Should You Forgive a Cheater? How & 21 MUST-KNOWs To Make a Choice

Do you think you could forgive a cheater? The reasons why people cheat may be many, but if you want to, it’s possible to forgive someone for cheating with a lot of hard work. 

forgive a cheater

Do you think you could forgive a cheater? Many people have a variety of different opinions on this subject, but if you want to overcome infidelity, it’s doable. We have to warn you now, though: it will take a lot of work.

Firstly, let’s get this out of the way – there’s absolutely no excuse for someone’s cheating behavior.

If a partner cheats on you, you have every right to walk away if you choose to. But, if you choose to try and forgive a cheater, know that it is possible with a lot of work and understanding on both sides.

The circumstances around an episode of cheating can vary from person to person. While you often hear the phrase, “once a cheater, always a cheater,” there’s no way to know if that’s true. You also have no idea how you’ll really react to being cheated on unless it happens to you.

If you’ve been cheated on and you’re unsure what to do, take some time to consider things carefully. Learning to forgive a cheater is a long road, but it can be done if that’s the route you choose. [Read: 18 ingenious ways to catch a potential cheating partner in the act!]

A big betrayal of trust

An affair tears your world apart. We’re sorry, but there’s no nicer way to put this across. No matter what you do or how you choose to look at it, it’s a fact that will never be forgotten. You can choose to overcome it, but it will always be in the back of your mind.

In every relationship that involves a cheating partner, the affair is the elephant in the room. You don’t talk about it, but it always makes its presence felt behind awkward pauses and painful stares.

An affair takes several months or, more often, several years to heal. But really, the scar never fades.

That’s the most important truth you need to know about deciding to forgive a cheating partner. [Read: 16 signs to know if your partner is cheating on you]

Do you want to walk away?

The very moment you find out that your partner is cheating on you or has cheated on you, every cell in your body tells you to walk away for good. And you know what, that’s the best thing you can do.

After all, the one person you trusted blindly with your love has just tossed your love, respect, and trust into the garbage by cheating on you. There’s no doubt that cheating shatters relationships, and dealing with the aftermath of infidelity may be even harder.

But once the maddening rush of adrenalin and rage calms, let’s try to think again. Do you really want to end it all and walk away, especially with the history you share?

Could you harden your heart and watch your partner groveling on their knees, begging you to forgive them, without giving them a second chance? [Read: Why do men cheat? – 3 really big reasons and 27 more!]

It’s always easier to assume you know what the right thing to do is until you’re forced to experience it yourself.

If you can walk away from a cheating partner, that’s the strongest and safest thing you can do. But on the other hand, if your mind tells you to end the relationship, but your heart wants to forgive and trust your partner one more time in the hope that they’d never hurt you again, well, read on. [Read: 25 truthful reasons why women cheat so damn easily!]

Can someone who cheated change for the better?

Humans are one of the few species that can learn through others’ experiences and judge right from wrong without having to experience something themselves.

If a person wants to cheat on their husband or wife, or their boyfriend or girlfriend, why get into a great relationship in the first place, you may ask. But that’s the problem with being human.

We always question ourselves over every decision we make, even after we make them. And to make things worse, humans suffer from the annoying addiction of always wondering if there’s something better out there. [Read: The truth about true love and promiscuous love in today’s world]

Before you start wondering if you should forgive a cheater, it’s important to question whether they’re able to change their ways. Was it a one-off thing or something more prolonged? Do you think they’ll ever succumb to the temptation again?

The bottom line is you’ll never truly know for sure, but you should listen to your gut on this one. Yes, people do make mistakes, and perhaps it was something your partner regrets wholeheartedly. But, some people are serial cheaters who cannot be trusted.

So, while a cheater can change because they regret their actions, some people never will. That doesn’t make deciding whether you should forgive a cheater any easier, but it’s the painful truth of an even more painful situation for the person who has been cheated on. [Read: Dealing with heartbreak – 18 steps to do it the right way]

Should you forgive your partner for committing infidelity?

We know you want us to give you a firm yes or no on this, but the reality is that even we can’t simply answer that. There are so many variables at play in regard to why infidelity happens, only you can assess the situation and follow your heart. But we can give you some guidance.

