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 in the relationship after you’ve been cheated on?
The fact is very few relationships survive an episode of cheating. This is because the cheating partner 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 over 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 than unnecessarily dragging a toxic relationship.
The Aftermath Of Infidelity In Relationships
The effects of an extramarital affair or cheating in a relationship cast an ugly shadow on both partners. Whether you are trying to work on the relationship or walking away from a cheater, you can’t sidestep the aftermath of infidelity. The immediate reaction would be uncontrollable anger and bitter pain, along with intense jealousy. There will be frequent high-pitched confrontations, throwing and breaking things around the house, and storming out.
But what happens 1 year after infidelity? After you both get past the initial shock, eventually accept that it happened and try to find a way to deal with it. To some people, marriage never feels the same after infidelity. Some couples opt for temporary separation to reflect on the situation. Some would say, “I am not attracted to my husband after he cheated” or “I don’t feel the same way about my wife since she cheated.”
Unless your partner is completely invested in mending the relationship, low self-esteem, chronic anxiety, depression, and trust issues may hit you hard. Even if you decided on letting go of a cheating spouse, the insecurities stemming from infidelity will continue to fester and affect all your future relationships.
A study based on the responses of 232 college students shows that infidelity results in unhealthy behavior (like substance abuse), in women more than in men. A study on divorce statistics indicates that 85% of couples parted ways due to lack of commitment, while 58% mentioned infidelity as a reason behind their divorce.
Psychologist Nandita Rambhia once spoke to Bonobology on this matter, she says, “The initial and long-term effects of cheating in a relationship are quite different from one another. In a committed monogamous relationship, the initial reaction after cheating is extreme hurt. This, eventually, translates into sadness or extreme anger.
“In the long term, such adverse effects of cheating in a relationship result in severe self-doubt and anxiety. Not only does it affect the present, but the insecurity after being cheated on affects future relationships too. Because they have experienced betrayal, a person would find it difficult to trust any future partner easily. They will have a hard time figuring out if their partner is being honest and the value of honesty may get lost in the relationship.”
Does A Relationship Survive After Infidelity?
Whenever a person strays in a marriage, the long-term infidelity effects can be immense. In most cases, walking away from a cheating husband or wife is the most common recourse. 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. You must ask certain questions to ask your unfaithful spouse to gauge their expectations from you and the relationship, and then decide if and when to leave after infidelity.”
According to Tania, that conversation is important. 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.
How can a marriage survive infidelity? 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, 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 cheating spouse 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 to shatter their trust.
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, be it an emotional affair or physical, 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 societal and familial pressure to “make it work” clashes with their own mixed emotions and anger toward their partner who betrayed them. The decision of 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 the broken marriage 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, it will amount to nothing unless 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 hurt your self-esteem? 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 no longer have feelings for them is when you walk away after infidelity.
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 seeking 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 that it’s time to walk away after infidelity. Perhaps, internally, you both 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 a 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: What He Really Thinks When He Realizes You Blocked Him
5. When the lies don’t end
Wondering how to leave a cheating husband you love? Well, figuring it out becomes a lot simpler when they don’t offer you many reasons not to divorce after infidelity. The problem with cheating is that you struggle to trust your partner again. Infidelity involves lies, but you have a bigger problem at hand when the lies don’t end even after your partner’s transgression comes to light. 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 now is when to walk out after infidelity. 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 for when to walk away from it all. According to divorce statistics, 17% of all divorces in the USA happen due to the adultery of one or both partners. There is no shame in being a part of statistics if the relationship is not working the way you had imagined.
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 a very strong, healthy relationship 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 you may be able to save the marriage if you still have feelings for one another. 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, 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 making peace with 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 episode 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. 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 are you better off walking 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 betrayed 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 honor 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.
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 figuring out whether you should try to fix a marriage after infidelity or walk away. According to AAMFT, 90% of their marriage and family therapy clients have seen improvement in their relationships and individual mental health conditions after seeking help.
The goal of marriage counseling is to create a channel of communication and new ways of interaction between two partners to rebuild the emotional connection. Reach out to a licensed therapist near you or find a skilled, experienced counselor on Bonbology’s panel.
- The consequences of infidelity include heartbreak, trust issues, insecurities to chronic anxiety, PTSD, and depression
- The majority of the infidelity couples end up separating while some come out stronger as a survivor
- You should leave when your partner is not apologetic about the incident
- If you feel you lost the love and emotional connection for them, it’s better to leave
- If your partner has a history of serial cheating and you catch them lying frequently, don’t bother to try fixing the relationship
Now you know how to stop overthinking after being cheated on and make a calm, rational decision. 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.
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.
According to APA data, the divorce rate after infidelity is 20%-40%. While the findings of a Gallup poll show that 62% of the participants admitted to leaving their spouse and getting a divorce if they found out their spouse was having an affair; 31% would not.
Here are a few marriage reconciliation mistakes couples tend to make – bringing up the incident in every argument and continuing the blame game, being too nosy in their partner’s life or completely retracting from the relationship, planning revenge or meeting the affair partner, and so on.
How long a marriage lasts after infidelity depends on many factors such as how committed are the partners to working on their relationship, whether they opted for couples therapy or not, and many more. However, research data from APA shows that 53% of infidelity couples were divorced within 5 years even after going through marriage counseling.