In my opinion, you have to ask the right questions going into the relationship. These questions include the obvious, “Did any of your past relationships end in cheating on your part?” If the answer is yes, it’s important to know whether the cheating has been a pattern or if it was a one time thing.
There is a big debate over the phrase, “Once a cheater, always a cheater”.
To me, the saying strikes true most of the time. However, in my own personal life, I’ve witnessed a serial cheating family member meet the love of his life and turn straight as an arrow. This experience led me to believe that although cheating is often just flat out selfish, at times it can quite possibly be about getting what you need out of the relationship, and staying faithful because of it.
To give you a more concrete answer, I searched for couples who have overcome cheating and made their relationships work.
The key to their successes was that both parties wanted it to work out. Most of the couples were dealing with a one time affair and not someone who was a serial cheater. Going to couples therapy won’t work if the cheater sits there and lies through the entire session.
In order for it to work, the cheater has to feel truly remorseful about the betrayal and has to commit to working hard and earning back the other person’s trust. These two things are musts.
I talked to my friend over at www.AskApril.com to get her feedback, and I agree with her on what she said. “Cheating doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and both parties are responsible for what happened.” This isn’t a popular view, I know. But if you adopt it, you’ll have a much better chance of overcoming indiscretions in relationships. Understanding why someone cheated is the first step towards healing.
One guy told me that he cheated because his wife emasculated him and the woman he cheated with made him feel like a king. It wasn’t even physical. He said that his sex life with his wife was great, but outside of the bedroom she made him feel like a kid instead of a man. The other woman gave him more than sex, she gave him his manhood back.
I also wanted to see what an answer would be from an LGBT point of view, so I reached out to my friend Meghann over at Mixology. I agree with her assessment as well, which was, “Is the unfaithful one a ‘did it once’ kind of a guy/gal? Or, is he/she a ‘chronic cheater’?”
If she or he has only cheated once, chances are the cheater was unfaithful because of a problem within their relationship. They felt it was worth it to work on the relationship and see if there was a future after forgiveness. If she or he has cheated before, in the same or a previous relationship, they likely can’t keep their focus on one specific person and, therefore, their actions probably won’t be forgivable. Meghann says, “I would advise my client (or friend) to move on.”
Overall, the answer to the question, “Is cheating in a relationship ever forgivable?” is yes. Couples can survive cheating in a relationship. However, it will take time, work, patience and self-reflection to build back the trust.
The cheater has to be willing to do the necessary work to make their partner trust them again, and they need to have the understanding that they don’t get to decide how much time that will take. Most importantly, they have to commit to never do it again, which means this only works when you are NOT dealing with a serial cheater.
The other side of this is that once you forgive them, you can’t bring it up every time you disagree. It takes two to make it work and to move on.
If you find yourself to be the victim of cheating in the future, make sure you ask the right questions up front. Harness the physical until you know they are the kind of person you want to give your mind, body and love to and won’t betray you.
Without trust, what is the point? There are enough people that aren’t in your corner in the world, why sleep with the enemy? If you can’t rebuild your trust then move on. You only live once and time is the most precious commodity we have, so use it wisely!