Can A Relationship Survive Cheating? 7 Factors That Determine The Outcome

Infidelity | | , Writer
Updated On: February 2, 2024
Can a relationship survive infidelity

Infidelity is a deal-breaker for a lot of people in relationships. For many, it is enough to burn a happy relationship to the ground. Yes, it is an insensitive and cold act but there’s no denying the fact that there’s more to cheating than meets the eye. However, many couples are able to move past the affair and start afresh. But how? You might wonder. Can a relationship survive cheating? Is recovery from an affair possible?

Well, cheating in a relationship can be devastating but it doesn’t always mean that it is the end of the road. It is possible to rebuild your relationship despite your partner having cheated on you. However, several factors play a role in determining whether a relationship can survive infidelity. In this article, we shed some light on the common causes of cheating, why some couples move past it while others don’t, and how to fix a relationship after cheating.

What Are The Common Causes Of Cheating In A Relationship?

Let’s face it – Affairs happen. People cheat. Infidelity is common in relationships, whether one likes it or not. A recent study claimed that 40% to 45% of American marriages have been hit by infidelity. But why? Why do people cheat on their partners? What is the motivation or the reason behind partners cheating in a relationship? The answers to these questions can help you figure out the answer to: Can a relationship survive after cheating?

Well, there could be several factors that persuade a person to have an affair. We list 8 reasons:

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1. A feeling of anger or revenge

One of the most common reasons behind people cheating on their partners is their anger toward them and a desire to get revenge. Maybe you were having an affair and your betrayed partner found out about it and now they’re mad at you and want revenge. They want to see you go through the same hurt that you caused them. Other reasons for anger and revenge-motivated infidelity could be:

  • Lack of understanding between partners
  • Not giving your partner enough time
  • Unmet physical and emotional needs
  • Constant fights and arguments
  • Resentment, too, is powerful enough motivator for partners to engage in infidelity

2. They’re no longer in love with their partner

Falling out of love with their partner is a strong enough reason for people to cheat. The feeling of falling in love or being in love does not always last forever. It does make you feel passionate, excited, and over the moon when you first fall in love with someone. But, as time passes, the intensity fades and just sometimes results in one or both partners falling out of love with each other.

When the passion and intensity fade, people realize that they’re stuck in a relationship that is devoid of love. This realization often leads them to cheat because they wish to experience true love again and often see infidelity as the only way to do it. It is also possible that they realize they’re in love with someone else but find it hard to walk out of a relationship that continues to make them feel safe, secure, and stable, which is why they end up cheating. In such cases, recovery from an affair can be hard for the couple.

Related Reading: Falling Out Of Love After Infidelity – Is It Normal And What To Do

3. Situational factors

Not every act of infidelity or extramarital affair is driven by dissatisfaction, frustration, or sadness in the current relationship. Sometimes, circumstance, opportunity, or situational factors play a huge role. They might have been thrown into a situation they didn’t anticipate and things happened. Maybe your partner:

  • Got too drunk and slept with someone
  • Was extremely upset about a fight they had with you, a friend comforted them, and one thing led to another
  • Felt distant or disconnected from you and wanted physical comfort
  • Went on a vacation and got close to someone

Not every act of cheating is premeditated or planned. Sometimes, it just happens. We’re not saying it is the right thing to do. But it is what it is.

4. Commitment issues

Fear of commitment is one of the major reasons why people cheat in a relationship. Infidelity is their way of avoiding committing to the partner they are with. It’s a way of ending things between their current partner and them. For many, lack of commitment or love might make the cheating partner feel dissatisfied in the relationship due to which they end up committing the act of infidelity. It’s also possible that they do not want a long-term relationship and are looking for something more casual.

5. Sexual desire

A high sex drive is an extremely strong motivator for people to cheat even if they are in sexually fulfilling relationships. They do not necessarily have to be in an unhappy marriage or relationship to seek sexual gratification with someone other than their primary partner.

On the other hand, of course, they might have intimacy issues in their current relationship due to which their sexual needs aren’t met, leading to infidelity. Partners could have different sex drives or maybe one partner is not interested in or can’t have sex. Your partner might be in a situation where they see an opportunity or they just might want to have more sex.

Related Reading: How To Survive A Sexless Marriage Without Cheating

6. They feel unappreciated by their partner

Emotional intimacy with someone else outside of the relationship is trickier and, for many betrayed partners, more hurtful than physical or sexual infidelity. This usually happens when the cheating partner feels unappreciated in their current relationship. If they feel neglected by their partner or sense a lack of attention from them, it can motivate them to look for the same elsewhere. Not being appreciated for their efforts or not feeling heard in the relationship are strong infidelity motivators.

