Infidelity is a symptom, not an actual disease. Infidelity is a sign the relationship is broken somehow. While every couple goes through a relationship crisis in the aftermath of cheating, some break up, some manage to survive. If you’re stuck in a rut, wondering how to build a successful relationship after cheating, we’re here to help you out with relationship advice after cheating. But first, let’s take a look at the numbers that show the impact of cheating on couples.
According to a survey by the Institute of Family Studies, the percentage of relationships that work after cheating is 23.6% in older, married couples. Only 13.6% of younger couples in committed relationships survive something so grave. The reason why older couples, that is couples over 40 years of age, were better poised to rebuild a successful relationship after cheating is their ability to compromise and empathize with each other. Their relationship has lasted longer and a mere mistake can’t take away all the good things they already share.
But couples in their 20s do not survive infidelity as often since they haven’t yet been emotionally dependent on each other and have more options open. Couples in their 30s are the real demography that oscillates and can surprise you with their reaction. If you’ve been wondering if you can rebuild your relationship after having betrayed your partner’s trust, the statistics on the percentage of relationships that work after cheating are definitely encouraging. We’re here to help you understand how to rekindle a relationship after cheating with insights from psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couples counseling.
Moving On Together After Infidelity
Being cheated on will undoubtedly feel like your world is crashing down around you. Questions like how do you gain back trust in a relationship might be racing through your mind, only to bring back more questions than answers. Everywhere you look, you’ll be told that successful relationships after cheating don’t exist, but we’re here to tell you otherwise.
If your partner or you really are determined to make it up after cheating, there’s no reason why it won’t work. It will be a long, hard journey but to work on a relationship after cheating is not impossible. If all you’re thinking about is how your marriage will be after cheating, it’s important to remember that you ultimately determine the path your marriage takes. There will be inhibitions and doubts to overcome but a steady and conscious effort from both partners can translate to great strides toward rebuilding a successful relationship after cheating.
Once the trust is broken, it is hard to rebuild a relationship after cheating. Trust issues in a relationship spell doom, so to say. The key is to move on together after infidelity and not think as individuals. A certain amount of sacrifice and compromise is required for couples to build a successful relationship after cheating. If you can put love ahead of your ego or guilt, only then can a relationship go back to normal after cheating.
“I cheated but I want to save my relationship except I don’t know how to break the ice and reach out to my partner,” says Joshua, after his affair with a coworker came to light, followed by a long spell of icy silence between him and his partner. Nandita explains that this phenomenon is far too common amongst couples trying to move past the setback of infidelity in their relationship.
“A sense of awkwardness is not unusual when a couple is trying to figure out how to move on in a relationship after cheating or even when just coming to terms with the fact that the basic tenet of trust and loyalty has been violated. This awkwardness often stems from mental blocks that interfere with a couple’s emotional bond, mental connect, and sexual intimacy.
“To be able to build a successful relationship after cheating, it’s imperative to work through the inner turmoil and uncomfortable emotions both the cheater and the partner who has been cheated on are struggling with. Only when you’ve made some progress in recovering from the setback of infidelity can you even think about giving your relationship a new lease on life,” she says.
Sometimes in order to rebuild trust and save your relationship from the brink, you need the help of a third party. That’s when counseling could come to your rescue. If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to make a relationship work after cheating and are looking for help, skilled and certified counselors on Bonoboloy’s panel are here for you.
Related Reading: 20 Myths And Facts About Cheating In A Marriage
11 Tips To Build A Successful Relationship After Cheating
Amy, a biology teacher at a high school, felt increasingly lonely in her relationship after her husband Mark had to relocate to Canada for a year-long work assignment. Since moving would have meant Amy giving up her stable job and the kids being uprooted, they decided to give long-distance marriage a try. A few months in, the loneliness got the better of Amy and she reached out to an ex on a whim. One thing led to another and a full-blown affair took hold.
When Mark found out that Amy was cheating on him, their marriage was on tenterhooks. As Mark extended his stay in Canada, Amy realized how much her marriage meant to her. “I cheated but I want to save my relationship,” she found herself thinking more and more often. She reached out and pleaded with Mark to give her another chance. 1 year after the infidelity came to light, Mark finally moved back home and they’re now in couples therapy to figure out how to make a relationship work after cheating.
Such stories of successful relationships after cheating will help motivate you and make you believe that it isn’t impossible. However, just reading the tips for relationship success won’t do anything on its own. Both partners need to be willing to use the tips scrupulously. Our relationship advice after cheating is to try to build a healthy relationship all over again. If there is love, a relationship can survive infidelity but you need to work on your relationship.
