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Can a Relationship Go Back to Normal After Cheating?

Cheating is one of the main factors that cause problems in relationships. And while its true that a marriage or relationship can survive cheating, can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

As a general rule, a relationship can go back to normal after an affair. Between 60-75% of couples stay together following an affair. But it generally takes 1 year for each month the affair lasted before it starts to feel normal.

But that can vary a lot based on several factors including the transparency of the cheater and willingness to 100% own their mistake.

But there’s a lot more to know about cheating and whether a marriage or committed relationship can come back from that.

In this article, we’re exploring the harsh reality many couples face; cheating. We’ll look at the success rates most couples see after. But we’ll also explore how to get your marriage back on track after an affair also.

Ultimately, we’ll answer the question can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

Is infidelity a deal-breaker?

As hard as it is, it is still possible to have a long-lasting and happy relationship after the cheating betrayal.

It requires hard work and a lot of patience among other things but if both parties are willing it can be done. You have to avoid making some of the common mistakes people in such situations make. Understand that things will not go back to how they were before. They may be better but not exactly as they were before.

One of the mistakes you have to avoid is assuming the relationship is automatically over because of the incident. It causes a lot of pain and mistrust but you shouldn’t just assume that the relationship cannot be salvaged.

You can have a healthy relationship again. It will just take some work.

Sometimes giving someone a second chance is what leads to the best relationships. Should you decide that you want to try again, you should move from the mindset that everything has been ruined to start the healing process.

Start thinking positively about the idea of everything working out. However, you should also pay attention to how you truly feel. If you both think there’s nothing to be saved then you should just let it go.

Another common mistake is not being open about how you feel.

This can be tricky because you want to talk about your feelings without talking too much about cheating. It’s not good to keep everything bottled inside as that leads to more frustrations.

You should confide in a few trusted friends who will be impartial. Or seek out professional help. By keeping everything a secret, you’ll be showing the outside world that everything is okay and you’ll have more pressure to act like it is.

This will be more damaging because it will make healing a lot harder. Don’t assume that you can handle it on your own. The kind of trauma that cheating causes can be too much even for the strongest person to manage.

How do you fix a broken relationship after cheating?

Here are the steps that help get things back to normal:

1. Not asking for too many details

Granted, you’ll want to know why the betrayal happened and what led your partner to do that to you but that will only damage the relationship more.

Most of the time the betrayed partner thinks that something is wrong with them or that the other person in the cheating is better than them.

This leads to questions about intimate details.

You should try to avoid that because it will only leave you with vivid images about what went down and you may not recover from that. It’s still okay to ask questions. Just try to limit them to what you need to know.

2. Avoid trying to get back at your spouse

We all know the saying 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Don’t cheat on them just because they cheated on you. You’ll end up feeling bad about yourself but you’ll also make it harder for reconciliation to happen. A broken relationship isn’t fixed by doing further damage.

You’ll make it harder for them to feel remorseful and will hinder any real progress from taking place. Resisting the urge to cheat after being cheated on is hard but you should try. It’s the only way to rebuild the trust that one of you has already broken.

3. Be 100% transparent

As the cheating partner, you have to let your partner see your emails and cell phone.

Give them your passwords even to your social media accounts. You may feel insecure about that but it’s important to the person who has been cheated on. They’ll feel reassured that you don’t have anything to hide.

You’ll also be showing them that they can trust you again, and that’s the best way for things to start going back to normal.

4. The cheater has to take 100% responsibility

As the cheater, avoid sharing the blame. Take full responsibility for cheating and understand how your partner feels.

While there are always root issues, those can’t be used as an excuse for the affair. Don’t just focus on the cheating without trying to find out what the root cause of the problem is. But remember roots are not excuses for cheating.

The cheater destroyed the partner’s trust. That has to be dealt with regardless of the reasons behind the cheating.

Nothing can justify cheating. But, you just have to ensure that you get to the root problems in your relationship to make it a happier one.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

But there are several ways you can try to rebuild your relationship after cheating.

Start by making sure that the affair is completely over. There has to be zero tolerance for communication with the other man or woman. This is the first step in rebuilding that trust that they have lost.

If that means getting a new phone number and blocking them on social media; do it. In my case, it also meant changing employers since we had worked together.

In a recent article, I detail all the crucial steps for a cheater to prove they won’t cheat again.

I explore everything needed to rebuild trust and even speed up the process of getting things back to normal, including 1 surprising thing that makes a huge difference.

Just click the link to read that on my site.

The second step is being completely honest. Trust me, it sucks to get asked questions about my affair. But not being honest is worse (the truth always comes out eventually). Plus you won’t get back to normal by being less than truthful now.

Rebuilding trust is another one of the important things that you have to do in the aftermath of cheating.

It’s true and even normal to feel lost like you can’t differentiate what’s real and what’s not anymore. You have to be open with each other and share your true feelings and thoughts of you want to rebuild the trust.

