Few things are as sobering as realizing that someone you love and trust and committed what some consider to be the ultimate betrayal: cheating. When asking yourself "Should I stay with someone who cheated?" figuring out which course of action is best for you isn't always easy.
There are varying rationals for why someone should or shouldn't stay with someone who betrayed their trust through infidelity. Sadly, no one has the "right answer" because every relationship and cheating scenario is different.
Elite Daily spoke with several different dating and relationship experts to get their take on the reasons you should or shouldn't consider staying with a cheater — and ultimately, if and how a relationship that's suffered the strain of infidelity can be repaired.
According to bestselling author and relationship expert Susan Winter, whether or not a relationship can continue after someone has cheated depends largely "on the disposition of both partners," as some individuals are much more forgiving than others. Winter notes that the more forgiving types tend to view infidelity as a smaller infraction in the big picture of the relationship and will "compartmentalize the event as a passing phase that's now over."
However, the large majority of people are not so quick to overlook unfaithfulness and view cheating as an unforgivable breach of respect and trust. "For people of this line of thinking, the relationship is doomed," says Winter.
But for arguments sake, let's just say you are the type of person who is more forgiving in nature. Does that mean you should give your partner the opportunity to redeem themselves in the hopes that things can and will work out?
According to relationship writer and dating expert Demetrius Figueroa, it is a good idea to think twice about continuing a relationship with a cheater. "This might be controversial, but I don’t believe that there are any inherently good reasons to stay with a partner who cheated. Marriage, kids, just bought a house together? Doesn’t matter," says Figueroa.
"I think that if you’re at the point where you’re deciding whether or not you should stay with a partner who cheated, you should look for absences," says Figueroa. In other words, the absence of remorse, empathy, effort needed to repair the damage, or even an apology that feels sufficient are all reason enough to part ways.
Both Figueroa and Winter believe that it is possible to heal a broken relationship, but there is going to need to be a lot of work involved — and even then it may not be enough in the end. "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."
But if you're still considering trying to work things out, the first thing you should ask yourself is, why? And if the answer to that question has anything to do with fear — the fear of ending up alone, the fear of starting over, the fear of others judging you — then you are probably staying for the wrong reason, according to Winter.
Figueroa and Winter both agree that the only way for a couple to successfully weather the storm is to work diligently to repair the broken trust. This might come in the form of full disclosure of the infidelity, on-going dialogues, forgiveness, and maybe even couples therapy.
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to stay with someone who hurt you is 100 percent your decision. It is, however, important to remember that regardless of what happened, your partner's decision to cheat was completely their choice. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty or responsible for someone else's actions. Everyone deserves a partner that they can trust, and please know that there are so many suitable people out there that are more than capable of this, so don't settle.
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