7. They want variety

Boredom in a relationship is one of the most common reasons behind infidelity. There might not be any issue or problem as such in the current relationship but the monotony of everyday life may push either partner to betray the vows of fidelity. The desire for variety usually leads partners to cheat. Variety is often related to sex but can mean other things as well like:

  • Activities or acts that are not sexual in nature
  • Variety in terms of conversation or communication
  • Being attracted to or infatuated with other people

It is normal to feel attracted to other people while in a relationship with someone. It’s human nature. However, some people find it difficult to not act upon those feelings, which is why they end up cheating on their partner.

8. A boost to their low self-esteem

For some people, the act of having an affair or cheating in a relationship is a huge boost to their ego and self-esteem. They feel empowered and confident after having sex with a new person. Such feelings build self-esteem. Additionally, the idea of receiving appreciation, admiration, and approval from someone new comes across as exciting and probably genuine to someone who struggles with low self-esteem issues. After all, why would this new person lie? They have no obligation as such.

Infidelity is not just about sex. We hope the above reasons help you understand that there’s more to the act than the fulfillment of pure, carnal needs. It’s more often than not a combination of several factors. However, once discovered, cheating can be detrimental to a relationship but it doesn’t always mean the end of it. Some survive while others don’t. Read on to know the factors that determine the future of a relationship following the affair.

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Can A Relationship Survive Cheating – Why Some Couples Survive, And Some Don’t

Can a relationship survive cheating? Well, it depends on the efforts and the decisions made by both the people involved in the relationship. When one partner cheats, both parties are affected. It feels like their whole world has come crashing down. Whether it’s a casual relationship or a long-term affair that involves emotional intimacy or any other kind of infidelity or an extramarital affair, cheating in a relationship is often seen as the ultimate act of betrayal.

Having said that, infidelity does not necessarily have to be a deal breaker. If you love each other enough and are willing and motivated enough to give your relationship a second chance, then you can move past the scandal and forge a new, improved relationship. However, not every couple can survive the hit. So, what determines whether your relationship can survive cheating? The following 7 key factors:

1. The earnestness toward rebuilding trust

Trust between partners is crucial in a relationship. When either partner cheats on their better half, that trust takes a massive hit making it almost impossible to move past the infidelity. For a relationship to survive cheating, both partners need to take active steps to rebuild trust between them.

The cheating needs to stop. The cheating partner cannot see their affair partner again. There needs to be transparency and honesty between them even if it means sharing passwords, text messages, or emails for a while to regain lost faith and have some kind of reassurance. Loss of trust is one of the worst outcomes of an extramarital affair, which is why the person who cheated needs to be brutally honest with the betrayed partner even if the truth hurts.

stories on infidelity

2. You’re willing to talk about the affair with all honesty

Once it is established that the affair is over, it is time to address the elephant in the room. Both of you need to talk about the affair openly and honestly. The cheating partner needs to take full responsibility for their actions. The betrayed partner might want to know everything about the affair:

  • When it began
  • What happened
  • How far did it go
  • Whether it was emotional cheating or physical
  • Who the person was
  • How often did it happen
  • Was it just one affair partner or were there more

The cheating partner must address all these concerns. It is the first step of recovery from the affair. There is a lot that is unknown for the person who has been betrayed. Once that is out of the way, both partners will be able to start the process of venting their hurt, frustration, and feelings to each other, apologize, and forgive each other.

3. You’re addressing underlying issues

The importance of communication in a relationship cannot be stressed enough. Both partners need to sit down and address the underlying issues between them if they wish to survive cheating. As discussed before, resentment in a relationship, unmet needs, lack of appreciation, and falling out of love are some of the reasons why people cheat. While these do not justify the act of infidelity, they definitely highlight the fundamental problems in the relationship, which a couple needs to address if they wish to survive the betrayal.

Related Reading: Husband Says He Loves Me But Still Has An Affair

4. Both of you are putting in the effort needed to heal

Can a relationship survive emotional cheating or sexual infidelity? Well, if both partners are willing to put in the effort needed to kickstart the healing process, then it is possible to repair the relationship and start afresh. The couple will need to:

  • Learn to deal with heartbreak
  • Let go of what wasn’t working
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Work toward creating a new relationship dynamic that includes trust and honesty
  • Let go of tropes such as “once a cheater, always a cheater”, which trigger insecurities
  • Try to build sexual and emotional intimacy again

It is possible to recover from the affair and come back stronger and with a better sense of who you are and what you want from the relationship. The healing process may feel uncomfortable at the start but if both of you are willing to put in the time, commitment, and energy required to fix your bond, there’s a high chance the relationship will survive infidelity.

