, rather than showing them the error of their ways. It may even encourage them to cheat again.
A retaliatory affair will only distract you from the matter at hand, whether to stay in this relationship, or tell your partner to hit the road. Things are already tense, and you are probably feeling vulnerable. So your cheating could be more negatively impactful to you as well. It may also put a nail in the coffin of this relationship, adding lies and betrayal on top of those which have already transpired. In some cases, this action could escalate anger between partners, even leading to domestic violence. If you want to let this relationship go, do so. You do not need to go into weighty explanations. Instead, practical arrangements, especially if you live together or have kids together, need to be made. But if anything, the cheating should be all the reasoning you need. If you are reinvesting in the relationship, it may be wise to take some time away from your partner. Moving forward, consider couple’s counseling, and establish how you will rebuild things, and what steps they have to take to reestablish trust, and show that they are sincerely sorry. They need to make amends to be forgiven. It surely is not easy. But for some couples, infidelity is a wakeup call to issues that they have been in denial about for some time. Now they have to finally face them together. So for those stalwart few, infidelity may actually be a blessing in disguise.
If you two are trying to reconcile read, After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis A. Spring.