Should You Forgive a Cheater? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

By now you’ve probably heard that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s six year marriage is headed for divorce amidst allegations of his infidelity.

Cheating is a real hot-button topic for people. Ask ten strangers on the street for their opinion on cheating and you’re bound to get ten different (yet equally strong) points of view. Here are just a few of them:

  • “Cheating is completely inexcusable. If someone cheated on me, I’d dump him and never look back.”
  • “Cheating is natural. It’s virtually impossible for humans to be completely monogamous.”
  • “Cheating is the most selfish, despicable act a person can commit.”
  • “Cheating is ok once in a while as long as there are no emotions attached and your partner doesn’t find out.”
  • “Cheating can be a necessary wake-up call for a relationship. If forgive your partner and learn the root cause of their cheating (e.g. lack of connection) – it gives you the opportunity to work on, renew, and even strengthen your relationship.”
  • “Once a cheater, always a cheater.”

You may subscribe to one of those opinions or fall somewhere in between.  The point is, if you’ve been affected by cheating, only you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth trying to repair your relationship.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you make that decision:

1.  How do I feel about the way I learned he was cheating? Did your man had the decency to come to you, contrite, and confess his indiscretion, pleading for your forgiveness? Or did you find out on your own? If he broke off the affair voluntarily and seems truly sorry, it’d be easier to forgive him than if you caught him in the act.

2. Do I really believe that he’s sorry? You know the difference between true remorse and lip service. So which is it – did he screw up royally and now will do everything in his power to make it up to you, or is he hoping to skate by with just a warning this time.

3.  Will I be able to trust that he won’t cheat again? Trust is essential for a relationship to survive, so be honest with yourself. If one epsiode of cheating means you’ll always be suspicious that he’ll slip again, you need to break off the relationship now or face perpetual drama down the road.’

4.  Can I use this as an opportunity to improve our relationship? Is he willing to work on it with me? Surprisingly, cheating is often not about sex, it’s about validation. Are you able to identify what may have been lacking in your relationship (a connection, communication, romance) that you both can work on? If you take this negative experience and turn it into a positive – a chance for your bond to strengthen and grow – then your relationship might be worth saving.

5.  Will I really be able to forgive him? The phrase “forgive and forget” simply does not apply when it comes to cheating. Of course you’ll never be able to forget what he’s done. But are you able to forgive him?

Forgiving means sincerely accepting his apology and believing from your heart that it won’t happen again. This must wipe the slate clean for him. You can’t keep punishing him, holding this over his head, or using his cheating as ammunition for your side of an argument. Your relationship will never have a chance to recover and become drama-free if you constantly throw this in his face.

It takes incredible strength to be able to forgive such a hurtful act, so there’s no shame in admitting that you can’t. Just do the right thing and end the relationship, though, so the hurts don’t get any deeper.

Have you ever experienced cheating in a relationship? Were you able to forgive him…or did you forget him? Share your stories in the comments!

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