When someone is being cheated on, outrage, anger, hurt and betrayal are just some of the emotions they have to deal with once the infidelity comes to light. Owing to the setback infidelity causes to a couple’s connection, a majority of people think that displaying rage and moving on is the only ‘correct’ way to deal with infidelity. How to heal after being cheated on and stay together is not a concept popularly entertained. People are, in fact, even judged for staying with a partner who has strayed.
That said, equating cheating with the end of a relationship would be a simplistic assumption at best. As relationship dynamics continue to evolve, many couples discover that staying together after cheating is, in fact, possible. With professionals to guide you through this difficult spell and diminishing stigma around couples’ therapy, partners can explore options beyond parting ways in the wake of a cheating episode. This includes the possibility of staying with someone who cheated on you.
That brings us to the question of how to get over being cheated on and rebuild a relationship with your partner? With clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy, let’s look at some ways of dealing with cheating in a relationship apart from walking away.
Can Couples Recover From Cheating?
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To repair a relationship after one of the partners strays beyond the agreed bounds of monogamy is not easy. In fact, for a lot of couples, infidelity proves to be the fatal nail in the coffin. According to a study, extramarital affairs and infidelity account for 37% of divorces in the US. But what percentage of couples stay together after one cheats? There are limited factual insights on this topic. However, one survey indicates that only 15.6 % of couples can commit to staying together after infidelity.
It’s not easy to heal after being cheated on. After all, this transgression hits at the very foundation of the relationship. However, couples who do survive this setback and find a way of moving on together after infidelity have one thing in common – the will to acknowledge the potential problems in a relationship that may have led to the affair rather than just focusing on the act of cheating itself.
No matter what your reasons for staying after cheating, the process entails a deep dive into your relationship patterns as well as some introspection of your individual behavior patterns. This can help you discover the underlying reasons that may have created room for a third in your equation, address those issues and find healthier coping mechanisms to deal with your emotional baggage and relationship problems.
This can be a long-drawn-out process that requires serious commitment and work from both partners. And even then, there are no guarantees that a couple can recover from cheating and simply go back to the way things were between them. What it can help achieve is the ability of staying together after cheating and building your relationship anew.
What Changes After Cheating And How To Repair Your Relationship
Cheating changes everything between a couple. The uncovering of infidelity can annihilate the relationship, leaving both partners feeling alienated and lost. When you’re at that stage, nursing the hurt or grappling with cheating guilt, the prospect of staying together after cheating may seem laughable. After all, cheating changes the fundamentals of trust, faith, loyalty, respect and love in a relationship.
Erika, a communications professional, talks about how cheating changed her relationship beyond recognition. “I discovered that my partner was having an affair with his scuba diving instructor. Even though it was a brief fling that lasted the duration of the course, which was about four weeks, it changed my 7-year-old relationship beyond recognition. For the first few weeks after he confessed to having slept with his instructor, I could not even look at him or be in the same room.
As the ice began to thaw, I realized that he cheated on me but wants to stay together. He was profusely apologetic and wanted to make things right. To go back to the way things were. I knew in the heart of my hearts that things could never go back to how they were but I was willing to give this relationship another chance because he was genuinely remorseful. So, he cheated and I stayed, and we went into couple’s therapy to figure out how to build a successful relationship after cheating.”
