How to Forgive a Cheater
Coping with the aftermath of an affair is not easy; cheating can result in feelings of anger, hurt, and despair. In order for the relationship to work, both parties have to be openly willing to do the emotional work needed in order to re-establish feelings of trust, love, and safety. This requires open communication, brutal honesty, and active listening.
In this article, we will guide you through the entire process of forgiving a cheating partner to help you amend your relationship.
Without further ado, can you forgive a cheater and stay together?
Why Can People Be Unfaithful?
People can cheat for many different reasons. A person might cheat on their partner either out of circumstance or out of certain personality traits or even unmet needs.
People can cheat because of feeling neglected within the relationship or even feeling unloved. They can also cheat because of anger, fear of commitment, or low self-esteem (in fact, in a recent study (Selterman, Garcia, Tsapelas, & 2019), 57% of participants claimed that their main motive for cheating was a poor self-image and their need to boost their own ego).
Read also our study on infidelity statistics.
A lack of sexual gratification is also a common reason why people cheat. In the same study, 32% of participants admitted to cheating due to not feeling sexually fulfilled in their monogamous relationships.
Should You Forgive a Cheater?
Whether or not to forgive a cheater is a decision that needs to be well thought of; considering a cheater may have their very own reasons for doing so, it still does not excuse their behavior. But if the couple is willing to make the relationship work despite hardships, forgiving the partner who committed infidelity can be possible with the right amount of emotional work.
Now is left the question, “can you forgive someone for cheating” the answer is both yes and no, and it all depends on the couple and what kind of relationship they have with each other.
How to Forgive Someone for Cheating?
Forgiving a cheater can be hard, but in order to do so, there are certain steps that must be taken. Here’s how to forgive a cheating wife or husband:
A Cheater Has to Be Remorseful About Their Actions
Your partner has to show genuine remorse and feel sorry for their actions. This shows that they acknowledge the fact that they did something wrong and that they feel guilty for it. Therefore, they are willing to take action to earn your forgiveness.
Ask Your Partner to Share Details Regarding the Cheating
Ask your partner the following questions: how did they meet? How long were they (or are they still) seeing each other? When did it first happen?
Ask them what it is about the person they cheated on you with that made them chase them, and what needs have they met that you hadn’t?
Forgiveness After Cheating Starts with Acceptance
Do not blame yourself for the actions of your significant other. You might find yourself stuck in a loop of questions: what did I do wrong? Why wasn’t he/she satisfied with our relationship? how come I haven’t found out about this sooner?
Nothing you could have done would have prevented your partner from cheating, a relationship could seem perfect, and yet infidelities can still take place.
Take your time to think about whether or not the relationship is worth saving, but do not speed up the healing process; it is okay to experience anger and to take time to dwell on what happened first and try to accept it, for that is the first step towards forgiveness.
Avoid Being Too Emotional
Do not verbally or physically assault your partner in the heat of the moment; instead, try to be more open and calmer when listening to them and try to be rational when it comes to making the ultimate decision which is whether or not you should continue to be in a relationship with them.
Find Out How Things Stand at the Moment
Listening to your partner’s feelings about the relationship is important. Are they totally satisfied with what the relationship has to offer, and are their needs met? Are they emotionally and sexually fulfilled? or do they need more investment on your part?
Finding out about these things will let you have a clear idea about your partner’s expectations and needs within the relationship.
Give Enough Space and Time to Each Other
A time-out can work wonders in times when both parties are frustrated.
By minimizing contact, both parties will get a chance to sit on their own and try to sort out their thoughts and feelings without any external influence.
Taking a walk or engaging in a sport to help relieve some tension can be helpful. Furthermore, conversation should be avoided at first, for, in the heat of the moment, you might blurt out hurtful words that you might not actually mean or take decisions that you might eventually regret.
Time apart can help both individuals get in touch with their feelings and therefore determine whether or not they are ready to go the extra mile to help save the relationship.
A professional will try to create a safe space where the couple gets to process their feelings and express their needs and expectations. They will try to understand the motive behind the infidelity and the partner’s response, as well as offer tips on how to move forward by making sure that both parties do the emotional work needed to salvage the relationship.
