Can A Relationship Survive After Infidelity?

Jun 12, 2023 | Communication, dating, Relationships

Infidelity is one of the hardest obstacles that any couple can face in their relationship, married or not. When one person cheats on their partner, it can result in devastating outcomes from emotional and physical pain to the downfall of the relationship. But is it possible for a relationship to actually survive after infidelity? In this article, we will explore the different factors that can influence whether or not a couple can recover from infidelity, how to rebuild trust, and how to move forward.


Understanding Infidelity

What exactly is infidelity? Some people have different definitions for it, but let’s set the record straight. Infidelity can take many forms, from emotional affairs to physical affairs. It can involve secrecy, lies, and deception and can have a significant impact on the trust and intimacy within a relationship. The bottom line? Infidelity doesn’t always involve intercourse; it can also be purely emotional, which can take an equal toll on the partner being cheated on and the relationship.


Factors That Influence Recovery

Let’s get right down to it: can a relationship survive infidelity? Well, the ability of a couple to recover depends on a variety of factors, including:

  1. Willingness to Forgive

Is the person cheated on willing to forgive? Forgiveness is not always easy, and it can take time and effort to get to a place where forgiveness feels possible. The partner who was betrayed on may feel a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and pain. However, forgiveness is a process, and the betrayed partner must be willing to let go of the negative emotions and open to rebuilding trust and intimacy. 

To facilitate the willingness to forgive, the cheating partner should take responsibility for their actions and show genuine remorse. How does one do this? It may be through apologizing, answering questions honestly, and being open about their actions moving forward. The betrayed person should also be willing to listen and understand why this happened and also start setting boundaries and future expectations. 


  1. Communication

Keeping lines of communication open is critical to recovery. If either partner shuts down and puts up their walls, it can be really hard to move forward. The person who was cheated on will likely have a lot of questions (why? when?). They will need their questions answered in order to process the situation and move forward. The cheating partner should be open to providing honest answers and doing so with kindness and understanding. This part can be very challenging for both parties, so it’s important for both people to remain calm and patient. 

Effective communication involves more than just talking; it also involves active listening. Both parties should be listening to the other’s perspective and validate their feelings. This may be especially difficult for the person who was cheated on, but it will definitely help work towards recovery if possible. 

Communication should involve talking about the infidelity itself, but also future expectations and boundaries. Setting expectations and boundaries can help prevent blowout fights at such a sensitive time. 


  1. Time

Time heals everything, right?! Well, sometimes! Giving the person who was cheated on time to breathe, process, and make decisions is very important to recovery. There’s no set timeline for someone to recover; it’s on an individual basis. It could take months or even years, and allowing for enough time also requires patience and commitment to the recovery process. 

The person cheated on will likely need time to work through many emotions, and the person who cheated should be willing to show patience and commitment and allow their partner time (however long) to process.

Note that the healing process may not be linear, and setbacks and obstacles are likely ahead. 


  1. Support

Seeking support from friends, family, and/or therapists can have a significant effect on the recovery. The person who was cheated on is emotionally drained, and having people to lean on may help them in their healing process. 

Friends and family members can provide a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. They can also offer perspective and advice on how to heal and move forward.  

Therapy is another great source of support. Therapy can help create a supportive environment where one or both partners can get their thoughts, feelings, and concerns out on the table. A therapist can also provide exercises and strategies for rebuilding the relationship and moving forward. 

Both partners should be seeking support, not just the person cheated on. The person who was doing the cheating will likely have their own emotions to work through and will also need a support system to help throughout the healing process.


Rebuilding Trust

How can a couple rebuild trust after such a betrayal? This is definitely one of the most difficult parts of recovering from infidelity. Why? Because trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and when it is broken, it can be hard to fix. Here are some strategies that can help:

  1. Honesty and Transparency

Both parties to the relationship should focus on being honest and transparent with each other. There’s no holding back at this point. The more that is withheld, the less trust that is built. Most importantly, the partner that cheated should be very open and genuine about their actions, thoughts, and feelings both before and after the cheating happened. 

What does being honest look like? It’s being willing to answer tough questions like an open book, even if it’s hard for the other person to hear. It also means being willing to provide as much reassurance and support to the partner who was cheated on as needed.

As for transparency, the partner who did the cheating should be willing to be very clear and open about their whereabouts, activities, and social interactions, in order to help facilitate trust with the other partner. This could mean removing passcode from an iPhone or checking in regularly throughout the day.