Erika’s experience may resonate with a lot of people who have been cheated on but decided to save their relationship. Repairing a relationship after infidelity is not easy but it is definitely possible. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering staying together after cheating and rebuilding your bond:
- Patience is your biggest ally: Whether you’re the one staying after cheating or the one who betrayed their partner’s trust, patience will be your biggest ally in repairing this relationship. Don’t expect results overnight. It may take weeks, months or even years of consistent effort to rebuild your relationship from the ground up
- Transparency is key: The biggest casualty of infidelity is trust between a couple. To be able to stay together and heal, you must prioritize rebuilding the lost trust. Being transparent and honest is your best bet at achieving that
- Communication will see you through: Wondering what staying together after cheating takes? Copious amounts of honest and healthy communication. Talk about uncomfortable emotions, ask the unpleasant questions, be prepared to hear what the other person has to say, and do so without being critical, dismissive, condescending or hurling accusations
- Let go of the resentment: Sure, being cheated on is bound to rake up a lot of unpleasant emotions – anger, hurt, betrayal and even disgust. You’re well within your right to express them to your partner. But once that’s done, don’t let these feelings fester. Do what you have to do to let go of these emotions if you’ve decided on staying after cheating and want to give your relationship an honest chance at survival
- Tap into empathy and compassion: Whether you’re the cheating partner in the equation or the one who was cheated on, once you decide to make amends, treat your significant other with empathy and compassion. This means not holding the betrayal as a sword above the head of the one who cheated as well as not invalidating the emotions of the one who was cheated on
Can A Relationship Go Back To Normal After Cheating?
Relationship issues cannot be used as an excuse for cheating. However, if both partners are open to exploring what has not been working for their relationship without blame-shifting, then there is hope for staying together after infidelity. Before you announce “He cheated and I stayed” or “She cheated and I forgave”, make sure you’ve been through the wringer of introspection and arrived at this decision after careful consideration and not as a knee-jerk emotional reaction to your cheating partner’s beseeching pleas for forgiveness.
To rebuild your bond and make it even stronger than before, you need to steer clear of reconciliation mistakes after infidelity. Now that we’ve covered the basics of what staying together after cheating entails, let’s turn our attention to another important question: can one get past cheating and stay together with their partner? Devaleena suggests, “Yes, in therapy we have seen a lot of success where even after infidelity and cheating, a relationship has re-started; a couple can certainly work on it and get into a happy space.”
Then the next question we naturally think of is: how to get over being cheated on and stay together? Let’s take a look at factors that help you heal after being cheated on and repair your relationship.
1. Understanding how does being cheated on change you
It most definitely does. Couples who manage to stay together after cheating accept the fact that once trust is broken, going back to the way things once used to be is not easy. Both partners have to accept that this scar is bound to damage the bond they once shared. Then, work on rebuilding the trust in the relationship anew.
Understanding that cheating changes you in many ways and on many levels is the first step toward figuring out how to get over being cheated on. This setback will shake both partners to their core and maybe even bring about a shift in their perspective on relationships. An acceptance of this fact can make it easier to stay in a relationship after infidelity.
Related Reading: The Anatomy Of An Affair
2. Accepting that you both contributed to the problem
This one is tricky, especially for the partner who has been cheated upon. Now, we’re not saying that you’re to blame for your partner’s cheating. Cheating is always a choice and the onus rests with the one who made that choice. But there may have been certain underlying circumstances that may have prompted the cheating partner to make that choice, and to those circumstances, both partners may have contributed. Couples who succeed in moving on from the betrayal of cheating are open to accepting that the little issues may have set the stage for this big blowout.
Devaleena says, “The marriage deteriorating in its quality could have been caused by both partners. However difficult it may be for the partner who has been cheated on to realize that they were part of the problem, with therapy and counseling, couples do realize how each of them has contributed to the decaying of the relationship. Things such as, not taking a stand in the relationship, having archaic values that don’t apply in this day and age, not being flexible – these are ways people could passively contribute to a failing relationship.”
It’s important to understand that acknowledging problems doesn’t mean accepting blame. It’s about the maturity to come to terms with the ugly reality that both partners contribute to problems in a relationship. From this stems the conviction that they both can together look for solutions to rebuild what’s broken.
3. The cheater knows rebuilding trust will take time
The person who strayed has to give their partner the time and space to heal after being cheated on. Expecting a magic wand to erase the feelings of betrayal, and re-establish trust immediately, is naïve and unrealistic. Staying with someone who cheated on you is a difficult decision to make as one is constantly feeling skeptical and even scared.
Couples who succeed in staying together after cheating know that there is no quick fix to undo the damage. The cheater allows their partner to heal at their own pace. In turn, the other partner does their best to trust their assurances of not going down that path again. As we said before, the answer to how to get over being cheated on is patience. Lots and lots of it, on the part of both partners.
