How to Forgive Someone Who Cheated

Forgiving your partner for cheating on you is easier said than done. But if you really want to give them another chance and they are committed to earning your trust again, it is possible to overcome this situation.

Anger. Distrust. Pain. Sorrow. Bitterness. It’s normal for people who have been betrayed by their partners to go through the emotional wringer. Often, it could be hard to know how to move on. If you decide to stay and give your wayward partner another chance and want to work on forgiving them, you may find it one of the most arduous things you will ever have to do. There is no perfect, sure-fire formula that will allow you to magically and utterly forgive your partner overnight and with ease; it is a process that will take time. However, there are a few steps you can follow to help you on the road to forgiving your partner.

Carefully examine yourself, your partner and your relationship.

  • Take a step back and give yourself time to process what happened. Whether you need a few days or weeks is up to you. If you are living together, it might be a good idea for one of you to move out for a while so that you can get the space that you need. In many ways, a betrayal of this magnitude can feel like losing someone so give yourself permission to go through the stages of grief.
  • Don’t blame yourself for the fact that your partner strayed. There may have been underlying issues in your relationship, but they made the decision to cheat.
  • You will need to decide if it’s worth it to even try to make things work with your errant partner. Are they truly remorseful? Are they taking full responsibility for what they did? Do they even want to work on regaining your trust? Is this a one-time thing or has it happened before? Will you regret not giving your partner another chance?
  • Be honest with yourself when assessing your relationship. Do you still make each other happy? Can you imagine your future without your partner in it? How has your relationship been, truly? Has it been going wonderfully or has it been heading nowhere for a while now? Or are you only considering staying with your partner because you’re afraid to be alone?
  • Is there any indication that your partner still wants to stay with you? Are they committed to doing the hard work involved in regaining your trust and earning your forgiveness?
How to Forgive Someone Who Cheated

Work on forgiving your partner and moving on together.

  • It’s important that your partner understands how the betrayal makes you feel – the anger, heartache, humiliation, and confusion. While they may say they are sorry, they should also acknowledge, understand and be sensitive to your feelings.
  • Sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about the affair. While it will do you no good to get the intimate details of their cheating, you deserve to know the facts. Why did they cheat? Who did they cheat on you with? How often were they together? How long did the affair last? Have they ever cheated on you before? Did/Do they love the other person? Realize that a purely physical affair is easier to overcome; both you and your partner will need to work harder to get past an affair in which your partner has fallen for the other person.
  • Create an action plan together. This may sound businesslike, but this step is crucial if you are both committed to making your relationship work. What things can you do to rebuild your relationship, and make sure that it grows stronger? What patterns led to the affair? How does your partner plan to avoid falling into the same patterns? If the affair happened with their co-worker, do they quit and find a new job? What behaviors or situations make you uncomfortable? List these down so your partner will know who and what to avoid so as to relieve your worries. Do you need your partner to constantly update you on their whereabouts? Do you need access to their social media accounts? Is your partner willing to give up their privacy to a certain degree? Should you seek help from a relationship therapist or not?
  • Make sure that you and your partner communicate openly from this point forward. Take the time to listen to what the other has to say. Ask each other about how you feel and remember that while it’s healthy to talk about your negative feelings, it is equally important to talk about your positive emotions regarding each other.
  • Talk about things you can do to improve your relationship. Do you have hobbies that you can enjoy together? If not, maybe now is the time to start trying something new that you can both get into, like working out, taking cooking classes, video gaming, photography, traveling, or hiking.
  • If you feel like you and your partner have grown apart to the point that you no longer share anything in common, you can start with something small, like watching television shows together, going for walks in your neighborhood, reading the same book and discussing it, or cooking meals for each other at home.
  • When you feel comfortable enough to be alone with your partner again for more than a few hours at a time, you may want to consider traveling to a new locale together. This will give you both a breather and help you to distance yourselves from the affair, if only for a while.
  • Try to stop blaming your partner for the affair. This is easier said than done, but it’s an important step in moving on with your lives. This is not to say that you should pretend that it never happened; you can bring it up when you are talking about how you feel with your partner, but bringing it up every few minutes or constantly deriding your partner for their indiscretion won’t help.
  • Don’t make your partner grovel. Sure, they should express how well and truly sorry they are for what they did. However, consider how strenuous it can be if they have to constantly reassure you of their love and devotion.
  • Just because your partner cheated on you doesn’t mean that they should always have to give in to your wishes. For your relationship to survive and thrive there should be mutual trust and respect. Regularly practicing compromise can help you and your partner to get on equal footing and will make for a healthier and happier relationship.
  • Infidelity can cause the betrayed partner to act and think irrationally. This includes thinking too much about the other person your partner cheated on you with. Never compare yourself with them, stalk them on social media or in real life, or bring them up with your partner. Instead of thinking about the other person, focus on yourself, your partner and your relationship.
  • Stop nursing your wounds. Often, the temptation is to focus on how much we have been hurt and to tend to our wounds rather than on healing, restoration and moving on. No matter how badly you may want to throw your partner’s wrongdoing back in their face to remind them of how they failed you, keep in mind that doing so will never bring about forgiveness.
  • Realize that forgiveness is not a one-time decision; you need to decide every day to forgive your partner for being unfaithful. Often, you may not even feel like forgiving them, but because feelings are erratic, you can’t rely on them or be led by them.

It’s possible for relationships to survive infidelity; in fact, many couples have gone on to build happier and healthier relationships after an affair. However, there are also those who have tried to work it out but eventually parted ways. If after having tried your hardest to forgive your partner and work on your relationship you still feel angry and resentful towards them; if you just can’t find it in yourself to trust your partner again; if you find that you can no longer stand the sight and touch of your partner, then you’re better off ending the relationship. There’s no sense in prolonging your and your partner’s misery if you really can’t bring yourself to love and trust them again.