How to Repair a Relationship After Cheating (2023)

You cheated on your partner, but your relationship does not necessarily have to end. Even though admitting infidelity to your partner will cause much heartache and anger, your relationship can survive if you both want it to.

But repairing a relationship after infidelity can only happen if you truly regret your decision to cheat. If you decide to confess to your partner, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, not just to ease your own guilt.

Should You Save Your Marriage?

If you cheated on your spouse, you may wonder whether you can or should keep your marriage going.

Infidelity comes in many forms. Some people consciously or subconsciously use cheating as a way to end a marriage. Others cheat when seeking validation or fulfillment from an outside relationship. While others may be impulsive and take opportunities for immediate gratification. Regardless of the reasons, some relationships will be salvageable after cheating and some might come to an end.

There are a number of reasons why a marriage might not survive cheating. When the betrayal is too painful or when both partners are not committed to mending the damage, it is likely that the partnership will end.

Deciding the relationship is not salvageable after cheating can be a painful but necessary conclusion.

Making the Decision to End Your Marriage

Ways to Save a Relationship After Cheating

There are steps you can take to rebuild your relationship if both you and your partner are willing to make it work.

Reflect on How You're Feeling

You'll want to take some time to yourself and process your emotions. Notice whether you feel regretful about cheating on your partner. Do you feel ready to be held accountable for your actions? Are you willing to invest the time to heal your relationship?

Is cheating on your partner something you feel you'll do again? Be honest with yourself. Getting in touch with your feelings can inform the emotional work you'll need to do if you want to make your relationship work.

Stop Cheating

If you are recommitting to your relationship, it's important that you not continue to cheat. In cases where the infidelity was fleeting, it may be easier to stop and cut ties. When ending an emotional affair, on the other hand, the process may be more difficult.

(Video) How To Rebuild A Relationship After Cheating | Building Trust After Cheating

If the person you cheated with is someone you see every day, like a co-worker, you will have to establish boundaries with them. For instance, you may avoid speaking with them about anything that isn't work-related, and you don't socialize with them outside of work.

The person you cheated with might also have feelings for you. If they continue to pursue you, you will need to make it clear that you can no longer see them.

Accept Responsibility

No matter your "reasons" for cheating, you must accept responsibility for your actions and rebuild trust. Avoid putting the blame on your partner or on your relationship problems. Apologize to your partner.

Ways to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage

Make a Decision

Do you and your partner both want to stay in the relationship? If you both want to stay together, you have a common goal. Make a decision knowing that you'll both have to commit to rebuilding trust and communication.

If you stay together, your relationship will be different moving forward. But you can build a new relationship. It will take time, but try to look toward your future together, not the past.

If your partner wants to end the relationship, you need to respect their decision. They may also need time and space away from you before they decide, and that's OK.

Questions to Ask Before Leaving a Marriage

(Video) TIPS: What to do after CHEATING | 5 STEPS to FIX a broken relationship

Be Honest

You must be honest, with yourself and with your partner, if you want to move forward. It's likely that you had to lie to your partner to keep your cheating a secret. Now is the time for transparency.

Be direct and open in order to help your relationship get to solid ground. Honesty in relationships is associated with lower conflict. But it is important for both partners to agree on being honest and to talk about their expectations.

Keep Your Promises

If you say you are going to be somewhere, be there. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be dependable and don't break your promises. It'll be harder to rebuild trust in your relationship if you are not dependable and reliable.

Be Open and Patient

Be open to letting your partner know where you are, who you are with, and so on. Try not to hide things from them anymore.

It is normal for your partner to feel betrayed and be mistrustful. Acknowledge their feelings and work toward rebuilding the trust that you have betrayed. Don't expect your partner to trust you again right away. But, with time, you can try to regain their trust.

Communicate

Research has shown that not being able to talk to one another is one of the most commonly cited reasons why marriages fail.Be willing to listen and talk to your partner.

If you cheated because your relationship wasn't meeting your needs, tell your partner what those needs are. It's important you both understand each other fully and have a sense of what the other person needs.

Develop a Strong Connection Through Communication

Give Your Partner Some Space

It is OK to take a "time out" if emotions are running high or one of you is emotionally triggered. Sometimes, things need to cool down before you can be around each other again or talk about difficult topics.

