The biggest problem and the biggest fear in pretty much every relationship out there is infidelity. Cheating is the most talked about mistake that any person can make—and for good reason. It breaks trust, loyalty, and hearts.
As someone who has been cheated on more than once, I can attest to all of these consequences. It’s never an easy situation to deal with, and sometimes it’s easier to just leave the person than to even try to make things work. But then again, sometimes fighting through that difficult time can be the right thing to do.
Why do people cheat?
First, we should understand what cheating is in order to move forward.
People cheat for a number of different reasons and almost all of them have absolutely nothing to do with their partner. While the other person often blames themselves for their partner’s cheating, it usually boils down to psychological issues that the cheater has. [Read: Why do men cheat? 3 big reasons and 27 excuses they use]
Many times, people who cheat have self-esteem issues, or dominance issues—or they might just be an asshole, with no respect for anyone else. No matter what the reason is, it is still wrong and no one should ever do it. [Read: 25 truthful reasons why women cheat so easily]
That being said, there are ways to work through such issues and still stay with your significant other. This is especially vital if your partner comes clean right away and feels bad about it. And for those of you who have years under your belt, you are likely still loved by your other half and working through it may be worth it.
Since there are two sides to this situation, we will address each one separately in order to move past this horrific event.
You messed up. There’s no doubt about that. But if you want to move on, get over this rut in the relationship, and perhaps even improve things, then listen up, because here’s how to do it:
#1 Be remorseful. You did wrong. There’s no excusing it and you need to be sorry. If you truly want to make things better and fix things with your lover, then you have to be really sorry about your actions. And you need to make sure they know that, too.
#2 Own up to your mistakes. Don’t deny it and don’t try to hide it. If you made that kind of mistake and feel bad about it and immediately regret it, go tell your partner. Don’t try and push them away, because eventually they will find out and it may be too late to be forgivable. Own up to your mistake immediately if you want to survive your infidelity. [Read: The step-by-step guide to ending an affair and getting over it completely]
#3 Show empathy for your partner. You just put them through their own personal hell. You’d better let them be angry. Let them cry. Let them hate you. Let them have any emotion they might have because you are responsible for it. Show that you actually care that you made them feel this way. Be there when they’re venting, and sit back and let it happen.
#4 Don’t expect to be trusted right away. You violated the only thing that can immediately make someone stop trusting you. Don’t expect, after talking it out, that they’re going to trust you right away; they won’t. Trust needs to be built back up. You can’t be annoyed if they check in more frequently, or are a little more suspicious of your actions. It’s your fault. [Read: 9 practical steps to rebuild trust after you’ve cheated]
I know exactly how you feel—believe me. But if you truly love your partner and feel that you can get past this, here are some steps you can take to make that happen.
#1 Listen and try to understand. I know it’s really hard to understand why someone would do such a thing to you, but they probably had no intention of hurting you at all. It could be their own personal problems that they’re working through and that’s the way they tried to get through them. Listen to their reasons and try to understand where they’re coming from—even if it doesn’t make sense to you.
#2 Talk about how you feel. Let it ALL out. I mean it. If you have to throw a temper tantrum that makes a bratty 3-year-old look like a perfect angel, then do it! You need to tell them how you feel and get all of your emotions out. Holding onto feelings is like holding onto resentment, and that will hinder any progress you’re hoping to make toward surviving this incident.
#3 Don’t blame yourself. This will only hurt you further. It’s not your fault. Whatever their reasons are, it’s not your fault that they cheated. Realizing this will go far as you learn to forgive them. [Read: 8 ways to confront a cheater who plays the victim card]
#4 Try to trust them. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen right away, but try to trust them again. If they came to you about this and really want to fix things, then you have to give it your all to make it right, too. Try to trust that what they say is true and that their actions will match their words.
Now that you know what it takes on your own, you both still have to work together to get through this kind of situation.
#1 Realize that there are deeper relationship issues at hand—on both ends. Cheating is a sign that something in the relationship is off. On some level, you two aren’t connecting. By realizing this, you can work to find the root of the problem and fix that; the rest will follow.
#2 Talk to each other. Communication is key. If you’re feeling annoyed and angry at them for any reason, tell them. Successful relationships need communication to function properly—especially after an incident like this. Don’t be afraid to open up to your partner about anything.
#3 Don’t forget. You can forgive for this type of issue, but never forget about it. This is a serious violation of trust and the two of you need to remember it for the future. Just because you worked things out this time doesn’t mean that it can be done again if one of you slips up. [Read: How to regain your partner’s trust after you’ve cheated or lied to them]
#4 Don’t expect everything to be normal right away. This type of thing takes time: time to forgive, time to move on, and time to heal. The pain that is caused by something like this is not easily mended. You two may be off for a while, and things may be a little awkward. Just know that eventually things will get better—if that’s what you want.
#5 Build the trust again. Between both of you, you need to build the trust back up. That’s the only way that you will be able to move on from this part of your relationship. It won’t happen right away, but you will eventually be able to trust each other again.
#6 Love each other. Show each other that you care. If there’s one thing that can heal any relationship, it’s love. Get back to that phase where you can’t leave each other alone, because you just always want to be around each other, and because you love one another so much. Finding that place is a perfect way to survive infidelity without tearing apart.