So, You Cheated And Want to Repair Your Relationship. Avoid These Big Mistakes. (2023)

Cheating usually spells death for a relationship. The act shatters one of the most essential aspects of a loving relationship: trust. While infidelity isn’t the top reason for divorce, it’s among the most common because, for many people, cheating is an unforgivable, no-second chances mistake. Even when couples try to repair their marriage after infidelity, it’s a tough road ahead. For the person being cheated on, learning of an affair is emotionally devastating. Moving on from such a breach means repairing trust between someone who no longer seems trustworthy and another person reluctant to trust that person again. It’s unsurprising, then, that in one survey of 441 people who were unfaithful to their partners, less than 16 percent of respondents said their relationships survived the infidelity

But while rebuilding a marriage after infidelity isn’t easy, it’s certainly not impossible. Couples who are willing to try may be able to repair their relationship with patience and careful, hard work. It requires honesty and humility, maturity and consistency, love and time. It also helps to understand what common reconciliation mistakes to avoid along the way because digging a deeper hole won’t help anyone. From not asking yourselves the hard questions to trying to recover too quickly, here are some common reconciliation mistakes to avoid and why they cause trouble for those trying to mend a relationship.

1. Trying to Stay Together In the First Place

This may be a hard one to read. But it’s an important one to consider. Not all couples bounce back from cheating. And often the ability to recover depends on the nature of the infidelity itself. Stepping out on your spouse could be a crime of opportunity that occurred in a moment of bad judgment. Or it could also be a sign that the marriage was built on a poor foundation.

Cheating, notes Dr, Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and host of the “How Can I Help?” podcast, can reflect not just a desire for sex but a desire to end a relationship. “Sometimes the person who cheated did it, consciously or not, as a means of leaving a relationship,” she says. “Sometimes that person was going to leave anyway and that is their step out the door.”

So before reconciliation can take place the one who cheated needs to think long and hard about their actions and what they truly mean. While difficult to fathom, it’s a crucial step to take.

2. Going it Alone (Or Seeking Help Too Late)

After a spouse cheats, every marital conversation can seem like walking through a minefield. Because of the fraught emotional landscape and the potential for explosions, an objective third party can play a critical role in leading couples to safer ground.

“An outside therapist who is well-versed in such dynamics can be really helpful to mediate and point out where the issues are, the things that need to happen, and where you have blind spots,” Saltz says.

Saltz adds that unfortunately, couples may only turn to therapists as a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. But at that point, resentment has most likely eroded the chances for reconciliation.

“When so much disdain or deception or contempt for each other has already occurred, it’s really hard to come back from,” she says. “So earlier is better.”

3. Staying Under the Same Roof After The Infidelity Is Discovered

The first night that the affair becomes public is tense. According to Lisa Concepcion, a life coach specializing in divorce and infidelity issues, a common mistake is sweating it out together in close quarters.

“Emotions are elevated and rightfully so,” she says. “People aren’t thinking right because they are in fight or flight mode.”

For the health of the marriage, Concepcion says it’s important to put some distance between the people in the marriage.

“The best thing to do is find a friend or a hotel to stay at for a cooling-off period so both parties can have the freedom to gather their thoughts and assess their feelings without any outside influence,” she says.

4. Telling Friends and Family Right Away

While the hours and days following the revelation of infidelity can be lonely and confusing, Concepcion says that both spouses need to resist the urge to reach out to their social networks for support until they figure out how they plan to go forward with the relationship.

“It is important that you first assess where you are with everything,” she says. “Perhaps you have a firm boundary regarding infidelity, haven’t been happy, and want to divorce. Or perhaps you want to try to repair the relationship. It’s best to come together on next steps and be on the same page before sharing personal business with family.”

5. Sharing Every Detail About the Cheating With Your Partner

Too much disclosure about the affair can spell doom for the relationship, warns Sexologist and sex educator Susanah Weiss. While it’s critical to be forthcoming, it’s essential to keep track of the motivation for confession.

