— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.
“Relationships come with little white lies. But only when we get cheated upon, do we truly feel the pain of infidelity and the anger of betrayal.”
- An estimate from the Journal of Marriage and Divorce concludes that 70% of married Americans cheat at least once in their marriage.
- Infidelity in the United States is said to be responsible for 20-40% of divorces, as the American Psychological Association found.
- A National Association of Marriage and Family Therapy survey revealed that 25% of married Americans have considered cheating on their spouse.
Cheating can have a devastating, often irreparable effect on relationships. However, it is not always an automatic sign that the relationship is over. Time, effort, and renewed promises can help couples move past infidelity and rebuild their trust.
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How To Forgive A Cheating Wife Or Husband, And Move On
There is no “one size fits all” for forgiving an offending partner.
Some couples choose to ignore the infidelity, without ever talking about it. Others may continue in the relationship, take revenge by cheating themselves, and distrust each other in a way that makes it difficult to have emotional intimacy.
Here are some powerful tips to forgive your cheating wife, husband, or long-time partner:
1. Decide whether to forgive the cheating partner
Everyone has been a victim of a trust-breaking event in their life. You may have heard that forgiveness is the key to healing.
But, is forgiving the person you’re cheating on the right thing to do? Or is there a healthier way of solving the issue, like breaking off for good if the offending partner is a narcissist or gaslighter?
For some, it’s a one-off stray. You know they will work hard to revive the relationship. So it’s easier to extend an amnesty.
Some are serial cheaters. Forgiving them and inviting them back into your life changes nothing. They would cheat again, only this time, they would be more careful.
Sometimes people break off after a partner cheats but choose to stay friends. Then, after years of staying connected, they might decide to re-partner again. So, after deciding not to forgive, they finally forgive.
Forgiveness after infidelity can come late, and reconciliation may come even later. And finding the loose ends of a lost trust may take even longer.
2. Ask your partner why did they cheat on you
If you discover they have cheated on you, you may spend days wondering why did they cheat at all.
So, why do some people cheat on their partners and spouses? Is it the thrill of the chase? Does it stem from an inability to cope with life’s pressures? Was it a mere indiscretion? What was missing in the relationship?
- Some common reasons are a simple desire to have sex, do more of it, or explore an exciting take on it. Perhaps it was a safe opportunity or an unmet physical or emotional need.
- Some odd reasons could be a challenge to test their desirability, probing the durability and strength of the relationship, or having a revenge affair after their partner’s cheating, whether imagined or real.
- Usually, women tend to cheat for emotional reasons, like falling into romantic love or finding an intense connection. Whereas, men tend to cheat more for physical reasons, like boredom in their intimate lives or finding someone way more attractive.
- According to Sophie Miura in Bride magazine, there are four main traits that make someone more likely to cheat, namely: they’re low on agreeableness and conscientiousness, their lives are not interwoven, they see their differences as flaws, and they have become narcissistic.
Whatever might play on your mind, the best way is to set aside your guesses and get them to say it for the record.
3. Rebuild trust after your partner cheats on you
Often, the trouble starts with some sort of breakdown in communication. For a long time, you didn’t ask if there was anything wrong, and they didn’t tell you if anything was bothering them.
That’s the cue to rebuilding trust in a relationship.
You talked less. So now, talk more. Take active steps to fill the gaps and exchange more information about each other’s feelings and thoughts.
If they have cheated on you and then left you or even ghosted you for a while, you may have a few questions buzzing through your head:
- How should you act in front of your partner, so they don’t see your frustration or vulnerability?
- What can you do to get them back in your life without appearing too desperate?
- How could you have known beforehand he/she was an unfaithful person?
- How can you give it another shot and rebuild trust with your partner?
Now, you may have heard a good deal of advice from friends, but you may not know which way to go for rebuilding trust with your partner.
One effective way is to spend more time doing activities together, like redoing your living quarters or going on outdoor adventures. Find out some other ways to rebuild trust.