Before you make your decision on whether you should hold on or cut your losses, follow these steps. [Read: Tips to react better to a confession without losing your cool]

1. Take some time for yourself

The first thing you need to do is to breathe and center yourself. You will not be able to get any of that done if every glance at your spouse makes you want to fly into an unholy rage.

Pack an overnight bag and stay with someone you can trust. Be it with a friend or family member, make your way to a calm and safe haven. Check into a hotel if you have to. Just do not stay put and fight it out.

If you cannot control yourself, then go right ahead and fly off the handle, but ensure that you leave right after. You need to reflect on everything that has happened and decide on what you want to do next.

Yelling and fighting are not going to change anything. Your partner already cheated on you, and as much as you may be itching to hash it all out there and then, you may want to save it for some other time when you can approach the situation with your head and not just your heart. [Read: Reasons it’s okay to take a relationship break]

2. Reflect on the relationship

Once you are away from your spouse, spend as much time as you need to reflect on your relationship. Clear your mind and focus on what happened.

You also need to think about how you feel about your spouse. Will you be able to forgive? Do you want to forget? Are you both willing to undergo couples therapy? Weigh the pros and cons of forgiving a cheater and moving forward in the relationship.

Once you’ve more or less planned what’s going to happen next, you will find that you’ll feel a little more secure about the future.

Being cheated on can feel like the floor has shattered beneath you. Reflecting on your relationship allows you to gain a foothold and get back up. [Read: Big steps to building trust in a relationship]

3. Never place blame

Of course, it’s easy to blame your partner’s infidelity on them, but at the end of the day, was your relationship so rocky to the point that it was inevitable that someone was bound to stray from the relationship?

Whatever happens, never ever blame yourself. Even if your relationship was a tumultuous one, it is no excuse for cheating. It was your partner’s fault for not coming to you first and trying to work it out. Your spouse was the one who could not resist temptation and chose to do it.

You did not push them into the arms of another. [Read: Playing victim – signs and reasons why it makes your life way worse]

4. Accept how you feel

You’re going to feel pretty battered and bruised emotionally for a while, and that’s normal. Accept how you feel and give yourself time to grieve and process the negative emotions. Because that’s really what it is – you’re grieving the fact that your partner has betrayed you in the worst possible way.

Don’t be tempted to push your feelings to one side; you have to accept them and understand them in order to move on, no matter what your choice is. [Read: Achieving self-acceptance – little steps for one big change]

5. Talk it out

Once you have had time to calm down, sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation. If you can, do it on neutral ground. A public yet quiet place like a park or a coffee shop would be ideal. This will prevent both of you from making a scene.

Being open about what happened is the best way to move on. Before the meeting, gather all the information you have, and keep in mind all the questions you want to ask.

You also have to remember to read between the lines. You should know your spouse better than anyone else, so you’ll be able to tell if they’re lying. If you sense something is off, press harder, and you will get the information you need.

You also have to discuss their reasons for cheating. This allows you to pinpoint where your relationship took a turn for the worse. This may lead you towards finding a solution for your problems. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

6. Don’t become obsessed with the details

It is natural to want to know everything, such as where this person is from, what they look like, what your partner liked about this person, and so on. But remember that the less you know, the better it is for you.

Keep this person on the outside and try not to personalize or connect with them. Also, never ever compare yourself with this person. We know it’s hard to feel comfortable not knowing these details, but there is no reason why you should feel bad about the way you look, dress, and feel. [Read: 25 most common reasons why women cheat]

7. Think of those who are affected

Obviously, if you have kids, they should be the ones you think about first. Worrying about how it is going to affect them should you break up with your spouse is normal. Worrying about how it is going to affect them should you stay with your spouse and be unhappy is also normal.

When deciding whether to stay or go, your children should be the main priority.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how both of you are going to get over this hurdle and what sort of setup you will have for your kids.

As hard as this is, staying or leaving should only be determined once you figure the pros and cons out together. [Read: Child of a narcissist – 16 lasting effects you just can’t ignore]

8. Ask yourself if you can live with it

Something else to think about is whether you have the capacity to forgive a person for being unfaithful to you. If you decide that you can move past and live with it, then you have to realize that rebuilding the trust is not going to happen overnight.

