Is it ever possible to completely forgive someone who cheated on you? Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you forgave and moved on – together or on 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 its proportion the moment you find out your partner has strayed. You feel anger, betrayal, and disappointment to the point you grieve beyond repair. The concept of forgiveness after cheating can seem alien when you’re in this distraught state.
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 to find out they have cheated on you. You might assign blame to yourself and ask “Where did I go wrong?” or “Is it me who turned the relationship sour?”.
Before you wreck your sanity and self-esteem any further, remember that infidelity is a choice, and your partner chose to cheat on you. No matter what problems occurred in your relationship, it could have been dealt with differently via communication and/or couple’s counseling. Cheating can never be a solution. The bottom line is no one can ever compel anyone to commit infidelity.
At the same time, it’s entirely your decision to forgive someone who cheated on you and it shouldn’t be influenced by any external force. If you choose to stay in the relationship, forgiving your cheating partner is probably a necessary step for you to heal from the infidelity more than a prerogative. Now it comes down to only one question: How to forgive someone for cheating?
To decode how to forgive a cheater and stay together and to answer “Why do people cheat after all?”, we had a discussion with relationship and intimacy coach Utkarsh Khurana (MA Clinical Psychology, Ph.D. Scholar) who is a visiting faculty at the Amity University and specializes in anxiety issues, negative beliefs, and individualism in a relationship, to name a few.
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. When the blow of infidelity is dealt to a relationship, it’s unrealistic to expect that you can just shake it off and move on as if nothing has happened. Sure enough, cheating can change the nature of your relationship in many ways, even if you choose to stay together.
Ariana (name changed), who had to deal with the warning traits of a serial cheater in her husband, says, “Forgiving someone who cheated on you is hard. I am telling you this from personal 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 apologized and we mended the relationship. But he has been a serial cheater and he is in therapy now. I have forgiven him because he is a great father to our four children.”
We asked our expert, is it possible to completely forgive someone who cheated on you? To that, Utkarsh says, “I will say yes to it. It is possible to forgive someone who has cheated on you although it depends on what cheating in a relationship truly means to you. If you consider infidelity a deal breaker and see cheating as equivalent to a ‘broken relationship’, then you might not be able to forgive the other person.
“But if you count this breach of trust as only a relationship red flag or as a buzzer indicating there are some open loops in the relationship that led to cheating, then you might be more open to learning how to forgive cheating. In that case, you may even reach the state of complete forgiveness along with working on the underlying issues between you and your partner.”
So, we can say that forgiveness after cheating is possible although it might take immense emotional strength and willpower on your part. The process of forgiving a cheating spouse or partner comes in steps. Whether you’re wondering how to forgive a cheating girlfriend/partner or trying to figure out a way to forgive your spouse for cheating and rebuild the relationship, here are the steps to completely forgive someone who cheated on you:
1. Accept your emotional and mental state
Being cheated on takes a toll on one’s mental and emotional health. To forgive a cheating partner, 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 consequences of infidelity. An extramarital affair is bound to have a profound impact on you and that is about right.
Utkarsh says, “Usually, the high emotional state that we feel is our ego standing up to protect ourselves. For example, if you catch your partner sleeping with someone else, you will be angry, wondering, “Why do people cheat on someone they love?” There will be rage and frustration and that’s your way of protecting yourself.
“Or you might deny your true emotions of sadness, anguish, and fear. Even though subconsciously you are aware of it, you suppress those feelings because they are too damn hard to face. But if you really want to know how to forgive your partner for cheating, you have to acknowledge those difficult feelings and let yourself live and deal with the negative emotions.
“Forgiving a cheater too soon might be an impulsive decision because forgiveness is not a quick fix for a relationship. It’s a long process that starts with you. Be kind to yourself first. You are not doing any favor to your partner by forgiving. It’s your way of liberating yourself by letting go of the emotional baggage.”
