Don't let a broken heart affect your mental health. Learn effective strategies on how to forgive a cheater and start the healing process of your relationship.
Written by Aastha Pahadia | Updated on May 24, 2023 | 12:39 PM IST | 14.9K
Tips on How to Forgive a Cheater And Heal a Broken Heart
Discovering infidelity can be devastating and overwhelming. The betrayal of trust can leave deep emotional wounds that seem impossible to heal. However, forgiveness has the potential to bring healing and restore emotional well-being. In this article, we will delve into the complex topic of how to forgive a cheater and discover the transformative power of forgiveness after infidelity. We will explore why people cheat, examine the pros and cons of forgiveness, and provide practical tips on how to forgive and move forward.
Understanding these underlying reasons behind infidelity can provide insights into the complex dynamics that lead individuals to cheat. It is important to note that while these points offer some explanations, each case is unique, and multiple factors often contribute to infidelity, which will help you understand accordingly how to forgive someone for cheating.
Why Do People Cheat In a Relationship?
There are various reasons why people cheat in a relationship. It’s important to note that people in a happy relationship cheat too. Also, contrary to what many people believe, cheating is not just about sexual satisfaction – many times, people tend to cheat to get emotional intimacy from the other person. Let’s dive deeper into the reasons why people cheat.
1. Lack of Emotional Fulfilment
When individuals feel emotionally neglected or unsatisfied in their relationship, they may seek validation or emotional connection outside of it. This could occur when partners become disconnected, fail to communicate effectively, or neglect each other's emotional needs. They start craving emotional intimacy so much that they resort to cheating. Infidelity may be seen as a way to fill the void and find the emotional support they crave.
2. Sexual Dissatisfaction
Unfulfilled sexual desires or boredom can drive some individuals to seek sexual gratification elsewhere. The lack of intimacy or excitement in the relationship may lead them to explore outside options, seeking novelty or fulfilling their sexual fantasies. However, it's important to note that not all cases of infidelity stem from sexual dissatisfaction, as emotional factors often play a significant role. Having said that, sexual dissatisfaction is still one of the major causes of cheating in a relationship.
3. Escaping Relationship Problems
No relationship is perfect, but many times, couples are not able to handle the problems that come along with a long-term relationship and cheat on their partners. Troublesome dynamics, constant conflicts, or unresolved issues in a relationship can lead individuals to cheat as a way to escape or find temporary relief. They may believe that seeking solace or validation in someone else's arms will provide a respite from the challenges within the relationship. However, this temporary escape rarely resolves the underlying issues and can further complicate the situation.
4. Low Self-Esteem
Individuals with low self-esteem might seek validation and affirmation from others to boost their sense of self-worth. They may be vulnerable to external validation and attention, leading them to engage in infidelity. Seeking validation outside the relationship can momentarily elevate their self-esteem, even though it is built upon deception and can ultimately damage their self-worth further.
5. Thrill and Novelty
Some people cheat out of a desire for excitement, novelty, or a sense of adventure that they feel is lacking in their current relationship. The routine and predictability of a long-term relationship can sometimes lead individuals to crave the thrill of new experiences. This can drive them to seek excitement outside their committed partnership, as they believe it will inject passion and excitement back into their lives.
6. Unresolved Personal Issues
Personal issues, such as unresolved trauma, childhood wounds, or addictive tendencies, can contribute to infidelity as individuals attempt to cope or escape from their own struggles. Infidelity may serve as a coping mechanism or a way to fill emotional voids resulting from unresolved personal issues. The cheating behavior can be a manifestation of deeper emotional wounds that need to be addressed both individually and within the context of the relationship.
What Are the Pros And Cons of Forgiving a Cheater?
Living with a disloyal partner can take a toll on anyone. Forgiving a cheating partner is never easy and it’s even more challenging to rebuild the relationship with them. There is no one answer to ‘Should you forgive a cheater’ — it depends on the circumstances and what you wish to do. Just like the coin has two sides, forgiving your partner can also have good or bad sides. Before embarking on the path of how to forgive a cheater, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons. Read on to know more.
