There can be nothing more devastating in a relationship than being cheated upon. Betrayal by one’s partner can cause pain, hurt, embarrassment and rage, but after you have processed your emotions, the big question still looms large – when to walk away after infidelity and more importantly, is it even worth staying on in the relationship.
Fact is, there are very few relationships that survive an episode of cheating. This is because the cheater is not only betraying the vows of a marriage or a committed relationship, s/he breaks the very foundation of a relationship – trust and honesty. Even if a couple gets back together, the state of the marriage after infidelity remains fragile and the shadow of the duplicity and lies will continue to hover around them impacting their interactions forever.
If you’re torn between whether to stay in a relationship after being cheated on or move on, we bring you 10 signs that indicate that the damage to your romantic paradise may be too severe to undo. If you can relate to these, know that walking away after infidelity may be the best recourse for you and your partner.
Does A Relationship Survive After Infidelity?
Whenever a person strays in a marriage, the long-term impact is immense, especially if it is a committed, stable relationship. In most cases, walking away from a cheating husband or wife is the most common fallout of infidelity. But it need not necessarily have to be so. Tania Kawood, an international healer and counselor, says, “Affairs need not happen only in bad marriages; even excellent relationships can face an episode of cheating by a partner. It all depends on the context. But an affair need not be the end of a relationship.”
According to Tania, while the pain of infidelity never really goes away, if a couple wishes to repair their relationship and truly heal, it is possible to start afresh and, perhaps, emerge even stronger. “At times a marriage that survives an affair becomes better because the couple realizes what they may have almost lost and may make a conscious effort to not repeat mistakes,” she adds.
The first step toward rebuilding a relationship with an unfaithful partner is to have the will to forgive and forget his/her actions. For many people, recommitment after infidelity might be unthinkable, but there are those who can look at the bigger picture. Doing so requires a lot of maturity, the ability to have honest conversations, the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions and the openness to seek outside help (therapy).
Of course, a lot depends on the cheater too – is he or she truly remorseful and wants to make amends? Or is there a chance s/he will stray again? If it’s the latter, then the cheated partner should know when to walk away without giving his or her spouse another chance.
Related Reading: The 3 Types Of Men Who Have Affairs And How To Recognize Them
10 Ways To Understand When To Walk Away After Infidelity
When you are faced with infidelity, there will be a whirlpool of emotions within you. It can be a difficult place to be in, especially if cheating is a recurring problem in your relationship. Putting up with a partner who displays the warning traits of a serial cheater isn’t easy or worth the pain.
Most people struggle to figure out when to walk away from a marriage as the societal and familial pressure to “make it work” clashes with your own mixed emotions and anger toward your partner who betrayed you. The decision on when to walk away after infidelity and how to go about it should be dictated entirely by your own feelings toward your partner.
Never allow another person or societal pressure to cloud your judgment because ultimately it’s your life at stake. If you are struggling to determine whether you should leave or stay, here are a few pointers that may help you reach a decision:
1. When your partner is unapologetic
Even if you are large-hearted enough and willing to overlook an act of cheating, the moot point is whether your partner is apologetic about his or her indiscretion. Being genuinely sorry for a mistake is the first step. The second is to decide whether you can accept the apology.
A complete lack of remorse may indicate that your partner has no regrets about betraying your trust. Also, it may be possible that s/he has no interest in continuing the relationship with you. If that’s the case, then it’s better for you to take the higher moral ground. Your partner’s cheating guilt or lack of it can help you figure out when to walk away after infidelity.
2. When you realize you don’t love them anymore
As mentioned above, an unfaithful partner can destroy your faith in love. When confronted with infidelity, try to recognize what your feelings really are. Has the betrayal caused hurt to your ego or your inner self? Do you feel utterly crushed or can you assess the situation objectively?
Falling out of love after infidelity is an extremely common response as you may question the whole point of investing your emotions in a person who does not return them. When you realize you don’t feel for them anymore is when you walk away from infidelity, because it caused you so much pain.
3. When neither of you feels like working on it
Repairing a damaged relationship requires intent, will and hard work. It may involve many things from having honest yet difficult conversations to actually seeking outside help from a therapist. When a betrayal wrecks the foundation of a relationship, it is important to figure out if your marriage is worth saving.
If you feel completely drained emotionally or mentally, it may be an indicator of when to walk away after infidelity. Perhaps, internally both of you know that it is time to pull the plug and no amount of intervention will save it.
4. When people who truly love you ask you to break it off
While making the decision about when to walk away after infidelity is your call alone, do not discount the opinion of those who have your best interests at heart. It is natural to confide in and consult people you trust when you are going through a crisis, be it friends or family.
