You’ve been found out.
Your partner discovered that you are cheating. The good news is that your partner isn’t planning on leaving you. The bad news is that he doesn’t trust you, either.
You don’t want to lose him, but how do you begin to rebuild what has been damaged?
You have no choice but to begin with yourself. In order to regain trust, you have to ask yourself difficult questions so that you know what you were looking for. You also have to know why you cheated. Many people will cheat without really knowing why they did so.
Ask yourself the following questions to get started.
- Are you feeling insecure about your age?
- Do you feel as attractive as you used to?
- How was your sex life with your partner?
- What are you missing about your relationship?
- Why did you look beyond your relationship?
After gaining an understanding of your decisions and behavior, apologize wholeheartedly to your partner. Now that you have a clearer understanding of your reasons for cheating, it will be easier for you to accept responsibility for your actions. Your apology should contain no excuses, nor should it be an attempt to minimize the issue.
By doing that, you risk losing your partner’s trust that you have learned from the past. Taking full responsibility shows that you truly do regret your actions and do not want to repeat them.
You also need to be clear on the reasons behind your mistakes, because your partner likely is going to ask questions. This is a delicate, sensitive path. Be careful in discussing your answers with your partner at this stage.
You may benefit from the help of a professional relationship therapist to help mediate such a discussion. This professional will be more skilled in helping you talk with your partner, who already is angry and frustrated with you. A couples therapist also can help you open up the lines of communication about such difficult topics, so that they can be discussed in a productive, rather than contentious way.
When trying to earn back your partner’s trust, the most common pitfall is not being patient enough. Time is out of your control. It will take time for your partner to move past an infidelity. If you try to push forward too quickly, you risk appearing as though you don’t respect your partner’s feelings.
When people have been betrayed, feeling understood often becomes extremely important to them. Therefore, trying to take control of your partner’s recovery from your betrayal will only lead to your partner feeling disrespected.
Rather than focus on time, which you don’t have control of, you will be much less frustrated if you focus on what you do have control of. You have control of the most significant piece of this equation, which is consistency and reliability. Follow through with what you say you are going to do.
Show him how you have changed and what you have learned, don’t just tell him about it. Don’t do things only for a short period of time. Your partner will be looking for signs of long-term changes. He is looking for increased hope and trust, and signs that he will not be hurt again.
As time passes, you’ll have to also recognize that grief and rational thinking do not necessarily correlate. Your partner’s anger may seem to appear randomly. Sadness may as well. Then there may be days where you feel as though everything is back to normal. This emotional roller coaster that your partner is on can be confusing and frustrating for you as well.
In these situations, it is imperative to avoid getting caught up in trying to prove your point. Instead, ask him what you can do at this moment to help. This shows that you are trying to empathize with his feelings and that you want to help, but that you need him to tell you how. This also will help your partner move toward more productive emotional healing.
Infidelity is a common reason for relationships to end. If you have cheated on your partner, and he is not planning on leaving you, look on this as the good fortune that it is. Learn from what happened, rather than run from it. Be consistent in showing the changes that you are making and have made. With time, patience, and practice you will likely walk away with a stronger relationship than you could have imagined before you got in this mess in the first place.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Oct 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Salas, M. (2012). How to Get Your Partner to Trust You Again. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/07/how-to-get-your-partner-to-trust-you-again/