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Should I Tell Him I Cheated Once?

by Siobhan Quinn

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky from Pexels

So, you cheated on your boyfriend and never fessed up, now you're asking, "Should I tell him I cheated once?" Maybe it was a one-time drunken mistake, or maybe it was a premeditated affair with emotional attachment and connection involved. Either way, there must be a reason you’ve stayed silent... right? It’s most likely that you’ve kept the infidelity a secret to protect him. You know coming clean would hurt him, and maybe that’s something you haven’t been mentally or emotionally prepared to handle. Regardless, you have two decisions moving forward—to maintain your secret and hide the truth from him or to confess your mistake openly and honestly.


Monica Davis, the founder of MyStraightener, says you may be inclined to stay silent about the affair “if you cheated because you were in a certain condition after drinking too much or you had a tough temporary psychological condition.” In those scenarios, very little conscious thought likely went into the cheating, and you are filled with regret. Davis explains that regret can be a powerful catalyst for change and can inspire you to bring your relationship to a new level.

If your love is pure and authentic, keep displaying it to your boyfriend and devote yourself to improving your relationship—even if you haven’t come forth about your infidelity. However, Davis points out that this may backfire down the road. Your boyfriend might notice your suddenly affectionate and overcompensating behavior and suspect something is up, or “the truth may also pop up over some time and your partner will think of it as a double-cheating.” If you do choose to stay silent, you have to also be aware of the consequences that might happen.


Coming clean and telling your boyfriend you were unfaithful may be incredibly daunting and uncomfortable. After all, it could destroy your relationship and lead to him walking away for good. However, by acknowledging your mistake and taking full responsibility, your conscience will be cleaner and you’ll be that much more likely to learn from it. As Davis says, “if you [come clean] sincerely and tell how sorry you are and how wrong you were, the outcomes can be different.”

Although you may have been unfaithful, by coming forth and being transparent with your boyfriend, you are proving that you are remorseful and dedicated to earning his trust back. Ultimately, it’s up to him to decide if he thinks he'll be able to trust and have a fulfilling relationship with you again. But to have a healthy relationship that meets your and his needs, open honesty and commitment is the only path forward.

Every infidelity comes with its unique set of circumstances, so there certainly is no golden rule or step-by-step handbook on what to do (although it would be nice if there was one, wouldn’t it?). After you’ve stayed silent for so long, you may start to drown in your guilt and wonder what the best move for your relationship may be. Just as every decision you make comes with its benefits and downfalls, so does the choice to stay silent or come clean.

You have to weigh the potential positive outcomes and negative consequences of each option and decide what feels like the right path forward for you and your boyfriend. Both decisions require a fair amount of discomfort, but you have to determine which kind of discomfort you’re willing to handle. But know this: You are more likely to have a healthy relationship—whether with your boyfriend or someone else—if you can acknowledge the mistakes you’ve made, forgive yourself for them, and grow into the person you deserve to be.


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