Cheating happens for plenty of reasons — none of them good.
In many situations, infidelity leads to the end of the relationship as the betrayal takes an emotional toll on the person who was cheated on.
However, some couples do manage to make a second chance work for them after cheating.
Although it’s not easy and can take a long time, these couples successfully move on after they find ways to heal hurt feelings, reestablish trust, and work towards a healthier relationship.
So how do you get over being cheated on and stay together with your partner?
It’s important to take some time and space for both partners to reflect on the affair.
The cheating partner should be genuinely remorseful about what happened, while the partner who was cheated on should be willing to forgive.
If you’ve both decided to work things out, you can start to rebuild trust and friendship through honest communication.
And it’s important that both parties are aware that repairing the damage takes time, patience, and respect for each other.
Forgiving A Cheating Partner
Cheating is one of the most challenging problems you could ever face in a romantic relationship.
Going through this experience involves plenty of negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, and devastation.
It can be a difficult choice whether to stay or leave, especially if marriage and children are involved.
Many couples wonder if cheating can ever be overcome.
The short answer is yes, as long as there is a shared desire to rebuild the relationship, coupled with a substantial amount of mental, emotional, and psychological work from both parties.
Is There Hope of Staying Together After Infidelity?
As long as humans are involved, there will always be a gray area when cheating is discussed.
Neither party is totally innocent or completely guilty; mistakes — even catastrophic ones — are inevitable, because no one is perfect.
Rather than wanting to be in a different relationship, people who have an affair are usually looking for an element that’s missing in their relationship.
They want the relationship itself to be different because it has changed over time.
Human needs shift as well; a cheating partner might be craving more validation, connection, affection, nurturing, intimacy, novelty, autonomy, or power in the relationship.
While there is no excuse to cheat on your partner, it’s important to understand the underlying reason that enabled an affair to happen.
You have to find and repair these cracks that allow someone else to pass through in the relationship.
Another implication of this is that after cheating, your relationship will never be the same again.
Even if you and your partner can recover, cheating has already complicated what you had.
The partner who was cheated would feel bitter disappointment, while the cheater would feel guilt.
This combination makes it difficult for both parties to stay in the same room, let alone communicate what happened, forgive each other, and make amends.
It takes time to deal with these feelings — and they must be dealt with — as it can spill over to potential future relationships, creating a lasting impact on your emotional and romantic life.
Signs It May Be Time To Move On
Because it’s difficult to overcome the messiness of infidelity, very few couples actually succeed in reworking their relationship to make it last.
Most couples who experience the fall-out from cheating break up immediately, while some may try to make it work but fail.
If you were the wronged partner, you’re probably wondering whether or not to leave after catching your partner cheating.
Ultimately, you’re the only person who can make that decision, but there are some signs that can indicate moving on is the better idea.
1. They won’t own up to it
Even though you’ve caught them red-handed, they refuse to admit it or tell the whole truth. They may also downplay the details.
If your partner is willing to lie and withhold information from you, it would be difficult for you to trust them again.
2. They won’t apologize
A person who doesn’t express any remorse for their actions isn’t a good partner to have.
Even if they don’t think cheating is a big deal, they should be concerned about your feelings enough to apologize.
People who can’t find the will to say sorry have a shaky self-worth; they can’t allow themselves to feel the harm they caused because it would move their identity towards worthlessness and shame.
3. They don’t want to put in the work
It’s difficult if your partner doesn’t actually want to attend counselling or therapy with you, because it means they are unwilling to open up enough to fix what’s wrong.
When these attempts to patch things up are only one-sided, it’s pointless to even try.
4. They’re still in touch with the person they cheated on you with
Despite owning up to the affair and insisting that it’s over, your partner is still friends with their “former” lover.
This is a clear lack of respect towards you and your feelings, and frankly, you shouldn’t stand for the insult.
5. They’re not committed to saving the relationship
Your partner may be responsive to your suggestions, but they don’t come up with any ideas of their own.
In fact, they’re just passively going along with everything, rather than being engaged or enthusiastic about the healing process.
If so, it’s best to unburden yourself from someone who doesn’t think you’re worth the effort of pulling their own weight.
6. They have a known history of lying to you
While many people claim that once a cheater is always a cheater, that’s not always the case.
However, if your partner has a pattern of dishonesty and deceit — even with “small” things — it’s unlikely that you will be able to trust your partner again, because each lie would remind you of their betrayal.
7. They point the blame at someone else
Cheating doesn’t just “happen”. If your partner keeps pinning the responsibility on someone or something else to justify their cheating, consider it a dealbreaker.
When they say they’re drunk, bored, or seduced, it signifies a lack of insight into their actions.
They can’t do anything to prevent it from happening, and they would probably do it again.
This behavior is particularly despicable if they’re blaming you for the infidelity; it’s completely unfair to say they cheated on you because you were too busy or were not “enough” for them.
