The Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who Was Cheated On

The moment you find out your partner cheated on you, it’s as if the world stops. Once reality sets in, questions start to roll through your brain like a hurricane. You wonder why you were cheated on and what you could have done to prevent it. As you continue to experience anger and sadness, your friends and family may have questions of their own. But the last thing you want to do is field questions from well-meaning, but annoying, loved ones.

Or, if you know someone who was recently cheated on, you may be tempted to question him or her about what happened. The couple may have seemed happy to you, and you can’t believe something went wrong. Here are 10 things you should never say to or ask someone who was cheated on.

1. I had a feeling he/she would cheat

couple at a restaurant

This is not helpful commentary. |

Even if you knew from the beginning that it would probably happen, it won’t change the fact that it happened and will only make your friend feel worse. Your friend may even associate the negative feelings she [or he] is having about her ex with you.

Jennifer Seiter, co-owner and general manager of Ex Boyfriend Recovery

2. Was it because you were bad in bed?

Frustrated couple

This question is sure to upset the person you’re asking. |

People sometimes leap to the conclusion that cheating happens because of a lack of sex or a bad intimate connection. However, most cases of deception have to do with a need for an emotional connection, a desire for novelty, or a need to be desired. People will often say they cheated because they wanted to do something “just for me,” or to be selfish, just once.

Try asking this instead: What was missing in your relationship? Emotional connection? Closeness? Intimacy?

Erika Boissiere, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco

3. Didn’t you see this coming?

man with smartphone and friends

Don’t ask your friend if they predicted this outcome. |

This is a common thing to say as so many people assume that the other partner must know on some level that their spouse was unfaithful. This is a very insensitive thing to say because if the person had no idea, as I had no idea when my husband was cheating on me, then they began to lose what little self-esteem they may be hanging onto. Their thoughts are, “Why didn’t I see this coming if my friend assumed I knew on some level? Did my friend know and not tell me?” If you are the one being cheated on, a comment from a friend can shred the little dignity you may have had left.

Stacey Greene, author of Stronger Than Broken

 4. How’s your ex doing?

unhappy woman

If you’re wondering how the cheater is, don’t ask. |

You should never ask how the cheater is doing. Many clients have cried nickel-size teardrops on my therapy couch about the pain, hurt, and anger they feel toward even the most well-meaning friends who open raw wounds. It’s much better practice not to mention the betrayal or the ex-couple at all. Be available to support non-judgmentally if and when your friend brings it up to you. He or she only will if you establish complete trust and safety within the confines of your relationship.

Dr. Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and co-star on Sex Box on WE tv

5. Just try to work things out

woman apologizing during an argument

Don’t tell your friend to work it out. |

Don’t say, “You should just go back to him or her and try to work it out because you may never be able to get with someone better.” Instead, say, “You are an amazing person who deserves better; you don’t need someone who doesn’t recognize your awesomeness.”

Flooding someone’s ears with toxic messages that send low-esteem energy their way is never cool. When a person has been cheated on, he or she needs to hear uplifting messages that will help him or her grow in a positive way, so he or she won’t end up dating the same type of person again.

Fallon Jai, writer, editor, motivational speaker, and founder of Faithful and Fabulous Female  

6. You should sleep with your ex’s best friend

couple kissing

This is not good advice. |

You should never tell a person who has been cheated to seek revenge. Don’t do it! This is because someone is going to get hurt. No matter how many hook-ups they have on Tinder, the pain will not go away.

Chantel Cohen, founder of CWC Coaching and Therapy

7. What did you do wrong?

young woman sitting up in bed at night because she can't sleep

Asking this will only create more tension. |

One thing you should not do is blame the person who was being cheated on. You should not make comments such as, “It’s probably because you didn’t give your ex enough sex,” or, “It’s probably because you were working all the time and never home; the person your ex cheated with probably did something that you didn’t or wouldn’t do.” It’s important not to say things like this because, often, being cheated on is a hurtful thing and this can cause a person to feel more depressed about the situation and form insecurities about themselves in future dating situations.

Tomanika Perry-Witherspoon, social worker and CEO of Growing Counseling Services

8. I just saw your ex with someone new

happy couple

If you see your friend’s ex with someone else, don’t tell them. |

Never say you recently saw your friend’s ex with someone else. The right thing to say is, “I’m so sorry that he/she cheated, but at least you know what’s really going on now. You deserve to be with someone who isn’t careless with your feelings and your time.” The person is already hurt and embarrassed. Your friend doesn’t need to know that you saw the person he or she has feelings for is openly flaunting his or her side piece to the world. It’s hurtful and comes off like you don’t care (you just wanted to come in their face and be messy). If you care about them, keep that information to yourself.

Fallon Jai, writer, editor, motivational speaker, and founder of Faithful and Fabulous Female  

9. It’s his/her loss, you didn’t do anything

worried young man sits on the edge of a bed

Let your friend know you’re available to talk about it. |

This would not be good to say because, when things happen in a relationship, the person needs to reflect on the relationship, challenges, the ways they’ve handled things — and take ownership of any areas where they may have been guilty of conflict. I’m not saying the other person is to blame, but the supporting friend should not jump to conclusions by saying the “victim” didn’t do anything. You should validate your friend’s feelings and let him or her know you’re available if he or she needs to talk.

Tomanika Perry-Witherspoon, social worker and CEO of Growing Counseling Services

10. I know exactly how you feel

man checking phone

Don’t tell your friend you completely understand — you might not. |

This is a phrase many of us use to convey to the person that he or she is not alone and that you understand. However, the problem is that you don’t know how he or she feels. You have some ideas, but you could be wildly off. A better question would be, “How have you been feeling? What are some things you’ve been thinking about?” This opens up the channel of communication for your friend to tell you their unique experience.

Erika Boissiere, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo

[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published January 2017]