It’s important to ask yourself if this desire comes from a desire to help your partner recover from the incident or from a desire to alleviate your own guilt,” she says.

The important thing, she says, is to focus on is the cheater’s feelings and motivations for cheating, not the cheating itself.

“Hearing all about the other person or the sex may unnecessarily exacerbate feelings of jealousy,” Weiss says.

And just as the cheater shouldn’t overshare, the person who was cheated on needs to discern which details are important for them to understand. They deserve an honest account of what happened and why it happened. They likely don’t need — or want — to hear a detailed play-by-play about how it happened.

6. Lack of Full Disclosure

While it can be a mistake to indiscriminately dump all the details of an affair onto your spouse, withholding information can be just as bad. The challenge for couples trying to reconcile after cheating is in striking the right balance of information.

Naomi Yano, a couples therapist who specializes in infidelity recovery, says that couples she works with often get caught in communication loops that prevent their relationship from recovering. Common elements include what she calls “trickle truth,” where the cheater tries to protect their partner by selectively revealing the truth about their affair.

“They usually mean well when they don’t disclose details, believing it will hurt their already hurting partner,” she says. “This actually has the opposite effect. Every time the hurting partner learns again that something was concealed, they return to ground zero with rebuilding trust.”

7. Trying to Recover Too Quickly

Marriage coach and relationship expert Lesli Doares says couples who rush through the reconciliation process won’t achieve the results they want. Repairing the marriage after infidelity is slow, difficult work. But, she says, it has to be done, for the sake of both parties.

“There is often a rush to get through it and have things go back to normal,” she says. “But normal was part of the problem.”

Doares notes that going outside the marriage is a sign of troubles elsewhere in the relationship.

“Infidelity just compounds whatever the issues were, it doesn’t make them go away,” she says. “Healing is a slow process and, often, an uneven one. It’s like peeling an onion — there are often several layers for both partners.

The bottom line is that reconciliation after infidelity isn’t possible unless both parties commit to doing the work needed to build back trust and repair the relationship. But if each person isn’t committed to that goal, they’ll only patch things up on the surface level. The underlying problems will remain.

“They may appear to be trying to patch things up, but really one of them doesn’t want to,” Saltz says. “And then it’s probably not going to happen.”

This article was originally published on


Can a relationship be repaired after cheating? ›

It takes time, but it is possible to restore the trust that used to be in your relationship before you cheated. Taking responsibility, apologizing sincerely, being honest, and doing what it takes to help your partner trust you again are key to this process.

How do you fix a relationship you ruined by cheating? ›

10 ways to fix your relationship after you have cheated
  1. Ask yourself if you feel regret for what you did. ...
  2. Be accountable. ...
  3. Cut all ties immediately with the person you cheated with. ...
  4. Be honest. ...
  5. Rebuild trust. ...
  6. Address the issues that led to this. ...
  7. Be prepared to revisit the issue. ...
  8. Accept that the healing takes time.
Mar 26, 2021

How do you reconcile a relationship after cheating? ›

Consider taking the following steps:
  1. Don't make rash decisions. If you think you might physically hurt yourself or someone else, seek help from a medical professional right away.
  2. Give each other space. The discovery of an affair can be intense. ...
  3. Seek support. ...
  4. Take your time.

What percentage of couples stay together after cheating? ›

Close to 25% of marriages stay together after an instance of cheating. And more men than women stay married when they are the cheating partner (61% vs 44%).

Should you stay with someone after they cheat? ›

Ultimately, there is no set formula for whether you should stay together or not. You and your partner will need to decide both individually and together if there are enough positive elements in your relationship to make the difficult work of healing worthwhile.

Can I still love someone who cheated on me? ›

And yet, the real answer to this significant question is this: It is absolutely possible that your partner does love you, did love you before, and will continue to love you in the future. Infidelity does not mean that the love is gone or never existed. The reality is that you can love someone and still cheat on them.