4. Therapy is needed to heal after being cheated on
A study on the Aftermath of Infidelity establishes that the act of cheating can take a toll on the physical and mental health of the non-cheating partner. Therefore, a majority of couples who manage to move on together after infidelity relies on professional help. This makes navigating this difficult time and processing the complex emotions somewhat easier.
It’s not just the non-cheating partner who bears the brunt of infidelity. The partner who has strayed may be riddled with cheating guilt too. Reconnecting with so much baggage can be a challenge. That’s why mutually agreeing to seek couple’s therapy helps make the road to recovery a less daunting one. If you’re struggling to figure out how to heal after being cheated on and stay together or how to get over a cheating husband and stay together, then considering therapy is a good starting point. Know that help is only a click away.
5. Communication is essential to stay together after cheating
The most critical factor in staying together after infidelity is rebuilding trust. The best way to do that is prioritizing honest communication. Partners who navigate this rather unpleasant bump in their journey together make it through by talking to each other about everything they’ve been feeling in the aftermath of infidelity.
Devaleena explains, “The first thing a couple needs to try and do, is to process their own feelings about what happened. Then, the timing of your communication and how you are coming across is something you need to also be mindful of. Start with ‘I’ statements when talking about your feelings in order to ensure that the marriage starts healing. Do focus on whether the other person feels heard or not. That is a big component of successful communication.
“While communicating, set boundaries, understand your tone of voice and make sure that the content does not get lost in the noise of all the feelings. One can maybe even consider written communication like leaving notes and such for your partner.” This communication has to be open and two-way if you are serious about how to get past cheating and stay together. You could have been making some communication mistakes so far that have to be corrected. Both partners have to be able to speak their minds freely, without the fear of being judged or shut out by the other. This will improve communication.
Related Reading: Communication Problems In Relationships – 11 Ways To Overcome
6. Couples willing to make changes can rebuild a relationship after cheating
If you are thinking of how to heal after being cheated on and stay together then think of how you can work on rebuilding the relationship. Couples who have survived an affair and made it to the other side of this hurricane exhibit a willingness to make the right changes in their equation. Staying after infidelity takes a lot of effort from both sides.
Both partners must commit to some soul-searching to find ways to be better together. Irrespective of whose fault the affair was, both partners take responsibility for rebuilding a relationship that is stronger and a bond that can last for the long haul. Devaleena tells us, “Spending more quality time together is essential as that is one thing which has already degenerated. Since the trust is lost, the ‘fun’ in any relationship is gone.
“We often encourage couples to engage in bonding activities, share humor and work on physical intimacy too. Starting to become comfortable is important which is why hugging, touching and so on are encouraged on a daily basis. Start going to the gym together, learn a new skill together or just go for evening walks to get past cheating and stay together with your partner.”
7. Most importantly, they have the will to make it work
If one partner wants to make it work and the other wants out, there is little hope to repair your relationship. Couples who stick together in the wake of cheating are able to do so because both partners value their relationship and want to make it work, despite the transgression. If you have drifted apart already it doesn’t help.
For such couples, their love for each other overrides the trauma of cheating and they commit to finding ways to not only recover from the feelings of negativity but also rebuild their relationship. It may take time and perseverance, but they’re successful in staying together after cheating. This also helps them build a bond that is more fortified than before.
Debbie, a reader from Arkansas, told us, “I was cheated on and stayed with my boyfriend regardless not because I had to make it work but because I wanted to. I knew that I loved him and that we could fix this together if we tried. He was also willing to work on himself which motivated me even more to keep going in this relationship.”
How To Heal After Being Cheated On And Stay Together?
Discovering your partner’s unfaithfulness can be devastating. Yet, it’s not something you cannot bounce back from. To get over a cheating husband and stay together or to rebuild a relationship with a cheating wife or long-term partner is a long, taxing process. But as long as both partners commit to doing the hard work, you can repair your relationship.
