Can a Relationship Recover From Cheating?
Affairs are painful. They can feel like deep and terrible betrayals.
They shatter the romantic myth that if someone loves me, I am the only person they could ever want.
This blog explains what to do if your partner cheats on you and what steps you can take to avoid an affair in your relationship.
Some people have experienced infidelity in their own intimate relationships. Some people are the children of parents who had affairs. Some people have siblings who strayed in their relationships. Almost everyone knows a friend who has either cheated on a partner or has been cheated on by a partner in a relationship.
Cheating often exposes bigger relationship issues that are being ignored.
The most important thing to remember is if your partner cheats on you, it does not mean that he or she doesn’t love you.
- Should an affair cause the end of a relationship?
- Should an affair cause the end of a marriage?
- Should an affair cause the end of a family?
Not in most situations — especially if the guilty partner has apologized, admitted it was a mistake, and promised to never do it again.
It’s terrible to see your partner choose someone else instead of you. That doesn’t mean your relationship doesn’t hold value and merit. This is especially true in a long-term relationship. It’s unfair to ignore the time you spent together, the children you raised, the homes you have built together, and the communities you share.
Infidelity is hurtful and lonely, but it doesn’t equate to failure.
If the love is still there, you can make it work.
What to Do If Your Partner Cheats
You have two choices: grow or go. Either you stay with your partner and begin to work on the relationship, or you decide to leave and work on another relationship with someone else.
There are three steps you should take in your relationship if you have been cheated on by your partner to help you determine what to do.
Step One: What?!
As in: “What the ??!!”
Most people freak out — and rightfully so — when they find out their partner has cheated on them. Depending on the relationship, it can feel like a crisis as urgent questions come into play right away:
- Where do I sleep tonight?
- Do I need to be tested?
- Is anyone at risk?
- Is our reputation at risk?
The intensity of emotions that initially arise can feel overwhelming. Two people have lost a sense of their identity and their future — at least as they had imagined it.
If the relationship is going to continue, it’s important to ask questions and listen to your partner during this time. It’s also important for the person who has had the affair to show remorse and express guilt — if the relationship is going to continue.
Step Two: Why?
This is the stage where you are trying to make sense of it all. You ask yourself:
- Why did this happen?
- What role did we each play in the infidelity?
- What did the affair mean?
- Is there something we can learn from this?
After listening to your partner explain why they had the affair, take some time away from them.
It can help to talk to someone you trust, preferably a therapist, who can help you uncover why the affair happened and determine your next decision.
You may experience a wide range of contradictory emotions with your partner. One minute, it's hold me; the next minute, it’s get away from me.
Sometimes, couples have intense, passionate sex, and they don’t understand why. The affair triggers some sexual awakening in their own relationship.
Many couples find that they have surprisingly healing conversations with one another with a level of honesty they haven’t had in years.
Step Three: Where?
As in: “Where do we go from here?”
This is the time to determine if you want to continue the relationship and work on growing together.
There is such potential to change the relationship in a way that is better for both partners. This is the time to establish better communication for a stronger relationship. Both people should say: “Going forward, I’m going to need different things from you.”
It will take time to rebuild the trust that is lost with an affair. One of the ways for people who have had affairs to rebuild trust is to show their partners that they matter and that they value them. They need to show that they honor their partner and that they want to be with them. They also need to help them reclaim their sense of value.
Another thing to help rebuild your relationship is to experience new things together. Take a trip to a new place. Do something adventurous together. Plan a random day for a spontaneous sex date.
Unfortunately, it often takes an affair to shake couples out of complacency to save their marriages and relationships.
We take our partners for granted. We become lazy. We become complacent. We lose the connection, and we pretend our partners are going to be there no matter what.
Relationships need daily care to keep the passion alive. Many couples don’t have real conversations about desire, attraction, sex, and monogamy until after an affair.
Look at the intensity of affairs: the imagination, the creativity, the attention, the focus that goes into them. If couples could bring that into their marriages, they would be doing a lot better and may not think of going outside the relationship.
My book, Beyond Mars and Venus, helps couples create more passionate, inspired, and sex-filled relationships so neither partner feels the need to look for someone else.
The best relationships take good communication, patience, and trust, but you are rewarded with an intense intimacy and Soul Mate connection that can only be felt with that partner.
Grow in love,
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