Let’s start by facing the facts: many of us have been here before but have been too ashamed to admit it, fearful of what others may think or maybe just afraid of looking foolish if the decision to stay with a partner after infidelity turns out to be the wrong one. No one needs an “I told you so” when they’re already down, so instead of sharing our experiences with an unfaithful partner, we keep them under wraps while making what seems like the decision of a lifetime: Should I stay or should I go? The decision to stay in a relationship after cheating is never an easy one. Take it from me, I’ve been there, done that, and got a tear-stained T-shirt.
I remember having casual conversations with my girlfriends in the past about what we would do if our partner’s ever cheated. I always stood strongly by leaving any man behind who couldn’t see my worth. Yet, here I was doing the complete opposite. I was giving my partner a second chance after cheating. One of the greatest emotions I remember feeling was guilt. I felt guilty, like I failed myself, my friends, and my family. I kept thinking, what would everyone would think of me if they knew I took my partner back after he stepped out on me? However, throughout all those emotions, when I made the choice to give my partner a second chance, I made it for me. Staying isn’t an easy decision. It takes a lot of time, healing, trust, and forgiveness to rebuild a relationship after deception and if you’re not willing to put in the work it takes to rebuild a broken relationship, your relationship won’t succeed.
My partner and I were together for four years before the infidelity. During the course of our relationship, I never had to worry about anything. I always knew his whereabouts, he checked-in frequently, and he was always honest with me. I never had any room for uncertainty because he never made me feel uncertain about anything. That was until things started to change. Often times when a partner becomes entertained by someone new they become inconsistent. They start struggling with maintaining their daily relationship routines like checking in, returning calls, or engaging in frequent sexual activity. Like most women, I overlooked the changes in my partner’s behavior and found any excuse I could to justify them. It wasn’t until my women’s intuition grew stronger that I decided to let him know what I’d been feeling. I shared everything, only to end up feeling foolish once he reassured me that nothing was going on.
I wanted to trust my partner and believe he would never hurt me so I suppressed all of my uncertainty. However, what’s done in the dark always comes to light and there I was uncovering the brutal truth that my partner was having an affair. Suddenly my stomach dropped, shattering like glass on a hardwood floor, eyes flooded with tears. How could someone who loved me hurt me so much? I couldn’t put the pieces together. Later that day, my partner came clean about everything. Although it was very hard to listen to I knew I had to. I needed to understand how something like this could transpire if we were so happy in love.
Once everything was out in the open, my boyfriend was very regretful, apologized sincerely, admitted it was a mistake and begged for my forgiveness. As much as I wanted to forgive, move this mountain in our relationship, and return to our love story, I knew that couldn’t happen overnight. I decided I needed time and he respected that. We spent three months apart from each other after the affair and within those three months, I analyzed everything. I considered the time we put into our relationship, our love, our emotional connection, and whether I felt I could move past the situation. At the end of the day, it was my decision and I had to live with. During the time apart, I realized our love was much stronger than one mistake and I decided to make our relationship work. We have been together for five years now and we are rebuilding our relationship every day.
Everyone makes mistakes and it’s up to you to decide if you want to forgive or not. Don’t let anyone influence your decision because it’s not about them, it’s about you. If you find yourself stuck, take note of these lessons I learned during my experience to help guide you through your process.
Take Some Time For Yourself
The first thing you should do after experiencing infidelity in your relationship is take some time for yourself. You come first, regardless of how bad your partner may want you to forgive them that decision is solely up to you. Use your time to figure out what you really want. Don’t hurt yourself trying to rush into fixing things, if you haven’t taken the time to figure things out by yourself first.
Rebuilding Trust Is Hard
I spent two months being stagnant in the stage of rebuilding trust with my partner after getting back together. It was like every time things seemed a little off, whether he missed a call or didn’t respond to a text fast enough I would assume the worst. It takes time to rebuild trust after betrayal. Your partner should respect your time and be patient with your pain. Their main priority should be doing all they can to reduce any uncertainty you may have.
There Is No Time Frame On Healing
Healing takes a lot of time.. Similar to a deep wound, a scab won’t appear overnight so don’t expect your heart to heal in a day. Although we have been together for five years, I’m still healing from the heartache of the past. Take your time and let the pain take its course.
Forgiveness Is a Decision You Have To Make Every Single Day
It’s impossible to experience infidelity in your relationship and wake up the next day with forgiveness in your heart. Forgiveness takes hard work and you have to be willing to give your all after deciding to heal.
Just Because You Took Them Back, Doesn’t Mean You Get To Punish Them Forever
The biggest mistake many of us make is getting back in the relationship when we aren’t truly ready. This causes us to constantly hurt our partners, punishing them as a way of making ourselves feel better. If you are going to agree to work things out then you have to do that. Consistently attacking them isn’t fair to them or you. Eventually, you will have to take in the experience and try to move forward.