Spend Time With Your Partner

Along with letting your partner have some alone time, you need to have together time, too. Plan date nights and, when your partner is ready, consider taking a getaway together.

14 Fun Activities to Do With Your Spouse

(Video) How to REBUILD TRUST in a Relationship After LIES, CHEATING & AFFAIRS

Get Professional Help

In order to move past the cheating, you and your partner need to be open to discussing and identifying issues and problems in your own personal life and in your relationship. You might consider seeing a relationship counselor or a marriage counselor to help with that process.

Emotionally-focused couples therapy is a good modality for working through the pain of infidelity and to help rebuild new ways of interacting.

Some studies suggest that couples who experience infidelity and seek professional help often have optimistic results and are able to repair their relationships.

The Best Online Marriage Counseling Programs

Be Willing to Forgive

In addition to being forgiven by your partner, you need to forgive yourself. You should take responsibility for cheating, but you don't need to carry buckets of guilt for the rest of your life.

One study looked at how couples rebuild their marriage after an affair. Researchers found that while the process was difficult, forgiveness played a critical role.

Why You May Have Cheated

Understanding the reasons you cheated can help you make peace with your own actions as well as inform the decisions you make about your relationship moving forward.

Being Unhappy in the Relationship

Be honest about why you cheated in the first place. Many people cheat because they're unsatisfied with the relationship. Maybe you fell out of love with your partner. It's possible you cheated because you were unhappy and wanted the relationship to end.

Or, maybe you cheated because you're not as committed to your partner as they are to you. You may decide you don't want to continue the relationship.

If you aren't feeling confident about putting in the work to repair the relationship and fully committing to your partner, be honest and tell them.

Seeking Revenge

Some people cheat because they are seeking revenge for something their partner did to them. For instance, maybe you are angry at them for betraying you. Perhaps your partner cheated in the past or crossed your boundaries. Victims of sexual betrayal often seek revenge in the form of infidelity.

(Video) How to Rebuild a Relationship After Cheating

Maybe you've felt neglected and lonely in the relationship, and you are seeking attention from your partner by having an affair with someone else.

Sexual Desires

By cheating, you might've been fulfilling sexual desires that aren't being met in your relationship. You and your partner can have an open conversation about your sexual needs—especially in a safe setting where you're both comfortable sharing, such as therapy.

However, there may be needs your partner can't fulfill. If you want to engage in sexual acts that your partner doesn't feel comfortable with, you have to honor their boundaries.

Personality Traits

Studies have found that people with certain personality traits may be more likely to cheat on their partners. For instance, people who are more impulsive tend to have a harder time avoiding temptation.

If you often engage in impulsive behavior, you might find it hard to use self-control in situations where you may cheat.

Your attachment style—the way you relate to other people—may also influence cheating. People with an insecure attachment style often feel a lack of love from their partner and have low self-esteem. You might seek validation by having an affair.

No matter what type of personality you have, you can still have a successful, monogamous relationship if that's what you truly want. The first step is being honest and understanding yourself better.

Reasons Why Married People Cheat

A Word From Verywell

You may have been unhappy in your relationship for a long time. Cheating usually complicates relationships, even if it felt good in the beginning. It is courageous to be honest with yourself and your partner. You can recommit to your partner, or you both may decide it's better to move on and end the relationship. Either way, accepting responsibility will help you progress.

FAQs

Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating? ›

Experts say it's possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they're willing to put in the work. “The couple can survive and grow after an affair,” says Coleman.

How long does it take to repair a relationship after cheating? ›

There is no set time for affair recovery.

However, there can be a period of healing. During this time, you and your spouse will take specific steps towards healing. Even better, this period is not even that long. Most of it can take anywhere between 8-10 weeks.

Can trust be rebuilt after cheating? ›

Learning to trust again after betrayal is a slow process and extremely challenging. That said, there is reason to be hopeful under certain conditions. However, both partners must first accept that they each have work to do to recover from the pain. In “The Science of Trust” Dr.