An important question to address when you decide to forgive and stay together is: can a relationship go back to normal after cheating? That depends solely on your equation with your partner. Some couples manage to restore the old balance in their relationship over time, others find a new normal, while some keep feeling tormented by the affair long after it has ended.
Irrespective of how a couple handles this setback, the relationship can survive and last, and staying after infidelity, is indeed a possibility. Here are 7 tips on how to rebuild a relationship cheating that will help you on this long road to recovery:
1. Honesty helps you heal after being cheated on
Once you have discovered the infidelity, the non-cheating partner must lay bare their grievances. It is perfectly all right if this declaration is emotionally raw and unsparing. You must let out all the grief and hurt you’re experiencing. If you’re wondering how to get over being cheated on because you do not want to lose what you have with your partner, this is your answer.
That’s the only way you can begin to heal after being cheated on. Don’t bottle up your emotions and let them fester because that only leads to resentment in the relationship, which works like termite, rendering your bond hollow from within. The cheating partner must create an atmosphere where the other feels comfortable exhibiting their emotional vulnerabilities. It is also equally vital to let the non-cheating partner know that you understand the pain caused by this transgression.
2. Share the pain to repair your relationship for staying after infidelity
Often it is assumed that the non-cheating partner is the only one going through pain and agony. However, in almost all instances of infidelity, the adulterous partner is dealing with a heartache of their own. One that stems from cheating guilt and hopelessness about the future of the relationship.
Bearing witness to each other’s pain, and showing empathy, is an important part of the healing process. You cannot rebuild your relationship without going through this emotional grind. As Devaleena tells us, “One needs to understand that if you have done something to cause pain to your loved ones, it is natural to feel guilty. Remorse is, in fact, healthy but how to deal with it is important.
“One should not remain in their mode of guilt and do nothing about it. One should try to do something to get out of those feelings like confiding in someone, getting professional help and admitting to what you have done. Don’t defend yourself and instead be honest with yourself. Also, making an effort in your primary relationship to make it healthier will reduce your feelings of guilt. Easing one’s guilt can also be done by asking your partner how they expect you to improve.”
3. Writing a heartfelt apology helps
If you want your partner to continue staying after infidelity, you must give them a reason to. And one of those reasons can be that you are truly sorry for your actions and want to do better in the future. Nobody ever said, “I was cheated on and stayed” without actually believing that their partner was sorry about what happened and wanted to give this relationship another chance.
The adulterer has heard their partner’s honest, raw and emotional declaration about how this incident has impacted them. It’s only fair that they get a chance to put their side of the story out there. However, when emotions are raw and tempers soaring, it can be difficult for the non-cheating partner to objectively hear out the adulterer. Blame shifting and accusations usually follow.
In that case, penning down an apology can help. Use this opportunity to tell your partner how you feel in the aftermath of infidelity. Writing gives one a better chance to articulate these complex emotions. At the same time, the partner who has been cheated on gets a chance to process this account in a more calm and collected frame of mind.
4. Don’t hurry into forgiveness if you want to stay together after cheating
If you don’t want to move on after being cheated on for the fear of losing a partner, then the desire to salvage a relationship often results in hurried forgiveness. The one who has cheated keeps urging their partner to forgive so that moving on together after infidelity becomes a possibility. At the same time, the one who has been cheated on feels overwhelmed by a rush of emotions. They offer forgiveness before they’ve had the chance to seethe, break down and heal.
This is, at best, a temporary fix. The unresolved issues of lack of trust, residual anger and resentment will rear their ugly head eventually. This can wreak greater havoc in the relationship. Taking the time to grieve and heal after being cheated on is a must for rebuilding a relationship.
Devaleena says, “The biggest downside of hurried forgiveness is that the person who has cheated, feels like they have won over the situation and can now freely get back to old ways of being. This may spiral and the relationship might just start going through another phase of infidelity. One must understand if the forgiveness has come before time and make sure it comes only once you have processed all the emotions around the trauma.”
