Should You Forgive a Cheating Partner And Move On?

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A romantic relationship thrives on trust, and so, learning that your partner has cheated on you can be a traumatic experience. You might be wondering, “how to forgive a cheating partner?” While many relationships terminate once infidelity is exposed, some people are willing to forgive and continue with their relationships. There are numerous elements to consider while determining whether or not to forgive an unfaithful partner. Continue reading to learn how to deal with cheating in a marriage or a relationship, as well as how to determine whether or not to forgive your partner.

Should You Forgive A Cheater?

There is a saying, “Once a cheater, always a repeater.” However, it does not hold true for all. In matters of emotional relationships, one cannot assume that there is no scope for a U-turn. There are some who are habitual cheaters, but there are some who make a mistake once and deserve a second chance.

You might consider forgiving your partner in the following scenarios, provided your heart permits you for the same.

  • Your partner has always been honest to you

If your partner has been consistently honest with you throughout the relationship, you may consider giving them the benefit of doubt by considering the cheating episode as just a one-time slip. A person who cheats once is not necessarily a cheater always. If you believe in his/her honesty and think that the person deserves one more chance, then go for it.

  • Your relationship had been healthy before the cheating episode

If you and your partner have had a very healthy relationship for a good amount of time before the cheating episode, then you might want to forgive your cheating partner for the sake of good times. It could even be possible that those good times could come back again.

  • Your partner is willing to take full responsibility

If your partner takes full responsibility without blaming or manipulating you, then it indicates their guilt. Giving a second chance can be an appropriate option in this case.

  • You share a family

Having children together should not force you to be in a relationship with a cheating partner. However, if you think you can work your differences out and expect full honesty from your partner, then you might consider forgiving them.

  • You were in the relationship for a considerably long time before the episode

If you both were in a relationship for a long time, then you can see the bigger picture and see how far you have come along. If you have that gut feeling that there is more to add to that picture and more to your relationship, then consider forgiving your partner.

  • Your partner is really guilty and wants to be with you

If your partner is serious about reconciliation and is showing conscious efforts to win you back, you can think of forgiving them. There are no timelines for forgiveness. You can carefully think of your decision to forgive and do the needful only once you are convinced.

When Not To Forgive A Cheater?

There can be instances where infidelity pushes the relationship to the point of no return. You can sense that when you either feel that you are not yet ready to forgive or you feel your partner does not deserve forgiveness. Try observing the signs for these two instances to make the right decision.

The following are the signs that show that you are not yet ready to forgive your partner.

  • You get irritated at every little thing they do. If they are trying to be nice to you, you get irritated by thinking they are overcompensating for the wrong they did.
  • Your trust is shattered, and now you doubt them constantly. You grow suspicious even when they leave the house for work or any other errands. You cannot help but feel tempted to spy on their texts, e-mails, etc. Constant suspicion is not a good sign in a relationship.
  • You no longer feel like doing small things or showing any gestures of love towards them. If doing simple things for them makes you uncomfortable, then probably you need some more time.
  • Having a comfortable physical intimacy is essential to rekindling a broken relationship. If you keep thinking about them having sex with someone else during your moments of intimacy, then you need to step back and discuss your apprehensions with them.

The following are the signs that show that your partner does not deserve to be forgiven.

  • They constantly blame you for the cheating episode.
  • They are impatient and do not give you enough time to get over the episode.
  • They still behave weird and are secretive. They are not ready to open up.
  • They have cheated on other people in the past and have a tendency to cheat in romantic relationships.
  • They have no remorse or regret and blame things like the situation, stress, or alcohol for their actions.
  • They make no effort to understand your apprehensions, doubts, and fears.
  • Their apologies aren’t serious.
  • They have cheated you for the second time.

How To Forgive A Cheater?

There is no fixed guideline or recipe to help you forgive a cheating partner. Every individual, couple, and relationship is unique. The following steps and points of consideration may help you prepare yourself if you decide to forgive a cheating spouse.

  • Take enough time

Once you know about the episode, take some time to introspect. Look back at your and your partner’s contribution to the relationship. Give yourself some time to prepare your mind to forgive the person.

  • Take your own decision

Always remember that you are not obliged to forgive the cheating partner. No matter what your partner, friends or family say, this is a personal decision, and only you should decide it.

  • Let your partner talk

Listen to your partner. No matter how angry you are, listen to them. It does not mean that you are going to forgive them, but listening to your partner might give you a new perspective and can make the process a bit easier or clearer for you.

  • Convey your emotions

Let them clearly know how it made you feel. If you do not vent out now, the hidden anguish will stir up eventually and will take you back to the square one. Discussing how you felt about the whole thing will also let them understand the gravity of their mistake.

  • Keep the guilt away

Do not feel guilty about the incident. A cheating partner might try to manipulate you and make you feel responsible, too. Make sure you do not let yourself slip into a feeling of guilt and remorse for a mistake that you have not committed. You might make the wrong decision when laden with unnecessary guilt.

  • Dig deep into the relationship

Address the weaknesses of the relationship with each other. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, and know all about how it started and what all happened. Try and collectively work on the drawbacks of your relationship that may have triggered the infidelity. Set your expectations from each other right. Discuss what both of you want from the relationship.

  • Forgive wholeheartedly

Once you forgive the partner, never revisit the bad memories and taunt them. Instead, rebuild the lost trust with mutual help. It will take some time to get back to where you left off, but it is possible if you help each other.

Remember that forgiving your partner does not mean that you are letting them off the hook. Actions speak louder than words, and your partner needs to make up for the lost time in the relationship. Give them a chance.

How Is Forgiving Your Cheating Partner Helpful For You?

It needs a lot of mental and emotional courage to decide that you are going to forgive a person who cheated upon you. The process causes a lot of emotional turmoil, but the end result liberates you from the shackles of hatred and bitterness.

Forgiveness is growth. However, forgiving does not mean forgetting. Forgiving helps you get closer to closure, and gradually solve all the problems. Also, forgiving a cheating partner could help you in the following ways.

  • It will help you get rid of the bitterness.
  • You will be able to look at the future with a positive outlook.
  • Forgiving and moving on will help you live your life with self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • If at all you plan to move on with the relationship, forgiving will help you trust your partner again. It will help you get rid of the resentment, and your partner will feel confident in reforming themself for good.
  • Holding on to grudges is mentally exhausting. Forgiving gives you mental peace and clears your mind for a better perspective and outlook towards life.
  • Feelings of hatred, resentment, bitterness, etc. can hamper your mental health. Forgiving liberates you from all these feelings and helps you be stress-free. It may even help reduce any anxiety or depression caused by your partner’s infidelity.

Understand that forgiving the partner is making you the mature person in the relationship. It is going to be helpful to you since it will provide you with closure. At the same time, do not rush into the decision or let yourself be significantly influenced by others. There should be no deadlines when it comes to forgiving a cheating partner. Remember, a partner may forgive but not necessarily stay in the relationship. Others may stay in the relationship. If you decide to stay as a couple, the focus is on rebuilding the trust and intimacy.

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Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena

(PhD (Counseling Psychology))
Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena is a board licensed therapist in the USA and Puerto Rico with a specialty in couples, families, and relationships. Dr. Carlos possesses a PhD in Counseling Psychology granted at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. His two-decade professional experience also includes scientific research in family emotional and relational processes and its effect on psychological functioning. Dr.... more

Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship articles, where she deals with both the rosy and the grey side... more