Most of the time cheating occurs when other underlying issues are not being discussed.

In the case of my wife and me, my wife had been an alcoholic for years and had engaged in a lot of reckless and damaging behavior. While she had quit drinking a few months before my affair, that followed years of damage.

You have to talk about such issues and find out what they are. Issues like poor communication, sex and even not being able to spend enough time together are common factors leading to cheating.

Just remember that nothing justifies cheating.

Recreating the relationship is the final step in rebuilding the relationship.

Let go of all the bad stuff and the things that were ruining the relationship, including the idea that things could go back to how they were.

Start fresh and work towards building something new and better.

For my wife and me, we had to go through the motions for a while even if our hearts weren’t fully in it. I call it faking it ’till you make it. But it’s really just doing what you know is right even when it feels a little uncomfortable.

Any time we do something new, different, or that we aren’t 100% sure about, it will feel uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. As with anything, the more you do it, the more natural it will feel and the better it becomes.

In a recent article, I detail 15 proven steps on how to rekindle your marriage.

I go down a list of steps that I know to work from personal experience that I know can work for you too. Just click that link to read it here.

How long does it take before a relationship goes back to normal after an affair?

Things can go back to normal but it won’t happen immediately.

You should start by preparing your mindset by understanding that you’ll need time. That will prevent you from rushing the process and will, therefore, allow you to truly heal and put all the resentment behind you.

In my own marriage, my 2-month affair probably took well over a year to work through.

The healing process took time, but it did gradually get better. Part of the healing process is getting to the root of the problem. The biggest things I did to help us work through the aftermath were:

  • I allowed my wife to vent whenever she felt she needed to (this allowed her to feel heard)
  • Don’t try to rush the healing (allow it to take as long as necessary)
  • Avoid the need to defend yourself when your spouse is venting 
  • Don’t walk on eggshells around them (just be yourself, but be considerate)
  • Go overboard on communicating your whereabouts when not at home or work

Whether you are the unfaithful partner or the one who was cheated on, both people are damaged in the wake of an affair. And usually, the root of the affair is some type of emotional scar in the cheater; from childhood in my case.

If you’re a wife wondering if you can trust your husband after he cheated, check out one of my recent articles. In it, I detail some proven steps to work through to ensure he’s trustworthy, including the 1 sure red flag to look out for.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can a cheater change?

Yes, is the short answer; a cheating partner can change. But they have to really own it and want to change. Change is the only constant thing and that means that everything and everyone can.

This includes cheaters as well. However, the most important thing is that they have to show remorse and a willingness to change. A cheater who doesn’t feel sorry or even recognize that what they did is wrong cannot change.

Someone who places the blame on their hurt partner will also not change.

So if all the cheater does is blame you, it may be time to accept the relationship is over. Let me be clear as a cheater (and someone who has been cheated on also); there is no excuse for cheating. Period.

Cheating is usually the symptom of relationship problems (or a problem with the cheater) rather than the problem itself. But even if it is a symptom of a problem in the relationship, that still doesn’t justify cheating.

A cheater without remorse doesn’t see that their actions ruined another person’s life. Instead, they justify, blame, and shift responsibility onto everyone but themselves.

If, however, they show the willingness to change, you should try to give then support and a chance to prove themselves.

Just make sure that their cheating behavior doesn’t become a pattern where they do it frequently and come back to apologize later.

Getting help and changing our patterns of behavior is a huge part of not cheating again. In my case, I did the following things in the aftermath of my affair:

  • I quit drinking alcohol for 3 years
  • I resigned from my job and started a new career with family-friendly hours
  • Instead of trying to change my wife’s opinion of me, I focused simply on being the best version of myself I could be

Marriage counseling for either or both of you is a great thing also.

In a recent article, I put together the ultimate guide to couples therapy. I explore what they do, what results to expect from the help of a therapist, how to find one, and how much (on average) it costs. I also look at if it’s common for insurance to cover it, and how often and how long you should see one.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Does it matter if the person cheated once or multiple times (or with multiple people)?

Whether it was a one-time slip or multiple indiscretions can weigh heavily on the decision to stay or leave.

Here’s the thing: a one-time mistake might be chalked up to poor judgment, a momentary lapse, or a situation gone awry. Some argue that everyone deserves a second chance, especially if genuine remorse is shown.

On the flip side, multiple instances and/or multiple partners can indicate a toxic pattern of behavior.

It might suggest deeper issues, be it commitment fears, dissatisfaction, or a lack of impulse control. It’s not just about the act of cheating but the repeated breach of trust. Can trust be rebuilt when it’s been shattered multiple times?

However, numbers aside, it boils down to personal boundaries and what one can tolerate. For some, a single instance is one too many. For others, the context and reasons behind the actions matter more than the count.

