Can Your Relationship Survive After Cheating?

When my wife’s first husband cheated on her, her mantra was “Everybody cheats, nobody’s happy.” That’s not true, but if you have a faulty man-picker and surround yourself with similar friends, it may be hard to believe. Misery loves company.

There’s a big difference between a drunken kiss and a full-blown affair where you’re leading two separate lives.

I’ve never cheated on anyone, but I do believe that a moment of unfaithfulness does not HAVE to be a dealbreaker. There’s a big difference between a drunken kiss and a full-blown affair where you’re leading two separate lives. Sophia Benoit, who writes (very well I might add) for GQ, explores this topic in an article worth sharing.

Fact is: it’s easy to tell a woman to dump a man who cheated (and I usually do) but, as Benoit points out, “People often are judged for not standing up for themselves, not having boundaries, or for “letting” themselves be treated disrespectfully. There’s also a common belief that “once a cheater, always a cheater”—that it’s only a matter of time before it happens again. Assumptions like these ignore the complicated web of considerations that go into deciding what to do after infidelity is revealed.

Esther Perel, noted relationship therapist, wrote a book called State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, encouraging people to try to understand how and why affairs happen, but also how a relationship might get better—with lots of work—after infidelity. In practice, it tends to be uncommon for a relationship to survive instances of cheating. One study found that only about 16 percent of couples who’d experienced unfaithfulness were able to work it out….Some statistics put that number much higher, especially when it comes to married folks; clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, Psy.D., told SELF that, “Despite the ambiguous statistics, it seems reasonable to speculate that more couples are staying together after infidelity than not.”

The rest of the piece is Benoit interviewing individuals who stuck it out through infidelity. It’s pretty interesting as a counterpoint to the black/white view that cheating has to mark the end of a relationship. Understand, I am not endorsing cheating, and I am a guy who tells women that relationships are “full trust or no trust.” 

But I also know that if my wife cheated on me, I’d be REALLY hesitant to throw everything we have away because of her actions. Maybe that’s naive but I do believe it’s possible for people to make mistakes and recover from them – not just in theory, but in practice.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

For more of my thoughts on cheating and infidelity, click here


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