Cheating has always been a sensitive matter and there is no simple answer to ‘should you forgive someone for cheating’. It’s as old as the concept of marriage and monogamy itself. Most people will largely agree that cheating involves having a sexual relationship with someone other than your partner. However, the boundaries of cheating are not as well defined as we think they are. For some people, having emotional intimacy outside of the monogamy also makes a case for cheating, for others, this may not be the case. Cheating is considered a violation of the implied contract of exclusivity in a marriage, and hence, is deeply painful for the partner who is being cheated on.
But why do people cheat? Does cheating mark the end of a relationship? Should you forgive cheating in a relationship? We’ll explore these ideas in detail through the course of this blog.
Reasons for cheating
Cheating in a relationship is independent of culture and gender, ie, it happens all over the globe. A study conducted by the Archives of Sexual Behaviour suggests that 23% of men and 19% of women in heterosexual relationships have reportedly cheated on their partner. That’s approximately one in every four or five people! What’s the reason behind this astonishingly high statistic? As it turns out, there are many:
Every individual in a relationship has certain mental, emotional and sexual needs. Moreover, each person is aroused through different physical or inter-personal attributes that may go missing with the passage of time. A partner might prioritize work over sex while the other grows distant after the birth of a child. Sometimes even when you are giving your 100%, your partner might feel distant or emotionally disconnected even when it’s not your fault. But the lack of attention, changes in desires, lack of quality time spent together may be primary motivators for a person to stray.
Loneliness in a relationship
In many parts of the world, marriage is fixed by the elders of the family and community. This essentially marks the start of a deeply personal relationship between two strangers who may or may not be compatible with each other. Sometimes the compatibility equation does not match. You may think about your partner in a certain way but when you start sharing your life, it might feel like a different person. Lack of intimacy and companionship in a marriage can lead to loneliness in a marriage which can push partners to stray.
The thrill of being with someone new
The rise of social dating technology and communication has given us a window to the world and the opportunities in it. New sexual mates are easily available and accessible to anyone looking for a new sexual experience at the mere click of a button. Knowing that you can pursue someone else can seem exceptionally exciting if you’ve been in a committed relationship for a long time. The thrill of the chase is a very strong motivator for cheating in a relationship.
Mismatch of sexual drive
Men and women have different sexual libido depending on their age. While men reach sexual maturity at 20, women hit their sexual prime at 30. Two people in a relationship may have different sexual drives and desire intercourse differently. People often cheat because they want sex more often than they do.
Variety or experimentation
In modern society, many formats of intimate relationships co-exist. Heterosexual relationships, homosexual relationships, and bisexual relationships are well-known as is, some couples are also open to the idea of polyamorous relationships. It’s not uncommon to come across people who wish to experiment with the idea of sex across the spectrum. However, when one part is open to this endeavor of sexual discovery and the other isn’t, cheating seems to be the way out.
Signs of a cheating partner in a relationship
A cheating partner will display signs of guilt and shame in one way or another. Here are some tell-tale signs of a cheating partner:
- They become more secretive about their belongings and whereabouts, especially the phone.
- They are trying to overcompensate for the affair in the form of extravagant gifts.
- There will be marked changes in behavior such as special attention to appearance and clothing, like you would if you’re trying to catch attention or impress someone.
- They disappear indiscriminately every now and then for no apparent reason. Any unexplained change in their schedule should raise an alarm.
- If your partner is seeming distinctly distant or shirking intimacy, chances are they are cheating.
Should you forgive a cheating partner?
A lot of young people nowadays find themselves at the receiving end of an illicit affair. One in five people are wondering where they went wrong and taking the “should I forgive him for cheating quiz” online. But before you go ahead and decide whether to part ways here are some points you should consider.
Know what you want in a partner
Cheating is a deeply personal matter and there is no right-or-wrong way to move forward. Take your time to decide what you can or cannot forgive. Make a list of you no go areas, think you completely shun and would not tolerate, things that might make you feel weak, et cetera. Know what you want in a partner and communicate your preferences to them
Assess if the cheating was physical or emotional.
Assess if the cheating was physical or emotional. There are many instances of cheating where two people have sex without being emotionally involved. Others get emotionally intimate without indulging in sex. Gauge the situation in which your partner cheated, whether it was intentional or a one-time incident. Take your time and decide.
Studies suggest that people who cheat in an existing relationship are likely to have cheated before. See if there are any behavioral history of straying and if a change in behavior is likely to happen or not.
How it affects your family
You may also consider how it affects your family, especially if you have young children. As unfair as it sounds, many people may choose to make amends in a marriage because they are equally invested in raising their kids right.