If you only talk about the instance of infidelity, then you can’t move ahead toward a solution. Here are some tips that will make it a smoother process, and you should be able to build a successful relationship after cheating. We list out five tips for the one who cheated and five for the one who was cheated on. The final tip is for the both of you as a couple to rebuild your relationship after cheating.
Related Reading: 5 Women Reveal Why They Have Forgiven Their Cheating Husbands
For The Infidel – Winning The Trust Back Is Important
People cheat for all sorts of reasons, and ever so often, the act of cheating has more to do with the emotional baggage and attachment style of the cheater than how they view their partner and their relationship. In such cases, once the thrill of a clandestine affair has worn off and your primary relationship stands threatened, you may spend a lot of time thinking, “I cheated but I want to save my relationship. If only I knew how to fix a relationship after cheating and lying.”
Nandita says, “Just because a person has cheated on their partner, be it in the form of sexual or emotional infidelity, it does not have to be the end of the relationship. If a relationship rests on a strong base and has all the fundamental elements in place, it can work and evolve even after a setback as massive as infidelity. There is a real chance of building a successful relationship after cheating provided both partners are willing to put in the necessary effort and work into it.”
So, how do you repair a relationship after cheating if you’re the one who cheated? Strong base and effort are the keywords here. And the cheating partner, the lion’s share of the work will fall on your shoulders. If you’re willing to go the distance, the following tips should help you figure out how to rekindle a relationship after cheating:
To rebuild a successful relationship after cheating, the first thing a person must do is apologize. You can’t set a limit on how many times you need to apologize, that’s for your partner to decide. Once or twice is not enough. You need to apologize to your partner as many times it takes for them to believe that you are doing it from the heart.
Once you have hurt the person closest to you it is bound to take some time and hard work to rebuild confidence again. So be genuine and frequent with your apologies. However, if your partner makes you apologize every single day for a never-ending period of time, it may mean they’re just not going to forgive you, which is a worrying sign.
When you’re trying to figure out how to move on in a relationship after cheating, remember that decision cannot be solely yours. You can apologize for your transgressions, reassure your partner that you won’t go down that road again, and let remorse reflect through your actions, the decision on whether to forgive and stay together or move on in separate directions rests with your partner. You have to accept that no matter how desperately you want to rebuild a successful relationship after cheating.
2. Admit guilt
Just apologizing won’t help. You need to face the music by telling your partner exactly what happened. You might even have to try a number of times, as your partner might encounter rage and anger when you go into details. That is unless your partner refuses to listen and chooses to be in denial. Instead of letting your partner live in denial, try to get them to have a conversation with you.
To build a healthy relationship after cheating, complete honesty is needed. Only when you put the details on the table can your partner stop thinking about the exaggerated version in their head. And no, it is not about the excuses you make for cheating to justify the whole thing. Your relationship after cheating, at least for a while, might look like a combination of fights, denial, and lots of crying. But that’s just the price you have to pay if you want to work on a relationship after cheating.
However, when admitting guilt and accepting your wrongdoings, it’s important to not be too harsh on yourself. Guilt can quickly give way to self-loathing, which can in turn have its own string of repercussions for your mental health. To that end, Nandita advises, “The answer to how to fix a relationship after cheating and lying may lie in introspection, which can help you ascertain what was so fundamentally wrong with your relationship that it led you to cheat.
“To be able to do that the right way, you need a calm mind. That’s why it’s vital that you’re not too harsh on yourself. It’s only natural to feel guilty when you cheat on your partner but don’t let that guilt overpower every aspect of your life. Be kind to yourself and take the time you need to find the answers that will lead you to the root cause of infidelity.”
3. Be transparent
Be transparent about your intentions: whether you really want to be in this relationship or is it a sign that you want to move on. If you are going to stay, then you must admit to your partner why you cheated in the first place. What was dissatisfactory in the relationship? Were you looking for something that was missing in this relationship?
The time you take to introspect will help you find the answer you need to practice total honesty and transparency in your relationship. Before you get into how to make a relationship work after cheating, you need to figure out why you want to build your relationship from the ground up after having cheated on your partner. You need to be honest with yourself and transparent with your partner to be able to build a successful relationship after cheating.
In the process, it’s important to address questions like: What change could you not cope with that led to such an action? What were you thinking when you chose to cheat on your partner? What can you do to prevent another episode of cheating? Without transparency, there would be no progress. To rebuild a healthy relationship after cheating, transparency is the key.
