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Does Your Partner Cheating Mean It's Over?

Through her passion for writing and coaching, Rachael shares her experience and support in the journey of loving an addict.

If you’ve ever thought about your list of worst-case scenarios for your relationship, chances are that your partner cheating is one of them. It’s certainly high up on the list for a lot of people I speak to in my coaching practice.

And if you were to tell anyone close to you that your partner has been cheating, most of the people who love you would tell you to walk away, that they don’t deserve you.

Cheating is one of the more universally accepted deal-breakers.

But does your partner cheating have to mean the end of your relationship?

There are two short answers I can give you.

"No," and "I don’t know."

One might seem as senseless as the other when it comes to the answer you expected from a relationship coach but both are applicable so let me give you the longer version.

I Don't Know

I really don’t know, despite what I know about relationships. I don’t know if your partner cheating is a true deal breaker for you or if that’s how you feel in theory, but in practice you would be back in their arms with the first “I’m Sorry”.

I don’t know if, for you, cheating is the guaranteed end of your relationship, with all trust and respect dashed by your partner’s indiscretions or if you’re willing to work through the betrayal and try to restore what was lost.

I also don’t know what you deem as cheating. Is a drunken kiss serious enough to cause you to end your relationship? Or is that just a silly mistake that you can let go of with a bit of time?

Added to the list of unknowns is whether keeping your relationship for your children is important to you, or if you have other social, cultural, moral or financial reasons for wanting to work things out, even though love might be further down the list right now.

What I do know is that cheating doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship if you don’t want it to. It doesn’t have to mean the end if you believe that, fundamentally, you have a good relationship, that you are deeply in love with this person and that there’s something worth saving with the right commitment and effort.

Which is why my first short answer was a No.

No It Doesn't Have To Be Over

No, your partner cheating doesn’t have to mean you walk away, giving up on the love you have, or had together.

It doesn’t mean all is lost.

What you have though are some serious cracks in the foundation of your relationship. The strongest footings for your partnership are trust, honesty and loyalty and those have been severely undermined.

But they can be restored, as long as you’re ready for some hard work, and depending on a few factors:

  • Has the cheating ended?
  • Do you genuinely want to be together?
  • Are you entering into reconciliation of your own decision and not because you have been coerced into it by your partner, family, friends or any other person?
  • Is there remorse and a willingness to fix the relationship from your partner?
  • Are you willing to move on once you have worked through the damage done?
  • Do you both agree on what is deemed to be cheating in your relationship going forward?

Team Effort

You can’t redeem a relationship when one half of a couple intend to continue to do what they’ve been doing, with no remorse or understanding of the damage they have done.

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And you can’t move forward if the other half wants to hold onto their hurt and treasure it like a prized jewel, bringing it out of it’s box whenever they feel the need.

If you're not sure if you can let go of the infidelity, and you want to dwell in the pain and the drama forever, then you need to consider that perhaps cheating brings too much of a burden to the relationship for you to carry and that it may be better to move on.

But if you both decide that you do want to repair your relationship, and that you’re both willing to do whatever it takes, then you need to be prepared to do a full postmortem on your past relationship and ascertain what caused the ‘death’ of it. What led to your partner making the decision to cheat? What was going on in your relationship that meant you were disconnected from each other? What could have been happening differently to give you the most loving, intimate, secure and strong relationship?

This isn’t about placing blame. This about finding out what you can do differently, better, to avoid your relationship being jeopardized again.

It’s also not about taking the blame from your partner. No one makes another person cheat. Regardless of whether you’ve been having less sex, or working too much, or you’ve gained weight and perhaps lost a bit of your old zest for life, none of these factors made your partner cheat. THEY made the decision to cheat. THEY choose to stray from your relationship.

They will though have their own reasons for those choices and they might not be what you think. Rather than a desire for more sex, cheating in a long term relationship is usually more about a desire for love, attention, understanding and a lack of self esteem. Therefore, the partner who cheated needs to actively make the choice to address these areas of their life while they also work on their relationship.

So cheating doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship but it’s certainly a big obstacle to overcome for any couple. Whether or not you want to take that journey together is something only you can decide, individually, and then as a couple.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


tt on February 26, 2020:

I wish life is just simple as people are being honest and love each other and treat each other with respect - I know there are couples specially older generation - they got married went through difficulties up and down but they don't cheat each other - the husband respected and loved the wife and vice versa - they still live to their 80s and 90s.

However, there are married couples that cheated on each other - lied - and deceived- doing things behind the back-

wow - why married at all if only they become more worst people? Thought marry to be happy to grow and to learn to help each other and to share and to respect -and protect...

Yusef Osman on May 06, 2019:

Hi, to some extent I was just so down and tired about my husband sudden change in attitude, he is always on to his phone. I was so much bothered and I contacted Ladyashelyhackworld at g mail, she helped me spy and gave me access to his cell which I got his messages and mails also the long deleted messages.

A nony mouse on September 04, 2018:

The reality is that not only do both parties need to want to save the relationship, they must also be prepared to put in the hard work to identify and rectify the problems that have led them there.

One of the problems is that the person who cheats (well in my case at least), frequently blames the other person for their cheating and behaves in a justified and entitled manner, that further erodes the relationship. Unless the person that cheats is truly remorseful and is prepared to take responsibility for their part in the problems, then it is unlikely to work.

To my mind, the person who cheats probably gets a huge ego boost from the fact of having two or more people loving them at once. They know if it does not work out that they have someone else on standby and so they are far less invested in repairing the relationship. Well, that is one part of my story. Part two when my ex left me for his mistress was that the mistress quickly figured that he was not so great and dumped him. Part three he remarried and guess what that marriage went down the pan too.

I guess for some guys the grass always looks greener on the other side till you get there. The reality is that the grass is greener where you water it ;)

SEC on October 10, 2017:

If they break the friend, family or acquaintance rule when cheating then its over and theyre a pathetic p.o.s.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on July 27, 2017:

Very insightful article.

Everyone has their own "boundaries" and "deal breakers".

However over the years I have witnessed there is a difference between the "hypothetical" and {life} for many people.

It's easy to say what you (would do) without actually being placed in real situation to make that choice.

Imagine a stay at home mother with three young children who learns her husband has been cheating.

It wouldn't be shock to me if she opted to attempt to save her marriage rather than run down to the courthouse to lower her living standards making do with less money and watching the "other woman" sail into the sunset with her man.

As you noted it also comes down to how someone defines cheating. Some people view "emotional cheating" as being just as bad as physical cheating. A discovery of sexting photos on his or her phone could be considered cheating by others.

Another aspect one has to consider is the circumstances such as if for example a husband who solicits prostitutes and strippers, versus a wife who is hooking up with a co-worker, or your mate is having sex with one of your siblings, a parent, best friend, someone you know fairly well, or a child was conceived...etc

When did it start and how long has it been going on are also other factors one usually considers. Suppose it's been happening right from the beginning. She/he has been having sex with an ex or so called "platonic friend" for years or one discovers their mate is secretly bi-sexual and has been having a same sex relationship right under your nose.

Oftentimes we imagine if it happens it will be a "one night stand" during "girls/boys night out" or a "getaway" after several drinks and so on. However it could just as easily be a "serious relationship" where they believe they're "in love" but staying with their mutual spouses for the sake of the children....etc

"What I do know is that cheating doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship if you don’t want it to." - Not necessarily!

We assume the cheater will beg us for forgiveness, show contrition, and the fate of the relationship is (our) hands.

Sometimes the cheater is actually {relieved} to be caught and have everything come out into the open. The (cheater) then decides (they) want out of the marriage or relationship!

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