One of you is bound to wonder when the other cheats: Do you really love someone if you cheat on them?
It’s a fair question, considering the hurt caused by infidelity.
But as you’ll see further on, it’s rarely that simple.
The question remains, though: Can a relationship work after cheating? Because even if you want it to work, it will never feel the same again.
Where do you go from here?
- What Percentage of Couples Stay Together after Cheating?
- Can A Cheater Ever Change?
- Can A Relationship Go Back to Normal After Cheating? 7 Ways to Heal It
- 1. Accept that it happened and come to terms with your emotions.
- 2. Let go of the self-blame, self-pity, and jealousy.
- 3. Let go of getting even.
- 4. Talk to each other.
- 5. Forgive your partner.
- 6. Take care of yourself.
- 7. Consider couple’s counseling.
- Can your relationship get back to normal after cheating?
What Percentage of Couples Stay Together after Cheating?
Roughly 31% of marriages stay together after one of the partners has cheated or admitted cheating on the other. That’s despite well-meaning relatives or friends shaming the spouse who was cheated on with comments like, “How can you think of forgiving your wife/husband after what they’ve done?”
While it’s sometimes true that the cheating partner has no intention of being faithful, it’s not always the case.
And the decision of whether to stay together is for you and your partner to make — no one else.
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is how to fix a relationship after cheating, and you’re bound to wonder how you can know your cheating partner won’t cheat again.
Can A Cheater Ever Change?
How do you reconcile a relationship after cheating? You need to know whether the cheater in question is likely to cheat again. And, speaking in more general terms, can someone who’s cheated on their partner ever be trusted to be faithful?
The short answer is yes. The longer one takes into account that every couple is different.
The question of whether a cheating partner will cheat again is about more than their character or their views on monogamy (though those definitely come into play). It also has to look at the challenges the couple might be facing:
- Different preferences when it comes to intimate expression
- Emotional disconnection and drifting apart
- Different ideas of what constitutes cheating
- Internal struggles with sexual identity or orientation
- Obstacles to communicating with each other
- Work schedules that make it impossible to spend much (or any) time together
Once you address the question of why your partner cheated in the first place, you’ll have a better idea of how likely they are to cheat again.
Can A Relationship Go Back to Normal After Cheating? 7 Ways to Heal It
The issue of how to gain trust back after cheating depends on both people involved. Both need to be committed to communicating and repairing the relationship. The following seven steps can help you heal and find peace for the partner reeling from the infidelity and the one who committed it.
1. Accept that it happened and come to terms with your emotions.
This isn’t just a bad dream, and it won’t help to pretend it didn’t happen or that it’s not a big deal. It is. And you’re allowed to feel angry, hurt, and betrayed.
Allow yourself to feel what it only makes sense to feel after someone you trust has cheated on you. Acknowledge and accept your disillusionment and heartbreak. Only when you’re honest with yourself about what you’re feeling can you see the whole picture of what you’re both going through.
When you’ve processed your own feelings, you’ll eventually want to know what your partner is feeling about what they’ve done. And they need to do the work of owning those feelings and taking responsibility for them — as well as for the damage they’ve caused.
2. Let go of the self-blame, self-pity, and jealousy.
Don’t blame yourself for what your cheating partner did. Their cheating is not your fault. You didn’t make them cheat on you, nor did you make them feel things that led to their infidelity. They don’t get to put that on you.
And it only muddies the water for you both if you take on that blame.
On the other hand, don’t get stuck in victim mode, either. It doesn’t help you to wallow in self-pity or keep launching arrows at your partner for what they’ve done. Neither does it help to indulge in jealous thoughts toward the person your partner cheated with.
It’s understandable to want both cheaters to hurt as much as you do right now. But holding onto your victim status keeps you stuck in the feelings that go with that.
And if you’re reading this, you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with those feelings.
3. Let go of getting even.
Revenge might sound sweet, but the aftertaste is not. You won’t improve your situation by setting your partner’s clothes on fire or slashing their tires. Don’t give them anything they can use against you (if they’re so inclined).
As much as you might want them to feel the kind of loss you feel right now, there’s nothing you can do to make them feel the way you do. Your feelings are your own. Even if you cheated on them as “payback,” you woudn’t really get even. It would never feel even.
This is not the time to try to recreate the pain they’ve caused. It’s time to look at where you are and decide what to do next.
4. Talk to each other.
Talk to your partner about why they cheated, whether they regret it, whether they’re still attached to the person they cheated with, etc. Ask them all the questions that are burning holes in your mind. But don’t expect their answers to make you feel better.
Then talk about what both of you want. Ask each other if you wish to stay in the relationship. If both of you do, talk about how you might begin to rebuild trust.
The cheating partner will need to be completely transparent for a time, letting the other know where they are and avoiding situations where the other has reason to doubt them.
If the cheater doesn’t want to hold themselves to a higher standard to rebuild trust, you might both be better off letting go.
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5. Forgive your partner.
If you’re both committed to building a better relationship — or even if the relationship is at an end — you need to forgive your partner to move on.
Do this for yourself. By forgiving them, you’re not saying what they did was no big deal. You’re not telling them you don’t care that they cheated or that you’re over it. You’re freeing yourself from the grip of their betrayal, so you can heal and move on.
If you’re moving forward together, both of you need to heal. And while the one who cheated needs to take responsibility for that, they may need to forgive you for things you’ve said or done in the past that they’ve held onto.
A better relationship (whatever it looks like) lies on the other side of forgiveness.
6. Take care of yourself.
Self-care is essential at any time, but when your partner cheats on you, you mustn’t punish yourself by neglecting your self-care needs. It’s easy to do when you feel your partner is telling you you’re not enough for them.
It’s important to remember, though, that the infidelity isn’t something your partner has done to you as much as something they’ve done for themselves in a moment of selfishness.
It certainly doesn’t make it okay, but their cheating shouldn’t cause you to stop caring for yourself. If anything, it should remind you to take extra good care as you process your emotions and work through the recovery process alone or with your partner.
7. Consider couple’s counseling.
If you both want to stay together, consider enlisting the help of a trained couple’s therapist. Look for one with experience helping couples to recover from infidelity.
There’s no harm in trying multiple therapists before deciding on one you both feel comfortable with. The more you both feel heard by the therapist, the more likely you are to voice your concerns and show empathy toward each other.
Depending on your situation and on each one’s availability, you can set appointments weekly or even twice a week. After each appointment, you can find something to do together or take some time out alone to process what you covered.
Can your relationship get back to normal after cheating?
You wouldn’t wish what you’re going through on anyone, and you’re still wondering if your relationship will survive. You’re even daring to wonder if it can be better than it was.
You want to believe it can. Couple’s counselors around the world have seen it happen with their clients. Like those couples, you both still love each other. You both see what you could have together, and you both want it. So you’ll do the work. And you’ll find a way.
Remember to honor each step in your recovery process. And take it one day at a time.