Should you EVER forgive your partner for cheating?

Should you EVER forgive your partner for cheating? Should you EVER forgive your partner for cheating?

If you’ve ever been cheated on – and most of us have – you’ll know how devastating it can feel.

Not surprising, then, that lots of people don't believe cheaters should ever be forgiven.

I used to be one of them: my father had a ten-year affair and it left me with trust issues that took years to solve.

That – and convincing research by the world leader on infidelity, Belgium therapist Esther Perel - have made me change my mind.

If you are a victim of infidelity and with a person who is otherwise usually thoroughly decent, I strongly believe there is a case for forgiveness.

This is what I have discovered over the years. Perhaps it can help you, too.

1. Cheating doesn't necessarily mean they don't love you

Not every act of infidelity is premeditated or driven by dissatisfaction.

Here’s a sobering fact: happy people cheat. You could have the happiest, healthiest relationship going and your partner might still cheat on you.

Why? Some people succumb to opportunistic infidelity: they’re attached and committed to their partner but when put in a situation where they’re given the chance to cheat, they don’t say no. Alcohol and drugs are often involved (no surprise there).

Even if it’s a continuing affair, it might be purely about sex. When people say, ‘It meant nothing’, what they’re usually saying is, ‘This was about sex not love’. Lots of people are capable of separating love and sex: they’re adamant having sex with someone on the side doesn’t mean they don’t love their partner.

2. It might not be their fault

There’s been a shift from the old way of thinking that laid all the blame solely at the feet of the person who strayed.

These days, we recognise that it takes two people to maintain a satisfying relationship and some affairs happen when one person feels unloved, undervalued or are treated badly.

Research proves not all cheaters are chronic philanderers or immature idiots - nice, responsible people also have affairs. They might love their partner desperately, but long to experience something for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their partner.

The clichéd midlife crisis affair is a classic example. People aren’t so much rejecting their partner as trying to prove to themselves and the world that they’re not getting old. All those experiences that are reserved for the young – the sportscar, the hot sex, the young partner - aren’t out of my grasp after all.

Research also tells us people often feel powerless when in the grasp of an affair. It’s common for people to report feeling bewildered. “I have no idea how I really got there. I didn’t set out to do this or hurt anyone.”

WOULD YOU FORGIVE A CHEATING PARTNER?

Here’s what you said when I posed that question.

“Staying with a known cheater is like gulping poison, knowing exactly what you’re drinking. Forgiveness is an excellent thing because it helps you live with those bad memories. But accepting a cheater back is another thing.”

“If they take full responsibility for their actions – there’s no hedging, no excuses, so justification – then maybe. We’re human, not perfect. You don’t chuck away a good marriage, especially if you have kids, for one bad decision.”

“I forgave my husband who cheated with three ex-girlfriends. We’re married now but do I trust him? No. I

love him and that’s why I stayed. Would I go back and do the same thing with hindsight? No. I’d run screaming.”

“Don’t ask for all the details – it will drive you insane. Ask enough questions for you to make sense of what has happened and then leave it alone.”

“You can’t stay with the person if you don’t forgive. But you need a ton of therapy to work through a lot of painful stuff to get to that point. If you have history and a few good, solid years behind you, it’s totally worth it though.”

“I was a prolific cheater until someone I loved cheated on me. My heart smashed into a million pieces. Once you’ve had that happen, you will never cheat on anyone ever again. You’re safe forgiving someone who has had it happen to them.”

3. Not all relationships are broken by affairs

“You’ve destroyed everything,” is a common (and justified) response when people find out their partner has cheated.

True, your relationship will never be the same after an affair – but it might just get better.

Esther Perel says there are two types of affairs: the ‘wake-up affair’ and the ‘break-up affair’.

The break-up affair happens when the relationship is all but over and cheating is inevitable or done deliberately to force an end to things.

The wake-up affair happens when there are unaddressed problems in the relationship and the discovery of an affair forces the couple to confront and deal with them.

