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I have to be honest and start with this: I don’t believe cheaters should be taken back. If you’re not happy with someone, break up with them or talk to them about it. If you just can’t keep it in your pants, don’t be in a relationship. There is no such thing as an “excuse” to cheat. But, love is strong. It’s a hard force to fight and sometimes everything was so good in the relationship, until that one indiscrepancy, that it breaks your heart to end something, even if you’ve been cheated on. But your heart will be broken a hundred times more if you are cheated on again, or if you spend every day feeling like a fool simply for taking him back. So, if you must take back a cheater, put him through the wringer, like this:

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She is out

Whoever he cheated with—even if it was his best friend who he has known since birth—she has got to go. In fact, especially if it was his best friend from childhood. Unless it was a random girl at a bar, there are feelings stronger there than just sexual, that make another slip through the cracks possible. But more importantly, it is immensely disrespectful to you if he continues communication with whoever it was. Also, he needs to be willing to make a major sacrifice to you after what he has put you through, even if that means giving up his best friend. (She’s probably not that great of a friend if she doesn’t mind wrecking homes, anyway.)

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More on sacrifices: if love is like an account in which you sometimes deposit love, and sometimes withdraw, he has to make a big deposit. One grand gesture is not enough. You’re too easy if you take him back because he shows up at your office as a singing telegram inside your favorite kind of cake. He needs to start helping you with things. He can take your car to get washed. He can clean your apartment. He can fix your toilet. He can drop your resume off for you at a dozen places you’re applying to. There’s a specific reason why…


He needs to want you for the right reason

He needs to show that the reason he wants to be with you is to bring something to your life. Not to take from you. Because, if that’s the case, he’ll easily cheat again if he isn’t getting what he wants from you. He needs to want you because he thinks you’re such a phenomenal human being,  it is an honor to be allowed in your life, as a supportive element.

He can expect nothing

Don’t think you’ll be kissing him or getting in bed with him while he’s making all the aforementioned gestures. If a man cheats, there is always the risk that it’s just because he can’t keep it in his pants. Or he is just the type of man who cannot be alone, ever. You need to make sure that is not the case by giving him nothing in return while he is trying to win you back. He needs to be willing to make those gestures, having absolutely zero guarantee that they will win you back. He needs to be making them while knowing and accepting the risk that he still may end up alone. He needs to show he’d rather be alone, than with anyone else.


He needs to prepare for things to be different

Even after all of those grand gestures, those are only to get you back. They don’t necessarily get your trust back. He has to be prepared for the reality that, you may not feel ready to become physically intimate with him for quite some time. He needs to be prepared for the reality that you’ll be 100 times more nervous any time he’s not in your sight, and that it is his job to assure you—via calling frequently, texting frequently, and maybe even staying home with you more—that he is not cheating again. Your distrust didn’t spring from nowhere. He put it there. He has to work to make it go away.


He has to go to counseling

This one may seem extreme but cheating is extreme. Men cheat for a slew of psychological flaws. They may be insecure, and get brief moments of confidence by making new women fall in love with them—and, in a relationship, you’re no longer new to them. They may subconsciously hate women, which could spring from any sort of childhood issue. They could be addicted to sex. Any of these issues, if left untreated, can leave you at risk of being cheated on again.


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