  1. Consistency

The open, honest, and transparent communication is worthless if it isn’t consistent. Being consistent with this shows commitment and willingness to make it work. 

Consistency also means being reliable and predictable in one’s actions and behaviors. The partner who cheated must be willing to follow through on their promises, show up when they say they will show up, and be present and engaged in the relationship. A.k.a., make an effort and stick with that effort 24/7. 


  1. Patience

Patience is a virtue, and it’s especially necessary for rebuilding trust after infidelity. The healing process is not linear, and it can take time. Both partners should be willing to be patient and committed to the process (i.e., patient). 

Patience may take the form of waiting for the partner who was cheated on to process their emotions and work through the betrayal. It may also involve the ups and downs of the healing process and the realization that there may be some rough patches ahead. But, with patience, the partner who did the cheating should be able to handle this with grace. 

In addition to being patient with the healing process, both partners must also be patient with each other. The partner who was cheated on should also exhibit some level of patience with their partner.

woman looking at her wedding ring after discovering infidelity Can A Relationship Survive After Infidelity?

Moving Forward

Putting in the effort to rebuild trust is important, but there are also other factors and tips to help you and your partner move forward. 

  1. Focus on the Future

Focusing on the future is an important mindset to have when trying to move forward from infidelity. While it’s natural to dwell on the past and the events that led up to the cheating, it’s important for both partners to shift their focus toward creating a better future together. 

Reframing the mind to focus on the future may involve setting goals and working towards them. Set specific goals and milestones for rebuilding trust and intimacy. This may involve setting boundaries, practicing effective communication, and making meaningful changes in one’s behavior and mindset. It can even be the little things, like setting a goal to set up one date night per week for a month. That can help take each day as it comes and focus on a bright future rather than a painful past. 

Another way to focus on the future is to take on the healing process with a growth mindset, recognizing that dealing with infidelity can also be an opportunity for personal and relational growth. Both people (especially the person doing the cheating) should be open to learning from their mistakes and taking responsibility for their actions. No one is perfect, so always working towards becoming the best version of yourselves is crucial, especially in this scenario.

Focusing on the future also involves being forgiveness and letting go of the past. This is much easier said than done, but it’s an important aspect of the healing process. 


  1. Set Boundaries

To move forward, boundary setting is really important because it may help establish a sense of safety and security within a shaky relationship. 

What does setting boundaries actually mean? Well, it means being clear about what is and is not acceptable behavior within the relationship. Is it okay to stay late after work for a social happy hour? What about going out with friends? Both partners must be willing to communicate openly and honestly about their needs and expectations and be willing to respect each other’s boundaries.

Setting boundaries is two-fold: the cheated-on partner needs to set the boundaries, and the partner who cheated should be willing to respect the boundaries. This can help work towards rebuilding trust and moving forward. 


  1. Seek Professional Help

When in doubt, seek out help. This may be from a therapist, couples therapist, or psychiatrist, but whatever it is, getting real help is extremely valuable in the healing process. A therapist or counselor can provide a safe and supportive environment where both partners can talk openly about their emotions.

Couples therapy can be especially useful for couples who struggle with effective communication or are hitting a road bump in their healing process. Couples therapists can provide exercises and strategies that facilitate trust and intimacy.

Not only do couples therapy benefit in this situation, but also individual therapy for both partners. The partner who was cheated on may benefit from therapy to process their emotions, while the partner who cheated may benefit from individual therapy to explore the underlying issues that led to the infidelity and work towards making meaningful changes in their behavior and mindset.


  1. Practice Self-Care

Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Practicing self-care is an important part of recovering from an instance of cheating in a relationship. Going through the process of healing can be emotionally draining, and taking care of oneself can make all the difference.

Self-care involves taking steps to nurture one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This may involve things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. It can also involve activities that bring joy and fulfillment, such as spending time with friends and family, spa days, pursuing hobbies, or meditation.

Both people can benefit from self-care, not just the person who was cheated on. Of course, self-care can help the person who was cheated on to reduce stress and anxiety and make sure their mind, body, and spirit are taken care of. But the person who cheated may also benefit from reducing feelings of guilt and shame and promote their well-being as well. Happy people contribute to happy relationships.



Experiencing infidelity can be hard for anyone, understandably so. Whether or not the relationship will survive depends on a few factors, such as the willingness to forgive, effective communication, allowing for time to pass, and support for both parties. If you or your partner has been unfaithful, remember that healing takes time and patience, but it is possible to move forward and create a brighter future together.


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