What not to do after cheating? ›

Read on for a few ways couples hold themselves back from healing after cheating, so you'll know just what to stay away from.
  1. Assuming The Relationship Is Over. ...
  2. Keeping Your Feelings To Yourself. ...
  3. Asking Your Partner For Details. ...
  4. Not Talking About It At All. ...
  5. Minimizing The Impact It's Had. ...
  6. Trying To Get Even. ...
  7. Holding A Grudge.
18 Jan 2018

How do you know if a relationship is worth saving after cheating? ›

'You need to listen to your partner and gauge whether they are genuinely contrite,' says Jessica. 'You also need to look at their past behaviour and make a considered judgement on whether you can really trust them going forward.

Why do people cheat on people they love? ›

People can cheat on someone they love due to neglect, commitment or self-esteem issues, lack of intimacy, or even revenge. A person who cheated once will likely cheat again, but this is not true for everyone. Infidelity doesn't signify the end of a relationship; a couple can repair their relationship after an affair.

Does infidelity pain 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.

How long is infidelity trauma? ›

Right now, learning that it takes an average of 2 to 5 years to get over the pain of infidelity may seem impossible. How could you ever get over such a betrayal? Yes, recovering from such a blow is going to take a long time, but there are actions, such as therapy, that can facilitate recovery and save your marriage.

What percentage of relationships work after cheating? ›

One study found that only about 16 percent of couples who'd experienced unfaithfulness were able to work it out. (Although, of course, this is a hard metric to measure—how long after an affair does a couple need to stay together to claim “success”?)

Can you cheat on someone you love? ›

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 are the stages of healing from infidelity? ›

Working through an affair is tough. It takes tremendous energy and vulnerability on both sides. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have developed the Trust Revival Method, with three defined stages of treatment: Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment.

Should you stay with someone who cheated on you? ›

According to bestselling author and relationship expert Susan Winter, whether or not a relationship can continue after someone has cheated depends largely "on the disposition of both partners," as some individuals are much more forgiving than others.

What to say after cheating? ›

10 ways to apologize for cheating on your partner
  • Stop all communication with the third person. ...
  • Don't take too long to apologize. ...
  • Write an apology letter. ...
  • Accept responsibility for your actions. ...
  • Tell the truth, the whole truth. ...
  • Apologize without any strings attached. ...
  • Consider your partner's feelings.
20 Sept 2021

What to do when you cheat on someone you love? ›

So You Cheated On Your Partner—Now What?
  1. Figure out WHY you cheated on your partner. ...
  2. Decide whether to tell your partner that you cheated. ...
  3. If you tell your partner you cheated, do it the right way. ...
  4. Expect major anger from your partner. ...
  5. Let them go—if they want to. ...
  6. If your partner stays, move forward together.
10 Jun 2019

Does the guilt of cheating ever fade? ›

No matter what, the answer to whether or not guilt will go away after someone cheats is that it all depends on the person. There is such a thing as constructive shame and guilt. Sometimes, we all need to engage with this constructive shame and guilt.

Does space help a broken relationship? ›

Taking time apart can allow you both to think about the issues in your relationship, cool off, learn new coping strategies, and come back together with a different lens or perspective that can be difficult to have when you're together and actively fighting through your issues.

When should you not forgive a cheating spouse? ›

When to Walk Away After Infidelity: 7 Signs It Might Be Time To...
  • Your Partner Doesn't Apologize. ...
  • Your Spouse Doesn't Want to Get Counseling. ...
  • Your Partner Doesn't Show Desire to Put in the Work. ...
  • They are Still in Touch with the Person They Cheated on You With. ...
  • Your Partner Doesn't Seem Committed to the Relationship.
6 Oct 2020

What is the main cause of cheating? ›

An analysis revealed eight key reasons: anger, self-esteem, lack of love, low commitment, need for variety, neglect, sexual desire, and situation or circumstance.

What is the most common reason to cheat? ›

Disconnection. One of the most common reasons for infidelity is the feeling that you and your partner have drifted apart. In this case, cheating can feel like a way of finding something new and exciting when your relationship has become predictable and familiar.

What does cheating do to the brain? ›

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.

What percentage of couples recover from infidelity? ›

“In general, more than half the relationships (55 percent) ended immediately after one partner admits to cheating, with 30 percent deciding to stay together but breaking up eventually, and only 15 percent of couples able to successfully recover from infidelity,” says Leo.

