How To Forgive A Cheater In A Relationship? Pros And Cons

Be aware of the red flags and understand when it's okay to forgive and when it’s not.

Reviewed by Joseph Moore, Certified Relationship And Life Coach Joseph Moore Joseph MooreCertified Relationship And Life Coach
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English) Asmita De MA (English) Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA (English) Gazala Firdos Ansari Integrated MA (English) Experience: 2 years
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Being cheated is one of the most traumatic feelings one can go through at any relationship phase. But if you decide to forgive your partner, there are ways of doing so and moving on. “How to forgive a cheater” is not a simple query, but it is a process where you have to face various social reactions and end up with ambivalent thoughts and feelings. However, if you have decided to forgive your partner, this article may ease your journey and help improve your relationship.

Why Do People Cheat In A Relationship?

1. Lack Of Connection

A couple disconnected from each other
Image: Shutterstock

A lost connection and feeling of drifting apart from each other may push a person to cheat on their partner. The hope of finding a connection with someone is the driving factor behind a partner’s infidelity.

2. A Lack Of Love

There are times when the love and affection between two people decrease due to various factors. The cuddles, kisses, and hugs become less frequent with time. It is in times like these either or both of the partners may search for love outside of marriage.

3. Fear Of Commitment

If a person is afraid of committing to a relationship, he/she will knowingly or unknowingly try to find a way to sabotage it – and the most preferred way to sabotage a relationship could be cheating.

4. Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can lead to cheating
Image: Shutterstock

Most often, people with low self-esteem will act in certain ways to get attention and validation from others. In some cases, validation from just one person can never be enough for certain individuals. People with low self-esteem may also feel insecure in a relationship and may find cheating to be a way to boost their confidence.

5. Addictive Sexual Behavior

People with addictive sexual behavior may find it hard to be with one person for a long time. This addiction may be compulsive, and they may have a hard time controlling their desires.

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The urge for closeness in a relationship may not always be satisfied. Such unmet needs may breed resentment, which might get worse if things don’t get better. This may provoke your partner to find another way to meet those needs. The best way to ensure both your and your partner’s sexual needs are being unmet is to have regular check-ins in the bedroom about how frequently you are having sex and the quality of your sexual relationship.

No matter the reason, being cheated on is agonizing. Check the following section to identify some tell-tale signs of cheating.

Signs Of Cheating In A Relationship

While these signs do not necessarily confirm cheating, recognizing them can enable an honest relationship evaluation. Some of these signs are:

  • Secrecy: Sudden guardedness about one’s phone or personal space.
  • Behavioral Change: Becoming emotionally distant with a lack of intimacy and communication.
  • Defensiveness: Rushing to self-justify when questioned about behavioral changes or relationships outside home.
  • Unexplained Absences: Regular unaccounted-for time spent alone or away.
  • Financial Changes: Engaging in large, unexplained transactions or secretive expenses.
  • Physical Appearance: Sudden changes in appearance or grooming habits.
  • New Interests: Developing sudden interests or hobbies that require spending time alone.

Knowledge of a cheating partner may leave you clueless about what to do. You may wonder if forgiving them is the right thing to do. Check the following section for some clarity on this.

The Pros And Cons Of Forgiving A Cheater

Pros

  • Forgiving a cheating partner may help you let go of the anger and grudge you have against them. This can be beneficial for your mental health.

Erin Austin, a blogger, found her partner cheated on her partner for 2 years. She confronted him and broke off the relationship. Although he is not sorry about his behavior, she is trying to forgive him for her happiness. “I know that I have to forgive so that my heart can be lighter and be open. I know that I have to forgive so that I can be happy (i).”

  • Forgiving a cheating partner may also help the person that hurt you in healing.
  • Forgiving can also be the first step to fix your relationship. It may give you a window to understand the reason behind their actions.

Cons

  • There are chances that a cheating partner who is forgiven may take advantage of you again. If a person has broken the commitment once, it could be easy for them to break it again. It is very common for first-time cheaters to cheat again.
  • Forgiving and continuing your life with a cheating partner is not easy. Living with them may serve as a constant reminder of their hurtful actions.

If you have decided to forgive your partner after weighing all the pros and cons, here is how you can do it.

How To Forgive Someone Who Has Cheated On You

1. Accept The Reality

To start the process of forgiveness, you must first accept the fact that your partner has cheated on you. To forgive, you also must feel all the associated emotions like hurt, betrayal, and disappointment. You also have to stay strong, as any new information about your partner’s infidelity may push you to the brink of depression.

Going through all these emotions can be a major challenge. You may take time to totally accept the reality. Be patient and seek help from your friends and family.

2. Think About The Other Person

A man thinking about forgiving his cheating partner

Take a minute and think about what the other person wants. Do they really want to give this relationship a chance? Have they totally broken all contact with the person they cheated you for? Also, analyze if your partner is worth putting so much emotional work into. If you decide your partner is worth all the trouble and they also are willing to improve themselves, you may go ahead to forgive them.