4. Get them to assure you they won’t cheat again
If you’re looking for a quick way to make your spouse promise to never cheat on you again, a new study says you’re wasting your time.
Researchers found the more hours a husband or wife spent on their partner’s concerns, the more likely they were to cheat.
The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, surveyed 268 couples for six weeks. It found that the more time one partner spent giving advice and listening to their partner’s problems, the more likely they were to engage in infidelity.
The greater onus to build a stronger relationship is on them now.
So, the best way to do it is to get them to give it in writing that they will not cheat again. They may have been a wonderful person before being caught, but they must clarify their future intentions about their affair partner.
5. Agree on precisely what to do if they cheat again
When your trust is violated, you get hurt twice. First, it feels like you lost your entire investment in the relationship. Second, you do not understand how to trust them again.
You even wonder if you could ever trust people in any of your other and future relationships.
One of the most common reasons couples cheat is due to one person wanting to end the relationship. They have been wanting it for some time, but could not bring themselves to announce their intention.
So this infidelity was their way of breaking loose from the relationship by getting caught.
Whatever the case, get them on record spelling out clearly what treatment they expect if you catch them again.
Let them know if they behave defensively and try to justify their betrayal of trust, you will end the relationship.
6. How to ask for a breakup or a separation
Breaking up is a tricky act; you have to sail through a storm of emotions and reactions. Break-up advice can come from your family, friends, and even strangers on news media.
There is no one right way to do it, or the right person to do it with. Here are some observations to guide you:
- Breaking off and going on a rebound affair is almost always the wrong path. It gives you an ego boost but also comes with its own set of compromises and oversights. In time, you’ll likely regret it.
- First, deal with the leftover emotions from the previous one. Settle the question of what did you expect from the relationship. Analyze how much you received of what you wanted.
- What lessons did you take from it all? Do you really want to walk out of the relationship for good, or do you want some time off? How would you go about losing a significant other?
- If they changed drastically after being found out and admitting their mistake, ask them point-blank if they want to leave the relationship. Allow them a few days to think it over, but get a definite answer from them.
Then, get ready to sit down and discuss a breakup.
The difficult thing about breaking up is how to go about it, especially if you believe your partner is the soul mate you’ve been looking for all your life.
Breakups can cause hopelessness, helplessness, emptiness, mutual depression, prolonged distress, or adjustment disorder.
Often, instead of talking about ending the relationship, one turns their partner into a villain. They behave erratically and keep justifying their irrational acts as being prodded on by their partner. They might even resort to stonewalling or show passive aggression.
It is usually better to consult a relationship expert rather than trying on your own to end a long-term affair or mend one already fraying on the edges.
Before You Got Cheated Upon
We assume couples are happy if they look happy together. Almost no one dares question if they are really thriving or barely surviving. Strangely, even they don’t ask that question to each other. That’s how they miss the early signs of the need to cheat.
Cheating is not the right way to handle an unhappy relationship. The best solution is to talk things over or see a relationship therapist together. If things don’t work out, consider ending the relationship.
Why People Cheat
- According to LA Intelligence, 30-60% of married couples cheat at least once in their marriage, and 74% of men and 68% of women admit they would cheat if they were guaranteed they would never get caught.
- They also say that 69% of marriages break up as a result of an affair being discovered.
- Justification: Cheating is never justified, but cheaters often justify their behavior by blaming their partners, saying their partners are not meeting their needs, or that they are simply not happy in the relationship.
- Opportunity: People may cheat because they have the opportunity to do so, such as if they are traveling for work or spending time away from their partner for other reasons.
- Boredom: Some people cheat because they are bored with their relationship, or because they are looking for something new and exciting. This is especially true in long-term relationships.
- Emotional distance: If couples feel emotionally distant from each other, they may be more likely to cheat. This can happen if they are not spending enough time together, or if they are not sharing their feelings and thoughts with each other.
