Can a Relationship Go Back to Normal After Cheating?

can a relationship go back to normal after cheating

There is more at stake in some relationships than others. Sometimes you can simply walk away. On the other hand, it is physically possible to die of a broken heart. Similarly, it is financially feasible to become destitute and homeless because of a breakup. Sometimes there are children in the picture or other extenuating circumstances. Plus, there’s always the chance that love is worth the pain. Or so the romantics believe.

Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating? The trouble with this complicated question is that all relationships are unique. What is possible for one couple is unimaginable for another. If you’re reading this then what you probably want to know is whether or not your relationship can go back to the way it was before. The answer is probably no. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to end it. You can move forward and work things out if you both genuinely want that to happen. Life is about choices. Love is hard work.

What Are My Options

If you are on the receiving end of infidelity, you do have choices. Playing it stupid and slowly dying inside is a choice. It’s not a good option, but it happens. People choose to ignore what their spouses do when relationships are unhealthy. Sometimes when a partnership is more business than love it can work out. Usually, it’s just bad news if you’re even considering it.

Confrontation is like ripping off a bandaid; it’s a faster route to the resolution. Still, it can hurt more in the short term if you start off angry or rude. Alternatively, if you can manage to have a calm discussion about what happened things will probably go smoother regardless of the outcome.

If you like, you can even opt for revenge. To be honest, it’s probably better if you try and rise above that urge in most cases. If you’re in an unhealthy situation and there’s (for example) a broken prenup, abuse or you have kids who will be better off far away from your spouse, then maybe take this path. Hire a good lawyer and break it off cleanly. You have to do what is right and best for you.

Some partnerships have enough fire in them for a get even strategy. Balancing the scales might work, but it’s not the most likely result. Moreover, it’s a sign that you too are willing to cheat. That’s not good. You don’t have to live with a bad partner, but you’ll wake up with yourself every day for the rest of your life. You might want to consider a guide that will help you save your marriage.  Click here for more details.

Psychology of Violated Trust

Violated trust is an interesting and multifaceted issue. There is more than one way to break faith. While it can be hard to forgive someone who has done you wrong there are workarounds. If the breach was in the open it is not the same as when someone lies. The harder your partner works to cover up their wrongdoing, the less likely you are to be capable of forgiving them.

Best Case

When a bad spouse cheats and ‘fesses up they are laying the foundation for forgiveness. Not only do you feel different when they show remorse, but it’s easier to let it go. They are punishing themselves. If they show a consistent pattern of trustworthy behavior you may want to let them off the hook. Genuine regret is a factor. Regardless of anger or pain, it can still work out for you both when you want it enough.

Worst Case

A partner who is sneaky and acts with clear ill will is unforgivable. Assuming you have a normal amount of self-respect and aren’t in an abusive, codependent problem-relationship, you’ll probably react typically. You’ll be angry and want them gone. A partner who puts in extra effort to hurt you will set off your mental alarms. Even if they’re just trying to get away with it under the radar, you’ll treat them differently when you catch on.

Either way, it plays out, it’s not necessarily up to you. Everyone is unique, but our motivations and survival reactions are a species related phenomena as well. Our reactions are related to our survival instincts. We learn fastest from bad experiences.

When a partner goes the extra mile, it matters. In short, how they treat you matters. If they act like you are disposable or foolish, you’re less likely to forgive or forget. It’s self-protection. Partners who work to regain trust are more likely to earn it.

Evening the Score vs. Getting Even

A rebuttal is always a tough decision. It’s not the healthiest choice, but people do it all the time. You shouldn’t let anyone walk all over you. At the same time, when you love someone too much to let them go, there has to be some recourse. Whether you want to balance the scale or tip the balance in your favor, you need a plan of action.

Striking a Balance

It takes a certain level of cool logical dispassion to work out your differences with your cheating spouse via quid pro quo. If you believe your fiery love will burn through the ages as long as you’ve both had an equal chance to catch some strange then no one can stop you from trying it out. It might even work.

If it does satisfy you both, then you may want to consider that the problem is misidentification rather than cheating. Perhaps you merely lacked the language to express it. If you and your honey are ok with each other having extramarital affairs then there’s a word for it, polygamy. This is different from polyamory where you share other partners together.

It may surprise you to consider that neither polygamy nor polyamory is cheating if you all consent. A court may disagree, it depends where you live. Not knowing the word for expressing your needs and desires isn’t the same as not having them. In this case, some further research and open discussion will likely change your relationship, but may also save it. Obviously, this is not for everyone.

Ultimate Clapback

Most people are not about to discover they were unaware of their own preferences and trade up for a controversial lifestyle. More commonly someone wants to ‘hit back,’ in any way they can. If you plan to get even you should stop and take a deep breath before you act. It may satisfy you to throw the cheaters clothing out in the street or hit their car with a bat, but you don’t want to go to jail for someone else’s wrongdoing. It will only make things worse for you.

If you’re married then you have the moral high ground in court. Consider hiring a licensed private investigator and a lawyer who doesn’t mind working together. A decent legal solution can turn you into the ex who got everything. If you can’t save the relationship, and you simply must even the score, do it legally.

Professional Help

A healthy choice for loving couples who have trouble is counseling. Working out your differences with trained professional help is sometimes the best way to get back to your lives together. Like relationships, every marriage counselor is a bit different. Talk to a few before you choose someone that you’re both comfortable with.

There’s no shame in asking for help. Contrarily, it’s sad and sometimes wrong to throw out a good thing when you could save it. If you have friends who have been through a similar situation you can ask for a reference. You may be surprised how supportive people can be when they empathize with your situation. You might want to consider this guide to help you save your relationship. Click here for more information.

Take All the Time You Need

If it feels wrong to let go, maybe you shouldn’t. After all, not every relationship that hits a rough patch is doomed to failure. An excellent way to make a really clear-headed decision about whether you can save the relationship is to spend time apart. Separation doesn’t work for everyone, but it can work.

When problems arise it can stem from deeper issues. Sometimes it’s hard to get perspective when you’re standing in the middle of a situation. Understanding what happened is vital. Getting a solid grasp of why your spouse cheated can help you resolve the issue.

Having a future together means knowing where you each want to go. Sometimes it’s just easier to think when you have the space you need. What your partner wants and needs can color your self-awareness. This will blunt your ability, to be honest with yourself.

Forgiveness and Mourning

The Five stages of grief are usually thought of as part of coping with death. Realistically, we feel grief whenever we feel loss. It’s not limited to one type of event. Working your way through the well-known process of grieving can help you move past cheating.


The first stage is about self-protection. Shocked refusal is a way to buy time. It will take a while for you to handle grief. It’s frightening, intimidating and makes you feel small. When you balk it gives you a tool you need, time to breathe and figure out how to continue after being hurt.


Rage, fury, the need to lash out, this too is a tool. All the steps are part of the toolkit you need to resolve the problem and repair yourself. This is the stage where most people choose to get even. Arguably, anger is the most dangerous part of the process, though depression may be more dangerous to you personally.


You can’t cajole the universe into giving you an easy out. That doesn’t mean you won’t try. At this point, you may want to settle for less than you deserve just to make the situation go away without further ‘trouble.’ Some people do cut a deal, but it’s better if you finish what you started for your own health.


Dark feelings, being down on yourself, even binge spending can be part of depression. When you get depressed, it’s easier to harm yourself or others. You may feel hopeless and want to give up on everything. Suicidal ideations are a serious sign that you’re in trouble. A relationship isn’t worth ending your life. Also, you certainly can’t make things work from beyond the grave.

This part of grieving is when you are more likely to blame yourself or allow a bad partner to walk over you without making any real changes. Talk to a friend, family member or professional. Journal, meditate or do what you need to so this doesn’t stop you. It’s vital to get past this stage safely.


With acceptance comes understanding. Knowing that you have to move past the hurt and change is the hardest thing to do. Never the less, when you reach the acceptance stage, you are ready to make mature informed choices about how to proceed.

Not everyone experiences their grief the same. It is possible to skip a step. While uncommon, it is possible to have do-overs or go out of order. The point is to work through the emotions so you can deal with what comes next. Moving forward won’t be easy, but if you are set on saving your relationship you have to cope first.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of heartbreak in any situation involving broken trust. Good or bad, love is never easy. Whether you have a healthy relationship or not in the future is a choice. In many cases, perhaps even most, a relationship without faith, honor, and satisfaction is not worth keeping. Often, the hardest thing about betrayal is accepting it.

There are times, when children, finances, housing, and business are tied in together. Then, things aren’t quite so simple. Likewise, it’s possible that true love makes mistakes. If someone is psychologically damaged, as is the case for sex addicts, loving them may take more than average work and commitment on both sides.

Coming back from something like infidelity takes work. However, human beings are amazingly resilient. It should be possible to heal and move forward with the right person. If you need help and can’t afford to go to a marriage therapist, consider this guide on saving your marriage. Click Here for details.

Additional Questions

Can an unmarried person commit adultery? Legally and technically, no. Morally, yes. The law is still a bit outdated in terms of what it recognizes as a modern commitment between consenting adults. This leads the legal system to take a somewhat narrow view of what adultery is. The old fashioned definition is still something lawmakers (and dictionary companies) cling to in spite of social evolution.

Can you go to jail for infidelity? Laws depend on where you live. In most parts of the US, it’s only a misdemeanor. That means it’s illegal but the penalty is less than jail. If you happen to be in Michigan, Wisconsin or Massachusetts then it’s a felony offense to cheat. In any state, if you are active military then the penalty can include a dishonorable discharge in the worst case.

What is cheating? Everyone has different standards for what ‘counts’ as cheating. All relationships need boundaries. Coming to a mature, reasonable understanding about what bothers you and feels unfaithful is something you should do early on. If you must stop to reassess after being in a relationship for months or years then don’t be surprised if you’re met with resistance or frustration.

Stand your ground. Respect your own needs. If you can’t come to a reasonable adult arrangement, it’s time to end things. No one deserves to spend their time in an unsatisfying and unpleasant relationship. That includes your partner as well as yourself.

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