How do I stop obsessing over my husband cheating? ›

5 Ideas for Overcoming Your Obsession With Your Husband's Affair
  1. Give your heart time to forgive and heal. ...
  2. Don't let the time you invested in your marriage dictate your future. ...
  3. Take good care of your body and mind. ...
  4. Reconnect with yourself emotionally and spiritually. ...
  5. Find something beyond yourself to believe in.
2 Aug 2022

What infidelity does to a woman? ›

Infidelity undermines the very foundation of marriage in many ways. It causes heartbreak and devastation, loneliness, feelings of betrayal, and confusion to one or both spouses in a marriage. Some marriages break after an affair. Others survive, become stronger and more intimate.

Why do I feel so worthless after being cheated on? ›

Well, betrayal is a drain on self-esteem and when your self-esteem is decimated, then you are going to feel worthless. An affair also rips out the proverbial rug from under your feet and you start to question everything, especially yourself, your sanity, and the decisions you make.

What is PTSD after infidelity? ›

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.

How likely will a person cheat again? ›

According to research, the chances of a cheater cheating again in the same relationship or another relationship are pretty high. The research suggests that if a person has cheated in their first relationship, they are three times more likely to cheat again. Once a cheater, always a cheater?

How do you give a second chance after cheating? ›

It is probably impossible to move past what happened with the infidelity without honestly being remorseful, and it is difficult to expect a future without it. Then, to give a partner a second chance, they need to apologize and actively show their desire to repair the relationship through therapy or mediation.

How likely is someone to cheat again? ›

It is estimated that if someone cheated before, there is a 350 percent chance that they will cheat again, compared to those who have never cheated. In the same study that states that cheaters will cheat again, they found that those who have been cheated on will most likely be cheated on again.

Who cheat most in a relationship? ›

According to the General Social Survey, men are more likely to cheat than women, with 20% of men and 13% of women reporting having sex with someone other than their partner while still married. However, the gender gap varies per age.

How long do affairs usually last? ›

How long extramarital affairs last varies: about 50% may last between the period of one month to a year affair, long term affairs may last long-term, for about 15 months or more, and about 30% of affairs last about two years and beyond.

How do you know if someone regrets cheating? ›

12 Signs He Regrets Cheating
  • He owns up to his mistakes.
  • He goes out of his way to attend to your needs.
  • He will end his affair immediately.
  • He is willing to seek professional help.
  • He is more open and genuine.
  • He is more expressive.
  • He includes you in his plans.
  • His changed behavior is noticed by others.
7 Dec 2020

What are the emotional stages of being cheated on? ›

The stages of trust loss, applying the grief model to the aftermath of an affair, would be as follows:
  • Denial. ...
  • Anger. ...
  • Bargaining. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Acceptance. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Final thought.

How long does it take to forgive a cheating spouse? ›

We are all wired differently, and we process emotional pain in a different way. 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.

How do you rebuild trust after dishonesty? ›

Let's go deep on each step to improve the foundation and then work up from there.
  1. Understanding What Trust Is. ...
  2. Learn What Causes Your Dishonest Behavior. ...
  3. Stop All Negative Behavior. ...
  4. Be Completely Honest, Open, and Take Responsibility for Your Behavior. ...
  5. Apologize, Sincerely. ...
  6. Empathize, Validate, and Listen.

Can trust ever be fully restored? ›

Yes, it's possible; however, rebuilding trust comes down to making the decision to remain in the relationship, having the discipline to do the work, believing that trust can be re-developed, and being vulnerable and open to change.

How long can trust take to rebuild? ›

Rebuilding trust takes a significant amount of time and patience. It might take us several months or even years to fully be able to trust our loved one again. Along the way, we need to continue working on reestablishing trust slowly under the guidance of family counselors.

How do you forgive and trust again after being cheated on? ›

How To Trust Someone Again After Infidelity
  1. Take Time Out For Yourself. ...
  2. Communicate With Your Partner. ...
  3. But… ...
  4. Forgive Them (This Will Take Time And Perseverance). ...
  5. If You're Staying, Be Committed. ...
  6. Accept That Your Relationship Has Changed. ...
  7. Let Your Partner Show You That You Can Trust Them.
15 Jun 2022

How do you get the spark back in a broken relationship? ›

How to rekindle a broken relationship
  1. Use your relationship polarity to your advantage. ...
  2. Be physical to help intimacy grow. ...
  3. Be curious about your partner. ...
  4. Innovate and give the relationship your best effort. ...
  5. Use your voice as a powerful tool for building intimacy. ...
  6. Learn how to control your emotions. ...
  7. Defuse conflict with fun.

