How To Forgive A Cheater (& Whether Or Not You Should)

If you notice these signs, it may be time to forgive them and move on... together.

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From the outside looking in, the actions you need to take after your partner has cheated on you seem very straightforward.

Most people would simply tell you to end the relationship and leave it at that. "Once a cheater, always a cheater," they’d say.

But as anyone who’s experienced infidelity already knows, this is not always the case. Because if you do decide to stay with and learn how to forgive a cheater, your relationship can, in fact, go back to normal.


No matter what anyone says, infidelity is not a simple phenomenon. It’s actually extraordinarily complex, with a multitude of causes, long-lasting and hurtful effects, and future possibilities in play.

For some people, it’s important that they only discuss these difficult issues with people who understand the complexities involved in infidelity and are willing to discuss them with you.

What we’re trying to say is that if you’ve been cheated on, you’re entitled to whatever feelings and reactions you’re currently having. This includes considering the possibility of reconciliation.

Many marriages rebound in a very healthy way after episodes of infidelity, and although there’s no way to predict the future, yours might just become one of these success stories.


RELATED: The Harsh Reality Of Cheating On The Person You Love

One thing we know for certain is that you’re confused and in pain as cheating shatters people's belief intrust and loyalty in a relationship.

If you’re going to recover from the pain of infidelity, you’ll need a path and something to light the way.


Should you ever forgive someone for cheating?

The answer to that question depends on if you're not ready to let them go, and if your partner was and is truly remorseful for their actions. However, sometimes you can't ever truly forgive them because your partner wasn't loyal to you and you don't want to stand for that.

But a relationship can go back to normal after cheating. A great relationship might be able to recover from a partner cheating; however, you and your partner will need to work on your relationship for a while as your partner needs to understand how much the relationship is worth.

When you trust your partner and think your relationship is worth fighting for, you should try and work on forgiving your partner as forgiveness is a strength in every relationship.

How To Forgive A Cheater

1. Address the situation.

Address your partner about what he did. Lay out all the facts that you know and let him fill you in.


It's important when you do this to stay calm and not lose your temper as you want to be the one in control. Choose a good location to do this as well so there will be no distractions or people to get in the way of avoiding the conversation.

2. Seek therapy.

If you're willing to stay in the relationship, it's best that you seek therapy and most likely a relationship or couples therapist to help the two of you navigate the future of your relationship.

3. Rebuild trust, one step at a time.

In order to rebuild trust with your partner, the two of you need to communicate your feelings, especially the party who was affected by the cheating. The person who was hurt needs time to grieve the trust that was broken.

The two of you need to remind yourselves to have empathy for one another and know that there needs to be a reason found between the two of you to rebuild the trust and a new future with acceptance and unconditional love.


That’s why we’ve compiled this list to give you some idea of when it is safe to forgive your former wayward spouse.

While making this list, we operated under 3 basic assumptions.

First, although your partner has made a terrible series of mistakes, it is still possible for him or her to make the internal and external changes necessary for your marriage’s recovery.

Second, these changes are extremely difficult for a person to make, sometimes the solution is to pay to see a relationship therapist for a long time, months, or maybe even years.

Third, because these changes are so difficult to make, the efforts your partner puts forth to make them will be readily apparent if you’re paying attention.


With all that being said, here is our list of signs that it's time to start learning how to forgive a cheater. We hope it gives you the guidance you deserve during this incredibly difficult time.

RELATED: The Question Your Partner Might Ask You Right Before He Cheats

14 Signs It's Safe To Forgive A Cheater

1. Your partner is serious about reconciliation.

Forgiveness and moving forward will only work if the cheater seems to understand the gravity of this situation and the hard work the reconciliation is going to require.

2. Your partner works on themselves.

Getting over infidelity takes constructive actions toward addressing the internal issues that led him to cheat on you. This is a big deal in fixing a relationship because you need proof that your partner cares and is showing up for you.


3. Your partner is not defensive.

They display sincere regret and remorse for what they have done. They assume full responsibility for their actions.

4. They do not attempt to blame you for their behavior.

They accept that they’ve made a grave error and have a sincere desire to repair the damage.

5. They’re attentive and communicate well without trying to rush the healing process.

They’re neither harping on the issue nor trying to sweep it under the carpet and act like it’s not there.

6. Both you and your partner have a decent idea of why the infidelity occurred.

You’ve also talked about how to prevent it from happening again in the future, usually by learning to better communicate your mutual needs.


This will also help with rebuilding trust because the two of you can learn how to better communicate.

7. You feel forgiving.

Your partner’s attitude and actions have helped you to develop compassion for them and their misdeeds.

8. Communication is growing in your relationship.

Your partner’s devotion and behavior have allowed you to begin to re-establish the connection that had perhaps started to fade prior to the infidelity.

9. As a couple, you’ve made enough progress to believe in your vows once again.

They have given you ample reason to commit to the marriage for better or worse. In other words, you still feel that they’re worth it.

10. They’re willing to practice as much transparency as you need to feel comfortable.

They’re very open about who they’re contacting and spending time with, whether it’s in person, on the internet, or on the phone.


11. You’ve both taken the time and the actions necessary to process this terrible experience.

This means you’ve been able to talk openly about your feelings with your friends, family, or therapist.

12. You feel like you've turned over a new leaf in your relationship.

Their actions and renewed dedication have helped you to see your partner more clearly and feel grateful for your marriage.

13. You’ve begun to feel at least some modicum of relief.

You’ve returned to the routine of your daily life and can again experience joy without it being ruined by resentment or recurring images.


14. You can realistically envision a happy and brighter future with your spouse.

For a variety of reasons, the vision you have for the future of your marriage is of crucial importance to recovery from infidelity.

As you can see, you don't have to deal with the aftermath of infidelity in ignorance and darkness. By staying reasonably vigilant, you can avoid playing a very painful guessing game and receive the guidance you need to support or disavow your decision to reconcile with your cheating partner.

Not knowing what is in your partner’s heart is one of the worst parts of coping with infidelity. It is our deepest hope that you spot many, if not all, of these signs in their future behavior.

The decision to reconcile or sever the relationship is yours and yours only.


Recovery from infidelity is possible, sometimes to the extent that the marriage actually improves after a certain period and the couple ends up closer than they were before the infidelity began.

RELATED: 60 Relatable Quotes For People Who Know Exactly How It Feels To Be Cheated On

C. Mellie Smith is a former betrayed spouse who was able to pick up the pieces and move on with her life after several affairs rocked her marriage. Get the help and resources you need to get over the pain and heartbreak of the betrayal.