Can A Relationship Work After Cheating? Steps To Mend It

Forgiveness goes a long way toward mending broken bonds of trust and commitment.

Reviewed by Dr. Dorothee Ischler, DMFT, LMFT, LP Dr. Dorothee Ischler Dr. Dorothee IschlerDMFT, LMFT, LP twitter_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA Gracia Odile MA linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
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Relationships work on trust, honesty, and mutual understanding between partners. Therefore, being faithful to your partner is important to maintaining a healthy relationship. But can a relationship work after cheating? Infidelity or cheating is not just being unfaithful to your beloved. It breaks not only the trust and loyalty you develop in your long-term relationship but also shakes the entire foundation of your relationship. After the trauma, you part ways, put an end to your relationship, or find a way to heal it and make it better. Read this article if you are at a crossroads and need help to make the right decision. Scroll down for more information.

Infidelity By The Numbers

Can a relationship work after cheating
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It can be very difficult to get over the infidelity of a spouse. According to a new survey by Health Testing Centers, a healthcare company, only 16% of relationships work after a cheating incident (1). While most cheating cases — around 40% — occur in unmarried relationships, 25% of marriages also see infidelity at least once.

It may take a long while and a lot of hard work to get over such a painful event. Thus, it is completely fine to let things go and move on, and it is also okay to try to work things out.

While figuring out your approach, you may wonder why someone has the urge to cheat on their partner. It happens when they don’t get the kind of love, attention, satisfaction, acceptance, or respect they seek from their significant other. The reasons may vary, but at the end of the day, it is often about finding something that’s missing in the present relationship.

While you may be giving your best in the relationship, it is imperative to understand that every individual has different needs. You can’t always meet them all, and they have to work with you to find a middle ground. Do you see a future with your partner or is it only about keeping up the pretenses? Here are some parameters that shouldn’t define your relationship’s future.

Why You Shouldn’t Take Them Back

Why you shouldn't take them back after they cheat
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  1. Duration: You have been in the relationship for too long and don’t want to lose them or you feel like you won’t find someone as loving as they are.
  2. Tit-for-tat: You consider this a counterbalance for a previous affair you had or an earlier argument where you had hurt them.
  3. Kids: You have kids together and want to forgive your partner for the children’s sake.
  4. Social circles: You have a common friends’ circle and don’t want it to be awkward at the next get-together.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Recognize and celebrate small victories in the journey to rebuilding trust. Positive reinforcement can strengthen the commitment to reinforcing the bond you both share.

Not all is always lost. Your relationship might be able to survive the mishap as both of you try to create a stronger bond. Here are some tell-tale signs that your relationship can work after all.

The Right Reasons For A Second Chance

The right reasons for a second chance after they cheat
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  1. Willingness To Forgive: You find yourself ready to forgive them and honestly give the relationship another chance.
  2. Persisting Ease: The time you spend together doesn’t feel strained, and you enjoy it. You work smoothly around each other without any hiccups.
  3. Friendship: Your trust in the friendship and confidant-ship with your partner is still intact.
  4. Communicate: You can talk about the affair without yelling or getting physical. Crying and being hurt are natural, but you can work through that phase and make up.
  5. Counseling: Both of you are open to counseling to mend your relationship and work on the suggestions given by the counselor.
  6. A Strong Relationship: Your relationship has stood the test of time and you believe this is just a temporary hurdle. You feel your bond will emerge stronger out of this turmoil.
  7. Do Better: Both of you are ready to address the gaps and work harder to ensure such misfortune doesn’t befall your relationship again.

Once you are sure that your relationship will work out eventually, you have to embrace patience as it may take months to even years to mend it. Here’s a road map to help you reach the destination of blissful togetherness again.

Steps To Mend Your Relationship

Steps to mend your relationship after they cheat
Image: Shutterstock
  1. Remorse: First things first, your partner must feel remorse for the loss your relationship suffered because of their cheating. Unless you speak your mind and make them understand how hurt you are, they will not understand the full extent of the damage.
  2. Apology: An authentic interest in restoring the relationship is communicated through a genuine apology. It should not sound shallow nor include any reasons or justifications for their actions.
protip_icon Pro Tip
Forgiveness is a choice, but it should be accompanied by a deep understanding of the root causes and the sincere desire to change.
  1. Communicate: A proper communication channel between the two of you is vital to help put your point across and understand each other.
  2. Honesty: Talk about why it happened. Was it intentional? Was it under influence? Had a stupid dare gone too far? However silly the excuse may be, speak the truth.
  3. Simple Questions: Asking simple questions and answering them honestly is the surest way to regain the lost trust.
  4. Limited Interference: Be selective about who you tell about the incident. Only tell the few people you know will support your effort to reconcile and who will not hold it against your partner in the future. Telling everyone, fearing their judgment, and hearing unnecessary suggestions can be a pain.
  5. Therapy: Working with a licensed therapist is the easiest way to work on a broken relationship.
  6. Temptations: Temptations carry a danger of returning unexpectedly. So, work on understanding what led to the cheating and create boundaries to keep it from happening again.
  7. Co-create A Plan: Renegotiate the terms that the relationship was based on. Include the learning from the mishap, what issues need to be worked on, etc.
  8. Mutual Commitment: For the relationship to last, emotional investment, quality time, constant assurances, efforts, and understanding need to be put in place for both parties.
  9. Be Empathetic: Your partner needs to understand the pain their actions have caused you. They also need to acknowledge and understand your emotions and genuinely apologize for their mistakes. It is important that they consistently demonstrate remorse through their actions, show the commitment to change, and make your relationship work.
  10. Spend Time: Allocate adequate time to have open conversations with your partner, allowing your deepest and often disregarded emotions to surface and be addressed in a safe space. Engage in activities and hobbies that strengthen bonds, foster connection, and rebuild lost trust. Your partner should show their commitment through consistent actions to make priorities clear.