5. Your relationship is rooted in friendship

Can a relationship survive after cheating? If your relationship is rooted in a strong sense of friendship and camaraderie, it can. Friendship makes for a strong foundation for a relationship. It also plays a crucial role in deciding the future of your relationship post the affair. If you’ve been friends with your partner and your relationship has been solid from the start, there’s a good chance you’ll survive infidelity.

Friendship helps you see your partner as they are without labels or judgment because you’ve known them as your friend first and understand and connect with them on an emotional level. It is this friendship that will help you find your way back to each other.

Related Reading: 10 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes To Avoid After Infidelity

6. You’re open to counseling

More often than not, couples need professional help to sort out their differences after an affair. Dealing with heartbreak and betrayal on your own can often be difficult and it is during this time that seeking help from a licensed therapist trained in dealing with infidelity or going for individual therapy, couples counseling, or family therapy can prove to be beneficial.

A neutral third person, trained in equipping you with the tools for introspection and healthy conflict resolution, can help you see things from a different perspective. You might be able to strengthen your relationship, rebuild trust and mutual respect and avoid a breakup or divorce. It is also possible that in the course of therapy, you might realize that you wish to move on and go your separate ways without any bitter feelings. If you’re stuck in a similar situation and want help, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists is only a click away.

can a relationship survive emotional cheating

7. Decide what you want from the relationship

Can a relationship survive emotional cheating? Well, cheating in a relationship is devastating. Having an affair can shake the foundation of a partnership, whether it is a new marriage/relationship or you have been together for years. However, if you want to survive infidelity, it is crucial that you re-evaluate and re-negotiate your boundaries. Figure out what you want from the relationship:

  • Does monogamy work for you?
  • Do you want to be in an open relationship?
  • Do you want to make your relationship work even after the affair?
  • Do you want to go your separate ways?

Reconsider the terms of your relationship. Have those difficult conversations about what went wrong between you and if it’s possible to move on from the infidelity. If yes, how? What are the non-negotiables? What do you want from yourself and each other? These are things both partners need to talk about and decide on.

Infidelity isn’t uncommon. However, it can be traumatizing to discover that your partner is cheating on you. It is common to react with outrage and get angry but one cannot deny that infidelity has been in the picture for as long as relationships have existed. The good thing, however, is that recovery after an affair is possible. Super hard but possible. Now that we’ve answered the question of “can a relationship survive cheating”, let’s figure out how to fix a relationship after cheating.

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How To Fix A Relationship After Cheating?

Moving on after the affair is possible if both partners still love each other, want to make their relationship work, and are willing to put in the work needed to fix things between them. It is a collaborative healing process in which both partners put in equal amounts of time, energy, patience, and effort. Infidelity or adultery doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. Here are a few tips on how to fix a relationship after cheating:

  • The cheating has to stop. You can’t be seeing your affair partner or remain connected to them in any way
  • Make sure that there is remorse and that the cheating partner takes responsibility and apologizes for their actions
  • Spend quality time with your partner and work on building physical and emotional intimacy
  • Be honest to your partner about your whereabouts, whom you talk to or whom you hang out with, and so on
  • Communicate with each other about why it happened and what is missing in your relationship. Listen to each other carefully
  • Seek help from a licensed marriage counselor

Practice compassion, empathy, and patience while you’re at it. Difficult conversations will take place. Keep your cool and try to think rationally. Consider each other’s point of view. Also, remember that the relationship can be fixed only if the cheating partner is truly apologetic about their actions and genuinely wants to save the relationship. The healing process takes time. Rebuilding trust takes time. So, just hang in there and have faith in the process.

Key Pointers

  • Being betrayed by the person you love is one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship
  • A few common causes of cheating include unmet needs, lack of appreciation, neglect, anger, and resentment, and an increased sexual desire
  • Several factors like rebuilding trust, addressing underlying issues, a strong friendship, and seeking therapy, determine whether a relationship can survive infidelity
  • The cheating needs to stop and partners need to communicate and be honest with each other if they want to fix their relationship after the affair

Recovering from an affair is one of the biggest challenges in a relationship because there is so much hurt, uncertainty, and betrayal attached to it. But, if your love is strong enough and you genuinely want to be together, you should take active steps to fix your relationship. The healing process is time-consuming but you can come out of it stronger and better and continue to live a happy life.

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