How To Make A Relationship Work After Someone Cheated, From People Who Have Been There
How can you make a relationship work after being cheated on? Is it possible? For some of us it may sound like massive hypothetical question, but with recent revelations that over 40 percent of Tinder users are in a relationship and one in three are married (like, wedding married) cheating seems to be more rife than we'd like to believe. In fact, cheating couples are probably bend matched with themselves on Tinder at this point (why would you use a platform based only around pictures of yourself!? How is that sneaky!?). So if it happens to you, then what?
My only experience is my first boyfriend who cheated on me, a lot, and after I found out we stayed together for a few months 'til the whole thing eventually crumbled. But we were both really young and stupid— basically just two skin-sacks of melodrama and cup-o-soup and neediness rather than a proper adult couple, so I don't have any idea how I would handle it in an adult relationship. Do you push through it? Do you even try? If so, how? We turned to Reddit to get some real-life experience. And with how common cheating is, we perhaps unsurprisingly found a wealth of personal experience. Here's a look at how it can make and break a relationship.
Do you stay together?
I was shocked to learn that marriage therapists estimate 30-80 percent of couples will stay together after infidelity,. My initial gut reaction was, why? Which was obviously too simplistic. There are lots of reasons why— you've been together a long time, you have shared assets, and it's very common to stay together if you have children "for the children's sake". But as a child of divorced parents I have to say I am so, so, so thankful they didn't stay together. Rather than being raised in one volatile war-zone, I was raised in two much happier households. And it's not just me:
Can you make it work?
But there will obviously be good reasons to try to stay together. And it works, in some cases. How?
This is an important point — while never speaking of it again may seem a little extreme, experts do suggest that if you're trying to move on after infidelity it's best to limit the amount you talk about the cheating. Which makes sense, you obviously need to address the issues and put them to bed, but if seeps its way into every conversation and fight you're obviously not over it. And if you really can't get over it, the relationship is doomed. But getting trust back is something a lot of people struggle with after infidelity.
How did it happen?
That's not to say that the obligation is on you to let it go. Sometimes it's just not going to happen, it's just not something that can be gotten over. It may have to do with the cheating itself. How did it happen— with whom, how many times, where, etc. Having a three year affair with his brother is going to be way more destructive of a rift than a drunken one night stand during a year abroad. I assumed everyone would prefer it was a random stranger, but that's not the case:
Everyone is going to have a different worst scenario and "well-this-wasn't-so-bad", but the cheating instance itself, and initial response to it, can be make or break.
Why did it happen?
But more then the how, it's important to look at the why. That's the root of the problem. There are a lot of underlying reasons for cheating, and some of them are deal breakers. Just look at the 5 reasons Cosmopolitan UK sets out as common catalysts for cheating: negative past experience, falling out of love, distance, falling for someone else, and lack of intimacy. A lack of sexual gratification is a common trigger for women, but also is one that is probably fixable. Falling out of love is a lot harder to tackle. What it comes down to it every set of circumstances is unique, but you need to look at whether or not the underlying reason is something that can be changed:
Images: Don Harder/Flickr; Reddit