General Question

wundayatta's avatar

How do you fix a relationship where one or both members cheated?

Asked by wundayatta (58604points) April 27th, 2009

For me, cheating is when you let communication in the relationship break down to the point where one or the other party wonders where the connection went. At this point, you are more loyal to something outside the couple (it could be yourself—in an isolated way) than you are to each other. No physical transgressions are necessary. Emotional transgressions are much more serious, as far as I’m concerned. It is only emotional transgressions that can open the door for physical ones.

You may have a different definition of cheating. (You’ll find other definitions here). Please talk about what you think goes wrong in relationships and how to fix it. I don’t mean “go to a counselor.” That’s pretty obvious. I mean what will you find out at the counselor’s office, and how can it be fixed?

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33 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

You talk with each other and decide if the relationship is worth continuing.
If both partners make a concerted effort to re-establish the relationship then maybe it will work. Sometimes, there’s just no saving a relationship and then you have to move on.

Darwin's avatar

Both partners need to be committed to keeping the relationship going and they both need to figure out how to communicate again. A counselor can help them open lines of communication again, but so can a self-help book. In any case, if both people don’t really, really want to continue as a couple it isn’t going to happen.

casheroo's avatar

First, there has to be acceptance and forgiveness. Even if it’s not exactly physical cheating, emotional cheating can be just as damaging.
Both parties need to voice how they feel, and both need to listen to the other.
Some couples will make it through, and some won’t. That will vary from couple to couple.

jamzzy's avatar

i just dont think it work for me because i think once that trust is broken its done .

cwilbur's avatar

The first, and most important thing, is that you get on the same page with your partner about what constitutes cheating. If you think it’s communication breakdown and a lack of connection, and your partner thinks it’s doing the No Pants Dance with someone else, you’re already off to a terrible start.

One common problem is that people sometimes value the relationship more than they value the other person. What I mean by this is, they start thinking, “If I am honest with him, he will not like it, so I will lie to him so that he will not leave.” I think there is no place for dishonesty in a relationship. This doesn’t mean that you always speak the unvarnished truth, but everything you say should be truthful and honest, even if it’s saying “You really don’t want me to answer that question,” or “There’s no way I can answer that question honestly without making you mad.”

aprilsimnel's avatar

You have to find out what one person wants from the other that they were looking for another person to give them. You have to know each other’s expectations. Talking about them can lead to learning:

1) that one person (or both) may be off-base as to what they can expect another person to be able to give them (it’s never too late to learn that sometimes others can’t give you what you need to give yourself)

2) the other’s relationship style (one person may be naturally more demonstrative, say, than the other)

3) what’s important to the other person and in turn, what’s important to you, with regard to what one wants in a relationship

It’s a lifetime of sorting that stuff out, and there’s more than what I’ve put here, to be sure. One may learn the relationship can’t be saved, or that it can if each person actively participates in listening and communicating with the other person. I’ve seen a lot of relationships die due to misplaced expectations, people not listening or talking to each other and people being afraid to communicate what it is that they really want. A lot of it stems from people not accepting themselves deep down, and so not feeling as though any relationship is worth keeping once they get it, or simply taking each other for granted and not paying attention to their partner.

People in relationships have to communicate to get their needs out in the open and dealt with, or what’s the point, really? You may as well hire a housekeeper, a chef, a therapist and a prostitute/gigolo, and be done with it.

aprilsimnel's avatar

One more thing. Giving. It gets such a bad rap. I know I was taught to NOT give love, lest kindness be taken for weakness and I’d be taken advantage of and made a fool of. I had to ask myself once I got away from the person who taught me those ideas: really, so what? So what if I’m a fool for giving? Who’s the real fool at that point? I’ve borne a lot of hurt in my life, and I’ve survived. Haven’t I come out the better for the experience of giving my love to someone even with the hurt?

When someone cheats (which I’ve never had happen to me, come to think of it), someone stopped giving. Find out what and sort it out!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I don’t know, it’s not worked for me when I found out a past partner had cheated even though I loved them and wanted to believe in them again. There are so many reasons people cheat and for me, I’d rather partner with someone who doesn’t give me that particular challenge, too many other wonderful fish in the sea.

BookReader's avatar

…life is not a destiny…it is a journey…modern day gurus have said…

…each individual is different…their journey’s progress or process is different- not broken and in need of repair…

…personally, i try to be considerate of all interested parties- considerate of not only them but myself…

mamabeverley's avatar

If that is your definition of cheating, DO NOT get married. I have been with my husband for 20 years. At points during a relationship, things get really rough, and people pull away to protect themselves. That is not to say when the “rough patch” is over, things cannot be fixed. It is a natural ebb and flow of a relationship. Unfortunately, life sometime gets in the way. Life is not a bed of roses and I believe MOST things are fixable. Most of the time someone is giving while someone takes. Hopefully in the end, it works out about even.