Learn to Be Patient
Dealing with the aftermath of cheating is difficult for both parties but especially for the person who got cheated on.
There is absolutely no need to rush the forgiveness process; in fact, the longer you take to deal with your emotions first, the more genuine your forgiveness will be.
Rebuilding trust after experiencing infidelity can be challenging, but it does not necessarily mean that it is impossible; patience is key.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Once you get past all the trauma and feel like you’re finally ready to forgive your partner and put the whole thing behind you, start a new chapter!
How to Forgive Emotional Cheating?
In order to forgive emotional cheating, the party that was cheated on in the relationship has to understand why their partner was so emotionally invested in the affair in order to understand the exact component that needs to be worked on in the relationship. The same can be applied to forgiving multiple affairs.
Signs That You Are Not Ready to Forgive a Cheater
Here are some things to consider if you are not ready to forgive your partner for cheating:
1) You Are Annoyed with Your Partner.
Whenever you look at your partner or engage in a conversation with them, you feel overwhelmed with anger, and you despise thinking that they were ever willing to hurt your feelings in such a way, which is a very much normal and valid response to their infidelity.
2) You Have Constant Doubts in Your Head.
Even after having a profound conversation with your partner about their infidelity, you still have feelings of doubt regarding their true feelings for you and their dedication to making the relationship work by fully committing to you. These feelings stem from the initial trauma of being cheated on and not feeling in control of the outcome of the relationship.
3) Just The Thought of Sex Makes You Sick.
Being repulsed by the thought of engaging in sexual activity of any kind with your partner is a very normal response.
In fact, engaging in sexual activities requires a certain amount of emotional stimulation that comes from feelings of love, safety, and trust, the feelings that were disrupted by the occurrence of the cheating event.
Mutual trust lays the foundation for a sexually fulfilling relationship. Therefore, both individuals have to work on rebuilding trust.
4) You Want to Hurt Your Partner.
A feeling that goes hand in hand with anger is revenge; thinking of getting back at your partner and hurting their feelings the same way they initially hurt yours by cheating on you is a normal thought that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be acted on.
5) You Crave Justice
After you find out about your partner’s infidelity, you might want to get back at them by making them go through the same things they put you through. That is normal and doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. After all, it’s not about the emotions but about how you act on them.
How Long Does It Take to Forgive a Cheating Spouse?
There is no concrete timeline for recovery from cheating. Some couples might take days to forgive cheating, others might take weeks or even years, and some might even move on with their relationship and not fully forgive their spouse’s infidelity. Therefore, every couple has to figure out what’s best for them and take the time needed to reconcile.
It’s Your Life; It’s Up to You to Decide
Even if you’ve tried every possible way to forgive your partner and you still feel incapable of doing so, that is absolutely okay, and you still have the option to end things for good and moving on with your life. You don’t have to forgive a cheater and move on if you are not ready.
Aside from love, an emotional bond is also built on feelings of trust and safety; the disruption of these feelings can cause the emotional bond to either break or weaken.
In order to repair it, the couple has to work on rebuilding trust and reestablishing feelings of safety in the relationship.
Every couple is bound to experience hardships every now and then, cheating being one of the toughest things anyone in a monogamous relationship can experience, it can be pretty difficult to get past such a hardship, but that does not necessarily indicate that a relationship is over for good. Some couples can use such an incident to their advantage by trying to reconnect in a richer and healthier way.
Whether or not to be together or drift apart after cheating totally boils down to how much love both parties hold for each other and how much emotional space they are willing to grant each other.
Such a decision depends on the couple’s cultural, social, or even religious background.
If both parties are willing to work on themselves as individuals in order to grow after the infidelity, they can subsequently better their relationship and take it to the next level.
If they both have an interest in each other and still hold each other in great regard, they might still have a future together.
So, can cheating be forgiven for real? Well, the answer boils down to how invested both parties are in the relationship.
If the person who got cheated on has forgiven their partner for their infidelity, and alongside the hard work to rebuild trust, a relationship can continue to be the same as it was.