8. They think it’s enough to say sorry once
Infidelity definitely merits more than one apology, especially an apology shown through changed behavior.
A person who cheated on their partner would have to listen to the hurt party on more than one occasion, validate their reality, and make reparations as needed.
A partner who goes “I already said sorry. What more do you need?” probably doesn’t feel that much genuine regret and remorse.
9. They won’t explain why they cheated
Any unwillingness to disclose the details surrounding the affair is selfish, shady, and untrustworthy.
All in all, you probably wouldn’t want to stay with a person like that.
10. You personally don’t want to work for it
Ask yourself: do you even want to make things work? Are you ready to put in the time and effort to slowly rebuild your broken relationship? If you don’t think it’s worth saving, it’s best to split up at this point instead of taking things further.
11. No one else in your life supports your decision to stay
Although your relationship is not anyone else’s business, repairing the relationship will be an uphill battle.
And truthfully, many attempts to try actually fail.
If the members of your support system don’t agree with the idea of giving your partner another chance, it’s going to be extra hard to pull it off without other people rooting for you.
12. Your reason to stay has nothing to do with the relationship
If you’re thinking of staying together for your children, it’s actually not a great idea.
In fact, splitting up would be more beneficial for your children in the long run, rather than keeping them around to watch your relationship fail.
13. You’re not ready to let go of what used to be
When your partner has cheated on you, nothing in your relationship will remain the same. It’s up to you and your partner to decide how it will go, moving forward.
But if you’re expecting for things to go back to the way it was, you can save yourself from the disappointment by breaking things off.
14 Ways To Help Your Relationship Heal After Cheating
It’s possible to heal from a relationship when both of you are willing to take the necessary steps, but it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.
There is no one direct path to recovery, but any genuine attempt to overcome cheating requires you to identify the underlying reason for infidelity, understand what role each partner played in the development of the affair, and find a resolution that meets their needs.
1. Give each other space and time to calm down.
You would feel a lot of overwhelming emotions immediately after discovering your partner’s affair.
And while it’s completely natural and justifiable to be angry at your partner, you should also be cautious of what you may say or do in the heat of the moment.
It would be wise to take a break from your partner, delay the discussion, and try to calm down first.
Talking when your emotions are running high won’t accomplish anything, so it’s good to process your feelings and work out what you want to say.
It may also be tempting to overcompensate for the situation by not letting your partner out of your sight, but you won’t get any perspective on your relationship while you’re together.
Give yourself the time and space to think things through, figure out what you truly want, and take care of your own emotional needs.
If you hang around too much with your partner, you may end up trying to “punish” them or they may try to rush you into “getting over it” — which will only lead to resentment on both ends.
2. Do some inner reflection.
Rather than suppressing your emotions, it’s essential to work through them with introspection.
Ask yourself if you’re capable of totally forgiving your partner, even if you can get rid of your grudges overnight.
Write a journal to organize your thoughts, clear out emotions, and express gratitude for the good things in life.
It’s good to do some soul-searching before talking to your partner, because you may end up lashing out or doing something impulsive.
Time won’t heal all wounds, but it can give your perspective when coupled with reflection.
3. Make sure they’re sorry.
Is your partner sincere? Are they actually feeling sorry for what they’ve done?
Before anything can happen, you have to see if they are feeling an adequate level of remorse and regret.
They have to show how sorry they are through change behavior and a willingness to fix things.
4. Be honest and stay honest.
The hardest step in repairing a relationship damaged by lying and betrayal is cultivating brutal honesty, moving forward.
Unless your partner is completely up front with you, nothing will work.
They cannot simplify infidelity and say it “just happened”; they must make it clear why the choice was made and how.
They should also be willing to answer any and all questions, for as long as it takes to build trust back up.
In successful cases, the unfaithful partner may have to give up some privacies that make their partner uncomfortable.
They might give access to all online accounts, tell their partner where they’re going and who they’re going with, and even skip going out with friends on the weekends.
5. Talk about the affair openly.
There are a lot of unknowns in the aftermath of an affair.
If you’re someone who got cheated on, you’re going to be stuck imagining worst-case scenarios in your head.
Painful as it may be, it’s crucial to ask your partner to share details about the affair.
Your partner’s complete honesty and cooperation can help you heal faster.
Ask your partner where and how the affair started, how long it lasted, and why he chose to go through with it.
Determine whether it was a physical affair, an emotional affair, or a combination of both to understand what precisely your partner did.
6. Get temptations out of the way.
The first and most important step to healing a relationship is that the cheating has to stop.
The partner who cheated cannot see or contact the person they cheated with anymore. Otherwise, anything you do is a waste of time.
Take physical steps to cut off contact; set up boundaries and establish rules that both partners should follow.
It’s important to be clear about everything and to spell out what you will or won’t accept.
Transparency is critical for both partners to feel safe and respected. Some things you can do are:
- Deleting contact information
- Blocking numbers
- Removing social media contacts and dating apps
- Removing phone passwords
- Agreeing to come home earlier
7. Consider couples’ therapy.
It can be hard to know what to do or even where to start fixing things when you discover your partner’s infidelity.
