How Does Your Relationship Change After Cheating? Experts Say It's All About Rebuilding Trust
If your partner cheated on you, would you definitely break up with them, or do you think it's possible to make a relationship work after infidelity? And if you do stay together, how does your relationship change after cheating? Knowing the answer to that question may make all the difference in deciding whether or not trying to stay together is something you really want. Ultimately, that choice is yours to make — and you should feel totally empowered to make it, regardless of what you choose — but one thing is clear: When someone is unfaithful, it does have a profound effect on the relationship.
That's because as Diana Dorell, an intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again tells Elite Daily, infidelity strikes at the core of a relationship, the trust. "Whenever trust has been broken, there is a change in the dynamic of a relationship — the foundation is now shaky and it takes time to repair, but it is possible," she says.
While that's definitely good news for folks who are in this situation, it's helpful to have some idea of what issues may come up, so that you can address them head-on and not be caught off guard. So, I reached out to experts to ask what could feel different in a relationship when you decide to move forward after your partner is unfaithful. Here are the common changes they said to expect.
1. Trust may become a real challenge.
Once your trust has been violated, Celia Schweyer, a dating and relationship expert at DatingScout.com, says it can be very difficult to restore. “You might find yourself doubting your partner every time they tell you that they’re hanging out with friends or when they say they’re getting off work late. Because of your past experiences, you could become more suspicious and jealous whenever your partner tries to do something without you,” she explains
2. The partner who was cheated on will have a lot of questions.
If you or your SO has been unfaithful, you may find that the partner who has been cheated on will have a lot of questions, says Dorell. Her advice is to be honest and approach the problem head-on. “Your partner may ask you repeatedly to share details of the cheating — the more you can disclose to put their mind at rest, the better. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your whereabouts and why you are doing certain things,” she says.
3. Memories of the cheating may pop up unexpectedly.
Having a partner betray your trust can cause emotional trauma, so Schweyer says it's common to have flashbacks when certain triggers arise. “No matter how hard you try, you will always remember the reason why you almost called it quits. It will keep on coming back to you even if you have already forgiven the person who cheated. Memory is not something that you can just erase. It will always be there,” she warns.
4. Communication about the cheater's whereabouts and activities may increase.
“When a partner cheats, it's normal for the other partner to feel like they need to keep tabs on who is calling and why you are texting, etc.,” explains Dorell. She says it's a "natural response," and advises couples to keep the lines of communication open, to set the stage for trust to be rebuilt.
5. It can affect your sex life.
It probably comes as little surprise that cheating can also have a profound impact on what happens in the bedroom moving forward. “Sex can be withheld because of intimacy violation — or it may be used as emotional manipulation if the partner isn't open to sharing their hurt or anger,” warns Dorell. If that happens, she advises bringing in an expert to help resolve the issue. “It's also a good idea to see a couples' counselor to navigate changes that arise,” she concludes.
While these changes can feel daunting, especially fresh off the hurt of having your trust broken, it's still good to know that there is some hope. It won't be easy, but if you are truly in it together, while you won't be able to get your old relationship back, you may be able to forge a new one — which is something worth fighting for.