Ah yes, the age-old question: can a relationship go back to normal after cheating? Ever since relationships have existed, cheating has existed. For some couples, cheating is considered to be the point of no return – the one act that is unforgivable and leads to a painful, immediate breakup. For other couples, however, cheating is merely a speed bump in the relationship – something they could see themselves actually moving on from, eventually.
In a digital society like the one we live in today, what constitutes cheating is a little blurrier. In some cases, it depends from person to person, but the fact remains that cheating sucks. And as if it weren’t rough already, dating apps and other technologies have only increased the instances of cheating that occur and made it harder for couples everywhere.
Every relationship, person, and circumstance is of course different, but if you’re wondering whether your relationship could go back to normal after cheating, you’re in the right place.
How It Could Work
Let’s face it – saying you would break up with your partner if they cheated on you is much easier than actually doing it. There may be several different reasons why you’re hesitant to end the relationship, as each relationship is of course different. Whatever the case may be, there are certain things that have to be discussed and dealt with no matter what.
If You Cheated
If you truly want the relationship to stand a chance after the instance of cheating, listen up. It is recommended that you and your partner sit down and talk everything through. Let your partner ask any and all questions they may have about the situation. Don’t rush it – this could take one conversation or several. Keep in mind that the entire dynamic of the relationship is now different; it’s shifted. Trust has been broken, and your partner now is having trouble discerning what is real and what isn’t (they might even question having you take a lie detector test). In this case, there are a few options to choose from: talk it out together and try to remedy the relationship alone, decide to “restart” the relationship and start anew (leaving all the problems of the previous version of the relationship behind), and/or go seek professional guidance from a counselor/therapist.
When you cheat on your partner, there is no way to tell exactly how they will react or feel moving forward. You can’t blame them for feeling the way they do as a result of something you did. Not only is this affecting them in your relationship, but this could end up causing issues for them in their future relationships. Not being able to trust someone or discern what’s real from what isn’t can be extremely tough to process mentally.
If They Cheated – What’s Next?
This is also a good point in time to reflect on your relationship prior to the cheating. Was it a good relationship? Did your partner treat you well? Was there always full trust in your partner before the cheating happened? Take some time to think about any other signs you may have missed in the past or to just weigh out the relationship as a whole. A big thing to consider now is yourself – what will benefit you more, staying with them or leaving? As harsh as it may be to think about or say, ask yourself why your partner would cheat. Do they actually care about you and your relationship? Do they lack respect for you and the relationship? Is there something else going on/an underlying issue?
The reality of the situation is that you both made a serious commitment to each other, and now it’s broken. If you choose to work on your relationship and want to see where it’s at right now OR you’ve been working to overcome this together for some time now, test your relationship’s strength and see how far you’ve come.
The Good News
Simply put, the only way for the relationship to stand a chance is for the cheating to stop! The honesty in the relationship also has to increase, and the trust must be rebuilt. There may be one upside though. Several couples therapists say that couples who are successful in surviving infidelity can survive any other obstacle thrown at them in their relationship. According to them, the willingness to power through something like this in a relationship shows devotion, a more logical dynamic within the relationship, and the ability to examine symptoms of the situation rather than the act of cheating itself. If your relationship is successful in surviving infidelity, congrats! You’re one of the very few.
Why It Couldn’t Work
Statistically speaking, the odds of a relationship surviving infidelity are very low. A study conducted by GQ revealed that “only about 16 percent of couples who’d experienced unfaithfulness were able to work it out.”
Sounds low, right? Well, just to double-check, we conducted a small study ourselves. Our survey conducted amongst 12 young adults ages 20 – 24 revealed that only 17 percent (two people) agreed that there was hope of repairing the relationship. Their definition of the relationship going back to “normal”, however, meant a new normal. Both of them said that the relationship could no longer exist the way it had been doing so previously. Instead, a new one had to be built. Both of these people also stated that even if the relationship was successfully salvaged, the complete trust in the partner who cheated would never be restored fully. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Even if for the rest of the relationship each person is completely faithful and honest, our minds get the best of us and question every word and action going forward.
The Answer Is… You!
If you’re still reading this, you’ve probably decided to end the relationship and start the healing process. It’s important to remember that the actions of your partner do not define you – what happened is not because of who you are. Understandably, you may all of a sudden feel a lack of confidence, lower self esteem, question yourself and/or your relationship, and overall just feel hurt and betrayed. It’s important to take time for yourself regardless of whether or not you choose to salvage your relationship. Again, make sure you talk through how you feel with loved ones, your partner, or a therapist. It is extremely important to get back on good terms with yourself first so that you can later on have a normal, trusting relationship again.
Surviving infidelity is a difficult thing, no doubt. At the end of the day, no one wants to believe that their partner would cheat on them. Despite the betrayal, what is most important is to put yourself first – your heart, your mind, and your happiness. Although we’ve learned that many things are easier said than done, the priority after infidelity in your relationship should only be you. Don’t fear starting over with someone new or of being single for a while. Sometimes the best medicine to heal your wounds is time. Soon enough, you’ll fall in love again with yourself and even someone else! Whether you choose to work it out or go separate ways, do it for yourself and your best interest! And remember, don’t be afraid to talk it out with people you trust or with mental health professionals.