GAMBIT's avatar

Communication is the key. Drop everything and talk to one another. Find out what is breaking the two parties up. Both sides need to listen to the other and but sides need to ask for forgiveness.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Usually in this case, the relationship cannot be saved.

hug_of_war's avatar

First, both people need to decide if they want to try to work things out. I don’t mean your gut reaction, but both the cheater and the cheated on really evaluating if working it out is something they even want.

Then there needs to be adknowledgment. Too often the cheater says,“I know I hurt you, why do you keep bringing it up”. There needs to be adknowledgement of a betrayal. The cheater needs to feel like what they did was unacceptable, and the cheated on needs to discuss it CONSTRUCTIVELY. That means speaking with your mind, not anger.

There needs to be a lot of talking. Why did the person cheat? I don’t believe that bullshit that some people only cheat for purely physical reasons. They need to get to the bottom of it, so they can start building a new foundation as a couple.

And I really really really think constantly discussing it with your friends and family is bad. I’m not saying keeping it all within you, but it’s hard to give the cheater a fighting chance if you’re gossiping to your friends all the time about your relationship.

Zen's avatar

You don’t.

You let the butterfly go. If it comes back…

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I think a lot of it depends on the extent of the cheating. One drunken slip-up is a lot different than, say, conducting an affair for months on end or cheating with a new partner every weekend or something more consistent like that. The latter type is much more of an indicator of something being wrong with the relationship, and, in my opinion, would take much more work on forgiveness and functionality in the post-cheating relationship.

In the event that a single, isolated incident of cheating occurs, I think the party that has been cheated on needs to look at things rationally. Yes, the cheater did something wrong, but considering other factors should be done as well. For example, was the partner drunk at the time? How extensive was the physical interaction? Is it as big a deal if someone just kisses someone else, or does it only become a big issue when clothes come off, or when sex is involved? How intentional was the act? How quickly did the cheater confess, or did he or she intend on never telling? Was the person the cheater had relations with someone they know or someone random? Regardless of the answer to any of these questions, a lot of talking needs to happen, all of it completely honest from both sides. While I believe that the party that has been cheated on is completely justified in being upset, it is also necessary for them to put things in context and try to understand the whole situation rather than spend the entire time being angry and stubborn.

If an involved affair has happened, that’s an entirely different story. Chances are, there is something that the cheater is looking for in an affair that they aren’t able to find in the relationship, so, above all, if the couple wants to repair the relationship, they have to address the shortcoming(s) that led the cheater astray. The cheater must admit fault and guilt, however, and the partner shouldn’t use the situation as a fall back guilt trip whenever a problem arises. At some point, they will have to address it and find a way to deal with that as its own problem. After the proper apology and display of remorse and ample healing time, I don’t think it’s fair to continue to bring it up and use it as a trump card in any and all arguments.

Really, regardless of the situation, communication is the jumping off point. Both parties must also be willing to salvage the relationship as well as move on, otherwise it’s just futile.

Rickomg's avatar

Communication! Wide open Communication! Come Clean with everything to each other and allow the other person to go through their upset while they allow you to go through yours. Once thats is done Then and only thne can you start fresh. however you should continue to stay clean by having a nightly disscussion of “did you do or say anything that you think I would not like?” And let them tell you. Do you best to not make them wrong about it. just say thank you for telling me. and let it go… or you could ask what they are going to do to handle that? If the bad things continue to happen then you can at least know that you were Open about everything and move on with a clean heart.

Jude's avatar

I’m terrible. Once a person cheats, I’m done with them. Trust was broken and so, I have no interest in salvaging anything.

wundayatta's avatar

@jmah: I don’t know you’re so terrible. I expected more people to think the way you do, and I’ll bet a lot do. I wonder if you can give me a sense of the experiences you had that have lead you to the point where breaking trust has such a strong impact on you? Have you ever had a betrayal that you were able to forgive and recover from? Have you suffered many betrayals?

casheroo's avatar

@daloon I would probably react the same way as @jmah but, thats not what I felt the question asked. If you had asked “What would you do if your partner cheated” I’d respond differently.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s been my experience and observation is that cheating is usually something that happens when the relationship is already broken, and not the cause of the brokenness. Although it also usually changes things from broken-but-repairable to broken beyond repair.