1. Emotional Healing
Forgiveness allows for the release of negative emotions, promoting personal growth and emotional well-being. By letting go of anger, resentment, and bitterness, individuals can experience a sense of liberation and find inner peace.
2. Rebuilding Trust
Forgiving a cheater can create an opportunity to rebuild trust, leading to a stronger and more resilient relationship. With consistent efforts, open communication, and transparency, it is possible to regain trust over time and work towards a healthier connection.
3. Restored Intimacy
By addressing the root causes of infidelity and engaging in deep, honest conversations, couples can work towards re-establishing a deeper and more authentic intimacy. This can lead to a renewed sense of closeness and a stronger emotional bond.
4. Personal Growth
Forgiveness provides an opportunity for personal growth, fostering empathy, compassion, and resilience. Through the process of forgiveness, individuals can gain insights into their own vulnerabilities, learn to set healthy boundaries, and develop a greater understanding of themselves and their partner.
5. Avoidance of Regret
Choosing forgiveness may prevent feelings of regret later on, as one might wonder if they missed an opportunity to salvage the relationship. By making a conscious decision to forgive, individuals can find peace of mind knowing they have explored all avenues of healing and growth.
6. Positive Role Modeling
Forgiveness sets an example for forgiveness and resilience, both within the relationship and for others who may face similar challenges. It can inspire others to choose empathy, compassion, and forgiveness in their own lives, contributing to a more harmonious and understanding society.
1. Ongoing Pain And Trust Issues
It’s said trust once lost can never be regained, not fully at least — there are scars that remain intact in your hearts forever. Forgiveness can make you feel better for a while but it does not erase the pain caused by infidelity, and trust may take a long time to rebuild, if at all. The injured party may continue to experience emotional turmoil and doubts about their partner's faithfulness, which can create ongoing challenges within the relationship.
2. Fear of Recurrence
There is a risk that the cheating behavior might happen again, causing further heartache and damage to the relationship. Rebuilding trust requires consistent effort, transparency, and a genuine commitment from the cheater to address the underlying issues and prevent a recurrence of infidelity. Even if the partner who has cheated has mended their ways, the injured party may constantly live in the fear that they might cheat again, which can harm their mental health too in the long run.
3. Unbalanced Power Dynamics
Forgiving a cheater might lead to an imbalanced power dynamic, where the cheater holds more control or influence within the relationship. The injured party may feel a sense of vulnerability and dependence, which can strain the dynamics and potentially lead to further issues if not addressed.
4. Builds Low Self-Esteem
Once someone has cheated, it may make their partner feel that their love and respect are not enough for them. They may start dealing with lower self-esteem and question their worth. These feelings of inadequacy can harm your mental health and sabotage your relationship.
5. Social Judgment
Society's judgment or opinions regarding forgiveness can add pressure and complicate the healing process. External factors, such as family, friends, or cultural norms, may influence the injured party's decision to forgive and can create additional emotional challenges.
6. Compatibility Evaluation
Forgiveness requires a careful evaluation of the relationship's compatibility and whether both partners are genuinely committed to growth and change. It is essential to assess whether the underlying issues that led to infidelity can be addressed and resolved, and whether both individuals are willing to put in the necessary effort to rebuild and maintain a healthy relationship.
How to Forgive a Cheater And Mend a Broken Relationship?
Once you know that your partner has cheated, you might be in a dilemma of whether to forgive them or not. Once you’ve decided to forgive your partner and work on your relationship, you’ll need a lot of effort to strengthen your bond and build trust again. Here’s our detailed guide on how to forgive a cheater that will help you save your struggling relationship and build a happy bond with your partner.