5. Set the rules to repair your relationship
Staying after he cheated is not something you can work on overnight. In order to repair your relationship, both the partners have to set non-negotiable rules that facilitate the healing process. This is critical for earning and granting trust all over again. For example, if unanswered phone calls or not knowing the cheating partner’s whereabouts was a red flag that indicated cheating, the non-cheating partner can request that the other always answer their calls.
Or they can ask their partner to drop a text, informing them if they’re heading out of the office or going to return late. This is how you need to sensibly deal with life after being cheated on. If the cheating was discovered through chat conversations, the partners can agree upon greater access to each other’s personal devices. This helps in easing the power imbalance in the relationship and reinstating trust and security over time.
Checking your partner’s phone without their knowledge or consent is not okay. If you can’t resist the temptation to do that, then it may hamper your chances of moving on together after infidelity. It also indicates that you may have made the decision of staying together after cheating prematurely.
6. Discuss sexual intimacy to get past cheating and stay together
Devaleena tells us, “Sexual intimacy invariably takes a hit after being cheated on in a relationship. One feels like they have been taken advantage of which is followed up by a lot of hurt and anger. But over a period of time, one starts developing trust and if you are willing to forgive and open up, the emotional exchange is on a healthier footing — that could improve your sex life eventually.”
Life after being cheated on, or staying with someone who cheated on you is not easy. The sanctity of exclusive sexual intimacy takes a hit after one partner strays. Addressing this elephant in the room is critical for staying together after infidelity. Often, the third person (with whom one of the partners cheated) can become an invisible presence looming over a couple’s intimate moments.
This can have detrimental consequences. The cheating partner may feel the obligation to please in bed, which can lead to strain and low performance. This can, in turn, aggravate the hurt the other partner is experiencing. As they can misconstrue it as lack of attraction or interest. Know that it takes time to talk about lack of intimacy when you’re trying to come to terms with cheating and you have to rebuild it.
It’s perfectly okay to go off sex for some time. Revisit this aspect of your relationship when you’re comfortable dealing with each other’s emotional vulnerabilities. If you are staying on with someone who cheated on you, then try to rebuild the friendship first and then become lovers.
Related Reading: Why Has My Husband Lost Interest In Me Sexually?
7. How to continue staying after he cheated? Keep faith
Don’t let cliches like ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ hold you back. It won’t do either party any good. Such generalizations should have no place in your mind space if you’re intent on staying together after infidelity and making your relationship work. It’s better to get over being cheated on and move on.
Yes, there are serial cheaters who just cannot stay confined by the rules of monogamy. There are people who stray not owing to circumstances, but because it’s part of their system. And they genuinely want an out. They learn their lesson and never repeat the same mistake.
As a partner trying to heal after being cheated on, you have to have faith. Trust that your significant other falls in the second category and that they are willing to change. Unless, of course, they’ve gone down this road over and over again. In which case, you should reassess whether moving on together after infidelity is a good idea.
Can couples recover from cheating? Is staying with someone who cheated on you possible? The answer to those questions lies in whether both partners are willing to fight for the relationship and take a leap of faith so that they can rebuild a healthier, stronger bond from the wreckage left behind by the act of infidelity.
If the foundation of the relationship is strong it can go back to its old form even after cheating. But it will take time and both partners should give that time to heal and nurture the relationship to bring back the trust.
You need to be honest about what you want from the relationship, share the pain, apologize to each other, assess the relationship and how you need to heal, show forgiveness and keep faith.
There is no denying the fact that the pain of infidelity stays on for a long time but time is the best healer. If there is a consistent effort on the part of the cheating partner to regain trust, then eventually the pain can vanish.
There are limited factual insights on this topic. However, one survey indicates that only 15.6 % of couples can commit to staying together after infidelity.
To maintain trust after an affair, both partners must commit to honest and open communication in the relationship. The partner who cheated has to maintain total transparency with respect to their behavior, thoughts and action to be able to regain the other’s trust. And the partner who has been cheated on must make a conscious effort to not view everything through the lens of their emotional baggage.