Ultimately, it’s essential to consider one’s emotional well-being, the relationship’s overall health, and whether both parties are willing to put in the work to rebuild.

Does it matter if the cheater came clean about the affair or was found out?

When faced with the aftermath of infidelity, the manner in which the truth emerges can significantly influence the healing process.

If a partner comes clean about their indiscretion, it can indicate a sense of guilt, responsibility, and a desire to mend the relationship. Their honesty, albeit painful, can be seen as a step towards rebuilding trust, as they chose transparency over continued deception.

On the other hand, discovering an affair independently often amplifies feelings of betrayal.

The traumatic experience and potential web of lies can deepen the emotional wound, making trust even harder to restore. In such cases, the deceived partner might wonder: “Would they ever have told me if I hadn’t found out?” This doubt can cast a shadow over the relationship’s future, as the foundation of trust is further eroded.

Regardless of how the truth surfaces, open communication is crucial.

Both partners should discuss their feelings, the reasons behind the infidelity, and what they envision for the relationship’s future. While the manner of revelation can influence initial reactions, the couple’s subsequent actions and commitment to rebuilding will ultimately determine the relationship’s fate.

How long does a marriage last after infidelity?

Some marriages that survive infidelity last a lifetime.

That shows that your marriage can last for as long as you both want it to. However, the healing process is very slow and that’s where most people give up. But if we go by statistics, in a recent Gallup poll between 60-75% of couples surveyed stayed together after an affair.

So the chances of your marriage lastly following an affair are really good.

In a recent article, I compiled an amazing list of all the Infidelity Recovery Statistics. I was really surprised to see the age category that sees the worst chances of staying together after cheating.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

As for how long it takes to get over an affair, a good rule of thumb is about 1 year of recovery for each month of the affair.

Of course, everyone is different, so that’s just a general guide. Also, know that it will get incrementally better over that time too.

Once you’ve completely healed and no longer think about it, you can make your marriage last a lifetime.

Take as much time as you need to process everything and move forward. If your partner is genuinely sorry, work together on your marriage. Definitely let your pain, anger, and disappointment out, but try to avoid negativity and wallowing in those feelings.

Do you really love someone if you cheat on them?

Most of the time when a partner cheats, the don’t have an emotional connection with the person they’re cheating with. But even if they do, contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean they don’t love their spouse.

Cheating is more about one or more of the following:

  • They liked the attention
  • Unresolved childhood issues that lead to relationship sabotaging
  • It’s easier (in the short-term) than dealing with real problems in the relationship
  • They like how exciting a new relationship feels (before life, bills, kids, and reality set in)

Even if the affair was more than a 1-night stand, that doesn’t mean your partner was driven by love. Your partner was most likely in lust or just infatuated with the person they cheated with. Some call that unhealthy obsession limerance.

This means that your husband or wife can cheat on you even if they still love you.

Understand that while sex can be emotional and intense, it can also be shallow and meaningless. Even if they claimed to love the other person, that’s often not really true; which is what I experienced.

In my case, the intensity of the affair did feel real. I felt a connection.

But when you only spend a tiny portion of your time with someone and none of that time is spent doing all the mundane things most of us do every day, it warps our perception of what’s real.

I never stopped loving my wife.

And I didn’t really love the other woman; even if I couldn’t see that at the moment. I was unconsciously sabotaging my marriage out of fear and insecurity. And that happened to be around the time when the other woman made advances on me. So yes, I loved my wife, but still cheated back in 2013.

Still not convinced you can make your relationship work?

In a recent article, I connected with 6 of the world’s best marriage experts to get their opinion of whether couples should stay married after an affair. The real surprise was not so much their responses but a look at the differences that men and women have in defining cheating.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How often do people cheat in relationships?

According to a study published in the “Journal of Marriage and Family,” infidelity rates have been found to vary, with estimates suggesting that about 20-25% of men and 10-15% of women admit to having cheated at some point in their married lives. Factors such as age, relationship satisfaction, and opportunity can influence these rates.

However, it’s crucial to remember that every relationship is unique.

While statistics provide a broader perspective, they don’t necessarily reflect individual experiences or the myriad reasons people might stray.

For someone grappling with a partner’s infidelity, understanding the broader landscape can offer some context. But the decision to stay or leave should be based on personal feelings, the relationship’s overall health, and both partners’ willingness to rebuild trust and move forward.

Final thoughts

You’ll feel a lot of pain when you learn about your spouse cheating on you. You may even feel like your world has ended but it’s not.

But that doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship!

In this article, we took a hard look at the world of marriages and relationships and the devastating effects of an affair. We explored how to rebuild a relationship in the aftermath. But we also looked at what the statistics say about how often marriages survive an affair.

Ultimately, you can have a successful relationship again. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work, honest communication, and commitment on the part of both partners. The recovery process can be a difficult process and lengthy. But you can emerge with a relationship even better than it ever was before.

Jeff Campbell