While the above mentioned 10 points will help you rekindle your relationship, here are some tips on how you can implement them practically to repair the broken trust.

Some Recommendations To Ease The Process

  1. Get to the root of the problem to understand why the cheating occurred. This is the time to be completely and gently honest, as it can save your relationship from any such future recurrences.
  2. Be patient with each other. Listen and communicate to understand what is being said. Rather than being reactionary, be receptive.
  3. Create and implement a plan to build a trusting future together. It can include couple therapy and laying new ground rules through discussions with each other.
  4. Limit the number of times that the topic is brought up. When you keep talking about it, it is harder to get over.
  5. Cut the third person out completely. Don’t contact, meet, or even text them.
  6. Accept that the affair happened, acknowledge the reasons behind it, and understand the emotions you have felt and made your partner go through. And finally, try to move on.
  7. Shed the blame game, taunting, teasing, and any sort of low-handed insults that you might want to throw at each other. Do it before you start trying to mend the relationship and, once done, never mention it again.
  8. Focus on strengthening your relationship. Engage in activities, collaborative tasks, massages – anything that will help rebuild the lost trust.
  9. Address the jealousy if there was a third person involved. You might want to blame the shortcomings you may have, but remember it was never your fault.
  10. Forgive them and yourself for letting it happen. Focus on improving yourselves and your relationship from here on.

Key Takeaways

  • Trust, honesty, and loyalty are the base for any relationship to work. Infidelity breaks the trust between both partners and causes a lot of grief which may end the relationship.
  • You should not take your partner back if it is payback for an argument you had or to avoid awkwardness in your social circles.
  • If you are ready to give your partner a second chance, you should be ready to forgive them and talk about the affair to be on the road towards healing.
  • Genuinely apologize to your partner for cheating on them and go to a therapist to address your issues and work together on them.

Examine the difficulties in reestablishing confidence after cheating. Watch this captivating video and discover personal experiences, expert perspectives, and a hopeful path of re-establishing a new normal after cheating.

Cheating is the worst thing that can happen to a partner in a relationship. It shatters trust and shakes the foundation of the relationship. Can a relationship work after cheating? Sometimes, yes. It is something that can be dealt with to regain the lost trust and faith. However, rebuilding does not happen overnight, and it takes time a lot of time and effort. If the victim is kind enough to forgive the partner, both can seek the help of a relationship counselor and work together to save their relationship. However, it is not advisable to continue a relationship only for the sake of children or society despite depleting levels of trust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the guilt of cheating fade?

The guilt of cheating may not fade, but it may ease with time.

Does cheating mean the end of a relationship?

Cheating does not always mean the end of a relationship. The relationship may continue if the partner is ready to forgive and give a second chance.


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  1. Admitting To Cheating – Exploring How Honest People Are About Their Infidelity
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Dr. Dorothee Ischler
Dr. Dorothee IschlerDMFT, LMFT, LP
Dr. Dorothee Ischler is a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist with over three decades of experience. She is a seasoned professional in mental health and relationship coaching, and her comprehensive understanding of individual, relational, and family dynamics fuels her commitment to fostering lasting bonds.

Read full bio of Dr. Dorothee Ischler
Sneha Tete
Sneha TeteBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Sneha has a master's degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Hyderabad, a professional Relationship Coach diploma, and over four years of experience in writing. She writes about relationships and lifestyle.Sneha began her career as an instructional designer, shifted to freelance technical and research writing, and self-published a novella on the theme of adolescent mental health.

Read full bio of Sneha Tete
Madhumati Chowdhury
Madhumati ChowdhuryAssociate Editor
Madhumati is an associate editor with seven years of professional experience. She has previously worked as an editor, proofreader, and a writer with various organizations, helping her navigate through the various facets of content creation and refinement with ease.

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Gracia Odile
Gracia OdileBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Gracia Odile is a teacher-turned-beauty and lifestyle writer with three years of professional experience. She has a bachelor's degree in English from St. Stephen's College, a master's in Anthropology from the University of Madras, and a degree in education from GGSIPU.

Read full bio of Gracia Odile