4. Sacrifice freedom
Freedom is a privilege that you can’t take for granted. Like every privilege, it comes with certain criteria. But now that you have abused your privilege, it is time to sacrifice your freedom to recover and rebuild trust in the relationship. Unlock your phone, share your passwords, and so on. Most importantly, don’t complain about having to do these things.
These steps may appear drastic, but relationships after cheating don’t really look like normal relationships. To make it up after cheating, there might be some things you have to sacrifice. And you cannot put a timeline on how long it takes for your partner to trust you enough for things to go back to the way they were. In fact, there is a good chance that your relationship may never go back to what it used to be.
So, don’t get disheartened by thoughts like “My partner quizzed me about my whereabouts even 1 year after infidelity, perhaps s/he will never trust me again.” The key to building a successful relationship after cheating is to accept that your equation may never go back to its pre-cheating form. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps, this will accord you an opportunity to fix the issues you had been ignoring for far too long and evolve as a couple. On the flip side, it may mean always living with a hint of mistrust from your partner.
5. Give it more time
They say, time heals everything, but it is not without effort. You need to give your partner time to heal from the injury you have caused. Pain makes people blind and vengeful. But if your partner chooses to stay, then they are doing their bit for the relationship, now it is your turn.
If you’re wondering, “How do you gain back trust in a relationship”, it will only happen through time. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can rush. So, be prepared to give your partner as much time as they need to work through the feelings of pain, hurt, and betrayal to reach a point where they can even consider the possibility of rebuilding a successful relationship after cheating on your part.
For The Victim – Trusting Again
How to make a relationship work after cheating? This question can have a whole different connotation for the partner who has been cheated on, and naturally, the process of rebuilding a successful relationship after cheating is different too. For starters, to work on a relationship after cheating, the person who was cheated on must believe in it.
Nandita says, “Figuring out how to rekindle a relationship after cheating, when you’re the one who has been cheated on isn’t easy. You will go through a whole gamut of emotions, ranging from anger to resentment, sadness, grief, and even guilt. To be able to forgive a cheating partner and salvage your relationship, it’s imperative that you allow yourself to go through these emotions and feel their full extent.
“This is a process of self-catharsis that will put a lot of things into perspective. Take some time off from your relationship to sort through these feelings. Otherwise, all these pent-up emotions will find a way out by lashing out at your partner. In the process, you may end up saying hurtful things that can impede the prospects of staying together and healing as a couple.”
How to move on in a relationship after cheating can seem a daunting prospect when you’re extremely hurt and incapable of trusting but you can get past this stage if you navigate the situation the right way. The following tips for relationship success should help you if you found yourself an unfortunate victim of cheating:
Related Reading: 8 Steps To Completely Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You
6. Accept the apology
The answer to how to rekindle a relationship after cheating lies is being able to forgive your partner for their transgression, leave the past behind and focus on turning over a new leaf in your relationship. We know that it feels like an apology is nothing after the pain your partner caused you but it is the first step. It is your place to tell whether the apology feels genuine or not.
Take your time, don’t hurry, and accept the apology only if your gut says it is genuine. It is not your duty to make your cheating partner comfortable in this scenario. But if you choose to forgive and trust, make sure you do it from the heart and look beyond the indignity of being cheated upon. This is our most important relationship advice to you after cheating deals a near-fatal blow to your bond.
7. Be open
Be open to the idea that your partner can change. It must be hard to accept that right now but choosing to stay means being open to the idea of change. Things won’t go back to as they were before but if you are open and accepting of what is to come, then you will arrive at a new normal. This would also mark the beginning of a healthy relationship.
Speaking of being open, it’s also equally important to be upfront and honest with your partner about your emotional state and how you feel about their actions. “Unless both the partners are honest with themselves and with each other, they cannot understand why their relationship was struck by the lightning bolt of infidelity and what aspects of their relationship they need to work on to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Only when you’re honest and upfront with each other about your feelings and what you perceive to be the most pressing relationship issues can you start making any progress toward rebuilding a successful relationship after cheating,” says Nandita. For you as the cheated partner, that means asking the right questions to your unfaithful partner, being more vocal about your feelings and receptive to theirs.
8. Introspect to build a successful relationship after cheating
As we said before, infidelity is just a symptom, not a disease. You need to look at the cracks that appeared in the relationship before the instance of infidelity happened. You are never to be blamed for your partner’s infidelity; that’s their responsibility entirely. Nor do you need to feel guilty for their transgressions.
But you need to exhume the reasons due to which your relationship and communication failed so much that you didn’t even notice the change in your partner’s behavior. Were there any unmet needs that pushed your partner down the road of infidelity? Had the emotional intimacy taken a hit in your relationship even before your partner cheated? Did you both inadvertently put your relationship on the backburner as you focused on your domestic and professional responsibilities? Are there any unresolved issues that have driven you apart?
