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Rebuilding trust after an affair

While being cheated on may be seen as a universal negative, the question of what to do when your partner’s been unfaithful is a tough one. It’s very easy to decide what to do in the abstract, like many who’d say drop him like a bad habit; or even stand by him and forgive and forget. It’s quite easy to armchair coach other people’s relationship on something you may not have experience of. But when it’s your relationship suddenly what seems clear-cut and simple is actually a lot more complicated. When you both decide give the relationship another chance after your partner has cheated on you, it’s important to be all in. However, to rebuild trust, there are some couple of issues we’d like to propose that you to think about.

Decide if You Want to Reconcile

Forgiveness is a choice. It doesn’t mean what they did is fine, nor does it mean you are fine with it. How much you trust your partner is partly about what your partner does, and partly a function of whether you have confidence to handle it if they disappoint you again. Ultimately it’s about how much you trust yourself.

The sobering reality of forgiveness is realizing that you’re actually forgiving an imperfect person. There are no guarantees that they won’t do it again, or that they won’t find more cunning and deceiving ways of cheating so that you won’t ever find out. Even if you were to leave your partner, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll meet one that won’t cheat on you.

Fact is, our imperfect nature makes all of us susceptible to cheating. The only way to determine if you’re ready to trust again is to honestly assess if you will be able to handle it, if you were to find out that your partner is cheating on you again.

If you both decide to reconcile, the process will demand that your partner cooperates with whatever measures you agree to put in place to make it difficult for them to cheat on you again. If there’s disagreement in this regard, not only will it be difficult or near impossible to risk your vulnerability and trust again, but reconciliation is unable to take place. And if this is the case, there comes a point where you may have to draw a line and say, “This is it, I’m done. I’m not mad at you. I just withdraw my feelings and emotions. You can do whatever you want to do with your life. But I won’t be part of it. I’m not going to live like this anymore, ever.”

Trust and honesty

If your partner, who cheated on your, truly wants to save the relationship, they will have to opt for rigorous honesty, and commit to a path of trust restoration. And no, trust is not automatically restored simply because they say infidelity has stopped. Trust is regained through consistent and sometimes emotionally painful truth-telling and accountability.

Willingness to be open has to go both ways. You have to be brutally open about your fears going forward, and your partner must be rigorously honest about their life going forward. Without this parallel, your walls will remain high as long as your partner continues being doggy. Consequently, you will never reach closure and you will continually live in a relationship that’s characterised by mistrust. Essentially, you’ll have no relationship although you could claim to be in each other’s lives.

Your partner needs to be transparent about their whereabouts, with-whom they said they’ll be, how long they’ll need to be and why they need to be there. Not meeting this standard could compromise the process.

Basically, your partner must make a commitment to living differently and abiding by certain boundaries, the most important of which is ongoing rigorous honesty about absolutely everything, all the time. They need to start to fearlessly tell the truth no matter what, even when they know it might be upsetting to you.


Infidelity is a highly shocking and an emotionally abusive experience. The experience is even more severe if the cheating partner minimises it, denies even the obvious or simply doesn’t get it.

The process of rebuilding trust requires a lot of patience. There’s no time frame to be attached in it, and it takes as long as it takes. Your partner must understand that suspicion and mistrust are natural reactions when a person has been cheated on and lied to. After all, the evidence supports the belief that they aren’t trustworthy. Trust can be rebuilt, but it does not come quickly, even for kind-hearted people. Their job is to patiently walk with you side-by-side in a posture of remorse and appreciation of the pain they’ve caused.

However, you also shouldn’t use this process as a punishment. Neither should you keep bringing the issue up their face at every opportunity you get. Remember the plan is to move on, and start afresh.

It’s unfair to claim to have forgiven your partner and have therefore opted to continue with the relationship, but continuously throw the cheating act in their face. This will derail the trust rebuilding process. You may need to take your time healing, before you embark on the process of reconciliation with your partner. Otherwise if you continue resuscitating the cheating to your repentant partner, you will eventually run them away. When you have decided to forgive and reconcile, commit to the decision.

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