Could you forgive infidelity? Should you forgive a cheater? If you are asking yourself this question, it means that a part of you is willing to forgive your partner’s infidelity. But, there is not a universal or simple answer as to whether cheating is forgivable or not. Each woman’s ability to forgive depends on the unique circumstances of her relationship, the circumstances of the affair itself, and the degree of commitment you and your partner have built together.

The first thing you should ask yourself is if your partner has a history of cheating on you or on his previous relationships. Maybe he generally means well, but then he´s too impulsive and weak to control himself when the opportunity for sexual pleasure comes along? Cheating on you because he is seeking instant gratification and looking to bring excitement to his life—regardless of whether he hurts your feelings—means he’s a self-centered guy who cares more about himself than your relationship. If you forgive him, he’ll soon learn that his behavior has no consequences. Then you can bet he’ll do it again, at the expense of ruining your self-esteem and trust. In this case, the best advice would be: Dump that self-centered guy, lick your wounds and move on.

Let’s assume you have decided that your partner has the ability to be faithful and that he deserves another chance. You now need to look at why he did it. Although the act itself is what hurt you the most, the motivation behind it is the key to understanding what happened in order to decide whether to move on or stay by his side.

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In the United States, 17% of all divorces occur as a result of adultery on the part of one or both the parties. But there are many possible scenarios for infidelity.

  • Usually, men cheat for a single primary reason, and that is sex. They may seek sex outside the relationship for the sake of physical adventure, or just to see if they are still attractive to other woman. Sometimes men cheat after their children are born, and they see their wives as maternal figures instead of sexual partners.
  • In other cases, cheating is the way they express themselves. Many men struggle to meet their own feelings and needs. Instead of facing their emotions and talking to their partners, which entails the risk of breaking up, they take on a lover.
  • Sometimes the motivation is not sex, but the need for love and intimacy. This is the case of those men who feel trapped in their relationships, because their partners have become distant and cold, are too busy, or are emotionally or physically distant.

Facing infidelity is never a simple process. These are the common steps that a couple goes through when dealing with the problem.

Allow yourself to vent. Express your feelings, find a way to vent. Release your pain, confusion and anger by talking to your loving ones, exercising, crying… Find your way, but don’t keep the pain inside.

Talk to him. Once you have calmed down, have a talk with your partner, even if his words are hard to digest. You deserve to hear the reasons why he cheated. Then, give yourself time to process the information and decide what to do. Vent your feelings with your loved ones, but follow your gut. Find a confidante who knows you well and loves you, but is able to stay level-headed and as neutral as possible.

Evaluate the situation. It’s time to consider what kind of life you have built together and what does it mean to you. Is he a good father? Do you run a business together? And most of all, you must ask yourself whether he is sincere and you can really trust him again.

Make a decision. If you finally give him a new chance, be extra careful and pay attention to how he behaves after the event. If he demands that you simply trust his word, and does nothing to show you that he is taking full responsibility for the broken trust, then leave him.

Learn to trust again. If he shows you through words and actions that he’s learned his lesson, then rebuilding your relationship can become a challenge that leads you to a new degree of intimacy and compromise. Remember the key to real forgiveness involves trust. You have to really believe that you can trust him to never, ever hurt you like this again. You will also have to be willing to put what happened behind you and never bring it up again to hurt him during a spat. Are you willing to do that?