When someone cheats on you and leaves your heart shattered, is it possible for you to let bygones be bygones and continue the relationship?
Cheating: a mortal sin in exclusive relationships. Nowadays, it seems like cheating is one of the biggest problems couples face. I have had my *un*fair share of cheating partners, and I am telling you that being on the receiving end of cheating is probably one of the most terrible things anyone could ever go through.
I don’t wish it upon anyone, but it has become a disease–especially now that we are in a hookup culture. Online dating apps like Tinder have made it a whole lot easier to cheat. No one deserves to be cheated on–not even when you and your partner are having relationship issues. There is no acceptable reason for cheating. The world should be purged of cheaters; with cheaters gone, the world would be a much better place. [Read: The truth about love and promiscuity in today’s world]
So, is forgiving a cheater possible? My jaded self would probably say no and back it up with “cheaters don’t deserve a second chance. They made a choice, so you should make the sane choice: dumping them,” but this time, I’m going to go with the more mature answer and say yes, forgiving a cheater is possible.
What you need to know before you think of forgiving a cheater
Forgiving a cheating partner can take two forms: forgiving and staying in the relationship, or forgiving and letting go. It is imperative to ask yourself these questions when you’re in the crucial situation of deciding whether or not you should forgive your cheating partner.
#1 Has your partner cheated on you before? This is the most important question you have to ask yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard the line, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Sadly, cheating can be addictive, and once a person has created a pattern for cheating, it becomes a really bad habit–and we all know habits are hard to break.
If you’ve given your partner a free pass in the past and still they continue to cheat on you, maybe you should rethink forgiving and staying. Serial cheaters tend to take advantage of forgiving partners, and eventually the effect of repetitive cheating will take its toll on you. Who wants a life of constant babysitting?
On the other hand, if your partner cheated on you once, and has shown extreme remorse for what they have done, perhaps they deserve a second chance. After all, maybe this one slip-up will help them change for the better. [Read: 18 ingenious ways to catch a cheating partner]
#2 Is your partner taking responsibility for their actions? If you catch or discover your partner cheating and confront them about it, there are two red flags. The first would be denial, and I mean this in a sense that even when there’s already evidence, they still continue to lie to your face–that is just plain rude and wrong.
The second is when they make it all about you. They’re so guilty that they can’t help but act angry at you to make it look like they’re innocent. They may pin the blame on you and try to convince you that your actions in the relationship are the driving force behind their infidelity.
A combination of these two things shows that your partner isn’t taking responsibility for their actions. How can you expect someone with this kind of character to actually find the time and effort to make it up to you and earn your trust back?
#3 Can you honestly move on from what happened and make the relationship work? A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they can forgive and forget. The truth is, when it comes to cheating, forgiving and staying is so much easier said than done.
Let’s face it: even when you say that you’re going to let this incident go for the sake of making the relationship work, there will be times that you’ll get extremely paranoid and suspicious… to the point that you become so clingy, it suffocates your partner.
Although you can’t really be blamed for taking extra precautions, you wouldn’t want to transform into someone you’re not and make the relationship worse. Remember: staying will also be a struggle for you. It will take a lot out of you and your partner, but if both of you are determined, the chances of getting your old relationship back are high.
Forgiving a cheating partner does not benefit them more than it benefits you; forgiveness frees you from bitterness, hatred, and anger. It makes you the better and more mature person by giving you the moral high ground.
You can’t just expect to sleep on it one night and wake up feeling ready to forgive someone who has betrayed you and shattered your heart into a million pieces. Forgiveness takes time, and it may take you longer than you expect. As they say, time heals all wounds.
Never, ever blame yourself for your partner’s actions. Most of us do this to ourselves; we think there’s something wrong with us, because our partners cheated, but the truth is, they cheated because they’re heartless and incapable of valuing commitment.
Just a piece of advice: if you do decide to stay with a cheating partner, make sure that they’re going to do everything *and I mean EVERYTHING* to deserve to be taken back by a forgiving person like you, and make sure they’re aware that it’s the last chance you’ll give them.
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Jorella Valino is a freelance writer, human resources manager, and animal rights advocate. She maintains a cruelty-free and vegan blog dedicated solely to raisi...