Infidelity doesn’t always have to signal the end of a relationship. Sometimes it’s possible to get past the betrayal and work things out. However, the road to recovery isn’t going to easy. Rebuilding a relationship after trust has been breached is difficult work, but it can be done. If you’re determined to stay together, here’s how you can help your relationship return to a healthy place after you or your partner cheats.
Acknowledge the infidelity and confront your emotions about it.
If you’ve been cheated on, you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen and move on with the relationship. Those negative feelings aren’t going anywhere unless you address them, they’re just going to keep flaring up when you least expect it. You have a right to feel angry, sad, hurt, and betrayed. Sit with your feelings, as painful as they might be. Express how you’re feeling to your partner. It’s the only way to truly heal.
Put an end to the affair and remove all temptations.
Before you can even contemplate working things out, the cheating needs to come to a complete stop. It would feel like a slap in the face if the partner who cheated continues seeing the other person while you’re both trying to mend the relationship. It’ll be difficult to rebuild trust unless steps are taken to cut off any contact with the third party and ensure slip-ups don’t happen again. Set up clear boundaries to help the other partner feel safe.
Don’t wallow in blame or self-pity.
It’s easy to see your partner’s infidelity as a commentary on your failings as a partner. You might think it’s your fault and if you had just done or avoided doing something, they wouldn’t have strayed. Don’t let that line of thinking suck you in. The only person at fault here is the person who cheated. You’re not to blame for their actions. Don’t let jealousy eat you alive either or waste time comparing yourself to the person they cheated on you with.
Discuss the factors that motivated the affair.
Why did you or your partner cheat? Asking this question in no way absolves the erring party of their actions, but the answer can help provide some context and help you both understand how to keep the situation from repeating itself. Maybe the partner that cheated felt like their needs weren’t being met or they have attachment issues. Whatever the problem is, you can work on improving it and building a better, stronger relationship.
Be willing to forgive and let go.
For your relationship to have a shot at getting back to normal, you can’t hold the infidelity over your heads forever. The relationship shouldn’t become a permanent crime scene that the cheating partner is forced to live through every day. If you’re the betrayed partner and you’re committed to saving the relationship, work on forgiving your partner. It’s okay if it takes months for you to forgive them. But in the meantime, try not to bring it up so much.
Find out what you can do to make amends to your partner.
If you’re the one who strayed, you need to seek your partner’s thoughts on how you can atone for the harm done. Ask them what they need to get them to trust you again and do what you can to help them feel comfortable as you rebuild the relationship. Their demands might seem unreasonable sometimes, but do your best to meet them without getting angry or feeling attacked. Understand that it’s just their way of asserting control over the situation.
Be completely honest with each other going forward.
If the partner who was cheated on wants to every detail about the affair, oblige them. Answer their questions honestly even if it makes you feel awkward and ashamed. Don’t just tell them what you think will hurt them the least, be utterly transparent. If they need to know your every move for a while, stomach the humiliation. All that matters is getting your partner to trust you again and that’s going to involve sacrifice and brutal honesty.
Work on rekindling your love.
Think of your relationship after cheating as a new beginning. You’re setting up a new foundation, letting go of the parts of your relationship that don’t work, and shaping new structures that will serve you both better. You need to find your way back to each other, to a time when you were completely happy and assured of your love for each other. Spend time together, share long conversations, recreate happy memories, do things you and/or your partner enjoys.
Consider seeing a licensed counselor.
When one partner cheats, you may not know what to do or how to even begin talking about the affair and healing. It can be good to have a qualified counselor present to help you gain an understanding of what transpired and how you feel about it. With this insight, you can work through this difficult situation, emerge from the other side, and learn to do better by each other.
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