Oddly enough, based on statistics more people than not have cheated in at least one of their relationships.
Don’t believe me?
According to a recent study in The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41% of marriages have had one or both partners admit to infidelity. 54% of women and 57% of men admit that they have committed infidelity in one or more of the relationships they have ever had. This is a pretty staggering statistic.
I don’t condone cheating, ever. It is one of the most hurtful, underhanded, backstabbing things you can do to someone. This being the case, I recognize that there must be some of you wondering what the heck to do if you realize you made a huge mistake.
I have never believed, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” I think that people are capable of making big mistakes that they regret and vow to never repeat. It really is possible to move on after cheating, but it takes a LOT of work.
Only you know why you cheated, and I’m not going to examine reasons why people cheat right now. Suffice it to say that trying to gain someone’s trust back after you have cheated on him or her is really tough, but can be done.
So what if you know you want them back and want to rebuild their trust? It can be done, but it is not for the faint of heart.
First, a note about the amount of patience and dedication required to successfully pull this off. You must shelve all of your own hopes and dreams for how you would like this relationship to go. You must be ready for the other person to punish you. You must be willing to sacrifice your dignity, bow, scrape and apologize. You must be ready for them to hurt and for it to be your fault, probably for a really long period of time. You must be ready to deal with this cycle more than once—potentially for years. It is neither easy nor quick for a loved one to trust you again after an affair. You have stuck a knife into their heart and now must perform triage with the dedication of a master surgeon.
1. Decide what you REALLY want.
Let’s be honest. If you are in a relationship that you need to leave, you are still going to need to leave whether you were unfaithful or not. There isn’t a reason to rebuild the trust; the better thing to do is leave them as gently and honestly as you can. This is more merciful than admitting to cheating, trying to make-up, breaking-up and then eventually realizing anyway that you need to go anyway. Just go!
If you really made a mistake and are 100% committed to having a good relationship with your partner, let’s continue on.
2. Be honest.
You must answer all of their questions honestly no matter how much it stings– without going into specific sex acts. Expect that they will have a lot of questions and you will have to repeat yourself multiple times. Now is the time to cough up the whole truth. Don’t minimize anything about what happened. They will be rocked to their core and they will find out if you leave anything out.
Also, they will likely view you as having lied up until the point where you are admitting to the affair. This is why it’s so doubly important to tell the whole truth. If they find out anything else that you lied about after this point, they are likely to crack and never want to see you again. Tell everything.
3. Apologize sincerely.
Consider that in order to apologize appropriately and even have a hope in hell that they’ll think about taking you back, you must be sincere. Tell them you couldn’t be more sorry. Tell them that you’ll do whatever it takes, since whatever it takes is necessary. Tell them you can’t live without them.
4. Earn back their trust.
This is the part where most people fail and end up back at square one. You must now spend basically the rest of the relationship acting like an angel. You must be honest about every single detail of what you are up to at all times. If you took an extra 10 minutes at the hairdresser, you must be prepared for suspicion. Now is the time to start calling them in advance. It is also wise to drop your opposite sex friends at least for now. Be super predictable. Now is not the time to change your hours at work or pick up a solo hobby. Think transparent with everything you do.
5. Make an effort.
If there was ever a time for a grand gesture, it’s now. Expect them to not accept your grand gesture in a really dramatic way. It doesn’t matter. The point is that you are making a grand gesture. In the moment, they may smash your flowers with the fury of a prizefighter and call you names, but that isn’t the point. Present your gesture and don’t concern yourself with how it was received. This is not a process that you can rush so don’t expect an immediate change from any of these steps.
You need the kind of persistence that will exhaust even the most steadfast. Prepare yourself for your love to be really back and forth on whether they even want to talk to you. View any contact from them as progress, even if it is negative.
7. Honor their needs.
If they want you out of the house, get out of the house. Don’t stand your ground in their personal space. It still stands to reason that might can miss you. After years of history together, this is only natural. So while you are being predictable, let them have their boundaries.
8. Expect retribution.
You are not allowed to get upset if they go out and have an affair of their own to spite you. Don’t let this bother you. They are angry and have a right to be. You already got your cake. Shut up and eat it while you repeat steps one through seven.
9. Once the dust has settled, date them.
Let some time pass. It is difficult for anyone to stay in that violent stage of anger for the long run. Let them take their space if they need it. Now, rewind everything about your relationship back to the way it was in the early days.
Suggest dates, flirt with them, act like you did in the beginning of your relationship. This can still be done if you are living together, just go out of your way to still be a person worth lusting after. Text back the romance. Seduce them. Show them why they fell for you in the first place. Be really patient with their feelings and don’t take things personally.