When someone has been unfaithful, is sorry ever enough? The reasons people cheat are numerous and the number of persons who do, infinite.
However, there is a silver lining to the cloud of infidelity when the couple is able to move beyond it. Deborahdid after her boyfriend, Andrew, cheated.
"He struck up a friendship with another woman, and from early on, it was clear that she was smitten by him. He insisted it wouldn't be a problem and when she began working with us on a project in our business, he was spending more time with her, even though it was making me increasingly uncomfortable." Deborah notes that they had numerous fights about the nature of the relationship, but he always professed his innocence. Deborah eventually found emails indicating an affair. After being confronted, he admitted it, but told her that it would never happen again and that he realised it wasn't what he wanted.
Deborah's trust was broken. According to Dr Heather Little-White, "To learn that you are cheated on can be quite devastating, and it is natural to want to treat the person who cheated on you with disdain. All kinds of aggression and violence can come with the anger experienced. However, in the relationship, it is best to take the high road and forgive the 'cheater'. With forgiveness, you heal emotionally and physically you look better, so your cheating partner will feel badly about his or her actions."
Deborah found it difficult to sleep beside him without crying. It made her physically sick to be in his apartment where she now knew the misdeeds had occurred.
She eventually forgave him, but notes that it took months of therapy and lots of talking to begin to repair the damage. Even now, three years later, the effects are still tangible as Deborah still worries about the nature of his friendships with other women.
easier to forgive
While conceding that any act of infidelity is painful, Little-White notes that it depends on the relationship itself. "Depending on the quality of the relationship before cheating, some people will find it easier to forgive." She notes that the onus is then on the cheating partner to ensure that it doesn't occur again, that he or she is willing to take responsibility for what happened without attempting to shift blame or withdraw.
For Deanand Juliethat is exactly what happened. She withdrew. Dean told Flair how shocked he was when she admitted to him that she was cheating. After her confession, he cut off all communication with her for a week not responding to her emails or phone calls. "I was in grief. After being with her for a year only for her to do this to me. But nevertheless, I did eventually speak to her to find out the why's and how's. For the sake of my love for her and our relationship, I forgave her," he told Flair. However, after a month he didn't see any sign that she was willing to change. "She became cold and distant. She was withholding sex, our communication had dwindled drastically and the lack of respect for me and how she spoke about me in front of her friends was too much to deal with. I made the conscious decision to end what I was trying to save."
Little-White says that for the relationship to survive, the person who cheated needs to be repentant. "Be repentant and truthful about the matter and apologise effectively. If promises are made, be sure to keep them. Follow through on courting your partner again. Every effort has to be made by the cheating partner to rebuild trust or else there will always be suspicions and accusations, leading to more problems."
She notes that for couples who are married, certain steps need to be followed for the union to survive. Working on the relationship for those couples is integral as more would be at stake, including shared property and children, so it would be hard to walk away. Therefore, she suggests.
2. Honest and open communication about the infidelity.
3. Forgiving your spouse though it may be hard.
4. Honest and open communication about where you want to go with the union. It may be a good time to break if you do not have the same goals.
5. Making a commitment to making it work. Some couples enter into post-nuptial agreements as a way forward.
6. Giving each other space at home and in their personal lives
7. Testing the waters gradually - see how it feels to date - go to the movies, walk in the park, and see how the chemistry sparks between both of you.
Names changed to protect privacy