Although it may be difficult, it is very much possible to continue a loving relationship even after cheating. If you’re ready to take on the work of making this possible, congratulations! Brave and loving people work and fight for their relationship after an affair. Both parties will have a tough road ahead, but it is entirely possible to love and trust again after being cheated on. Here are a few tips on how to rebuild trust after cheating to help smooth the road of this journey, even if but a little.
Decide to Work Together.
There is no wrong or right answer on whether or not you should or shouldn’t stay with your partner after being cheated on, and no one can tell you what the right choice for you should be. You can google for ages trying to find more information about how to rebuild trust after cheating, but no one else can make the decision to commit to your partner for you.
But one thing is for sure: deciding to work on your relationship is a choice.
No matter how much you think you know about how to rebuild trust after cheating, if you and your partner aren’t absolutely committed to figuring it out together and working on it, it won’t work.
And you may need to continue to make that choice for a long time. There will be challenging times when saying “yes” to someone who cheated will be hard. There will be moments where it will be challenging to hear things they need to share with you and feel things that you may have been avoiding. The only guarantee about how to rebuild trust after cheating is that it is a challenging process. Only you and your partner can decide if you’re ready to take this on. If you do decide to work on this together, reminding one another of your commitment to continuing working on something hard is important. We all want to know someone else is working with us, and as long as we continue to commit to our partner, healing is possible.
Assume the Best.
When we get hurt in a relationship, it is easy to assume the worst. After an affair, you may be inclined to label your partner as a “liar”, a “cheater”, or “wrong”. And while those labels may feel cathartic and validating when you say them, they aren’t going to get you closer to healing a relationship with your partner.
Just like you made a choice to stay, we also have to make a choice to assume the best of our partner time and time again. That means changing how you think about them in your mind. Your partner isn’t a “cheater”- instead, try to reframe that thought. Consider them instead, “a hurt person who came to cheating as a conclusion for their hurt feelings and wants to do something different now.”
This doesn’t mean you need to invalidate your own experience or hurt. You can still be hurt by their actions.
But if we want to learn how to rebuild trust after cheating, a lot needs to shift within our mindset and theirs to move forward. We’re no longer playing a game of winners and losers; we’re working collaboratively together to fight for this relationship. If you’re struggling with validating your own experience through these challenging times, it’s an excellent opportunity to reach out to a mental health counselor, intimacy expert or sex therapist to give you the support you need.
When you’re looking at how to rebuild trust after cheating, you’ll both have to start getting curious about one another. Curiosity is love. If you want to know more about something, make sure it’s coming from a place of love. Don’t ask questions if you are looking for a certain response or if you’re scared of the answer- this can be manipulative.
Ask questions of your partner that you really want to know and understand. Questions like, “Why did it come to this for you?” and “What do you need?” are open and caring ways to connect to them. Questions like, “Why couldn’t you just keep it in your pants?” are coming from a hurt place and won’t get you the healed relationship you’re seeking.
And while it’s important to get curious about your partner when you’re learning how to rebuild trust after cheating, it’s also important that you’re curious about yourself. Take some time to self-reflect. Were you happy in your relationship before the cheating? What was missing for you? Even if you were not the one who cheated, this is a time of self-reflection for everyone. Take the time you need to learn about yourself and how you are feeling about your relationship.
Listening is different than just hearing someone’s words. The odds are high that what they need to say and what you need to hear hasn’t been said before. You both know that some topics are more uncomfortable.
Learning how to trust again after being cheated on requires that you learn how to listen in ways you haven’t listened to before. When listening, your job is to fully “let it land” before you speak again. We’re no longer trying to win arguments or come up with the best witty retort, the only game you’re playing now is how to get your relationship back. And that means you need to hear them and not respond defensively. You are listening to understand, not listening to respond.
Frequently after an incident of cheating, we may need to listen to our partner and their needs around sex. Sex talks can be uncomfortable, to be sure, and you may have shied away from these topics in the past because they made you feel scared or gross. Now is the time to learn to have uncomfortable sex talks and listen to what your partner is missing inside or outside the bedroom.
Likewise, they’ll have to listen to you. You’ll need to be able to share with them what is and isn’t working for you. And if you want them to truly care and connect with your words, you’ll have to model that for them by doing the same in reverse. As the golden rule goes, we treat others how we want to be treated.
Start Finding the Little Moments.
Once you start reconnecting after an affair, you’ll start wanting to build something new together. While it’s essential to listen and hear out one another about what went on that caused the cheating, if you stop building something new together, you’ll never truly move forward. If you want to know how to rebuild trust after cheating, the key is in that rebuilding.
Start small and look for ways to reconnect with love and trust with your partner that maybe you would have in the distant past, or maybe you haven’t done before at all. Notice when they’re feeling blue and do something to try and cheer them up. See if you find a moment when they seem lonely, and be present with them. The littlest things can add up to rebuild a great relationship. Try just washing dishes together, inviting them to go on a drive with you, or setting up a sexy date night. It doesn’t have to be an overflowing display of flowers and chocolates to let your partner know that you still care and want to grow with them.
The road to rebuilding trust is challenging. The bravest and most loving among us choose to turn towards relationships where we know we’ve been hurt before. Hopefully, these tips on how to rebuild trust after cheating has given you a positive head start in your journey of how to trust again after being cheated on.