2. Express yourself
Scream into a pillow. Play a sad song and bawl like a baby. Write down whatever it is that you are feeling. Do you want to cuss? Pen it down or shout at a wall in an empty room. Let the anger get released; let those tears flow. If you cannot express your feelings of anger and hurt to your partner, do it with a friend or a family member who would understand your situation and won’t be judgmental.
We know it’s not easy to wipe off the imagery of your partner with that other person from your mind. But you can’t possibly figure out how to forgive cheating as long as you hold on to the past. You can also talk to a counselor 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 to forgive someone for cheating
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 mental trauma. It is good to get a different perspective on your grief. Don’t try to heal by yourself. Seek and get help from the confidante. Sometimes, going out with friends helps too.
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. To figure out how to forgive a cheater, you first have to heal from the setback. Surrounding yourself with people who bring you joy will allow you to do just that.
Related Reading: Coping With Depression After Cheating On Someone – 7 Expert Tips
4. Give yourself and your partner some space
Clinging to your cheating partner to inspect their every move is not only going to destroy your peace of mind but also damage the relationship even more. If you are considering forgiving, give yourself and your partner some space. It might help you re-evaluate your stance on the relationship.
It’s one of those times when taking a break from a relationship seems like a healthy choice. Move out for a couple of months and start staying separately. This way you would realize how important you are to each other. You have built a life together over time and even though infidelity has happened, there is still 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.
This becomes even more imperative if you’re trying to forgive someone who cheated on you multiple times. Since repeated betrayal can lead to deep-seated trust issues in the relationship, some distance can offer you new perspectives on what you want for yourself. Do you want to give them another chance or make a clean break? Remember that forgiveness after cheating and taking a partner back are not essentially interdependent.
According to Utkarsh, “Space is absolutely essential when it comes to dealing with a cheating partner. If you are wondering, “How to forgive someone who lied and cheated?”, you should know it majorly depends on the bond and the emotional intimacy the couple shares in their relationship.
“The partners can resolve this by active constructive communication, where both of them are emotionally genuine and self-attuned, keeping their ego shields aside. At the same time, it’s important to respect each other’s personal space. In situations like these, people act from their subconscious minds and there are high chances of going into denial. But when you are offering each other the required space and time to heal, try to be mindful about the things that you are experiencing mentally and physically.”
5. How to forgive someone for cheating? Consider therapy
Relationship counseling can help you immensely or try couple’s therapy to openly communicate with your partner via professional help. Counseling 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. How can you forgive someone who cheated on you when you can’t even bear to look at them?
There is constant awkwardness and suspicion, and the trust is completely lost. But if your partner is experiencing remorse for their actions and is willing to work on mending the relationship, a counselor can help you find the easy flow of communication and the lost connection between the two of you. Even better, therapy can be helpful in slowly rebuilding trust. Just so you know, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are always here for you.
6. Be understanding
Not of the infidelity. But what led your partner to stray (these factors will come up in the therapy sessions). Often infidelity may happen because the partner felt neglected, unappreciated, or unhappy in the relationship. Though that does not justify the cheating, it’d help you understand their state of mind when they chose to betray your trust.
If you want to forgive your partner who cheated and start afresh with them, you need to be able to get past the stage of blaming them for doing what they did. Understanding why they cheated in the first place will help on that account. However, that doesn’t mean you place blame on yourself for your partner straying. We are not suggesting forgiving a cheater too soon but never feel guilty for your partner’s infidelity either.
7. Don’t plot revenge
How to forgive someone for cheating? Start by acknowledging and accepting that forgiveness and vengeance cannot co-exist. Getting even is a common reaction. “My partner cheated on me, so I will cheat to get even” is a foolish move and you might end up hurting yourself and the relationship even more. So it’s better not to foster the idea of revenge cheating in your head.
The anger channeled 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 get over that phase. Gradually, let go of the anger and don’t be vindictive. You need to find a grip on your own emotions. Find your composure and focus on your career, home, or hobbies.
Related Reading: Is Sexting Cheating If You Are In A Relationship?
8. Get past the insecurity
After knowing about 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 being insecure and paranoid about them. It is normal for you to be jumpy when your cheating partner is around the phone or if they get late coming back from work, your mind would go into overdrive.