Advice for a strong relationship
Communication is the key to all successful relationships. There are no exceptions. In order to build a strong and healthy relationship be open with your partner and speak your mind. Be clear about what your expectations are in the relationship and be willing to hear theirs. In any relationship, it’s not always easy to put someone else’s needs ahead of yours, but in order to build a strong relationship, you have to be willing to go the distance. There is a lot of adjustment and persistence required to sustain a loving relationship and each side should be willing to make the effort. Try the “relationship” self-care tool on Wysa to try and resolve any conflicts.
Building trust after cheating
Any couple who has chosen to stay in a relationship after one partner has strayed will tell you that building trust after cheating is a herculean task. It’s not easy. Cheating in a relationship changes the lens through which you see your partner and how they see you. No matter who has cheated, restoring things to the status quo takes a long time. Try Wysa’s breakup tool to get through this difficult time. Here’s what you can do if you’re trying to mend a broken relationship:
- If you have ever cheated in a relationship, be willing to face the wrath. You have to let your partner vent out their feelings and express their anger. Cheating is an act of betrayal and wounds the pride of the victim. You have to give them time to heal.
- If you’re on the receiving end of cheating in a relationship, do yourself a favor and skip the details. Don’t ask your spouse for details of their affair in the spirit of full disclosure, since this will only make you re-live your pain. Try to visualise how happy you intend to be in 5 years and work on that vision.
- Communicate openly on the root cause of the affair. Is your partner not giving you enough attention? Are your sexual needs unmet? What is it that you need to do to spice up your marriage? Both partners need to answer these questions independently and then focus on understanding the other’s point of view.
- Take some time off from the relationship to be alone and reflect on your life. Sometimes a long-term relationship can be in a tough spot due to the sheer duration of togetherness that a couple shares. Take a break from your significant other to take stock of your life and how you want to live it.
- Make sure that you and your spouse are equally committed to making things work going forward. Reciprocation of feelings and effort is necessary for building trust after cheating.
There is no sure shot reason indicating why people cheat. The simple truth is that people are different and ever-evolving. With time, people’s needs, thoughts, perceptions, and desires change over time. In fact, we all keep changing every single day. But what we have generally found is lack of attention, unmet sexual desires, lack of physical intimacy or just the thrill of being with someone new can be powerful motivators for cheating.
It is not easy to forgive a cheating partner. But in order to do so, you must have open communication with your spouse regarding the reasons for infidelity and what they are willing to commit going forward to making the relationship work. Be open and honest about what your needs are and be vocal about the time and effort you will take to see things through.
If you have cheated in a relationship, be willing to face the wrath. You have to let your partner vent out their feelings and express their anger. Cheating is an act of betrayal and wounds the pride of the victim. You have to give them time to heal.
If you’re the victim of cheating in a relationship, do yourself a favor and skip the details. Don’t ask your spouse for details of their affair in the spirit of full disclosure, since this will only make you re-live your pain. Try to visualize how happy you intend to be in 5 years and work on that vision.
Communicate openly on the root cause of the affair. Is your partner not giving you enough attention? Are your sexual needs unmet? What is it that you need to do to spice up your marriage? Both partners need to answer these questions independently and then focus on understanding the other’s point of view.
Take some time off from the relationship to be alone and reflect on your life. Sometimes a long-term relationship can be in a tough spot due to the sheer duration of togetherness that a couple shares. Take a break from your significant other to take stock of your life and how you want to live it.
Make sure that you and your spouse are equally committed to making things work going forward. Reciprocation of feelings and effort is necessary for building trust after cheating.
Dealing with being cheated can be one of the most trying experiences in life. If you’ve been cheated on, consider the following steps for coping with cheating:
Don’t blame yourself
No matter what the circumstances of the cheating incident, don’t blame yourself. Infidelity is a decision. People have a whole host of reasons for behaving the way they do and they must be held responsible for their actions. If your partner has been unfaithful, that’s on them, not on you.
Try to keep cool
Once the affair has been made public, there are many things to consider. Cheating has the potential to break-up a marriage, uproot a family and completely disrupt life for children and loved ones alike. Keep a cool head on your shoulder and think things through thoroughly before making decisions.
Surround yourself with people you love
You need your support system more than ever now. Lean on your close family and circle of friends to heal from the betrayal. Express your anguish, state your fears and vent your emotions and try to move on. Do what you need to do to be happy.
Don’t make decisions when you’re down
Whether you want to stay in the relationship or part ways, don’t feel pressured to make decisions either way. Take stock of your feelings and choose the path ahead on your own time.
Whether you choose to stay in the relationship or break it off, remember to do what works for you. You’re not obliged to put your partner and their needs above yours right now. Process your feelings and lay down your plan about the future, without guilt or remorse. Take the steps you need to feel better.