3. Be Honest

To start anew after your partner’s infidelity, honesty is important. You have to be honest about the affair. You also must be aware about the reason behind your partner’s action. This will give you a clear understanding of what went wrong in your relationship.

Admittedly, going through every detail of your partner’s infidelity is really hard. Reading through text messages or listening to every detail of the incident can be extremely hurtful. To repair a relationship that has been damaged, everyone should maintain a level of transparency with each other.

Additionally, having a clear picture about when your partner started an affair may help you identify what problems you were having at that point in time.

4. Analyze Your Relationship

Once you have learned all the details behind your partner’s affair, you may use that information to pinpoint the reason that drove your partner to take such an action. But do remember this – someone else cheating on you doesn’t have to mean that it was your fault. Never blame yourself for your partner’s fault, and never allow anybody else to blame you either.

5. Communicate

A couple trying to communicate to repair their broken relationship
Image: Shutterstock

Communicate the problems you two have with each other and with the relationship. A clear and honest conversation about what is wrong with the relationship and what behavior either of you find hard to accept may help you identify the steps to take to repair the broken relationship.

6. Take Time

You must remember that the process of forgiving someone is not going to happen overnight or in a week. It may take months or even years to finally be able to forgive someone. Hence, be clear about this process with yourself and your partner. Be patient and work together with your partner to put the affair behind you and move forward with your life.

Erin accepts that the process of forgiving him for his infidelity is going to take time. She shared “Forgiveness is going to be a process, it doesn’t happen in one moment. I think it will be a longer process for me because this person isn’t truly sorry for what he did, because he’s still doing it.” She does not want to live with a heavy heart and anger as it would interfere with her happiness.

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You can also consider therapy. You can benefit from relationship counseling or couple’s therapy to assist you and your partner in honest communication with each other about the effect the cheating has had on both of you.

Does a relationship go back to normal after such a terrible incident? Let us find out.

Can A Relationship Go Back To Normal After Cheating?

A couple trying to reconcile after cheating
Image: Shutterstock

You might be wondering if it is possible to go back to your normal life after finding out that your partner had cheated on you. There is no one right answer to this question. It all varies from person to person.

But you have to understand that cheating doesn’t always mean a lack of love. If you work along with your partner hard enough, you may be able to restore the lost spark in your relationship.

Infographic: 6 Steps To Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You

There are many reasons to try and work things out with a partner who has cheated on you. Maybe you have kids with them or you feel that the bond you both share is very special and you want to save it. Whatever your reason may be, if you want to repair your relationship despite the fact that your partner cheated, there are some steps and advice you can follow. Take a look at the infographic below to learn the 6 most effective steps to forgive your partner for cheating on you.

6 steps to forgive someone who cheated on you (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Relationships can be one of the most unpredictable things you see in your life. Someone you believed to be a loyal and devoted partner can end up cheating on you, which makes rebuilding trust and setting boundaries difficult for you. However, understanding the reason behind their cheating behavior and deciding to forgive them can release you from a lot of pain. A lack of love, fear of commitment, and low self-esteem can lead a person to cheat. Finally, before forgiving, you should analyze whether they are ready to break this pattern or cheating is a way of life for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a cheater be faithful?

Yes, it is possible for a person who has cheated to feel and show genuine remorse and be faithful in the relationship, moving forward. However, it is important to have the essential conversations surrounding the infidelity and work on the root issues that led to cheating.

Do cheaters feel guilty?

Yes, it is possible for a cheating partner to feel guilty about having an affair outside of the relationship.

Can a relationship last after cheating?

If the person who got cheated on is truly willing to forgive the other person and all the issues between them are talked about and resolved, there is a possibility that the relationship may last.

Should you forgive a cheater if they are not remorseful?

Forgiving or not forgiving a cheater is a very subjective matter and there are various factors involved. However, if they are not remorseful there are high chances that they will do cheat again. Hence, it would not be wise to forgive them.

Key Takeaways

  • A lack of love, trust, and intimacy, a fear of commitment or low self-worth are common underlying reasons behind cheating.
  • Forgiving a cheating partner is part of self-care and can help you achieve mental peace and open up the possibility of reconciliation.
  • You have to analyze deeply to understand the reason for infidelity, figure out if you feel your partner is worth the effort of moving through this challenge, accept the mistake and communicate clearly before you can start afresh.
  • Forgiving a cheater is one of the most difficult things you can do in a relationship because of the pain involved.
  • Take time off to process things and then come back to kick-start the relationship because forgiving a cheating partner is hard, no matter their excuse.
how to forgive a cheater_illustration

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Have you wondered why people live in a toxic dynamic? Check out this video to know the reason and discover the ways you can get out of this.

Personal Experience: Source

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Joseph Moore

Joseph MooreCertified Relationship And Life Coach

Joseph Moore is an ace relationship coach and public speaker who started coaching in 2015. Although Joseph is a trained electrical engineer from the University of Chester, he found passion in helping people get it right with their love life. His passion and experience of over 6 years made him set up a relationship blog where he shares relationship advice...read full bio

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