As social evolution in the 21st century continues to run its impressive course with internet novelty, couple relationships and marriages are, apparently, getting harder to cope with. In a report published by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, women are now cheating just as much as men in relationships.
“It seemed like just the other day when couples were ready to stick by their partners and the phrase ‘Till death do us apart’ actually meant something,” says Kenzie, a 34-year old divorced banker in New Jersey. “Now, everything is just bullshit. Just a small crappy fight one night and the next thing you know, your partner is in bed with your friend. It’s like people don’t understand the essence of relationships anymore.
Love, though once an appreciated affair, is slowly losing its value. You meet someone, develop a crush towards them, affection turns into infatuation, and before you realize it, you are in love. Luckily for you, they feel the same way, and the next love story is born. You get deep and open up, more and more letting down your guard and making yourself vulnerable. Then one night, a confession or a random text bursts your bubble. They’ve been cheating on you all this time.
According to Google’s report on the most searched dating keywords, people are now researching more on how to catch cheating partners in relationships and how to recover from breakups than 10 years ago. Blurred Lines, perhaps? Well, after splitting with his wife of twenty years, I bet Robin Thicke would agree.
While some couples manage to get past the infidelity, the road is not that simple. In a Reddit thread posted a few years ago, 98% of the men who responded to the question “How do you cope with a cheating wife?” confessed that they would be undeniably unforgiving to infidelity in their relationships.
According to Russel Friedman (Executive Director at The Grief Recovery Institute), however, forgiving a cheating partner is the first step towards moving on, but only if you understand what it means.
“Forgiving a cheater does not mean promising them that you will forget about the infidelity,” he explains. “It does not mean condoning or excusing the cheating. Forgiveness is not for the cheater. It is for the person who holds resentment.”
But if you have been cheated on before and actually felt the sting of betrayal, you could easily argue that forgiveness as a victim of infidelity is just another case of ‘easier said than done’; and you are right. So first, let’s look at the facts.
Why did your wife cheat?
In a study conducted at the University of Connecticut in 2015, researchers found that, the fact that men are the primary breadwinners in most homes fuels their ‘need’ to cheat in their relationships. Ironically, breadwinning for women does the opposite – they hardly have any time to cheat. “Breadwinning women neutralize their gender deviance and keep potentially strained relationships intact,” writes Christin Munsch.
“The gender gap in adultery is closing, and it’s not about opportunity and possibility. It’s about choice,” Helen Fisher, author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray continues to explain the psychology behind cheating wives today. “Women are now more aware of the alternatives to monogamy and more inclined to demand to have all their needs met. Fewer women are marrying out of need; instead, they are marrying to please themselves.”
In an interview with Talkspace, Relationships Coach, Chris Armstrong, attributed cheating in relationships to several main factors: Attachment and Commitment issues, sexual dissatisfaction, and/or emotional unavailability.
Understanding your cheating partner and the act itself
While cheating in a relationship is mostly about the betrayal and less about the act itself, the scope and frequency of the cheating could greatly determine if the relationship is worth saving. Danine Manette, Relationships Expert, and Author suggested asking several questions following the cheating, to help you understand your unfaithful partner and their cheating act.
- How many times did the cheating happen?
- How long did he/she hide it from you?
- What was the scope of the act? Was it just texting, pictures, kissing, or sex?
- Does he/she have a history of cheating from previous relationships or was it the first time?
- Did the cheating happen in your home or elsewhere?
- How did you find out about the cheating – external sources or a confession?
- Did he/she take full responsibility after you found out or did they try to justify their actions?
- Is he/she keeping contact with the person(s) they cheated on you with?
- Was a child born out of the affair?
- Did they contract a disease from the infidelity?
- Do you feel like he/she is still hiding things from you?
Finding answers to these questions, as hard as they might be to listen to, will go a long way to clearing any doubts and understanding the delicacy of the situation.
And now for the Hardest Part: Forgiving your Cheating Partner – Why it’s good for you
According to Tracey Cox, an American Relationships Expert, it is possible to move on and build a stronger relationship after cheating. Yet so many men are unable to recover from the shock of a cheating wife, even though they try to hide this weakness.
Lauren, a 41-year old woman in L.A, explains how her infidelity changed his husband forever. “Women are more forgiven because it’s the struggle of being a certain type of powerful woman. You were a different person when you began the relationship, and he’s just not the same anymore.”
While cheating women are less likely to face fewer consequences after cheating than men, it is still possible to get over the perfidy as a man and move on to forgiveness. Here are a few reasons why forgiving your cheating partner is good for you.
Forgiveness is Freedom
When in love, the world seems perfect. You feel safe, life is cheery, and you’re full of beans – and this is part of what makes moving on hard after realizing that your partner has been cheating on you. Love turns into resentment, and the truth pull becomes hard to swallow.
Learning to forgive and let go of this anger towards a cheating spouse is a step towards a healthier and happier life. Stacey Becker shares her experience and hard-learnt lessons after being dumped by her boyfriend a few weeks before her wedding.
“If I dwelled on my anger, confusion, frustration and even humiliation, I’d never be able to move on,” she writes. “Concentrating on your anger and confusion is mentally exhausting and I would rather fill my mind with constructive thoughts about my kids and career than dwell on things I can’t change.”
The important thing to remember is that you still have a life to live, even after a breakup. You owe it to yourself to build a better life and aspire for better. You deserve the best, and you will only learn this by not allowing the resentment to consume the best of you. Forgiveness makes this so much easier.
Your Health depends on it
According to a survey done by the Mayo Clinic, patients suffering from broken marriages were more likely to suffer from physical and mental health issues. Psychologists in the clinic recommended a simple solution to these health problems – letting go.
Forgiving a cheating partner and letting off the bitterness lowers the risk of high blood pressure and depression. It builds your self-esteem and improves your heart’s health. Think about it – less anxiety, no more stress, no more anger management therapy sessions – just a simple stress-free life. Why would you throw away that?
Forgiving opens you to Trusting again
Nobody wants to die alone. Like Kartel puts it, “Everybody needs somebody.” But after infidelity in a relationship, rebuilding the broken trust once again becomes a tricky affair for most victims. You are scared of exposing your vulnerability again – and that’s perfectly OK.
Then again, nobody wants a paranoid boyfriend. You want to get past the guilt and remorse phase –it just makes you a shitty lover. Instead, purpose to build a solid foundation on your next relationship by getting past the unfaithfulness. Forgive and forget is the mantra here.
So should you stay after your partner cheats on you?
Well, this is a question only you can accurately answer. Kevin Klein, a relationships radio speaker, recommends intense evaluation of the whole relationship and its entire foundation. “Some relationships are just not worth saving,” he says. “If it seems too weak to withstand the infidelity, it might be best to cut your losses.”
Let’s cut the sugarcoating. The bottom-line is simple – think about how far you’ve come together as a couple and decide if you’re really ready to throw away everything you have built together