This post originally appeared on Bustle.
By Kat George
The worst thing about getting cheated on is that the pain doesn’t end when the infidelity does, or even when the relationship does. Once you’ve found out you were betrayed, kicked the loser who hurt you out of your life, and found yourself alone in bed for the first time in a while, you’ve got to face a whole new, seemingly insurmountable challenge: getting over being cheated on. It’s not easy. Jennifer Aniston made it look easy. She was so graceful, and not at all screaming and crying and having snot run from her nose onto her shirt (at least in public, which is quite an accomplishment). Then she made herself look fantastic, spent lots of time with her best friends, went on vacations, worked her ass off, eventually started dating Justin Theroux, and looked absolutely glowing the entire time, making the rest of us look like we totally missed the memo on how to get over being cheated on with any kind of dignity.
But dignity’s overrated; I bet behind closed doors, Jenny went through the exact same stages of grief and getting over her pain that the rest of us do. I bet when Courtney Cox came over for their weekly BFF white wine in the afternoon session, she found our J on the couch, twisted in blankets, chugging wine straight from the bottle and chain smoking cigarettes. We feel you, Jen. We understand. We will still fight Brad for you if you want us to. If you’ve ever been cheated on, you’ll understand the following stages you need to go through before you can get over it (and hopefully Jennifer is right there with us too):
1. Complete, utter, ruinous devastation
I think this part is important. It’s important to feel the weight of everything that has happened and been done to you and just to let it unleash in torrents of tears and body-convulsing sobs. Go for it! This is your time to shine (with tears and snot).
2. Crying and taking a lot of showers
I don’t know what it is about processing grief that requires a lot of showering, but when you’re really sad, the shower feels like a safe place to be. Naked and alone, it will make you feel cinematically vulnerable, and you can rest your head against the tiles or sit in the corner hugging your knees and crying and pretend you’re in a really dramatic movie in which Jennifer Lopez does “acting.”
3. Listening to “Torn” a lot
“I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel I’m cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floooooooooooooooooooooooor!”
4. Misplaced self-loathing
Before you blame anyone else, like the person who cheated on you, you’ll blame yourself. You’re an idiot! You listen to old Natalie Imbruglia songs when you’re in crisis; What sort of a person are you? Plus you’re ugly and dumb and don’t wear the right kinds of sweaters. You’re so unloveable — how didn’t you see this coming? If you were anyone else, this never would have happened! (Obviously, none of this is true, and you’ll come to that realization later).
5. Over-dramatic nostalgia
Still listening to “Torn,” you’ll smell the pillow where the cheater used to sleep. You’ll walk around your apartment fingering the things he touched. Remember when you made pancakes with this bowl? If your life was actually a movie, this is the point at which you’d pull out your miraculously convenient home videos of your ex laughing in some sort of dappled light with diaphanous white curtains blowing all around.
6. Psychopath level anger
Very suddenly, the wallowing will stop, and the Patrick Bateman-level bloodlust will set in. Anything could set you off: A revenge plot on TV, your friends talking about it, a reminder on social media that the person who cheated on you is just going about their life as though nothing happened. You’ll start swearing a lot, getting your act together and plotting all types of delicious, far-fetched revenge scenarios.
7. Listening to “There You Go” a lot
“Now when I say I’m through, I’m through. Basically I’m through with you. What you wanna say, had to have it your way, had to play games, now you”re begging me to stayyyyyyyy…”
And so it begins…
8. Putting your freakum dress on
The next phase involves online shopping, getting your hair and nails done, long exercise sessions listening to “Hit ‘Em Up Style” and Carly Simon, your best friends and a montage in which you go from one stunning look to another.
9. Plotting revenge
Once you look the part, you’ll start plotting your revenge. From something as small and do-able as having photos in which you look flawless and joyful in the arms of a handsome stranger on social media to big things you’ll never do like tire-slashing, every revenge fantasy is relevant. Stick to the small ones, though; breaking the law isn’t really a great way to feel better about anything. Making sure he sees a photo of you backstage at his favorite band’s show is a more acceptable form of revenge.
10. Partying like it’s 1999
This involves the aforementioned freakum dress, your best friends and a playlist with all the good Britney Spears songs on it. Then you take all of that out on the town, turn ALL the heads, and sleep with all the cutest people in all the cutest bars and just be your most fabulous happy, party self.
11. Fake zen-style “forgiveness”
In the midst of all the fun, you’ll make up some dumb proverb like “Carrying around hatred only makes the soul hateful,” or something like that (I just made that up now, not too bad). and pretend that you’re all zen and forgive-y and that you’re not going to harbor anger towards your ex any more. This will last a week, if you’re lucky.
12. Admitting your zen-style forgiveness was actually fake
It might take you an hour, or it might take you a week, but you’ll inevitably realize that your forgiveness thing was a crock of shit. The answer isn’t forgiving someone who willfully treated your trust like a doormat — it’s just learning to be okay with it and getting to the point where your life is so wonderful that you forget to feel sorry for yourself every day. It’s okay to hate/be indifferent to someone forever.
13. Wanting to be alone
It’s the beginning of the end when you renounce relationships all together. When you stop fucking every hottie in sight and just settle into yourself. While it’s extreme to say you’ll never date again, it’s pretty essential to spend some time completely alone, if only to remind yourself of how fabulous you really are. This phase is accompanied by Robyn’s “Body Talk” on repeat.
14. Calming down a bit
Once you resume normalcy in your routine and in your thinking, you’ll calm down and put the cheating in perspective with the rest of your life. It will stop being the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think of before you go to sleep at time. It will just be a thing that once happened to you, and as the days go by you’ll find yourself thinking about it less and less.
15. Realizing that one day, you won’t care about this anymore
This all serves to get you to the point where you realize that you care less today about being cheated on than you did yesterday. The comfort of knowing that one day, your care percentage will be so small that there will barely be a decimal to describe it, will lead you forward as you become hungry for that place. Self-pity will be replaced with you just being you again, and everything being fine.
More from Bustle: