Is a relationship salvageable after cheating?

Cheating doesn’t just happen by accident. Instead, it is really the end result of a series of seemingly harmless decisions. Many steps...

Written by Amy C · 1 min read >
Is a relationship salvageable after cheating? - Heart Hackers Club -  - Image

I have a new column in the 24 Hours Vancouver Newspaper, where every second week, readers submit their relationship questions, and I try my best to answer them. This week’s question is from a reader who’s boyfriend of a few years decided one night to get obliterated, and ended up cheating on her:

Dear Amy,

I dated my boyfriend for a few years and had what I thought was a great relationship. We laughed a lot, traveled a lot and were slowly creating a life partnership together.

One evening, he had a night out with friends, and got completely obliterated. He ended up cheating on me with an acquaintance of mine. I found out in a span of 48 hours by slowly putting together clues that weren’t making sense. I broke up with him and moved out.

For the months that followed, during the darkest low of my life, he was awful to me. He avoided me, didn’t show me compassion and never tried to offer help or communicate he was sorry. The thing is, the love I have for him hasn’t disappeared, even after what he did.

While I may be able to forgive a mistake, I don’t think I can forget how he chose to handle me afterwards. Do you think that a relationship is salvageable after someone has cheated?

Signed, Betrayed

Dear Betrayed,

There are many cases where infidelity acts as a catalyst that makes a couple examine ignored issues (either in the relationship or with the self). In these cases, where the adulterer realizes the severity of the mistake, its consequences, and takes accountability for his/her actions, there is hope that the relationship can survive.

Cheating doesn’t just happen by accident. Instead, it is really the end result of a series of seemingly harmless decisions. Many steps and choices are made before the actual event occurs.

While I do not condone cheating, I also don’t think it has to be the be all and end all of a relationship. If your boyfriend realizes the mistake he’s made, and shows through action that he is committed to working on himself, making amends and doing everything in his power to show his apology, there may be a chance of salvaging the relationship.

However, it sounds like not only did he cheat on you, he chose everyday after he got caught to treat you poorly. This shows character (or lack of, one could argue). Sure, it is quite possible that he didn’t know how to handle his guilt and pain after losing you. There was likely a lot of shame and regret after he realized the consequences of his behavior.

You have to ask yourself, however, if that is someone you want to build a life and family with. Sometimes a person deserves a second chance, but sometimes it takes a huge mistake and a life low for you to see someone’s true colors. I’ll leave you with a quote that I find true and powerful:

“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves” ― Anaïs Nin

Photo credit: zsófi B


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Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

7 Replies to “Is a relationship salvageable after cheating?”

  1. I’m a serial cheater…
    I have a problem..its like an addiction…it’s like an alcoholic or a druggie. It’s what i do. I live a double life.
    I love my Fiance’ with all my heart….but i still do what i do. I cant explain it.

    I have a lot of experience in this area….ive seen counselors, and a psych, ive been to support groups… and all i can say is that if someone cheats, its for a reason. A relationship is salvageable depending on the reason.

    Figuring out exactly why he did what he did will answer your question.

  2. NoSoul – wow, that took a lot of courage to share that. Curious to see what you find out about the “explanation” behind the addiction. I agree – there is a root, and it usually has nothing to do with one’s love for their partner.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. It doenst take a lot of courage to post this when I dont have a pic up, i’m not using my real name and i’m using an IP scrambler lol.

    I think my problem started because when i was young i was the butt end of every joke. I wasnt a cute kid. I got poor grades and people made fun of me. Other guys picked on me and girls wouldnt look at me. Sounds pathetic to use this as an excuse to do what i do right? but whatever…
    I grew up and got considerably better looking…i went on to uni and grad with honors. I ended up getting an awesome career working downtown. Everyone i knew from HS got fat and ugly..or married with kids, or slaved away at some dead end job…..not me though.. I always figured that living the life of a playboy would sure “show them”. Buuuut somewhere along the way i lost my conscious…not quite sure when that moment was. Regardless, to summarize, ….shit that happened to me as a kid turned me into the person i am today. I don’t think this is the same reason that the guy cheated on “dear betrayed”
    Reading her letter again, I think that he simply does not love her. Because if he did he’d be there apologizing. She should move on because if cheating isn’t bad enough..the way he treated her after should be a big enough clue that he’s just not feeling it anymore.

  4. Betrayed: the problem is you are asking a woman on what a man is thinking or trying to explain their psychology on how they treated you after it became known. No offense to Amy intended. If you want to ask questions on or about men, ask a guy. If you trust them and vice versa you will get the honest to god’s answer, no if, ands or buts. If and when I have ever had an issue with a woman, I ask good women friends of mine.

  5. Personally, I don’t think it is, I have been cheated on before and to get the trust back is very difficult. it hurt me a lot, but bravo to anyone that believes the relationship can still be worked on.

    I have a lot of dignity and I couldn’t let someone walk back into my life after doing the dirty!

  6. I know everyone is different, but personally I don’t think a relationship can be salvaged after cheating. My last boyfriend cheated on me and I really wanted to forgive and try to get back to how we were… but I just couldn’t. It was horrible, but I’m glad I made the decision to leave him in the end.

  7. My now ex boyfriend (as of yesterday), had cheated numerous times. Never would catch him, but I KNEW. I could feel it. He would also show signs, like things suddenly change up. But i moved in with him about 3 weeks ago. A few days in, he got a message in his phone that I happend to see when he looked at the message. It was from a female and the message made me curious to dig deeper as to who and what the f***? So he gave me the phone after lying about who she was, and I find out that he had just been with her the weekend before I moved in. It broke me. Right now I am trying to find out what’s wrong with me, what’s wrong with men, and what i can do to bring my happiness back, how to be stronger and repel men that are toxic (since I’ve had this pattern of choosing bad guys for years now), & make my future better and brighter. Thank you, Amy…for your website. Earlier I was so upset, I felt lost, scared, abandoned, anxiety, depression, etc… I at least feel a bit more hopeful now. I was beginning to lose it completely. Thank you again.

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