1. Acknowledge And Validate Your Feelings
Recognize that it is natural to experience a wide range of emotions, including anger, betrayal, sadness, and confusion, when discovering infidelity. Allow yourself to fully acknowledge and validate these feelings without judgment. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of trust and the idealized vision of the relationship you once had. By acknowledging and honoring your emotions, you create space for healing and growth.
2. Seek Support
Navigating the aftermath of infidelity can be overwhelming, and seeking support is crucial. Reach out to trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can provide a safe space for you to express your emotions and offer guidance through the healing process. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others who can empathize with your situation can provide comfort and validation, as well as insights and perspectives that can aid in your healing journey.
3. Understand the Root Causes
To effectively forgive, it is essential to understand the underlying reasons behind the infidelity. Engage in open and honest conversations with your partner to gain insights into their motivations, struggles, and unmet needs that contributed to their actions. Explore whether there were any relationship dynamics or external factors that influenced the cheating. This understanding can help generate empathy and facilitate healing, as you gain a deeper understanding of the complexity surrounding the betrayal.
4. Establish Boundaries
Establishing clear and healthy boundaries is one of the best tips on how to forgive a cheater and is crucial in the process of forgiving a cheater. Clearly communicate your expectations and boundaries moving forward, ensuring that both you and your partner are on the same page. This may involve setting guidelines for open and honest communication, discussing monogamy, or establishing boundaries regarding privacy and transparency. Establishing and maintaining these boundaries is essential for rebuilding trust and ensuring the emotional safety of both partners.
5. Rebuild Trust Through Transparency
Rebuilding trust is a gradual process that requires the cheater to be open and transparent. They must be willing to take responsibility for their actions and provide reassurance as the injured party seeks to rebuild trust. This may include willingly answering questions about the affair, being accessible and responsive, and offering complete honesty moving forward. The cheater's consistent demonstration of transparency and accountability can help restore trust over time.
6. Embrace the Process
Forgiveness is a journey, not a destination, and it takes time. Embrace the process with patience and self-compassion. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that arise along the way, understanding that healing and forgiveness occur in stages. It is essential to be gentle with yourself and not rush the process. Celebrate the small victories and milestones achieved on the path of forgiveness, knowing that it is a courageous and transformative act of reclaiming your emotional well-being.
Can a Relationship Go Back to Normal After Cheating?
Rebuilding a relationship after forgiving a cheating partner is challenging, but it is possible to renew the relationship and go back to your happy phase. With commitment, open communication, and a willingness to address underlying issues, couples can forge a stronger, more resilient partnership. It requires effort, time, and a shared dedication to personal growth and relationship repair.
One of the key elements in restoring a relationship after infidelity is a deep exploration of the root causes that led to the betrayal. It is vital for both partners to engage in honest and introspective self-reflection to understand their individual contributions to the breakdown of trust. By addressing these underlying issues, both on an individual and relational level, the relationship has the potential to grow stronger and more resilient.
Rebuilding trust is a cornerstone of healing. Trust is not simply regained; it is earned over time through consistent actions, transparency, and open communication. Both partners must be willing to demonstrate their commitment to rebuilding trust, allowing the injured party to witness the cheater's unwavering dedication to their healing journey. This involves being accountable for their actions, maintaining open lines of communication, and offering reassurance and emotional support as needed.
Ultimately, whether a relationship can go back to a sense of normalcy after cheating depends on dedication, effort, and mutual willingness to heal and grow. While it may never be the same as it was before, it has the potential to become something even more profound—a relationship that has withstood the test of adversity and emerged stronger, more authentic, and deeply connected.
Forgiving a cheater is a deeply personal decision that varies for each individual and relationship. It involves acknowledging and validating emotions, understanding the root causes, and actively working towards healing and rebuilding trust. It also requires consistent effort, and a shared commitment from both partners to work through the challenges. Whether the path leads to reconciliation or separation, the journey of forgiveness can bring emotional liberation and pave the way for personal growth. We hope that this guide on how to forgive a cheater reminds you that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but a powerful act of self-love and healing.
