Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity Takes Work, But Experts Say It’s Possible
Do you believe that cheating in a relationship is an automatic deal-breaker? Or are there some cases where, if someone makes a mistake once, there can be a chance of rebuilding trust after infidelity and getting the relationship back on track? How you answer that question really is the first step to determining if your relationship can survive cheating. That's because while the majority of the work it takes to get past this betrayal is up to the person who did the cheating, NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter tells Elite Daily that rebuilding trust comes down to the betrayed partner's willingness to stick it out. "Rebuilding trust in a relationship after infidelity can only be done if both partners are committed to the process of forgiving and moving forward," says Winter.
On the one hand, the idea that it's up to both partners to rebuild (and not just the one who cheated) might seem unfair, but in some ways, this can actually be really empowering. After you're cheated on, it's easy to feel powerless because this betrayal has happened to you, but by committing to being a part of working through this problem — and the other problems that may underline it — it actually puts some control back in your hands in a real way. So, if you are ever in a situation where rebuilding after infidelity is something you're facing, here is how Winter says you can do it.
The partner who cheated has to own their mistakes.
In order to start reviving trust in a relationship, Winter says it's essential that the partner who cheated first take responsibility for their actions. They can’t deflect or justify what they did; instead, they need to fully own it. “The partner that cheated needs to have taken a serious look at their actions, and come to a true place of remorse for the harm they've caused their partner,” explains Winter. “Getting to the root cause, the ‘why,’ is essential for a positive change to occur.”
The partner who cheated has to put in visible effort to make their partner feel safe and secure.
Remorse is a start, but even the most sincere apology is just the first step. According to Winter, not only does the partner who cheated need to be sorry for their actions, but they also have to take proactive steps to help make their partner feel safe and secure in the relationship again — which may take some patience. “They need to prove themselves worthy of trust," Winter explains. "This will be a process that takes time, and is not automatically granted. The cheater must have patience and sensitivity as they go through the process of proving that they are trustworthy now.”
Commit to having no more secrets and creating a safe space for honest communication.
Being totally honest all the time can be really hard, because you may want to spare your partner's feelings. However, once that trust is broken, Winter says the only way forward is to be totally open and honest about how you are feeling. “Infidelity lives in the shadows, so do our private thoughts that we hide from our mate. Secrets create barriers. Sharing the truth of how you feel (without finger-pointing) will begin to open the door to safe dialogue between the two of you,” she explains. “When you and your partner can learn that it's safe to share your feelings with each other, an automatic sense of connection will have been established. The intimacy sought through infidelity is now available within the relationship.”
The betrayed partner has to be open to real forgiveness.
It's not only the partner who cheated who has hard work to do in this situation. According to Winter, the betrayed partner has to be truly open to forgiveness — if their partner is sincere and proves themselves worthy. “To truly move forward, you cannot continue to beat up your mate for their past actions. This means abstaining from badgering or using condemning language. Refraining from indulging in painful memories helps both the wounded partner, and the offending partner who's trying to correct their behavior and be a better mate,” she advises. “Holding onto the past will never allow you to move forward.”
Ultimately, while the partner who cheated has the most work to do to repair the trust they have broken, as in all things when it comes to relationships, it needs to be a group effort to succeed. That said, Winter believes you shouldn’t have to do it alone. Her advice is to get some professional guidance to help you both get through it. “Issues as complex as infidelity require professional guidance," she says. "Your therapist will guide you through practical steps to reconnect, rediscover your love for each other, and release past resentments.” It won't be easy, but at least now you know your love has a chance of surviving — if you want it to, that is. That alone is pretty empowering.