How long does it take to rebuild a relationship after cheating? ›

There is no set time for affair recovery.

However, there can be a period of healing. During this time, you and your spouse will take specific steps towards healing. Even better, this period is not even that long. Most of it can take anywhere between 8-10 weeks.

How do I trust my cheating partner again? ›

Read on to learn how to regain trust after cheating.
  1. Let Yourself Be Raw With Your Emotions. ...
  2. Don't Ignore What Happened. ...
  3. Don't Be a Helicopter Partner. ...
  4. Stay Present and Future-Oriented. ...
  5. Go to Counseling. ...
  6. Trust Yourself. ...
  7. Communicate About Communication. ...
  8. Trust After Cheating: Time to Build It Back Up.
Apr 22, 2019

How do I stop overthinking after cheating? ›

15 Ways to Stop Overthinking After Being Cheated On
  1. Find Out Why You're Overthinking. Thinking seriously about why you're overthinking is important. ...
  2. Lean On Social Support. ...
  3. Work on Trust Issues. ...
  4. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  5. Try a New Environment. ...
  6. Acceptance. ...
  7. Work on Yourself. ...
  8. Positive Self-Talk.
Oct 21, 2022

When should you stop trying after infidelity? ›

If your partner continues to see the person with whom they cheated, it can be really hard to heal and move forward together. This can be a sign that they don't consider your feelings and the impact the affair had on you. If that is the case, it's a good reason to walk away and know your worth.

How do you take space after cheating? ›

7 Tips If You're Trying To Stay With Your Partner After They...
  1. Don't try to talk until you've calmed down. ...
  2. Give yourself some space. ...
  3. Ask yourself if you are capable of total forgiveness. ...
  4. Start by working on a basic friendship. ...
  5. Accept that you will both need to take some responsibility.
Nov 8, 2017

Can you rebuild trust after emotional cheating? ›

Many couples recover from emotional infidelity. It is possible. The process of recovery takes time, so be patient with the process, with your partner, and with yourself. Ultimately, you can rebuild a relationship even better than it was before!

How do you fix a relationship after trust is broken? ›

How to Rebuild Trust in 8 Steps
  1. Take responsibility for the role you played. ...
  2. Practice forgiveness. ...
  3. Leave the past in the past. ...
  4. Allow time and space for grief. ...
  5. Follow through on the small things. ...
  6. Choose to practice vulnerability. ...
  7. Attend to the deeper issues. ...
  8. Co-create a new future.
Dec 30, 2022

Who is more likely to stay after cheating? ›

Relationships that were strong prior to the affair recover more fully after infidelity. Married couples stay together at a higher percentage than unmarried couples. Couples with children are more likely to continue the relationship following a betrayal.

How often do cheaters leave their spouse? ›

Some statistics say only about 25% of cheaters leave their spouses for affair partners. If both affair partners are married, that number is even lower. Even if you do end up divorcing as the result of your affair, the likelihood that you will end up marrying your affair partner is only about 3-5%.

How do you know if a relationship is worth saving after cheating? ›

In Rules' professional opinion there are signs you can look out for to gage if the relationship is worth saving, “A willingness to communicate, to make time for discussion and repair, and willingness to manage avoidance and conflict are useful,” she says.

How do you know if someone is truly sorry for cheating? ›

Look for these telltale signs to determine true remorse: Not only do they apologize, and often, but they also openly express what they're apologizing for. They don't make vague statements or blanket apologies. They show their remorse by doing things that they feel will lessen your pain.

What does cheating say about a person? ›

The most important thing to remember is what cheating says about a person. They're insecure, impulsive, selfish, and immature. Sometimes, it's a chronic problem that likely won't ever be fixed, just be sure not to ignore the warning signs.

