Nobody wants or expects their relationship to ever experience the turbulence that infidelity can introduce. And when it’s the kind of infidelity that involves intense emotional intimacy with a third party, the turbulence may just cause unforgivable damage. In such situations, figuring out how to forgive emotional cheating may look like a Herculean task.
When you first uncover it, forgiveness is probably the last thing on your mind. But if you’ve managed to weather the storm and get past the feelings of denial you may have found yourself stuck in, just the fact that you find yourself reading this article is a promising sign.
Turning this promising sign into your journey toward figuring out how to forgive emotional cheating is where we come in. With the help of psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couple’s counseling, let’s figure out all you need to do and at the least, when to walk away after infidelity.
Should You Forgive An Emotional Cheater?
“I can’t forgive my husband for cheating on me. It’s as if he’s in love with his colleague, whom he spends all his time with. I’ve never felt more neglected in my life,” Gerri told us, talking about how her spouse, without even realizing it, let his infatuation for his coworker get the better of him.
Emotional betrayal in a marriage can feel like a rejection of you as a spouse. In some cases, partners may not even realize it’s happening since emotional cheating doesn’t necessarily involve a physical or sexual connection. Whether they comprehend its intensity immediately or not, its consequences can be long-lasting.
Perhaps your partner is willing to mend the relationship now, seeking forgiveness. But given that they have already developed such a strong emotional bond with someone else, they could go weak again if those feelings resurface later. Also, you cannot rule out the possibility of something lacking in your relationship which triggered them to get their emotional needs fulfilled by another person.
And the end result is that you now have to figure out how to stop overthinking after being cheated on. So much uncertainty and insecurities combined with a certain amount of self-blaming render you unable to forgive infidelity. “Figuring out if you should forgive someone for emotional cheating isn’t easy,” says Nandita.
“Initially, you’ll go through a whole range of emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, and even guilt to a certain extent. Let yourself go through those emotions; it’s almost as if a self-catharsis is in action. Take a break from your relationship. Otherwise, you’re bound to lash out at your partner and may end up saying some very hurtful things that might further worsen the situation.
“Once you’re able to logically think about this whole scenario, you can figure out what you need to do going forward. At the end of the day, you’ll realize it’s possible to forgive a partner for emotionally cheating but the path to forgiveness will be extremely difficult. Dealing with your spouse’s emotional affair is no easy thing,” says Nandita.
Should you forgive an emotional cheater? That is purely yours to answer. Some might say “I can’t forgive my husband for emotional cheating” or “My partner has broken the one vow that truly mattered to me”. But analyzing the situation, getting to the bottom of why it happened, gathering the relevant details, and taking a break can all help you come to a conclusion.
But whatever conclusion you come to, make sure it’s one you can stick by. And if you’ve decided to forgive emotional betrayal in marriage, we’re here to help you figure out just how to do that.
How To Forgive Emotional Cheating – 6 Expert Tips
If abandoning the relationship seems impossible and you’ve decided to give things a go, there’s a lot you need to do. A partner emotionally cheating on you is not something you can sweep under the rug. It’ll be a difficult journey but you may just come out the other end with a much stronger relationship.
When you can’t get over the anger and the hurt, the path toward recovery may seem like a maze. Rebuilding trust after emotional infidelity with your wife/partner is going to require both of you to jump in with both feet. To help you get started, we listed out the following tips you must keep in mind:
1. How to forgive emotional cheating? Understand that it’s a process
Nandita says, “First things first: understand that it’s a long-drawn-out process. Initially, let feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, and even a sense of guilt come to you. Once you’re capable of approaching the situation with a calmer frame of mind, you need to establish clear and productive lines of communication.
“Yes, there will be some blame-shifting and finger-pointing but you need to keep the end goal in mind. You need to figure out how to move ahead, and continuously lashing out at your partner isn’t going to help your cause.” Figuring out how to forgive emotional cheating won’t happen in a week.
No, taking a break won’t magically solve all your problems. No, your partner isn’t the only one who’s supposed to fix everything. Understand that this unfortunate turn of events must be tackled by both of you together and that you need to be committed to making your relationship better. One of the most common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity is to give up in five days because nothing seems to work out like before.
2. Put your detective hat on
“It’s time to figure out and analyze what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. Is it anger? Resentment? Guilt? All three are different, and the process to overcome them is different as well. Write down what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and what your partner might be going through. When you come to a point where you are communicating a little more effectively with your partner, be sure that you are also listening to what they say.
“Try to understand where they’re coming from and why they took that step. That is essential when improving communication in a relationship. Extracting more information is usually the toughest part, but it’s also the part that helps you begin your healing journey. In this case, the more you know, the better,” says Nandita.
Trying to forgive someone for emotional cheating while also living in denial is a recipe for disaster. Understand why it happened, how you feel about it, and what you can do to tackle such feelings. Set some ground rules after cheating if that’s what it takes. Because being a helicopter partner after cheating who micromanages their partner’s life is sure not going to help. It may even have been one of the reasons that pushed them toward infidelity in the first place.
3. Work on rebuilding trust after emotional infidelity
“When my girlfriend emotionally cheated on me, it felt as though I’d never be able to trust her. Though I was unwilling, her tenacity to express her sorrow and to save this relationship kept me around long enough to hear her out. Once I did, I realized that emotional cheating is only the end if you let it be. I decided to stay even though it felt like the trust is broken. Rebuilding trust after emotional infidelity hasn’t been easy, but it’s something we work on every day,” Jason told us.
