Forgiving a cheater is undoubtedly one of the most challenging decisions one can face in a relationship. The heartache and betrayal that follow infidelity can leave deep scars, making the prospect of forgiveness seem nearly impossible.
Regardless of how painful it gets, exploring the journey of forgiveness can provide a platform to strengthen relationships and build stronger bonds with the people we love. So, while forgiving cheating is difficult, it can provide immense long-term results.
In this article, we will quickly explore some of the reasons why people cheat, the pros and cons of offering forgiveness for cheating, and practical steps to navigate the path of healing after infidelity.
Why do people cheat in a relationship?
With over 46% of adults in monogamous relationships admitting to having had external affairs, cheating seems to be more common than you may have imagined. To effectively figure out how to forgive a cheater, you first understand how their mind works and what makes a person cheat in a relationship.
While there is no one-size-fits-all explanation, several common factors contribute to cheating. Some individuals may seek emotional validation outside their relationship, while others may crave novelty or excitement.
In some cases, communication breakdown or unresolved issues in the relationship can lead one partner to seek solace elsewhere. In other cases, cheating can be the result of some unaddressed trauma from the past.
In any case, the victims of cheating must first understand what caused the trespasser to act the way they do and be ready to fix any messes that have been created. It is only after this time that you can start figuring out how to forgive a cheating partner.
Forgiving a cheater comes with a set of pros and cons that should be carefully considered before making a decision. You must understand that this is a double-sided coin.
On the one hand, it comes with many benefits, and on the other hand, it may turn out indulgent.
In any case, let’s explore the pros and cons in detail:
Pros of forgiving a cheater
Here are some of the possible advantages you will experience in your relationship if you choose to forgive infidelity
1. Rebuilding trust
Studies show that a whopping 57% of couples who revealed their infidelity stuck together and rebuilt their relationships many years after the incident. If anything, this is a sign that forgiveness opens a new channel for rebuilding trust and your emotional connection.
With commitment and effort from both partners, it is possible to strengthen the bond and emerge stronger.
2. Personal growth
Should you forgive a cheater to protect your peace of mind? Somewhat yes!
Choosing forgiveness can lead to personal growth and introspection. It allows you to confront your emotions, work through them, and develop a deeper understanding of yourself.
Then again, the periods accompanying a cheating incident will also help you understand your triggers and identify loopholes in your relationship.
3. Preserving love and history
Long-term relationships are often fraught with multiple challenges along the way. What deepens the bond that couples share is their ability to navigate these trying times and still come out stronger.
By forgiving a cheater, you give your relationship a chance to develop these strong bonds that will eventually form a unique part of your love story.
4. Positive role model
Forgiving a cheater in a relationship can set a positive example for others, showing that relationships can overcome challenges through empathy and compassion.
Letting go of resentment and anger can be immensely liberating as it allows for emotional healing and the possibility of a more fulfilling future.
6. Continuity of the family unit
In cases where children are involved, forgiveness may help in maintaining a stable and cohesive family environment, offering a sense of security to the children.
7. Rediscovering intimacy
Forgiveness opens up the possibility of rediscovering intimacy and re-establishing a deeper emotional connection.
Cons of forgiving a cheater
The disadvantages of expressing forgiveness and a willingness to move on from cheating include
1. Risk of repeated infidelity
This is one of the biggest risks you’d face when you decide to extend an olive branch to a cheater. What is the guarantee that they wouldn’t wander out again and leave you to pack the shards of your broken emotions all by yourself?
Studies also suggest that once a person cheats, they are more likely to make a habit out of cheating as they voyage across relationships.
2. Unresolved issues
Opting to forgive without addressing underlying issues may lead to unresolved conflicts, creating a ticking time bomb within the relationship.
3. Emotional turmoil
Forgiveness does not erase the pain caused by infidelity; instead, it may lead to prolonged emotional turmoil and distress.
4. Loss of self-esteem
The victim of infidelity might grapple with feelings of inadequacy and diminished self-worth, and this can impact their overall well-being.
5. Trust issues
Figuring out how to forgive someone who cheated on you can be challenging. Even with the resolve to let go of the past, you may find yourself wondering “what if” many times in the future. Cheating damages trust in relationships.
6. Pressure to forgive
External pressures to forgive can add stress to an already fragile situation, leading to hasty decisions. These hasty decisions will eventually take their toll on the relationship.