How do you hurt a cheater's feelings? ›

How to Make a Cheating Boyfriend Feel Bad
  1. Make him jealous with someone else.
  2. Act like you don't care when you find out.
  3. Give him the cold shoulder.
  4. Let him know that he hurt you.
  5. Leave him for good.
  6. Give him his stuff back in a box.
  7. Tell everyone what happened.
  8. Update your look.

Do relationships that start with cheating last? ›

Relationships that begin with an affair don't usually last. This is often due to the foundation of the relationship being one of poor faith. Those in the relationship who started from an affair may eventually feel less satisfied, less invested, and less committed to the happiness of the other person.

What changes after cheating? ›

Grief, brain changes, behaviors down the road, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, chronic stress, and depression can result. Some families have been able to move past infidelity with time and therapy. To move on, this takes active work on both partners to work on the root cause of the infidelity.

What is the trauma of being cheated on? ›

The person who was cheated (sexually or emotionally) on may meet the criteria for PTSD and experience trauma-related symptoms such as rage, humiliation, intrusive images and flashbacks, preoccupation, emotional numbing, heightened anxiety to triggers, erratic behavior and sudden mood swings, and difficulty with sleep ...

What are the stages after cheating in relationship? ›

By working through the 3 stages of affair recovery—atonement, attunement, and attachment, couples can find healing from infidelity. If you're in a marriage where there's been infidelity, marriage counseling is going to be an important part of your healing process.

Should you contact the person your spouse is cheating with? ›

If this is someone that you know well, and you are confident that they'd want to know the truth, you should probably come forward and be honest. If on the other hand, you do not have all the facts about the situation, or you don't know the person very well, it may be best to keep quiet.

Can trust be regained once broken? ›

Can trust in a relationship be rebuilt after a betrayal? Yes, it's possible; however, rebuilding trust comes down to making the decision to remain in the relationship, having the discipline to do the work, believing that trust can be re-developed, and being vulnerable and open to change.

What triggers after cheating? ›

Things that can trigger flashbacks include spending time with your partner who cheated, romantic sounds, love stories, not hearing from your partner and sometimes they can just come out of the blue when you least expect it. Being betrayed by a loved one can often be traumatic.

What to do after being cheated on and left? ›

How to cope with being cheated on
  1. Remember: you are not to blame. ...
  2. Accept that things are going to suck for a while. ...
  3. Put yourself first. ...
  4. Try to keep your cool. ...
  5. Don't make decisions out of fear. ...
  6. Surround yourself with your squad. ...
  7. Take a mini-break from socials. ...
  8. Ask for (professional) help if you need it.

What to ask after being cheated on? ›

After finding out you've been cheated on, Perel recommends asking a series of investigative questions, such as:
  • Were you thinking about us when you cheated?
  • Do you want to stay together?
  • If so, are you here for me or the family?
  • What is it about us that you value?
  • Did you hope I would somehow find out?
Apr 6, 2021

Will the pain of infidelity ever go away? ›

It's absolutely possible to heal from infidelity. Although the pain and grief can be intense, it's also possible to work on the relationship so that you and your partner are able to move on.

Why do I feel crazy after being cheated on? ›

In the wake of the discovery of an affair, you are likely to experience a wide range of thoughts and feelings, ranging from numb (non-feeling) to feeling completely out of control and 'crazy'. This is the result of Post Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD).

How do men feel after cheating? ›

Among men, 68% feel guilty after having an affair. Even if they haven't confessed the affair, most cheating husbands will feel guilty and express that guilt in their behavior. You may notice subtle changes in their behavior that make you wonder if your spouse is displaying cheating husband guilt.

What boundaries should be set after infidelity? ›

Here are a few healthy boundaries you can set up:
  • Establish a plan for taking a “timeout.” This should be discussed early on when interactions are likely to become volatile and destructive. ...
  • Decide if a temporary physical separation is necessary. ...
  • Agree upon when and how often you will discuss aspects of the affair.