Some people still struggle with it years later. If you know that forgiving and forgetting is not in the cards, then leave now and do not prolong it. [Read: How to rebuild broken trust in a relationship]

9. Prepare for change

A vital thing that you have to do when deciding whether to stay or go is to prepare for change. No matter what you decide, things will be different.

Whether you are going to move out and have to adjust to the change of living somewhere new, or if you stay and have to prepare for a strenuous time rebuilding the trust, expect change to happen.

The silver lining is that you know it is going to happen, so you can at least prepare yourself for it. [Read: Should you ever forgive a cheating partner?]

10. Don’t play the revenge game

It’s very easy to think that getting even will make you feel better. It won’t. Don’t stoop down to their level.

Revenge never works out well and only complicates waters that are already extremely muddy. Instead, focus on yourself and work through the situation, taking all the time you need. [Read: When people hurt you – How to deal with the pain and respond to them]

11. Have they cheated in the past?

Some people develop bad habits just because they’ve found they can get away with them. It is easier to find ways to forgive a one-time thing of cheating than a string of affairs—or worse, a serious, long-term affair.

If your partner has cheated on you multiple times over the course of your relationship, chances are they will continue to do it over and over, taking advantage of your emotional leniency and maybe your low self-worth.

You must remember that people who want to make things work will work on making better decisions so that you can stay together. If they never changed, then it’s your turn to make a decision and call it quits. [Read: Serial cheat code – reasons why cheaters can’t help themselves]

12. Are they showing remorse or regret?

Do they seem remorseful that they have cheated on you? Are they trying hard to earn your trust again or get you back? Take their actions and reactions into consideration.

Are they completely erasing the other person from their lives, or do they still communicate? Are they willing to patiently and openly answer your questions just to give you assurance and peace of mind?

Some cheaters tend to only be sorry for being caught and not for hurting their partner. They should, in fact, be more miserable about hurting you than you are, and beyond their words, their actions should convey genuine remorse and misery.

If you don’t see this, then you’ll know it’s the end of a relationship. If they’re not even remorseful, then the relationship is already over in their minds, and it should be in yours, too. [Read: Sure things you have to do before forgiving a cheater]

13. What if it happens again?

Are you sure that your partner will not cheat on you again? What are they doing to assure you that, this time, they’ll be loyal and it’s just going to be you?

If things don’t change in your relationship, it is more likely that your partner may cheat again, as having an affair can be a sign of an underlying problem in the relationship—or your partner.

However, it takes two to tango, so if your partner is intent on being true and improving your relationship, then they should be doing their part, and so should you. [Read: The step-by-step path to ending an affair and getting over it completely]

14. Do you seriously think things can go back to the way they were?

Having delusions and fake security in your relationship prior to finding out about cheating can be hard enough. If you continue to think that the relationship can go back to the way it was, it’s time for a reality check.

Harboring false hope and expectations about your loved ones can bring in more heartbreak for you if they come up short of your idea of “happily ever after.”

If your partner is promising you that things will be back to the way they were but is apparently all about lip service, then this is also a problem.

To be able to wholly forgive a cheater, you must be able to realistically look at the situation and acknowledge that they may cheat again or that the relationship could go downhill. [Read: Practical ways to rebuild trust in the relationship after you’ve cheated]

15. Are they emotionally involved with the person they cheated with?

It’s one thing to have a momentary slip-up, and it’s another thing to be emotionally involved with someone. Before you even consider giving your partner another chance, find out if your partner is in love with or emotionally invested in the one they cheated with.

After all, they may be considering leaving you for good while sleeping around with a third party. If this is the case, chances are, the relationship has already died a quiet death, and you didn’t even know it. [Read: Emotional cheating and the bad things it can do to you]

16. Are they blaming you for their actions?

It’s vital that your partner takes responsibility for their actions. If they start to turn things around and blame you for their actions, it’s time to show them the door.

A person who is truly sorry and remorseful will show you via their actions. They won’t try and deflect the blame and shrug it off.

They need to accept what they’ve done, understand the consequences, and be willing to work on themselves to earn your forgiveness and trust.

