Regardless of how inconceivable it might seem to cheat or to be cheated on, the harsh reality is that it unfortunately happens all the time. Sometimes, the truth never comes out, and the person who did the deed spends years saddled with a guilty conscience. Other times, it does come to light and wreaks absolute havoc on what may have seemed like a good relationship. If you're in the midst of figuring out how to handle infidelity, then you've probably asked yourself, can you make a relationship work after cheating?
The honest truth is that it really does depend on so many different variables. While many may disagree, I personally think that a lot of people are capable of cheating. It's more a matter of what circumstances have to be present for a specific individual to succumb to the temptation. Some people may say they never dream of cheating, but fast forward six years where they feel stuck in a relationship with a person who is much different than the person they fell in love with, and their ever-present resolve to stay faithful may start to dwindle. That's certainly not to justify cheating in any way, as I do also believe that cheating is inherently selfish. Still, sometimes, cheating can come out of nowhere. And if it does, can a relationship make it through?
To get some professional advice on whether or not a relationship can actually survive infidelity, Elite Daily spoke with several dating and relationship experts. Here's what they had to say.
1. It Depends On How Forgiving The Person Who Was Cheated On Is
Author and relationship expert Susan Winter believes that overcoming infidelity depends largely "on the disposition of both partners".
Someone who cheated and is sincerely remorseful, and who is lucky enough to be with someone who is understanding and forgiving, has a much greater chance of the betrayed partner being able to "compartmentalize the event as a passing phase that's now over."
But if you or your partner aren't able to forgive the unfaithful party and move on, "the relationship is [likely] doomed," says Winter.
According to her, it's also worth keeping in mind that "like a china teacup that's cracked, infidelity forever changes the relationship." "It's a fissure that's always present," she says. "Whoever crosses that line will find it easier to do so again."
2. It's Unlikely, But It Can Depend On How Much Remorse The Cheater Shows
"This might be controversial, but I don’t believe that there are any inherently good reasons to stay with a partner who cheated," says relationship writer and dating expert Demetrius Figueroa. "Marriage, kids, just bought a house together? Doesn’t matter."
That's not to say that you can't make it work, but it's important that the decision to stay together isn't fueled by obligations or fear, but rather a mutual desire to work on things.
When deciding whether to stay with a cheater, "you should look for absences of remorse, empathy, effort needed to repair the damage, or even an apology that feels sufficient," Figueroa says, as a lack of remorse, empathy, or an apology "are all reason enough to part ways."
3. It May Be Possible If You Can Avoid Asking About/Sharing The Dirty Details
If preserving the relationship is on the table, then despite the agonizing temptation, "[don't] ask for the gory details! Ever!" says London-based sexologist Catriona Boffard.
Instead, try to keep your discussion about any infidelity focused on the root of the issue(s) that lead to the transgression(s).
"Ask questions like 'what did this person make you feel that you don't feel in our relationship?' rather than 'how was the sex?' or 'did they orgasm?'" warns Boffard.
While it may take a lot of time and effort to repair a relationship where someone cheated. According to the experts, it just might be possible. But before deciding if staying together really is something you both want, it's a good idea to spend some time apart to process what has happened in your own time. Then, you can approach your relationship with a clear head.
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