If you wish to forgive someone for emotional cheating, the biggest thing you need to address is the broken trust. The cheating partner may need to be a bit more transparent than before, and personal space may well become a luxury, at least for a while. At the same time, you have to be open to trusting their narratives. At some point, you’ll have to deal with your insecurities and figure out how to stop overthinking after being cheated on.
Related Reading: An Expert Tells Us What Goes In The Mind Of A Cheating Man
4. Couples therapy is your best friend
When things get rough, leaning on your best friend for help in solving your relationship issues may not be the best idea. They’ll bring along their own baggage into the equation, and depending on whose best friend they are, they’re probably going to be a little biased.
Nandita says, “It’s no surprise that a partner emotionally cheating on you leaves you shell-shocked. Communication may be riddled with fights, and you won’t come to any healthy conclusions from any of your arguments. In such cases, it’s best to get help from an unbiased, non-judgmental professional.
“A therapist can help you through individual and couple’s counseling. By identifying the root cause of your issues, they’ll clearly be able to figure out what went wrong in your relationship and what you can do about it.” If it’s professional help you’re looking for, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists is just a click away.
5. Be kind to yourself
“Even though you might feel guilty at times or have a plethora of negative emotions running through your mind, be kind to yourself and don’t assume responsibility for what happened. A relationship works when both partners are equally involved and invested. Surround yourself with people or family who can give you momentary comfort. You might want to remove yourself from social situations but talking to people can help tremendously,” says Nandita.
One of the most common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity is passing the entire blame on yourself for your partner’s actions. And as Nandita points out, it’s important to not give in to the temptation to lock yourself in a dark room, overthinking the events that transpired. Look after yourself. A healthy lifestyle is going to help you deal with emotional betrayal in marriage or a relationship.
6. Be honest with yourself and each other
“Unless you’re honest with yourself and your partner is honest with you about what happened and why it happened, you won’t understand what you need to work on. Only when you let each other know what you’re feeling and what the problems are, can you start making amends,” says Nandita. Figuring out how to forgive emotional cheating while also lying to each other about how you feel is like playing darts in the dark.
Do you really want to continue this relationship? Or is it time to write them a breakup letter? You have to decide for yourself when to walk away after infidelity. And if you choose to stay on, will you be capable of forgiving your partner for emotionally cheating on you? It may be hard to accept a few cold, hard facts, but those tough pills to swallow may just be the antibiotics you need right now.
How Do I Get Over Being Emotionally Cheated On?
“I’ve had clients who have told me, “I can’t forgive my husband for emotional cheating”. Thing is, even when you make up your mind to forgive someone for emotionally cheating, the forgiveness actually comes much later,” says Nandita, adding, “You need to communicate, understand your emotions, and improve the strength of your relationship. Understand what your partner went through, and genuinely believe everything they tell you. Try not to be that helicopter partner after cheating.
“If you keep track of every movement of your partner, rebuilding trust in the relationship will become all the more difficult. Believe in the fact that both of you want to work on your relationship, and let your partner know if you’d like them to make more of an effort. When their efforts to make amends convince you that they’re truly remorseful and would like to strengthen what you have, forgiveness in the relationship will eventually come.” Here are a few things you can do to get over being emotionally cheated on:
- Write down your feelings to give yourself some mental clarity
- Make self-love your top priority
- Practice positive affirmation every day to convince yourself that you are adequate just the way you are
- Give yourself the space and time to grieve
- Make sure the affair is over before you even think about forgiving your partner
- Set some ground rules after cheating to navigate the relationship more efficiently from now on
Related Reading: An Overview Of Stages Of Guilt After Cheating
What if you are unable to forgive infidelity?
“It’s important to remember that we’re all humans. Saying things like “I can’t forgive my husband for cheating” or “My girlfriend emotionally cheated on me, and I can’t forgive her” isn’t the frame of mind that’s going to help you. People slip, things happen, there can be many reasons for it. As long as you understand and realize that this doesn’t have to be the end, there’s no hurdle your relationship can’t overcome,” says Nandita.
If at all, after everything is said and done, you still find yourself unable to forgive infidelity, you have to analyze all the possible scenarios to decide your next move. Does getting out of this broken bond seems like a more alluring choice? But what if there are other factors holding you back? What if you can’t leave your marriage because you don’t want your kids to go through that?
In that case, even though you feel you can’t forgive your partner, you’ll need to accept your partner ‘with’ their infidelity. You accept the fact that it happened and you learn to live with it. However, this relationship is never going to work out unless your partner’s words and actions can assure you that they have changed.
- It depends on every individual whether they want to forgive emotional infidelity or not
- Realize that forgiving this episode and rebuilding trust in the relationship is not going to happen overnight
- Complete transparency between two partners is absolutely essential
- You have to be extremely kind to yourself throughout this process
- Try journaling, positive affirmation techniques, or therapy to get over the pain
Granted, dealing with emotional betrayal in marriage isn’t an easy ask. But with the help of the tips we listed out, and a bit of professional help, there’s no reason you can’t work your way out of this. When it all ends, you may feel a lot closer to your partner than you did before.
Most of us out there happen to believe that a connection between two hearts is much more powerful than physical closeness. Earlier your partner always turned to you for emotional support, asking about your opinion on several matters, venting about their day, and making you laugh. Naturally, when they offer that place to someone else, you feel a void in your heart.
Yes, a relationship can recover after emotional infidelity although it’s going to be a long process putting both partners through an emotional rollercoaster. Needless to say, it will need genuine efforts from both partners to make things right again.