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What not to do when you catch your partner cheating on you
- Talk about the bigger issues. ...
- Know your boundaries and be able to articulate them. ...
- Be emotionally present when communicating. ...
- Seek out support from others who have experienced emotional cheating. ...
- Consider seeking a relationship coach.
- Understand your partner's position. ...
- Consider taking a break before making a decision. ...
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. ...
- Consult a family or couple therapist.
- Let Yourself Be Raw With Your Emotions. ...
- Don't Ignore What Happened. ...
- Don't Be a Helicopter Partner. ...
- Stay Present and Future-Oriented. ...
- Go to Counseling. ...
- Trust Yourself. ...
- Communicate About Communication. ...
- Trust After Cheating: Time to Build It Back Up.
It is possible to recover from an emotional affair if both people are invested in the process. Working with a professional can help both partners heal, learn how to create greater transparency, and rebuild trust.How do I stop hurting after infidelity? ›
- Forgiveness is key. ...
- Decide to forgive your partner. ...
- Be prepared for bad thoughts. ...
- Don't use your partner's infidelity as ammunition. ...
- Understand that you may never understand. ...
- Don't seek retribution.
- Remember: you are not to blame. ...
- Accept that things are going to suck for a while. ...
- Put yourself first. ...
- Try to keep your cool. ...
- Don't make decisions out of fear. ...
- Surround yourself with your squad. ...
- Take a mini-break from socials. ...
- Ask for (professional) help if you need it.
Usually, they do so for one or more of the following reasons: Self-Exploration. For some, cheating is a way to explore repressed parts of the self. These cheaters don't actually want to change the core of who they are; they just want to escape the constraints of that for a little while.Why is it so hard to forgive infidelity? ›
Perhaps the most difficult thing is to forgive cheating on a partner, infidelity, because this kind of betrayal causes us to start doubting ourselves. Not only does it make our world come crashing down, it makes us feel like everything we've built in the relationship is fake.Does the pain of infidelity ever go away? ›
It's absolutely possible to heal from infidelity. Although the pain and grief can be intense, it's also possible to work on the relationship so that you and your partner are able to move on.Is it worth it to forgive a cheater? ›
Forgiving someone who has cheated on you can improve other relationships. It helps break down barriers after you feel betrayed. By letting go of negative feelings associated with the incident, you'll be able to reconnect to others without fear or judgment.
Unfortunately, there are several long-term effects of infidelity that can affect a person long after the cheating has stopped. These can be life-changing, and lead to the development of certain mental health conditions including chronic depression, anxiety, post-infidelity stress disorder, and betrayal trauma.When should you walk away after emotional infidelity? ›
If your partner continues to see the person with whom they cheated, it can be really hard to heal and move forward together. This can be a sign that they don't consider your feelings and the impact the affair had on you. If that is the case, it's a good reason to walk away and know your worth.How do you fix a relationship after cheating and lying? ›
- Make sure there is remorse.
- Be honest about why it happened.
- Remove temptations to re-engage with the affair.
- Move forward with brutal honesty and care.
- Be selective about who you tell.
- Consider working with a licensed therapist.
“Couples do and can stay together after an affair, but it takes a lot of work to repair broken trust.” Klow says most couples don't recover when one cheats but “those that do can emerge stronger from having gone through the process of recovering from the affair.” It takes time, however.Why do emotional affairs hurt so much? ›
“Our emotional bond is the first step leading to a physical relation, in most cases. So for a lot of people, emotional cheating hurts just as much because it's so close to turning into something more,” says psychologist Madhavi Gangopadhyay.How long does infidelity trauma last? ›
It takes around 2 to 5 years for the pain of infidelity to fade. Recovering from infidelity and strengthening your marriage takes patience and dedication from both of you. You must work together as partners.How long does betrayal trauma last? ›
Recovering from betrayal trauma is not something that can be done in a day or two. On average, it usually takes between eighteen months to three years to absolutely recover, especially with a lot of help and moral support.Can you get PTSD from being cheated on? ›
Research shows that betrayed partners, after learning that their significant other has strayed, typically experience stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms characteristic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).What infidelity does to a woman? ›
Grief, brain changes, behaviors down the road, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, chronic stress, and depression can result. Some families have been able to move past infidelity with time and therapy. To move on, this takes active work on both partners to work on the root cause of the infidelity.How do I find inner peace after betrayal? ›
- Acknowledge instead of avoid. Healing often requires you to first come to terms with what happened. ...
