Should I Get Back Together With An Ex Who Cheated?

Question: I broke up with boyfriend of 3 years when I found out he had cheated with another woman. He apologized but I was so hurt that I broke up with him. He kept in touch and doing all he can do to get me back. He says he understands how much he hurt me and will do anything to make it up to me. My friends say if he really did love me he would never have cheated in the first place. But he is the first and only guy I’ve truly loved and he says the same about me. We talked about marriage and kids and he says he still wants that.

I believe that it is possible to save this relationship but it’s still in my mind that he may cheat again. I love him so much that it hurts every day that we’re not together. Do relationships where an ex cheated ever work? Should I give him a chance?

Yangki’s Answer: I’ll respond to your question in bullet form for clairyt and will start with the easier question.

1. Some relationships do work after one person has cheated and others don’t.

Some couples can get past the betrayal and stay together, and others can’t. Each relationship is different, and different people deal with situations differently. Some relationships can even improve if the two people can use the opportunity to grow and for the relationship to mature.

You obviously are still hurting, and that’s quite normal. This is where you need to start. Be emotionally honest with yourself. It doesn’t help you if you’re in denial about how you truly feel. The denial here is not about whether he cheated or not, or whether the relationship can be saved or not, I think you are very realistic about all these two.  The denial is in have you truly forgiven him? Can you bring yourself to trust him again? Can you trust your own judgement in the future? What exactly are the lessons both of you have learned through this and how might you do things differently in the future?

Without clear answers to these questions you’ll always feel terribly insecure and even suspicious of his motives and actions. This alone will make it impossible to save the relationship.

2. Once someone cheats that relationship is forever altered.

Bringing yourself to accept that things will never be the same between the two of you will make it easier to move past the past. Yes, you’ll still love and care for each other as before — may be even more — but you will not and can not have the old relationship back because that “he cheated on me” will linger indefinitely, in some form or another. My advice to people in your kind of situation is not to work on saving the old relationship but creating a new and better relationship with the same person.

3. Don’t be in a rush to get back together.

It’s NOT your fault he cheated but it’s your responsibility to make sure he does not take your love and trust for granted. Let him earn your trust slowly by doing the “right” things – consistently.

Is there any guarantee he won’t do it again? Nothing in life except may be death is 100% guaranteed. But you can reduce the risk by openly and honestly dealing with why the cheating happened in the first place. Even if you get over his cheating and get back together, if you don’t deal with the root cause it’ll show up again in some other form of “relationship problem”.

In short, almost every relationship is savable if both parties are willing to work on it. If you can get past your pain and hurt and want to make it work, I say definitely give it a try. What’s most important is NOT what he wants or what your friends want, but what YOU want, and can live with.

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  1. says: Nimmi

    I’m not sure if my ex wants me back or not. We keep in contact but he’s cold and indifferent. We broke up because he cheated, not the first time he’s cheated. I told him if he promised to not cheat again, I’ll take him back but he says he can’t make that promise. I love him with all my heart. What do I do?

    1. You heard the guy… he has no intention of stopping his cheating ways. So you either take back the cheater and be cheated on again or you give yourself a little self-respect and find someone who actually cares that cheating makes you unhappy.

  2. says: Malia

    His infidelity destroyed me. It took me a long time to recover from it and even now, my confidence is not where it used to be. But because we have two wonderful children together, and he is a good father and husband, we are trying to make the marriage work. We are in counselling and I can see that he is really trying to show me that he is sorry and wants to be with me and the children. In your experience, do you know how long it takes to put this behind me for good?

    1. I hear you, and respect you for the decision you made. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will ever be put behind you for good. You will move on. You will even have a better marriage as a result of this. But it’s never going to be “forgotten.”.

      My advice is to embrace it as part of your history together. You don’t have to like it just accept it as something that happened in the past, but doesn’t have to define your future as an individual and as a couple.

  3. says: Angela

    Nice website. I think that a lot of people have a distorted sense of what love really is. They give up all too easily and take the easy way out. If your ex is trying really hard and has apologized and made attempts to make amends and is even willing to get help to address the problem, you should give him/her a second chance. I did and have never been happier.

  4. says: burdenedsoul

    It is hard to TRUST again, when someone has cheated. Your whole world is turned upside down and you just can’t fully trust anymore.

  5. says: Kyla

    Thank you so much Yangki. We are in counseling to try to save the marriage, but I think I just wanted someone to tell me I’m not a bad person if I do not want it to work. I was not happy and may be deep inside I’m not so angry at my husband for cheating but at myself for not having the courage to end it or to speak up now and tell everyone I do not want to be married to my husband anymore. Your words are giving me courage to speak what I have not been able to say in many years. Thank you.