Jude's avatar

@daloon, my feeling is that if the other person cheated, then they’re obviously no longer interested in their partner, and they’re not getting what they want out of the relationship anymore. If you love your partner, you don’t cheat. There’s no respect either. If they don’t love you and don’t respect you, then it’s time for both to move on.

wundayatta's avatar

@jmah Can you explain that “obvious” part to me? I don’t get the connection between cheating and not being interested in a partner. Does cheating have to always mean that? Is it possible for it to mean anything else? What, in your experience, has brought you to this point of view?

Jude's avatar

@daloon just sent you a pm

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I’m not sure this even applies to me, since my wife and I are best friends first, and spouses second. We are as close emotionally as two people can be. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, but we have always been able to work things out. Divorce is not an option in either of our opinions, and I couldn’t imagine not having my best friend by my side ever. We can always work it out, no matter what. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you the same thing.

CMaz's avatar

you don’t.

jackfright's avatar

i find relationships to be especially beautiful when things like this happen.
you know, it’s not about letting communications break down and trust deteriorate into suspicion, but to be able to get past these problems. have you ever been in a relationship so far evolved from any other, that problems like these just seem so small and insignificant.

do you know what it is like to look someone in the eye face-to-face and know with absolute cold hard certainty that this is the person that you are a part of? this person knows whoever else you’ve fucked is just a ‘phase’ and you know likewise. it’s a potent combination of resignation and contentment.

if you’re married to someone where this isn’t the case, i’m fairly certain it will not last.

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

Cheating is repeated behavior, usually.

forever051509's avatar

i have been reading everything on this page, and im having issues. ive cheated,i never wanted to cheat.. when i wuz 17 i started seeing someone, i thought we were really close and before we knew it, i was pregnant 3 mos after we started seeing each other. i finished my 11th grade yr and then had our son. we stayed together becuz i wuz soo in love with him. and we moved intogether , but things started feeling weird, and it seemed like he really didnt want to be around me much that first year after the son was i started feeling like he didnt want to be around, and no matter how hard i tried it juz made him more very first person(u kno what i mean) got back in touch with me, and i ended up cheating and leaving my current. i felt bad cuz i loved him i still feel bad. but we overcame this and got back together twice from this same incident. and i was faithful clear up til i found i wuz pregnant again with out 2nd. then i found he wuz talking to some girl on the net planning to meet and move in together, and we split up that time becuz of his incident. i went through 6 mos pf my second preg without him, im fixed now. im 22 yrs old. but now it seems like the relationship wont work without him controlling what i do , when i do, and when i need to be home. we never agreee, were alwayz arguing, and ive tried sooo fucking hard to make this work and i still do, but hes one of those types of people that no matter what u say to him, he makes it into something different, telling me how i feel and what im thinking. so i cant even communicate with him, and we have 2 kids. im scared cuz i dont kno how to do this without him, becuz normally he moves to the otherside of the state n rarely sees the kids unless i bring them to him. but im the bad mom, becuz i want a life.. and want to experience things at my age(22). but im also always there with my kids. i always have been even when he wuznt. i sometimes had my mom help me with them, but that wuz also when he wasnt around. i just dont know if this relationship is repairable or not. and im at the end ofmy rope on how to fix it. unless i give up everything i love to make him happy.

wundayatta's avatar

@forever051509 Wow! It’s so hard when you’re as young as you are. You still have so much to learn about relationships. You’re in so much pain because your guy and you fight and separate all the time, and you have two kids, and you don’t want to be a mother right now.

Can you give them up?

If not, then what do you want to do for them? How do you want to relate to them? Do you think you can give them what they need and do what you want to do?

It sounds like you might resent your kids. Do you?

I’m asking you really hard questions, but I think that if you think about what you want for you and for your kids, and what you can realistically do, you may develop a better way of accomplishing those things. Your guy might also benefit from thinking about these questions. Maybe you could talk them through—if you guys know how to listen to each other without getting defensive all the time.

Good luck. You’ve got a tough road ahead of you.

forever051509's avatar

no i love my kids this has nothing to do with the kids. im talking about the relationship between the father of my kids and i… i am always there for my kids and everything. i would never give them up for anything… read it again , on the relationship point of view. im juz asking if theres a chance of making the relationship work after all this bs

wundayatta's avatar

_ but im the bad mom, becuz i want a life.. and want to experience things at my age(22). but im also always there with my kids. i always have been even when he wuznt._

I took that to mean that, while you’re there for the kids, you also want a “life.” You want to be like a 22 year old without kids.

I guess I misinterpreted. Sorry.

Is he into his responsibilities to the kids? Does he want to be a true father—involved in his children’s lives?

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