17. Take it slow if you choose to forgive a cheater

If you choose to forgive your partner for cheating and decide that the relationship is worth saving, you have to understand that it’s a process that takes time. You need to take every day step-by-step. You can’t assume things are going to feel anywhere near normal for a while.

It might even feel like you’re playing a part for a while. All of this is normal, but after an amount of time has passed *keep in mind that the time it takes varies between couples*, things should start to feel more comfortable again. [Read: Alone time – Why you need it, how it helps and how to make the most of it]

18. Seek help if necessary

It may be that you and your partner need to see a relationship therapist to overcome the cheating episode and improve your entire relationship after the infidelity.

In that case, do it. Seeing a therapist is a very worthwhile and effective route and may give you the tools you need to work through the broken relationship that could help you grow and change as a couple.

It’s also very likely that you’ll need to rely upon friends and family for your own emotional stability at this time. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel – it’s the only way you’re going to overcome what you’re going through.

Opening up and being vulnerable is one of the many steps that you both have to take to repair a relationship after experiencing infidelity. [Read: Relationship counseling – signs you need it to save your love]

19. If you’re going to forgive a cheater, you cannot hold grudges

It’s vital that if you choose to learn how to forgive a cheater, you leave the episode where it is – in the past. You cannot drag it up in the middle of an argument in the future and throw it back at your partner.

You’ve chosen to forgive, and that means moving on. Yes, they made a huge mistake, but if you’re going to try and work on your relationship, it’s vital that you do not hold a grudge.

It’s hard to let go of the feeling, but you should try, as forgiveness is a strength that not everyone has. If you know that you can’t do this, then deep down, you can’t forgive them.

20. Work through the insecurity and learn to love yourself

When a partner cheats, it’s always going to make the other person feel insecure. They’re going to wonder what they could have made to prevent what happened or the issues that led to what happened.

Do not allow these thoughts to occupy your mind. You have to work through your insecurities and know that you did nothing wrong. Love yourself, and everything will fall into place. [Read: Sense of self – 26 steps to raise it and feel like a million bucks]

21. Rebuilding trust takes time

You’re going to have nagging doubts occasionally, and that’s because it takes time to repair broken trust. Just as we said, you have to avoid holding grudges, but you also have to avoid holding onto broken trust too.

As terrifying as it is, if you decide to continue the relationship after cheating, you have to blindly trust that your partner means what they say if you choose to take them back. You cannot follow them around and watch them all the time. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you hang on to trust issues.

Rebuilding that emotional connection takes time— even years! It may feel incredibly difficult. Just trust the process. [Read: How to face relationship challenges and overcome them as a couple]

Will things go back to normal after cheating, or will the ‘what if’ will always exist?

When a partner cheats, it sends you into a spiral and a world of “what ifs” occupy your mind. Don’t assume that by choosing to forgive a cheater, that’s not going to happen. It will, and it will be there for a while. Even if your relationship ended and you started dating again, you will find it hard to trust new people.

For a short while, you’re always going to worry that they might cheat again. They may. They may not. But you have to make your decision based on the information you have before you and the points we’ve talked about above.

You shouldn’t forgive a cheater if you believe they’re going to cheat again, but it’s rarely that cut and dried. If you feel like you deserve better, they’re always blaming you for their cheating, or you’re always reminded of the cheating episode, we don’t think it may be worth trying again.

But, if you feel things may get back to some semblance of normal in the future and perhaps bring you closer, then, by all means, give it a try. [Read: The right way to end an affair and get over it together]

Forgive the person who cheated on you, or let the relationship go? The final decision is yours

To forgive someone who cheated, you have to be strong and brave enough to trust again. You must be able to get past the hurt, betrayal, humiliation, and anger to be able to have acceptance and compassion.

As you accept your partner into your life once again, you must exercise zero tolerance and lay down ground rules for your partner to work on and earn your trust again.

Meanwhile, your partner must learn from their mistakes and deliver and commit to making amends consistently and unequivocally.

[Read: Very effective ways to survive infidelity without tearing apart]

It’s always hard to trust someone who betrayed you and broke your heart. But if you choose to forgive a cheating partner and want to give them another chance, make sure it’s the last chance you’ll ever give them in their lifetime!

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...