A licensed therapist may not seem necessary at first, but they can be the neutral party you need to identify any underlying relationship issues and process negative emotions.
In fact, most successful couples who recover from cheating take the time to seek professional help, which speeds the healing process along.
Aside from helping you navigate the situation in a more mature way, a therapist can provide you with a clearer perspective or new insights into your relationship.
They may even see problems you didn’t know existed, and teach you how to manage your feelings, communicate better, or overcome grief and unhealthy attachment styles.
8. Talk about the issues in your relationship.
You are not to blame for your partner cheating on you. You did not do anything wrong and you certainly did not deserve what happened.
With that said, however, it’s worth considering that your partner was unfaithful because the relationship wasn’t as solid as you thought it was.
Beyond infidelity, what are the issues you face as a couple?
Were you challenged in broader areas like intimacy, bonding, and communication?
Instead of blaming each other or refusing to recognize that both of you have your own issues, it’s best to talk it out and work as a team to become better.
9. Communicate regularly.
Rebuilding trust requires you to talk about everything honestly, and keep talking as you work through the aftermath.
If either partner shuts down and refuses to talk, the relationship will not work, no matter how much you wish to fix it.
Take time during the week to talk and establish an open dialogue of your needs and feelings.
10. Make the necessary changes.
The reality is that when cheating happens, the old relationship is gone.
You must be conscious about moving on, rather than dwelling on the past, challenging it may be.
Identify the reasons for unfaithfulness to happen and make the changes necessary to keep them from happening again.
Be more intentional about forgiving your partner, establishing new norms, and paying more attention to their thoughts and feelings for a healthy and well-balanced relationship.
In order to fix mistakes, you have to do things differently and find better ways of being a couple.
Whether it’s going on more dates, setting up weekly “talks” for improved communication, or joining couple activities for bonding, these small changes can switch up the dynamics of your relationship.
11. Share the pain with loved ones.
Infidelity can be a lonely and isolating experience for the partner that was cheated on.
Although you can benefit from working on your inner self, you should reject the instinct to withdraw from the world and lean on others as well.
Opening up to trusted friends and family can help you deal with the situation and remind you that you’re loved and cared for.
Even if you’re not ready to talk about the issue, it’s good to connect with people who value you for your self-esteem and recovery.
You can also talk to a therapist or counselor for personalized guidance.
Of course, it’s probably not a good idea to go crazy and expose your partner on social media.
Publicly shaming your partner looks bad and shows a lack of maturity, aside from exposing you to external opinions you don’t need right now.
It’s much healthier to talk to someone in private.
12. Work on basic friendship.
Aside from rebuilding the romantic relationship, it’s important to rediscover each other as friends.
When you start out as someone’s friend, you try to cultivate trust and respect — which is exactly what you’d need.
Pretend you’ve pressed restart on the relationship. Although it seems weird, it helps to begin the relationship anew.
Take the time to get to know each other in new ways, go on dates, and ask each other questions.
Essentially, you have to reform your bond and begin a new relationship.
13. Accept that rebuilding trust will take time.
Betrayal is the most damaging part of any affair because it destroys trust — the most basic foundation in a loving relationship.
A cheating partner may want their partner to simply “get over it” and immediately trust them again, but it doesn’t work that way.
Partners who were cheated on the struggle to know what is real anymore, so rebuilding trust is a lengthy process that can only work through accountability, patience, and honest communication.
Couples who give each other enough time to heal are the ones that stay together.
Sticking to agreed-upon rules, schedules, and plans can help reassure partners of each other and rebuild lost trust.
14. Take care of yourself.
Self-reflection is helpful and essential in the aftermath of cheating, especially because you can learn from your mistakes.
However, you shouldn’t blame yourself or obsess over what happened, because it’s not your fault.
You’re not responsible for your partner’s actions and choices, so harsh self-criticism won’t help. In fact, it can even delay your recovery and make it harder to move one.
When dealing with a life-changing problem, it’s essential to practice self-love and self-care.
Take it easy and see to your needs first. Eat well, get plenty of rest, and exercise more.
If possible, invest in hobbies that make you happy to fill your schedule productively.
Remember, your identity is not centered on your partner. You’re enough.
Moving Forward, Together
Moving on after infidelity won’t work if a couple merely tries to pretend everything’s the same, that they only need to bring the relationship back to its original state.
Something went wrong with the relationship before, so you can only move forward by letting go of what wasn’t working and repairing the cracks.
Essentially, moving forward after one partner cheats on the other gives you the opportunity to recreate the dynamics of your relationship.
If done correctly, each partner will emerge from the experience with a better sense of who they are and what they want.
Although the relationship will never be the same as it once was, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be stronger.
As long as both people in the relationship are committed to putting in the work, they can survive and grow together again.
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