A terrible thing has happened. You found out your partner cheated on you. What happens now?
For some people, cheating means an automatic break-up. But others may still have feelings for their partner, and depending on the circumstances they may want to try and keep the relationship going.
As hard as this might be to hear, it’s important to remember that there is no way to 100% guarantee that your partner will never cheat again. Your partner has to make the choice not to cheat, and you can’t control other people’s decisions. However, you can choose whether or not to trust your partner again. Rebuilding trust is possible. It does take a lot of work, and BOTH partners have to be committed to healing the relationship.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Communication should be open. Healthy communication is important in any relationship, but especially after trust has been broken. You should be able to talk honestly with your partner, and you should feel that your partner is being open and honest with you. If you have an argument, try to fight fair without bringing up the past.
Be on the same team. Your relationship may not look the same on the “other side,” but it is possible to build something new. You should both be focused on building that new relationship together.
Stay “present-oriented.” One of the most difficult things about rebuilding trust after someone cheats is staying in the present moment and building toward the future, rather than living in or worrying about the past. You have every right to feel hurt, angry, and sad about your partner’s decision to cheat. However, if you can’t eventually let go of those feelings and work toward a more positive, open approach to the relationship, it may be a sign that this relationship is not worth staying in.
Trust yourself. This might be the most important (and hardest) thing to do. You might be questioning your own instincts at this point: “Should I have done something differently?” “Shouldn’t I have seen this coming?” But learning to trust yourself, your own feelings, and that you’ll be okay moving forward is key to having a healthy relationship with anyone. If something doesn’t feel right, rethink about whether or not it’s right for you.
As you are rebuilding your relationship, remember the following:
- Cheating is never an excuse to be abusive toward your partner. There is no excuse for abuse.
- Cheating does not mean your partner has no right to privacy anymore. It’s not healthy to demand that they share their cell phone or social media passwords with you, or constantly check up on them and make them prove that they are telling you the truth. What you share with each other is still a decision for each of you to make. Again, it will be your choice to trust or not trust your partner.
If You’re the One Who Cheated
If you cheated on your partner, and you both have decided to try and make your relationship work again, there are a few things you need to do:
Take responsibility. Own up to your behaviors, and be understanding about how those behaviors have made your partner feel. Be honest with yourself as to why you made the decision to cheat.
Keep promises. Call when you say you’ll call. Do what you say you’re going to do. Show that you are worthy of trust.
Give your partner space. They will be angry and hurt about what you did, and they have a right to feel and express their feelings. Sometimes it might seem like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back, but you must recognize that this process takes time. Trust cannot be rebuilt overnight. However, like we said above, your partner does not have the right to be abusive toward you, and you still have a right to your own privacy.
Communicate openly. Find out what your partner needs. Really listen to them. Be honest with your partner about what you need. Are you willing and able to meet your partner’s needs, and vice versa? If not, it might be time to reconsider whether staying in the relationship is right for both of you.