- Lack of communication or intimacy: When couples don’t communicate effectively or don’t have enough intimacy, they may feel disconnected and unfulfilled. This can lead them to seek attention and affection from someone else.
- Sexual dissatisfaction: If one or both partners are not satisfied with the sexual aspect of their relationship, they may be more likely to cheat. This can be due to several factors, such as different sexual desires, incompatibility, or a lack of sexual communication.
- Modern reasons: In modern times, it is no longer entirely taboo to get a partner’s consent before seeking attention and affection from someone else. Another modern reason for infidelity is the rise of internet-based “infidelity” services like Gleeden and AshleyMadison.
- Emotional infidelity is also a form of cheating that involves seeking emotional support from someone else than your partner. It is common, with 30% of long-term couples experiencing it.
How To Prevent Cheating
Cheating is a betrayal of trust, and it can be very painful. Here are some ways to prevent that:
- Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your needs and wants.
- Be honest and upfront with yourself about your feelings and desires.
- Make time for each other. Ask what can nurture your relationship.
- Set moral and physical boundaries for yourself and stick to them.
- Seek professional help if you are struggling to stay faithful.
Whether it’s one-time infidelity or habitual cheating, the two truths you must face and accept are:
- There would be reasons they cheated on you.
- You may not be the only one they cheated upon.
The next issue comes with deciding the course of action. There are three main options here:
- How to get back at your cheating partner?
- How to get over your cheating partner?
- How to forgive your cheating partner?
Between Cheating And Forgiving
The Cheater’s Perspective
Cheaters often keep their feelings bottled up for a long time before they actually cheat. They may be feeling angry, resentful, or suffocated in the relationship. It is important to address these dark emotions before attempting to resolve the issue.
The Victim’s Perspective
It is natural to feel angry, resentful, and betrayed after being cheated on. However, try not to get caught up in these emotions for too long. Holding on to anger and hatred will only hurt you in the end.
Even when it turns out to be a stupid mistake, it can be hard to believe that “they” could cheat on you. It hurts to be betrayed, and you may never fully get over it.
The worst part is that it’s even harder to forgive your partner when you still love them.
The Forgiver’s Perspective
Forgiveness is a powerful tool to help you heal from the pain of betrayal. However, it is hard to come by.
However, it gets easier to forgive when you realize that every forgiveness is primarily for your own sake, not for the offender.
Without forgiveness, you carry the grudge like a hot coal in your hand. But forgiveness allows you to release that burning coal and move on to, as they say, have the best revenge—living a happy life.
The Cheater Who Doesn’t Deserve Your Forgiveness
There are some cheaters who cannot be forgiven because they show these signs:
- They are abusive or controlling.
- They blame you for their cheating.
- They show no remorse for their actions.
- They continue to cheat, even after being caught.
- They gaslight you or try to make you believe that you are crazy.
If you feel that you cannot forgive a cheater, it is okay; you do not have to forgive them.
Just reframe the process of forgiving as removing them from your mind space. This makes it easier to let go and focus on your happier future.
How To Move On After Being Cheated Upon
If a cheater refuses to make amends, you’d be better off breaking up with them. This may be difficult, but it is the best thing for you eventually.
Here are some tips to leave a cheater and move on:
- Plan for how you are going to live after leaving the relationship. This may include finding a new place to live, securing your finances, and getting emotional support from friends and family.
- Tell the cheater that you are leaving and that you are not coming back. Be firm and assertive. Do not let them talk you into staying.
- Cut off all contact with the cheater. This means blocking them on social media, deleting their number from your phone, and avoiding places where you know you might see them.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Spend time with loved ones who support you.
- See a mental health expert if you feel overwhelmed.
When a relationship ends, it’s hard to let go of the past. Every so often, you’ll never truly recover after a broken relationship. But you must learn to move on.
- Don’t dwell on the past
- Look to start a new chapter
- Find happiness and stay happy
Learn to trust again, love again. It is daunting to live in a world with no one to trust. You deserve to be in a relationship with someone who respects you and who is faithful to you.
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