What is the fastest way to gain someone's trust back? ›

Rebuilding trust when you've hurt someone
  1. Consider why you did it. Before you embark on the process of rebuilding trust, you'll first want to check in with yourself to understand why you did it. ...
  2. Apologize sincerely. ...
  3. Give your partner time. ...
  4. Let their needs guide you. ...
  5. Commit to clear communication.
9 Aug 2019

Can you love someone and not trust them? ›

Can there be love without trust? Love doesn't exist without trust in a real relationship. For starters, if you don't trust your partner, jealousy will likely take over your interactions with that person, making it impossible to believe anything they say.

How do you fix a damaged trust? ›

Rebuilding Trust
  1. Listen to the other person's anger and hurt feelings.
  2. Empathize with them.
  3. Ask what is needed to prevent a recurrence.
  4. Be conscientious to do all the things listed that show trustworthiness.
  5. Take full responsibility for your actions. ...
  6. Make a heartfelt apology expressing your regret.
2 Sept 2021

How can I save my relationship? ›

How to save a relationship
  1. Work on yourselves as individuals first. In order to save and strengthen a relationship, both partners need to do their own inner work. ...
  2. Fight better. ...
  3. Express gratitude for the little things. ...
  4. Savor your time together. ...
  5. Do monthly check-ins. ...
  6. Celebrate each other. ...
  7. Stay curious about your partner.
13 Jan 2020

How do I build trust back in a relationship? ›

How to rebuild trust in a relationship
  1. Have a willingness to work on the relationship. ...
  2. Openly apologize. ...
  3. Reflect on the experience. ...
  4. Create new memories. ...
  5. Remember that people can be trusted. ...
  6. Ask for what you need. ...
  7. Be willing to be vulnerable. ...
  8. Reignite the connection.
4 Jan 2020

How do you save a relationship without trust? ›

So, how to save a relationship with trust issues starts by going through these steps and adapting them to your situation.
  1. Communicate needs.
  2. Practice forgiveness.
  3. Reflect on your involvement.
  4. Understand your fear.
  5. Challenge negative thinking.
  6. Befriend your belief system.
  7. Active listening.
10 Aug 2022

Should you stay in a relationship without trust? ›

Without trust, a relationship will not last. Trust is one of the cornerstones of any relationship—without it, two people cannot be comfortable with each other and the relationship will lack stability.

What are the long term effects of being cheated on? ›

What are the long-term effects of being cheated on? If you've been cheated on, it may take a long time to heal. It can cause you chronic anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, and mistrust of others for a long time after the event.

What do you do after you cheat on someone you love? ›

12 Expert-Approved Ways To Mend A Relationship After You've...
  1. Tell At Your Discretion. ...
  2. Take Responsibility. ...
  3. If You Do Tell, Give A Sincere Apology. ...
  4. Listen To Your Partner. ...
  5. Forgive Yourself. ...
  6. Figure Out Why You Cheated. ...
  7. Assess Your Relationship. ...
  8. Cut Off Contact With The Person You Cheated With.
3 Feb 2019

How do you find love after being cheated on? ›

8 Things To Keep In Mind If You're Dating Again After Being...
  1. Know your emotions are valid.
  2. Put your own healing first, always.
  3. Be open about your fears.
  4. Have a support system.
  5. Consider going to therapy.
  6. Be cautiously optimistic.
  7. Avoid placing blame on your new partner.
  8. Use discernment.
7 Mar 2021

Videos

1. How to Rebuild Trust After Infidelity: Become Reliable
(Affair Recovery)
2. Successful Relationships After Cheating | How Couples Recover And Survive Cheating
(Happily Committed)
3. Staying Together After Cheating | Couples Can Survive Infidelity
(Happily Committed)
4. Infidelity: to stay or go…? | Lucy Beresford | TEDxFolkestone
(TEDx Talks)
5. How Do I Fix My Relationship after Cheating: Marital Remodeling after an Affair
(Affair Recovery)
6. Can you repair a relationship after an affair?
(Dr. Sue Johnson)
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