Being cheated on is unimaginably painful. You will feel hopeless and unlovable and angry and betrayed. But should infidelity be the end of a relationship?
Let us have a look at some different perspectives that might help you decide whether or when to walk away after infidelity.
For some people, finding out that their partner has cheated is an instant deal-breaker. The truth is that it is often very hard to change instantly from love to hate because there are so many emotions involved.
This sort of instant break-up upon finding out about infidelity is often confined to relationships that have fewer complicating factors such as children, shared tenancies and accommodations, custody arrangements, and the like.
For others, finding out about infidelity will be crushing news, but they do not rush to action, preferring to think about what they are going to do, and whether there is any hope for the relationship: if they want to perhaps try to make it work.
This might be when the cheating partner has been very honest and open about the incident, and it is deeply regretted.
In these cases, it may be that the incident will be forgiven and put into the past, and definitely never to be repeated – in a lot of cases, a second infidelity is the last straw, being proof that the remorse over the first incident was feigned.
Get Through It with Therapy
Going to a therapist as a couple, to discuss the causes of the infidelity and how to resolve any issues that existed before the affair can be a good way to make sure that it does not happen again.
Being very honest with each other, through a therapy session, can help you both to understand why the infidelity happened and to put into place ways to stop it from happening again.
Learning to be honest can prevent a return to infidelity and can make your relationship stronger than ever.
However, holding back at therapy, not being honest about why the cheating happened and not wanting to get to grips with issues in the relationship are all signs that the infidelity is just a sign of serious problems.
When Should I Walk Away?
So when does infidelity become an insurmountable problem? When should you walk away?
The short answer is: when you have had enough. When you feel that you cannot be with the cheating partner anymore because of the pain of the betrayal. Here are some other signs that it is time to go:
When The Cheating Is Blatant
The cheat does not care enough about you to hide their actions from you or from mutual friends or acquaintances who will spread the word to everyone who knows both of you. This can be humiliating to you, making you feel even worse about yourself and them than you did before.
Or if they do not apologize. Let us say, you have caught them out in a lie and discovered the cheating. Their response is a shrug and ‘Well, what do you want me to say?’ The same applies if they use language along the lines of ‘I’m sorry you’re upset’ or ‘I’m sorry you found out.’ They should be sorry for their actions, not for your response to those actions.
The same is true if they apologize and promise not to cheat again, and then break that promise over and over again.
Persistent cheaters are unlikely to ever change and you will have to decide if you want to accept their poor behavior, or if it is time to move on with your life.
You may have decided to be forgiving and allow them another chance, but if you cannot fully let it go and find yourself constantly worrying about where they are, who they are with and what they are doing, then it might be better for your mental health to cut them loose and walk away.
When your partner has cheated, it is time for you to put yourself first: if you can forgive and forget, then do so, but if you cannot: then it is time to walk away.