Trust is the driving force behind a breakup caused by cheating. By cheating on your partner, you have immediately broken the trust you had between each other. Cheating can cause someone to view you – and monogamous relationships – negatively.
More often than not, cheating is a marker of the permanent demise of a relationship. Many who have been cheated on decide that getting back together with their ex is just not worth the emotional risk. Couples who do try to fix their relationship often end up separating again because of resentment and frustration.
Are you someone who cheated on your partner? Do you feel that you’ve made a huge mistake and are willing to try anything to get them back? Read on, and you’ll have some tips for saving your relationship if your ex decides to give you that second chance.
Give Them Space
It is instinctual for us to want to immediately fix our mistakes by reaching out to our exes and trying to talk to them. But it is extremely important for us to give our exes space. Resist all urges to communicate with your ex – they certainly won’t want to hear what you have to say. Give them time to process what happened and to figure out how they feel about the situation.
Texting or calling them to “see how they’re doing” or to tell them “you miss them” is not endearing. It shows them you are desperate to get them back. Counter-intuitively, this can actually push them further away. Give yourself a few weeks – a month, ideally – of radio silence between the two of you before reaching out.
Ask Yourself Why You Cheated
Determine why you cheated on your ex, and whether you feel the want or need to fight for your relationship back. Did you have a moment of unchecked lust that led to a mistake? Or did you cheat emotionally because you were dissatisfied with the relationship? If your reasoning was the latter, consider that you might have a harder time fighting to get that relationship back (see THIS article for the reason why). Ask yourself these questions:
- How healthy was your relationship before you cheated? Were there problems that led you to cheat on your ex? Are those problems worth working on? Should your ex take you back?
- How sure are you that you won’t hurt your ex again? If you cheated because you feel a need to have sex with multiple people, monogamy probably isn’t for you.
- Are you willing to handle the long and difficult road that is earning your ex’s trust back?
Determine Whether They Want You Back
So you’ve decided you want to fight to win your ex back. Unfortunately for you, the ultimate choice to rekindle your relationship is entirely up to your ex. How invested are they in the relationship? If you were only together for a short time – say a few weeks to even a few months – they may decide you aren’t worth round two. Couples in long-term relationships, or who share a home, or are married or have children, are more likely to want to work on bettering the relationship.
If your relationship was relatively healthy before you cheated, you may also have a good chance at winning your ex back. But if you were already at odds with each other before the affair, it might be in your best interest to throw in the towel.
Contact Your Ex… Without Making Excuses
If you’ve been following this list, you have spent a month without communication (yes, that means no casual texts) and you’ve both had time to grieve and reflect. Your first word back to them is very important.
Write your ex a letter – it can be handwritten or sent via email – to apologize for your actions. Let them know that you understand why the breakup happened and that you have accepted it. Let them know (without bragging) that you are doing well. DO NOT:
- Beg to get back together. You are seeking their love and respect, not their pity.
- Place blame on them or make negative comments. Example: “If you had done _____ more, I wouldn’t have cheated.”
The purpose of this letter should be to show responsibility for your actions, and growth and improvement during your time apart. You must prove to your ex that you are worth a second chance.
Meet Them In Person
If your ex has responded to your letter, you may take the step to meet them in person. It is important to remember that this should not be a date. Your ex is most likely still very hurt, and unwilling to accept romantic gestures from you. Give them a call and invite them to coffee, or a lunch meeting. Don’t push it – they don’t owe you this meeting, so twisting their arm into meeting you after they’ve said no just can’t be justified.
Again, your ex must be the one to decide to get back together. Discussing the messy details of your old relationship, while necessary, is a little premature at this stage and can cause your ex to relive feelings of hurt. Focus on the present. Whether it remains platonic or buds into a romance, this relationship is new and should begin as such. Talk about what you’ve both been up to, and show them the charm that made them fall in love with you in the first place.
Now comes the hard part. Your ex may have decided to give you a second shot, but this does not equate to immediate forgiveness – even if it feels like it does. You must be able to accept that it may take a long time, if ever, to win your ex’s trust back. People who have been cheated on may react in a range of ways, including newfound trust and intimacy issues. It can be frustrating for them to have these barriers up, but you were the cause, and so you must be patient in working to bring them down.
Your ex may have new expectations for communication. They may want you to text or call them more frequently. They may ask you to be more candid with whom you are texting. They may even feel a constant need for reassurance that you won’t hurt them again. It’s up to you to work with them to determine how their needs can be met.
Yeah, it probably feels like the balance between you and your ex are a little unfair now. You probably feel like you’re being watched under a microscope. Well, you are. And if you want to win their trust over, your clean slate has to stay clean.
Make yourself aware of any problematic behavior that led you to cheat in the first place, and cut it out. No flirting – in person or on social media. Make it known to anyone and everyone that you are in a committed relationship. They may not be around while you’re going wild with your friends at a bar, but in this digital age, secrets come out eventually.
You Will Be Punished
Oh yeah. Sometimes, it can seemingly come out of nowhere. You could head over to their place with a pizza and a bottle of wine and find out upon opening the door that they’ve been absolutely furious that you didn’t answer a text they sent 20 minutes ago. Sure, you were in the subway and there was no cell reception, not to mention your hands were full with delicious date items.
It’s important to understand that in moments like this, they are not truly angry. They are insecure about the state of your relationship. Sometimes they may experience triggers that remind them of the cheating and react emotionally. You may not have done anything wrong this time around, but you cannot use these moments as excuses to be defensive or argumentative. They are trying as hard as they can to forgive you, just as you are trying to be forgiven. Apologize and acknowledge how the triggering moment made them feel.
Yes, gaining trust after cheating on an ex is a long, long road to recovery. It’s full of frustration, requires a lot of patience, and not many couples manage to see it through to the end. But it is possible if you’re truly willing to change for your partner.
Hi, Psych2Go readers! Want to read other articles from this series? You can view them here:
“Get Your Ex Back After You Cheated (Even If You Don’t Deserve It).” Ex Back Permanently, 27 Nov. 2017, getyourexbackpermanently.com/get-your-ex-back-after-you-cheated/.
“How to Get Your Ex Back After You Cheated – 10 Tips.” Expert Tips Advice on How to Get Your Ex Back, www.exbackanswers.com/cheating-ex/how-to-get-your-ex-back-after-you-cheated/.
“Winning Your Lover Back After a Breakup: A Most Difficult Ch.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/magnetic-partners/201202/winning-your-lover-back-after-breakup-most-difficult-ch.
Edited by Viveca Shearin