The answers to these questions will help you ascertain what widened the gap between you and your partner enough for a third to come into your equation. We cannot reiterate enough that this does not mean you’re somehow responsible for your partner’s actions and choices. However, figuring out the core issues can help you weed them out and cheat-proof your relationship going forward.
9. Sacrifice the ego
The pain that is caused by infidelity comes from a latent idea of possessiveness that makes you feel that your partner is your property. But you know, that is not the case. If you’re worried about what others will think of you when they find out your partner cheated, you should remind yourself that the opinions of others do not matter.
Our relationship advice after cheating will be to just think of you two. It is a problem between you two and the solution would rise from within you. Don’t let society put distance between you when you are trying to work it out amongst yourself. Don’t hold your partner’s transgression as a sword over their head.
If even after 1 year after infidelity or more, you bring up the fact that they cheated on you in every fight or use it to get your way, then you’re resorting to manipulation, which can be just as harmful as a breach of trust in the relationship. In that case, you need to sit back and reflect on whether you really want to salvage this relationship or have decided to stay because moving on is the scarier option. It’s critical to avoid such reconciliation mistakes after infidelity if you want to give your relationship a fighting chance at survival.
10. Be more understanding
If your partner is making a genuine effort to get over this crisis and stay with you, you must know how important you are to your partner. Now it’s your turn to give support. We know that you have been cheated on but don’t let that spoil every other good thing that you have between you guys. Instead, do you part in helping to rebuild the foundation of trust in the relationship by being appreciative of the efforts your partner may be making to undo the damage and approaching the process of reviving your bond from a place of compassion.
“Empathy can go a long way in helping you determine how to move on in a relationship after cheating. Make an effort to understand why your partner did what they did and believe what they tell you. Also, have faith that you’re both committed to rebuilding a successful relationship after cheating. Once their efforts convince you that they’re remorseful, forgiveness in the relationship will follow,” says Nandita.
For The Couple – Build A Successful Relationships After Cheating, Together
Neither one of you can crack the mystery of how to fix a relationship after cheating and lying alone. Rebuilding a relationship after it has suffered a blow as crippling as infidelity requires shared commitment and effort. Apart from the things you both need to do individually to get past the different infidelity recovery stages, you also need to work as a team to strengthen your bond. Here is the most important thing you need to keep in mind to be able to do so:
11. Set definite boundaries
Every relationship should have boundaries but it becomes even more crucial when a couple is recovering from the setback of cheating and trying to revive their bond. The first order of business in that case should be to define for each other what you truly consider cheating. For some, it may be casual flirting with a colleague whereas for others it can be sleeping with someone else. Once you have had a heart-to-heart about these things, the chances of a misstep are reduced dramatically.
You both should understand the limits that you can explore. It is equally important to reinforce these boundaries as and when required. For instance, if your partner’s affair started with spending too much time chatting with a coworker or a friend, you not only need to establish a boundary by telling them that a repeat of this pattern is not acceptable but also reinforce it if you find them crossing the line again. So, if your partner starts spending too much time of their phone, gently remind them that you’ve agreed that they’d avoid this slippery slope for this relationship to work.
As you may have realized, there are no easy answers or shortcuts to how to rekindle a relationship after cheating. However, all this effort and commitment to making positive changes is going to be worth your while if you truly love your partner and value your relationship. Couples that survive infidelity come out stronger than ever. Trust rebuilding is resilient and nothing can come between you two ever again. From this point onward starts a new chapter in your life that you are not getting into blindly.
If you two still enjoy spending time together, you can maturely discuss the affair and want to work together to rebuild trust, your relationship can definitely go back to normal. Working on a relationship after cheating will test your patience, love, and commitment but by doing it together, you’ll be able to get over whatever obstacle is thrown your way. Counseling is also a great way of streamlining the process of going back to a normal relationship. It will help you work on the sources of infidelity and make sure trust is never broken in your relationship again.
The chances of your relationship working out after cheating rely solely on how much effort you two are willing to put into it. By being accepting, working on establishing trust, and improving communication, you’ll most definitely increase your chances of working out your relationship after cheating.
To build a healthy relationship after cheating, you must realize that things won’t really be the same. Improving communication and resolving conflicts maturely is the first step. Working together as a team and being understanding will help you build a healthy relationship after cheating.
The most important aspect is to rebuild trust. Figure out how you can do that with your partner and do not shy away from the challenge.