Despite efforts to forgive, lingering resentment may persist, hindering any chances of moving past the cheating episode and re-establishing trust.
How to forgive someone who has cheated on you
Forgiving someone who has cheated on you is a deeply personal and challenging process, but it is possible with self-reflection and empathy. Keep in mind that the final; decision to let go or break up lies in your hand, and no one should take that power away from you.
First of all, feel free to take a break from the relationship if you must so that you can clear your head and think objectively.
What steps can be taken to rebuild trust after cheating?
Rebuilding trust after cheating requires dedication and a shared commitment to healing. This implies that it isn’t the work of one party to do all the work while the other watches on in silence.
Yes, the cheater will have to do more of the work to mend broken bridges, but if their partner isn’t on board (or doesn’t take any steps to show their commitment to the healing process), forgiving a cheater and moving on becomes almost impossible.
Are you currently working on your after-cheating episode? Here are some tips to help you.
This is not the time to keep secrets from your partner. No matter how much it hurts, the cheating partner should be transparent about their actions and whereabouts.
What hurts more than a cheating instance is discovering that a cheating partner was hiding something from you at the same time.
Over time, the cheating partner must demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness. It takes time to get over the effects of cheating, and inconsistencies won’t earn you brownie points in your partner’s books.
This ties back into the first point discussed in this subsection. The cheating partner must take responsibility for their actions and show they’re sorry for what they’ve done. Forgiveness, at this point, is a blessing they should request, not a privilege they demand.
4. Understanding the root cause
As stated earlier, cheating is usually a sign that something is wrong somewhere. Take this time to go through your relationship again and plug every hole you identify. This way, you come out stronger.
Watch this thought-provoking video on ‘Rethinking infidelity’:
How can therapy or counseling help with forgiveness after cheating?
Therapy or counseling can play a pivotal role in the healing process after infidelity. A trained therapist can offer objective guidance, facilitate open communication and help both yourself and your partner to explore your emotions and perspectives.
Additionally, therapy provides a safe space to address underlying issues that contributed to the infidelity, empowering you to find constructive solutions.
More questions to consider
Here are some of the common questions regarding forgiving a cheater and their answers. Read through to get more clarity and strength while navigating this complex emotional journey.
Can a cheater be faithful?
Yes, a cheater can experience a U-turn and become faithful to their partner. However, do not bank on this as you make the decision to walk away or remain in the relationship after a cheating episode.
Do cheaters feel guilty?
In many cases, yes, they do. But, a person with a history of cheating may have gotten past that stage where they care. So, consider their past as well.
Can forgiveness truly heal a relationship after cheating?
Should you forgive cheating in the hope of reconciliation?
Yes, it can. When you choose to practice forgiveness after being cheated on, you extend some grace to your partner.
This period opens you up to the chinks in your relationship, allows you to develop a deeper bond and understand your emotional needs, and also gives you another chance to build a solid relationship.
How can you determine if the cheater is genuinely remorseful?
The litmus test for this is to check their attitude after cheating. A remorseful person will do all they can to prove that they’re indeed sorry and are willing to change. They’ll be accountable, take responsibility for their actions, and be willing to remedy the situation.
One who isn’t remorseful, on the other hand, will keep up their shady actions or try to absolve themselves of any blame whatsoever.
Can cheating truly be forgiven?
Cheating’s forgiveness hinges on genuine remorse, open communication, and efforts to rebuild trust. While still challenging, forgiveness can heal wounds and promote growth if both parties commit to reconciliation.
Towards forgiveness and healing
Forgiving a cheater is a complex and emotional decision shaped by individual circumstances and personal growth. By carefully examining the pros and cons, understanding the reasons behind infidelity, and taking deliberate steps towards healing and trust-building, couples can find a path to forgiveness and, potentially, a stronger, more resilient relationship.
Keep in mind that each journey of forgiveness is unique, and seeking support from friends, family, or a professional can be invaluable in the pursuit of healing and restoration.
Owen Kessler is a talented writer with a knack for making complex topics easy to understand. He has a particular interest in psychology and personal growth, and his writing is known for its insightful commentary on these subjects. Read more When he’s not writing, Owen enjoys spending time camping in the beautiful mountains and forests that surround his home. He also loves to travel and has a deep appreciation for the diversity of cultures he encounters on his journeys.
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