- Practice accepting difficult emotions. Plenty of unpleasant emotions can show up in the aftermath of betrayal. ...
- Turn to others for support. ...
- Focus on what you need.
Cheating Pushes Your Brain Into PTSD Territory
Flashbacks, nightmares, and obsessive thoughts about the situation are some of the most frequent symptoms. You might also be overly alert and react to any perceived threat to your own or your relationship.
People who habitually cheat may do so as a way of dealing with a fear of abandonment, which may stem from low self-esteem. They think that by being with multiple people, they won't be abandoned. Some people cheat repeatedly due to their own insecurities and a deep-seated fear that they are unlovable.What does cheating say about a person? ›
The most important thing to remember is what cheating says about a person. They're insecure, impulsive, selfish, and immature. Sometimes, it's a chronic problem that likely won't ever be fixed, just be sure not to ignore the warning signs.Can someone truly love you and cheat? ›
Infidelity does not mean that the love is gone or never existed. The reality is that you can love someone and still cheat on them. In fact, many affairs happen in relationships that are otherwise very happy.What hurts most about infidelity? ›
People who have experienced infidelity report feeling betrayed, losing trust, rage, and damaged self-esteem. These are just some of the feelings a person can experience because of infidelity.What percentage of people forgive a cheating partner? ›
This Will Make 39 Percent of People Forgive a Cheating Partner, New Study Says. Cheating is one of the biggest transgressions a person can make in a relationship. Doing so leads to broken trust and feelings of betrayal, and can harm the partnership in irreparable ways. However, it is possible to rebuild after an affair ...What percentage of spouses forgive cheating? ›
That plays into how likely a cheater is to get forgiven: 76 percent of the women would forgive their partner for a sexual affair, while only 35 percent of the men would, the survey found.What is the emotional flooding after infidelity? ›
Discovering your partner has cheated can open the gates to a flood of overwhelming emotions. Confusion, grief, physical pain, sadness, anger, and even rage are all normal responses to the pain of betrayal.How does a betrayed spouse heal? ›
Attending regular therapy sessions is often one of the most effective ways to repair a relationship after infidelity. Both individual therapy and couples counseling are useful in these situations. Individual therapy is good for both the individual who was unfaithful and the individual who was cheated on.How long should you wait to forgive a cheater? ›
For some people, they might need a few weeks to forgive a cheating spouse, and everything returns to normal. On the other hand, the issue of taking back a cheating spouse could span as long as several months running to years.
Experts like Nelson agree the only reason to stay with a cheating spouse is if he or she is deeply and genuinely sorry for the betrayal and willing to work for your forgiveness. This means they show they understand the pain you went through after learning about the affair, Dr.What is something you could never forgive in a relationship? ›
This can tie into cheating, but also just lying in general. If your partner keeps lying to you, he or she can't be trusted, and it's a level of disrespect and shadiness that might not be forgiven in a relationship, says Ziegler.