Listen to their advice and opinions. Sometimes, they may have seen signs that you were blinded to in the flush of love. This most certainly does not mean that you get influenced by them, but if people you genuinely respect ask you to reconsider the marriage, it is definitely worth a thought.
Related Reading: Can You Forgive Your Husband For Having An Affair?
5. When the lies don’t end
The problem with cheating is that you find it hard to believe your partner again. Infidelity involves lies but the problem is bigger when the lies don’t end. A marriage after infidelity will always be fragile as there is no guarantee that the cheater won’t stray again.
Fixing a relationship after the trust is broken is always challenging, and you most certainly can’t do it single-handedly. If your partner has still not ended the other relationship completely, then you must realize when to walk out after infidelity is now. If the third person exists in some form or the other in your partner’s life, it is not worth putting in the efforts toward reconciliation.
6. When your partner does not make you feel special
Everyone deserves to be made to feel special and wanted. The whole idea of getting into a committed relationship or marriage is to have a person in life for whom you are the top priority. Let’s say you and your partner decide to put the cheating episode behind you and make a new beginning. Observe your partner’s behavior.
Do they go out of their way to reassure you it won’t happen again? Are they saying and doing things that indicate you are the only person in their lives? If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, you need to put a timeline to when to walk away from it all.
7. The foundation of your relationship was weak
It is easy to blame infidelity on the person who cheats. Sometimes, you may need to look at the foundation of your relationship and at your own part in it too. Was it always very strong or were there far too many rocky moments? If your partner was disloyal despite being in a happy relationship with you, it reflects poorly on him or her.
But there is a chance that both of you may be able to save the marriage if the feelings are still present. However, if the marriage was already fraying, then the infidelity is just another added layer of complications and it’s better to take a realistic look at it than struggle with when to walk away after the infidelity.
8. You find it difficult to forget
Even after the initial storm of the cheating episode is over, you ask yourself if you can truly move on. Moving on does not just mean forgiving your partner (which is a very difficult thing to do) but also forgetting the incident. And this is where most people struggle. Perhaps your partner is truly repentant and makes every effort to win you back.
Perhaps you decide to give it another chance. It will still require a lot of effort to completely put the entire incident behind you. If you find it challenging to get past the fact that you were cheated on, long after the confrontation and reconciliation have happened, maybe it’s a sign that you aren’t over it yet. It may, then, come to bite you in the future. If you find that the pain of infidelity never goes away, maybe you should stop trying and know when to walk away.
Related Reading: Can Having An Affair Help Your Marriage? People Share Their Thoughts
9. Your partner has cheated before
When someone is unfaithful to you, it might be worth your while to check if they have had a history of cheating in relationships prior to you. A faithful person stays faithful throughout while a regular cheater remains a cheater. You might have thought that you’d be your partner’s true love but some people do not change.
If you have entered a relationship with someone who has cheated on their previous girlfriends or boyfriends (no matter what their rationale for it may be), know that the person places a low priority on commitment. It could also mean that they suffer from a fear of commitment. Do you really want to be with such a person or will you know when to walk away after infidelity?
10. You get blamed directly or indirectly
Truth be told, there can be no justification for being unfaithful as the pain caused to the partner is immense and infidelity is known to destroy entire families. Yet, there should be more respect for a person who can admit to their faults (regardless of whether they regret it or not) than someone who refuses to take responsibility for their actions.
Worse, if your partner is the sort to blame you for the failing relationship or their own inability to keep up with the commitment, you just have to know when to walk away from the marriage and all hands on the clock point to NOW. A person who tries to shift blame, come up with excuses and run away from responsibility cannot be trusted at all.
No marriage is the same, nor is the road to recovery after a painful episode like cheating. How a couple negotiates the aftermath of an extra-marital affair depends entirely on them. However, if either of them is confused about whether to fight to save their relationship or if they should decide when to walk away after infidelity, the above points might provide a context and some roadmap.
If you’re struggling to make sense of your emotions after being cheated on and can’t decide whether to stay or move on, know that this isn’t uncommon given the situation you’re in. Seeking counseling can be immensely beneficial in such a situation. Reach out to a licensed therapist near you or find a skilled, experienced counselor on Bonbology’s panel.
The longevity of a marriage after infidelity is subjective. If a couple has truly healed from the pain inflicted by the adultery, especially the person who was cheated upon and there is true forgiveness, then it is possible for a couple to stay in a marriage despite an episode of cheating.
It is very difficult for the pain of infidelity to go away completely. At the most, one can decide to forgive and move on, but the seeds of suspicion and doubt towards the cheating partner will remain unless he or she makes a concrete effort to show remorse and make up for straying.
If the person shows remorse, is willing to make an effort to work on the marriage, cuts off all ties with their affair partner and stays true to their word, then the relationship is worth saving and giving another chance.