Your partner cheated on you. The person you love, trust, and share the intimacies of your life with has betrayed you. What the hell do you do now? This is a biggie. Here are 6 steps to learn more about how to forgive a cheater. Healing a relationship or marriage from infidelity is not an easy feat - but, it is absolutely possible.
If you’re here and reading this, you’ve already taken the first step towards healing. Finding peace after infidelity is achievable. Let’s dive into how to forgive a cheater and what steps you can take to begin your healing process. I’m glad you’re here.
Emotional and Physical Infidelity
What is Emotional Infidelity?
An emotional affair can be carried on through text, email, phone calls, or in the workplace.
- When someone cheats emotionally on their partner, it can add an entirely new layer of complexity to the problem.
- If a partner carries on an emotional affair, it essentially disallows them from being 100% present; it depletes valuable energy from your relationship.
"Having a connection and sharing vulnerability with a partner is the glue that holds together the foundation of a relationship." ~Dawn Wiggins
If someone is sharing their vulnerabilities and bonds outside of the relationship, it can make their partner feel “not good enough.” And make them wonder how to forgive a cheater.
Infidelity can also be characterized as being flirtatious with someone else, having online affairs, or even watching too much pornography.
Whatever the root cause, infidelity boils down to your partner being unfaithful to you.
Should You Stay or Go?
Alright my friend, first things first.
Is your relationship worth salvaging?
This decision is something you’ll need to be confident in before you can learn how to forgive a cheater.
Infidelity doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a wash and the relationship is dead.
Statistically speaking, the chances of experiencing a loved one stepping out on you are fair. In fact, a recent 2018 General Social Survey shows that 25% of men and 15% of women admit to sex outside of their marriage. If you add in emotional infidelity, the numbers would be even higher, for sure. Don’t let these numbers scare you, though; instead, allow them to strengthen the knowledge that you aren’t alone. Infidelity is a commonly encountered problem in both happy and troubled relationships. And it is totally fixable.
So, how do you decide if you should stay or go?
Consider the following:
- Has your partner cheated before?
- Besides the cheating, what is your relationship like?
- Are you generally happy?
- Does your partner typically act with integrity?
- Are they usually honest with you?
- How much secrecy was involved with infidelity?
- Are both you and your partner ready and willing to work through this?
If your partner has a repeated history of infidelity and doesn’t act with integrity, reconsidering the relationship may be needed. You can’t heal if both of you aren’t on board and present. And if you decide to leave the relationship or your marriage, it is not a failure.
No Shame to Stay
You need to know that there is NO SHAME IN STAYING.
If you decide to work through the infidelity, it does not mean you’re weak.
Working through betrayal with your partner speaks to your strength and conviction.
Staying means your relationship is more important than your partner’s transgressions, and that’s a beautiful thing.
#1 Don’t Play Victim
Yes, you were betrayed by the one you love, and that sucks; however, if you decide to work things out, you cannot have a victim mentality.
When you stay, you become a willing participant. It’s important to understand that problems in your relationship are both you and your partner’s responsibility.
This does not excuse the actions of your partner, but dysfunction stems from you both. Whether it’s a lack of availability to your partner, breakdown in communication, or enabling your partner’s unhealthy behaviors - you’ve both played your parts.
#2 Be Vulnerable
To heal, you and your partner need to discuss the uncomfortable aspects of your relationship and yourselves. Getting down to the nitty-gritty isn’t fun, and it isn’t easy, but it’s crucial.
You both need to be willing to be open and honest with each other.
Often, when there’s a betrayal, it stems from a communication breakdown. When you learn to communicate openly and sincerely with your partner, it paves the way to learning how to forgive a cheater.
#3 Let Go
Forgiveness is vital to the act of healing. I want to be clear that forgiving your partner is not condoning what they did.
To move forward, however, you have to let go of the past. The past is what it is - it cannot be changed. Lingering on what happened is counterproductive.
It’s impossible to deconstruct the past and the contributing elements truly.
Acceptance of what happened is necessary to move forward. Letting go is an important step even if you decide not to stay.
If you don’t make peace with what happened, you’re bound to carry that baggage with you to your next relationship.
#4 Don’t Rush the Process
Healing from infidelity takes time and a lot of effort - don’t rush the process.
I wish it were as easy as saying, “I’m sorry, I love you” and moving on, but it’s not.
Learning how to forgive a cheater can be a slow process.
Who Are You?
You need to allow yourself and your partner time to work on yourselves and re-establish who you are at the core.
- What are your needs?
- Have you asked your partner what they need?
- Which topics should be addressed first?
Your partner may want to move quickly to make you feel better; they feel guilty and uncomfortable with their actions.
Similarly, you may try to move too soon as an attempt to regain normalcy.
The reality is these wounds did not develop overnight and therefore, will not heal overnight.
With time and proper care, however, you can recover.
#5 Seek Therapy
Unpacking your relationship and what caused the infidelity is a lot of work; you and your partner don’t have to go through this process alone.
One of the healthiest things you can do is seek outside help from a therapist such as myself. When you add the element of guidance and experience into your healing, it will make the process easier. A lot of emotional ups and downs will inevitably happen when you’re in recovery from betrayal.
A good therapist will help navigate you through the hurdles. Therapy and counseling can help you, and your partner both develop effective and productive ways to heal individually and as a couple.
Let’s work together to transform this negative event into positive growth.
#6 See the Light
It can be hard to grasp any positivity from a complicated and negative situation such as cheating. But, my friends, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Many couples indicate that infidelity opened the door to addressing underlying problems in the relationship.
I am not in any way condoning cheating, to be clear. Betrayal of a spouse is usually a symptom of other issues; cheating can sometimes be the red flag that draws attention to what needs to be healed in a relationship.
When properly worked through, some couples believe their connection to be more secure and stable than before the infidelity.
A more genuine mutual understanding of the needs of both you and your partner can be reached.
Learn and Grow
If you choose to move on from the relationship, take this opportunity to learn and grow. And know that you will be ok as an individual, outside of your relationship. The same is true if you choose to stay.
Feel Ok Inside or Outside Your Relationship
It’s vital that both you and your partner can confidently feel ok outside of the relationship.
When too much emphasis is placed on the connection to keep you happy, it can cause feelings of desperation, unacceptance, and lack of control.
None of these feelings are healthy or conducive to a long-lasting relationship.
"Strong partnerships are sustained by individuals that desire one another but aren’t co-dependent." ~ Dawn Wiggins
Seize this moment in your relationship or marriage to strengthen yourself as an individual.
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