Does a cheater deserve a second chance? ›

If they are willing to learn from their mistakes to avoid repeating them, this can be a positive sign that the relationship may be able to be preserved. If, however, the cheater shows little to no desire to repair the relationship, it might not be wise or healthy to give them a second chance.

How do you give someone space without losing them? ›

Here's how to give someone space without losing them:
  1. Ask how much time they need. ...
  2. Find out what “space” looks like. ...
  3. Don't ask for an explanation. ...
  4. Thank them for communicating their needs. ...
  5. Honor their request. ...
  6. Encourage them to do their favorite things. ...
  7. Avoid constant texting. ...
  8. Do your own thing.
Jun 23, 2022

Should you forgive a cheater? ›

Forgiving someone who has cheated on you can improve other relationships. It helps break down barriers after you feel betrayed. By letting go of negative feelings associated with the incident, you'll be able to reconnect to others without fear or judgment.

How do you get the spark back in a broken relationship? ›

How do you bring the spark back into a relationship? 7 tips
  1. Reminiscing. Revisiting your relationship roots can help rekindle the romance. ...
  2. Focusing on communication. ...
  3. Bringing back the romantic gestures. ...
  4. Practicing gratitude. ...
  5. Scheduling date nights. ...
  6. Try new things together. ...
  7. Kissing more often.
Aug 19, 2022

How to revive a relationship? ›

How to Revive Your Relationship
  1. Consider what has changed.
  2. Remind yourself about your partner's good qualities.
  3. Take an interest in your partner.
  4. Appreciate and respect one another.
  5. Show empathy.
  6. Open the lines of communication.
  7. Go on dates.

How long does it take for a relationship to heal after cheating? ›

Affair recovery is the process of healing a relationship mentally, emotionally, and physically after it has experienced infidelity. Affair recovery usually takes anywhere from six months to two years and is often a painful process yet a possible one for couples who possess humility, compassion, and tenacity.

Will a cheater cheat again in a relationship? ›

Not only did 32 percent of people admit to being unfaithful, but—and here's the kicker—out of those who reported cheating in the initial relationship, a whopping 45 percent went on to cheat again in a subsequent relationship.

Does infidelity pain ever go away? ›

It's absolutely possible to heal from infidelity. Although the pain and grief can be intense, it's also possible to work on the relationship so that you and your partner are able to move on.

How long does betrayal trauma last? ›

Recovering from betrayal trauma is not something that can be done in a day or two. On average, it usually takes between eighteen months to three years to absolutely recover, especially with a lot of help and moral support.

Do cheaters deserve a second chance? ›

If they are willing to learn from their mistakes to avoid repeating them, this can be a positive sign that the relationship may be able to be preserved. If, however, the cheater shows little to no desire to repair the relationship, it might not be wise or healthy to give them a second chance.

What percent of cheaters will cheat again? ›

In this new study, 45 percent of individuals who reported cheating on their partner in the first relationship reported also doing so in the second. Among those who had not cheated in the first, far fewer (18 percent) cheated in the second.

How does being cheated on change you? ›

Unfortunately, there are several long-term effects of infidelity that can affect a person long after the cheating has stopped. These can be life-changing, and lead to the development of certain mental health conditions including chronic depression, anxiety, post-infidelity stress disorder, and betrayal trauma.

What is the first stage of cheating? ›

Before the Cheating Occurs

Before someone cheats in a relationship, he or she becomes mentally detached from the relationship. This may happen consciously or subconsciously. The person may not be getting something out of the current relationship, so he or she seeks that missing element in someone else.

What stages do cheaters go through? ›

Discover what these five stages are so you can learn how to better cope with each emotion that you might experience.
  • Denial. The denial stage is the first one that a spouse goes through when they are cheated on. ...
  • Anger. After the denial stage, the feeling of anger starts to take over. ...
  • Bargaining. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Acceptance.
Aug 4, 2021


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