Things that can trigger flashbacks include spending time with your partner who cheated, romantic sounds, love stories, not hearing from your partner and sometimes they can just come out of the blue when you least expect it. Being betrayed by a loved one can often be traumatic.What are the triggers of infidelity PTSD? ›
A partner betrayed by infidelity may experience symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder. Intrusive thoughts and an inability to stop scanning for new data that could cause distress are two symptoms characteristic of being cheated on.What are the emotions after being cheated on? ›
For instance, it's common to feel disappointed or betrayed after infidelity, so take a moment to recognize these feelings are normal. "In general, getting over infidelity follows the usual stages of grief: shock/denial; anger/defiance; bargaining; depression, remorse; and acceptance," explains Weiss.How do I get over the guilt of cheating without telling? ›
- Figure Out Why You Cheated. Exploring why you cheated is often the first step in understanding and forgiving yourself. ...
- Reflect. ...
- Look at Yourself with Empathy. ...
- Start Journaling. ...
- Practice Mindfulness. ...
- Examine Your Triggers. ...
- Don't Make Excuses. ...
- Practice Self-Care.
Be honest, use full disclosure about the affair, and find a way to atone or express remorse. Deal with the traumatic feelings after the discovery and be willing to ask and answer questions. Must end the affair. Be willing to apologize for cheating in a sincere way and promise not to repeat it.What percentage of relationships work after cheating? ›
How Many Couples Stay Together After an Affair? In one study, researchers found that with instances of secret infidelity, only about 20% of couples were still married after 5 years. However, for couples who revealed infidelity, that percentage jumped to 57%.Should you forgive someone who emotionally cheated? ›
An emotional affair is a big deal, and shouldn't be brushed under the rug. It's great that you want to forgive your partner, but don't suppress your own feelings to try and speed up the healing process. It's absolutely okay and normal to feel angry, heartbroken, or even traumatized after uncovering an emotional affair.How to hurt a cheater emotionally? ›
- Make him jealous with someone else.
- Act like you don't care when you find out.
- Give him the cold shoulder.
- Let him know that he hurt you.
- Leave him for good.
- Give him his stuff back in a box.
- Tell everyone what happened.
- Update your look.
Emotional affairs are often a result of feeling neglected, misunderstood or overlooked in a relationship. If a person believes that their partner does not value them, or does not have time for them, then they might strike up a friendship with a new person who offers more emotional investment and support.Do cheaters regret hurting you? ›
Statistics show that only 31% of marriages last after the affair has been discovered or admitted to. People who are unfaithful to their partners regret causing their loved one so much pain and heartache. Even if the couple decides to stay together, it's very hard for them to have a trust-based, happy relationship.Can the cheater be traumatized? ›
Infidelity can be traumatic, causing intensely painful emotions for the person who was cheated on. They may actually experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including heightened anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and emotional distress.What cheating says about a person? ›
The most important thing to remember is what cheating says about a person. They're insecure, impulsive, selfish, and immature. Sometimes, it's a chronic problem that likely won't ever be fixed, just be sure not to ignore the warning signs.Do cheaters love their partners? ›
Some cheaters, despite loving their partner and enjoying their relationship, feel they deserve more. Rather than seeing their vow of fidelity as a sacrifice made to and for their relationship, they view it as something to be worked around.How does cheating affect a woman mentally? ›
It can cause you chronic anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, and mistrust of others for a long time after the event.What cheating does to a woman? ›
Unfortunately, there are several long-term effects of infidelity that can affect a person long after the cheating has stopped. These can be life-changing, and lead to the development of certain mental health conditions including chronic depression, anxiety, post-infidelity stress disorder, and betrayal trauma.Why is the cheater so angry? ›
Anger or Aggression
Anger and aggression are two other common initial reactions to accusations of cheating. Cheaters often use anger as a form of deflection to turn the situation around and make accusations against you instead, like that you don't trust them enough.
Affairs usually end in one of three ways: divorce and remarriage, divorce and relationship loss, or the recommitment to the relationship that was betrayed. Each of these resolutions to an affair has its own pros and cons.What is considered mentally cheating? ›
What Does It Mean To Mentally Cheat? Mentally cheating is thinking about cheating or being with someone else outside of your marriage or relationship. If you are in a relationship or married and there is someone you cannot stop thinking about who isn't your partner, it could be said that you are cheating.