Even though this can result in a happy ending, no-one’s ever recommending having an affair as a ‘fix it’ (including Perel).

But there can be an upside. Because they have nothing to lose in the aftermath of an affair, couples will often open up about things they would never discuss before.

A new, better relationship can form out of the old one.

4. You may well forgive, if not forget

Around 15-20 per cent of couples experience some kind of infidelity. About 60-75 per cent of those who do, stay together – and are happy.

Being able to forgive is the litmus test of whether the relationship can survive the affair. Those who do forgive experience less anxiety, stress and depression and can move forward.

Why are some of us able to forgive and others can’t? It depends on the severity of the infidelity, who it was with and how long it lasted, the level of remorse shown by the cheating partner and the betrayed person’s ability to process and understand their feelings.

The crucial component in all of this is the partner’s remorse: it can take months or years for the betrayed person to feel secure again and for trust to be fully rebuilt. The more patient and contrite your partner, the more likely forgiveness is.

There’s another reason why others refuse to budge…

5. Forgiving doesn't mean condoning

This is a sticking point for lots of people. If I forgive them and have them back, it means they’ve ‘got away with it’.

Listen, if this is the sixth affair you’ve forgiven for your partner for, you ARE condoning bad behaviour. Letting someone commit the same mistake over and over without consequences does put you in a powerless position.

This is very different to forgiving a spouse who hasn’t put a foot wrong for ten years for a relatively small indiscretion.

Forgiveness is not about pardoning the person who hurt you, it’s about your own healing. Forgiveness is good for us, not them.

It also doesn’t mean reconciliation. You can forgive someone and still decide you want nothing more to do with them. There really isn’t a downside to doing it.

Hanging onto hate, however, is a true way to make sure you have a totally miserable life. That’s when the person who hurt you really has won.

6. You probably will spot the signs if it happens again

A final hurdle for people who’ve been devastated by betrayal is what if it happens again? No-one wants a double dose of that pain.

The hardest affairs to forgive are the ones that happen when your relationship is at its happiest. If you were completely blindsided by your partner’s infidelity and had no clue anything was going on, why would you give them another chance? They got away with it once, they could get away with it again.

Perhaps. But this time, they aren’t dealing with a partner who trusts them implicitly. Hindsight offers valuable clues: you did feel a bit suspicious that time when…You’ll have eyes wide open and instincts on full alert.

Most couples introduce rules after an affair and completely transparency is one of them. This means you’ll know all their passwords and can look through their phone, social media, messages and calls whenever you feel nervous.

Having open access to all information is often the only way the betrayed partner is willing to give another chance. And if the cheater isn’t doing anything wrong, why refuse?

Visit traceycox.com for Tracey’s blog, product range, books and details of her weekly podcast, SexTok with Tracey and Kelsey.

Read more
  • https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/other/should-you-ever-forgive-your-partner-for-cheating/ar-BB1o4hyE?ocid=00000000

Related

Wild Bunnings event gets green light

Wild Bunnings event gets green light

News
Bashar Assad meets Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss the war

Bashar Assad meets Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss the war

News
Brushed feathers and tasty fruit: Hong Kong gives first public update on escaped emu

Brushed feathers and tasty fruit: Hong Kong gives first public update on escaped emu

News
Moscow shows its teeth and threatens the US with direct confrontation

Moscow shows its teeth and threatens the US with direct confrontation

News
Singaporeans shower praise upon foreigner who returned lost wallet filled with cash

Singaporeans shower praise upon foreigner who returned lost wallet filled with cash

News
US scrambles fighter jet to intercept Russian and Chinese bombers

US scrambles fighter jet to intercept Russian and Chinese bombers

News
300K-earning bank exec draws flak for complaining her parents want an allowance even though they are wealthier than she is

300K-earning bank exec draws flak for complaining her parents want an allowance even though they are wealthier than she is

News
19 super-rich billionaires who came from nothing

19 super-rich billionaires who came from nothing

News