Is it even possible to completely forgive someone who cheated on you? Have you ever wondered what would it be like if you forgave and moved on – together or your separate ways? Forgiving someone who cheated on you is not an easy thing but many people do it and find their own peace.
The value you attach to the relationship changes proportion the moment you find out your partner has been straying away from the relationship. And you might feel anger, betrayal and disappointment to the point you might feel grief beyond repair.
But forgiving your cheating partner is not about them, it’s about you retaining your peace of mind. It might seem impossible to forgive someone who you have loved so madly only for them to cheat on you. You might assign blame to yourself and ask, “Where did I go wrong?” Or “Is it me who turned the relationship sour?” But remember: infidelity is a choice, and your partner chose to cheat on you.
Forgiving your cheating partner, however, more than a prerogative, is a necessary step for you to heal from the infidelity.
Aria Shafer (name changed) says, “Forgiving someone who cheated on you is hard. I am telling from experience because my husband has cheated on me several times. The first time it happened it shocked me and I grieved for days. Then he apologised and we mended the relationship. But he has been a serial cheater and he is in therapy now. I have forgiven me because he is a great father to our four children.”
8 Steps To Completely Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You
Forgiving a cheating spouse or partner takes time; forgiveness does not come in a day. The process of forgiving a cheating spouse or partner comes in steps. Here are the steps to completely forgive someone who cheated on you.
Infidelity is a choice, and your partner chose to cheat on you. Forgiving your cheating partner, however, more than a prerogative, is a necessary step for you to heal from the infidelity.
1. Accept your emotional, mental state
Being cheated on takes a toll on mental and emotional health. Accept the fact you are grieving and it’s okay to be sad. Don’t bottle up your emotions; they tend to lash out in other hurtful ways.
Accept the emotional and mental consequence of infidelity. An extramarital affair is bound to have a profound impact on you and that is about right.
2. Express yourself
Write down what you have been feeling. You want to cuss? Pen it down. If you feel like crying, don’t bottle it up. Let those tears flow.
If you cannot express yourself to your partner do it with a friend or a family member who would understand your situation and won’t be judgmental.
You can talk to a counsellor also who would help you process your feelings and find a perspective. You need to express yourself to give vent to your bottled up emotions. This is the only way you can get down to the process of forgiving someone who cheated on you.
3. Communicate with a confidante
Sometimes, talking to a person you trust, or someone who you think will understand you, is the best thing to do when you are going through a mental trauma. It is good to get a different perspective to your grief. Don’t try to heal by yourself. Seek and get help from the confidante.
Sometimes going out with friends helps. You don’t have to discuss your situation with them but just talking about school or college days and laughing out loud can prove to be therapeutic.
Communicating with people always helps to work as a stress reliever. You will not have the time to dwell on the negative emotions you have been feeling, if you communicate with people around you.
4. Give yourself and your partner some space
Clinging to your cheating partner to inspect every move is not only going to destroy your peace of mind but also ruin the relationship. If you are considering forgiving, give yourself and your partner some space. It might help you re-evaluate your stance on the relationship.
You can take a break from the relationship for sometime and start staying separately. This way you would realise how much important you ae to each other.
You have built a life together over time and if infidelity has happened, there is a thread that connects the two of you. Once you stay apart you can start working on reviving that connection and forgiving your cheating partner will be easier.
5. Therapist might help
Relationship counselling can help you immensely or try couples’ therapy to openly communicate with your partner with professional help.
Counselling can iron out the knots in your relationship for which the infidelity happened in the first place. Often partners find it hard to communicate with each other after cheating has happened. There is a constant awkwardness, a suspicion and the trust is completely lost.
A counsellor can help you to get back the communication in the relationship, even make it better and help rebuild trust.
6. Be understanding
Not of the infidelity. But what led your partner to stray (these will come up in the therapy sessions). Often the infidelity happened because the partner felt neglected, unappreciated or was unhappy in the relationship.
Though that does not excuse the cheating, but instead of blaming them for doing what they did, it’s time to understand why they cheated in the first place. However, that doesn’t mean you place blame on yourself for your partner straying.
7. Don’t plot revenge
Getting even is a common reaction. My partner cheated on me, so I can cheat to get even is a foolish move and you might end up hurting yourself and the relationship even more.
The anger channelled into ‘getting back at him’ will worsen the situation even further. A couple who cannot move past the anger will have serious issues of trust even if they stay in the relationship. You must move past the anger.
Gradually let go of the anger and don’t be vindictive. You need to find a grip on your own emotions. Never feel guilty for your partner’s infidelity. Find your composure and focus on your career, home or hobbies.
Related reading: 7 ways to know that your partner isn’t cheating on you any more
8. Get past the insecurity
After learning of your partner’s infidelity, you are bound to feel insecure about their moves every step of the way. But forgiving a cheating partner has more to do with learning to trust your partner again than to be insecure and paranoid about them.
It is normal you would be jumpy when your cheating partner is around the phone or if they get late for work, your mind would go on an overdrive. In that case your partner will also have to take steps to ensure that you don’t feel insecure anymore. Then only they will also get forgiveness after cheating.
Healing Yourself When You Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You
Infidelity does not mean the end of an affair. Some things cannot be undone and before you end things and decide not to forgive, think of the toll it is going to take on you.
As yourself these questions:
- Do you love your partner?
- Do you want to stay in the relationship?
- Will you be able to trust your cheating partner again?
- Are you willing to move past the affair?
- Are you willing to work on the relationship?
If the answer is yes to all of the above, you will first need to heal.
Healing means learning about the past and not letting it ruin the present. Here are a few things to remember if you are looking to heal yourself.
1. Know where you stand
Are you ready to forgive and move past the infidelity? Do you think you can manage to be in a healthy relationship with a person who has broken your trust once? Will you be able to move past the hurt and try to trust again? Evaluate within yourself before you take the plunge.
2. Don’t ask for the dirty details
If you want to move past, do not ask for the dirty details of the affair. It will only hurt you as you will keep imagining your partner having sex with someone else. Best thing to be done is to not dwell on the details of the act.
3. Trying to heal overnight
Your trust has been broken. It cannot be fixed overnight. Trying to pretend everything is back to normal will impede the healing process. Instead, talk about what scares you in the relationship with your partner. Give the relationship and your partner time to get better.
4. Grudges – keep them away
Holding a grudge and not moving past the affair Constantly nagging about the affair, or using the affair as a tool to manipulate your partner or to put them down shows you still hold a grudge. Holding on to a grudge makes it hard to rebuild a relationship in a healthy way.
5. Give trust a second chance
It won’t be easy to trust your partner again but make sure you do. Trust is the building block of any relationship so find it in your heart and mind to trust and forgive your partner.
Healing from a relationship betrayal is hard. But with time and patience, the re-built relationship can be even stronger. There is no doubt that forgiving multiple affairs is even harder and if you cannot do that it is understandable. But as we told you earlier you have to ask yourself the most important questions before you forgive someone who cheated on you.
In fact, you are actually strong if you can forgive someone after cheating. It needs strength of character to be able to focus on the positives of a person and move on from the betrayal.
After the grieving, you process your feelings and gradually with time it is possible to forgive someone who cheated on you.
It might take time because a partner can keep feeling tormented but if both partners make an effort to rebuild trust a relationship can go back to normal.
It depends on an individual and how much they are affected by the cheating. Some might take a few months, some a year or two and some may never fully forgive. A part of them can keep nursing the hurt.