Plus, being cheated on might play havoc on your self-esteem, and thoughts like “I am not good enough for them” will frequently visit your mind. To master the art of ‘how to forgive a cheater and stay together’, you have to stop pitying yourself. And in that case, your partner should play a pivotal role in convincing you that it’s not you, it’s them. They will also have to take steps to ensure that you don’t feel insecure in the relationship anymore. It’s the only way to seek and offer forgiveness after cheating.
Utkarsh suggests, “On this, I won’t go and use any fancy language or give a fancy explanation. Insecurities are natural in relationships. Insecurities are the door to self-reflection. Instead of reacting or avoiding it, you have to acknowledge it and respect it. Give your insecurity some space and understand what your insecurity is trying to say. In return, it will help you in understanding yourself much better.”
Healing Yourself When You Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You
Can you forgive someone who cheated on you? This question is bound to weigh on your mind in the immediate aftermath of cheating. At the time, it may even seem like the answer to this question is a clear, resounding NO. However, as time begins to blunt the hurt, forgiveness after cheating begins to seem more plausible.
But before you forgive your partner who cheated on you, you must heal and recover fully. 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.
Ask 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 trying to heal yourself and looking for answers to how to forgive someone who lied and cheated on you:
1. Know your stand and discard the blame game
Are you ready to forgive a cheating partner 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 or many times? Will you be able to move past the hurt and try to trust again? Or do you still peg them as an immoral person who didn’t care about the sanctity of your relationship? Evaluate within yourself before you take the plunge.
Utkarsh says, “Blame shifting is just your way of protecting yourself in a relationship. Instead of entering into the psychological game of blaming, the partners should try to understand the nuances of a particular red flag behavior because nobody intentionally does damage to their relationship. Everybody wants to flourish.
“If you understand the nuance of the behavior, it may help you perceive where that behavior is coming from. Once you are able to fathom their action with more psychological depth, it might let you see your partner in a new light and be understanding of their state of mind. Eventually, you would know how to forgive your partner for cheating.”
2. Don’t ask for the dirty details
If you want to move past it all, do not ask for the dirty details of the affair. It will only hurt you as you will keep imagining your partner being intimate with someone else. Of course, you will have a million questions about the what, why, and how of it all. Ask your cheating partner the right questions that will help you put this incident behind you rather than replay it in your mind on a loop. The best thing to do is to not dwell on the details of the act.
3. Trying to heal overnight is not feasible
How to forgive someone for cheating and heal yourself? Accept the fact that your trust has been broken and 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. Keep grudges away
The key to how to forgive a cheater is to let the past bury its dead. Holding a grudge and not moving past the affair will not get you anywhere. 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 onto a grudge makes it harder to rebuild a relationship in a healthy way, and damages your own well-being too.
5. Give trust a second chance
To practice forgiveness after cheating, work on rebuilding trust in the relationship. It won’t be easy to trust your partner again but make sure you keep trying until you no longer find yourself second-guessing everything they say. Trust is the building block of any relationship so find it in your heart and mind to trust and forgive your partner.
- Acknowledge your feelings and channel those emotions in a healthy way to forgive someone who cheated on you
- Talk to a friend and vent if you need to release your anger
- Give yourself and your partner some space to get past the hurt and insecurities
- Revenge cheating is not the right way to go about it
- Try to tame your anger if you want to rebuild trust with your partner, and go for professional guidance if you have to
Healing from a relationship betrayal is hard. But with time and patience, the rebuilt 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 some 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 the strength of character to be able to focus on the positives of a person and move on from the betrayal.
After grieving, you process your feelings, and gradually, it is possible to forgive someone who cheated on you. To be able to truly forgive a partner for cheating, you need to heal from the setback completely and not negate or bottle up your emotions.
It might take time because a partner can keep feeling tormented after the infidelity. But if both partners make an effort to rebuild trust, a relationship can go back to normal.
It depends on the individual and how affected they are by the betrayal. 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.