Should you get back together with a cheater?
Cheating is the ultimate betrayal in a relationship, and it's one of the most common reasons couples break up. However, if you're in love or have been together for a long time, you may feel inclined to forgive your partner for their infidelity, especially if it was a one-time incident. But, before you forgive them for cheating, you should ask yourself these nine questions.
1. A one-off or an emerging pattern?
If your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you only one time, and it was honestly a mistake, then you might feel inclined to forgive them. But if they have cheated on you more than once, then it's a pattern, and they will most likely continue to cheat in the future. You should consider walking away from the relationship.
If they promises to change their ways, then they might need professional help to get to the root of their infidelities. Even if your boyfriend or girlfriend is willing to seek out professional help, you should still consider ending the relationship. This is because trust has already been broken, and that is the most essential element in a relationship.
2. Did they 'fess up, or did you bust them?
If your partner admitted to cheating, then this may indicate they feel guilt and remorse. This might also indicate that the relationship is salvageable, depending on the circumstances. Another thing to think about is the reason why your boyfriend or girlfriend chose to confess to cheating. Perhaps they were afraid of getting caught, or maybe the person they were cheating with threatened to reveal everything. Ideally, your partner should admit to cheating because they are genuinely sorry, and want to repair the relationship.
However, if you discovered they were cheating, and confronted them, then this is a bad sign. It signals that they don't feel guilty about the cheating, and they would've continued it behind your back. If this is the case, you should end the relationship immediately.
3. What made them stray?
Ask your boyfriend or girlfriend the reasons behind why they cheated on you. This will be a good marker of whether or not your relationship can be saved. Did your partner cheat on you because they feel dissatisfied in the relationship? Did they cheat on you because they fell in love with someone else? Did they cheat on you because they were under the influence one night and made a mistake? Discussing the reasons why your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you can shed light on the situation. If your partner states they cheated on you because they feel dissatisfied in the relationship or has fallen in love with someone else, you should end it. But if they were drunk one night and kissed someone else, then there is a chance the relationship can be saved.
4. Did they just kiss, or did they do more?
This is a huge question to ask yourself when deciding to forgive your cheating boyfriend or girlfriend. Did your partner kiss someone else? Or did they have sex with someone else? If your boyfriend or girlfriend simply kissed someone else one night, this isn't as bad as having sex with someone else, especially if it was a one time incident. You might have your own definitions of cheating, too — kissing may not be a huge deal to you. Before deciding to end the relationship, discuss what kind of cheating happened.
5. Will they cheat again?
Since trust has already been broken within the relationship, you should ask yourself what you'd do if you discovered your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you again. How will they assure you that they won't cheat again? How will you be able to trust them? You should have a frank discussion with your partner on measures they plan to take to rebuild trust. Are they willing to go to couples counseling, for instance? Is your boyfriend or girlfriend willing to be more open and communicative? How will you handle the relationship is you find out they have cheated again on you?
6. How's the relationship otherwise?
Oftentimes difficulties within a relationship can prompt cheating. How was your relationship when the cheating happened? Were you fighting a lot with your boyfriend or girlfriend at the time? How was the sex? Did you notice physical distance between the two of you? If your relationship was rocky at the time your partner cheated on you, then you might need to reevaluate the relationship altogether. If your relationship was already rocky, then discovering someone has cheated on you will make it even worse. However, if your relationship was solid at the time the cheating happened, and it was genuinely a simple mistake on their end, then the relationship might be salvageable. You can either take their cheating as a signal to try to make your relationship better or stronger, or it might indicate you need to end it for good.
7. Can I forgive them completely?
One of the biggest questions to ask yourself is, if you choose to forgive your partner for cheating on you, can things go back to as they were? How will you be able to trust them again? How will you work through your own insecurities? If you feel as though you'll always be mistrustful of your partner from now on, and hold a grudge or bring the cheating up in fights, then you should probably end the relationship for good. Relationships are built on trust, and if you feel as though that can't be reestablished, then it's a waste of time.
8. What were the circumstances of their cheating?
There are so many incidences in which cheating can occur — it can be something as simple as a drunken kiss in a bar or something more complex, such as an affair that lasts several months. If your cheating partner was emotionally involved with someone else, i.e. an affair, then you should probably throw in the towel on your relationship. You should find out if your boyfriend or girlfriend is emotionally invested with the person he cheated on you with — this means your relationship is completely over.
9. Who's to blame — you or them?
Discovering your partner has cheated on you can completely destroy your self-esteem. You might ask yourself if you're attractive enough to be with them. Or you might question your skills in the bedroom. You might be inclined to analyze all the negatives in your relationship, and beat yourself up about it. Is your boyfriend or girlfriend also blaming you for their actions? If your partner tries to blame you for their cheating, then you know your relationship is over. This signals they lack guilt and accountability for their actions. It also signals they don't care about your emotional well-being. But, if your boyfriend or girlfriend tries to comfort you, and insists you shouldn't blame yourself, then there is a possibility the relationship can be saved.
Their cheatin' heart
Although none of the above questions can give you the answer of what to do regarding your relationship, if you reflect on each answer carefully, then you might be able to decide if your relationship is worth saving. Ultimately, though, it's incredibly difficult for couples to bounce back after cheating has happened. This is because trust has been destroyed. Additionally, if your partner has cheated in their past relationships, this indicates they may have personal issues, and isn't ideal for a monogamous relationship.
- "9 Non-Negotiables You’ll Need to Forgive an Affair," HuffPost, October 3, 2014.
- "18 Things To Ask Yourself Before Getting Back Together with Your Ex," Bolde, July 27, 2017.
- "The Five Questions That Tell You if It's Worth Forgiving a Cheating Partner (and a Five Step Recovery Plan if the Answer Is Yes!)," The Daily Mail, February 26, 2014.
- "The Secret Shame of Infidelity: What Happens When You Stay," Glamour, November 13, 2015.