(Closed) Psychologically, why do some people forgive cheating?

posted 3 years ago in Relationships
Post # 16
525 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I strongly recommend listening to Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel if you are interested in learning more about this topic. Bring tissues. 

Post # 17
1413 posts
Bumble bee

I think some people forgive a cheater out of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of trying to start a new life and not knowing how. Fear of derision that others may think that in some way it was their fault that their spouse cheated.

Post # 18
10353 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

A strong relationship built on love and understanding can withstand an indiscretion. It’s not a sign of weakness, but can be a sign of strength and bring a couple closer together in the end. “To error is human, to forgive, divine.”

Post # 19
573 posts
Busy bee

Now, let’s not be sexist and say this is only boys being boys….When I was about 10 years old I’m pretty sure my mum had an affair. It was a horrible time and I’m sure even worse for them. I remember hearing my mum getting upset and angry some nights. My dad is still with her to this day (20 years later) and I can honestly tell you that their relationship is everything I would want from my own relationship. They are sooooo romantic, they laugh and joke together all the time, Im pretty sure they still have a very active sex life. They are my role models for a relationship. My mum fucked up…a mistake I’m so sure she’ll never make again. One mistake doesn’t make you a bad person. 

Is my dad weak? Quite the contrary. I remember when I was 10 years old saying to my dad ‘there’s a rumor that mum cheated. Is it true?’ And he said ‘no, of course not’….that was whilst still in the middle of it. When he would have been hurting so much and probably feeling so much hate towards my mum. 

They both say that now their relationship is very strong, and I agree. Sometimes you can come out the otherside. People shouldn’t be called weak for wanted to forgive, sometimes in life we know when we have a good thing and don’t want to throw it all away for one fuck up. 

Post # 20
852 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

Every relationship is different. It is almost never as simplistic as you are assuming in your post, and as PP said there are always so many variables to consider – lengthand type of relationship, extent or type of cheating, attitudes… It is not fair or correct to assume that everyone who tries to make their relationship work after infidelity is weak or willing to be ignorant.

Just want to note I have not ever cheated or been cheated on, so I am not coming from a defensive place.

Post # 21
697 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

I have been cheated on and I tried to stay. He was my second partner, significantly older than me, very sophisticated and smart and talented. Not bad-looking either. And with a wonderful accent. He was who I had hoped to meet. I felt beyond lucky when he showed an interest and when he decided to end his marriage for good. During the good times he made me feel special. He relied on me and trusted me. Called me a true confidante. All I tried to do was be truly worthy of him and there was always that feeling that, really – I wasn’t. Not quite smart enough, not quite pretty enough, definitely not skinny enough. The relationship was hard work so when he cheated I didn’t want all the work to have been for nothing and I also felt that quite possibly I wouldn’t find anybody else. And being apart hurt so much, almost physically.

It took me half a year of doubting and crying to my friends to make a cut and leave. And if it hadn’t been for the support of my friends, I doubt I would have managed. I would have moved to another city and he would have continued to treat me like I wasn’t good enough. If I hadn’t been financially independent. If I had had kids with him. If those ifs had been facts, I would have stayed.

Post # 22
7439 posts
Busy Beekeeper

I just don’t see this as a black & white thing. Not all cheaters are irredeemable or chronic cheaters…though some definitely are. I used to always say I’d be out the moment I found out I’d been cheated on, but now that we’re married with a baby on the way, I don’t know. I don’t know how I could ever get past cheating – just imagining that dh cheated on me makes my stomach turn. But at the same time, I could see myself at least trying counseling for a few sessions before totally throwing in the towel, just on principle. I think it’s one of those things where it’s very easy to tell other people they should leave, but when it happens to you it’s a lot more complicated.

Post # 23
503 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I have usually found it’s because they don’t have enough self respect/esteem or courage to move on. Maybe they are caught in a bad place where they are financially dependent on the partner, have kids they don’t want to uproot, no family support, etc. The root of it is the self esteem though. Circumstances can be overcome. 

I also believe it is easier for some to keep their head in the sand. I would forever be suspicious and distrustful. It wouldn’t work long term for me.

Post # 24
3484 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Not all cheating is the same – it is a spectrum and only the people involved can decide whether an act is cheating or not.

Anyway – I used to work with a man who was well known for having girlfriends / mistresses. Partly it was cultural and partly it was him. I am 90% sure his wife knew (though none of us would have ever told her if she didn’t) I think she stayed because she knew that these women were no threat to her or her position as his wife.

This guy was very senior at my work and is the sort I expect to see on the new years honours in a few years. He is very well known in the field and seen as a mould breaker. His work means she and their children have a lovely home in central London, she can have great holidays, she has the freedom to work as much as she wants and do her own businesses, she has a position in society – all of which is linked to him.

For her I think it is a case of as long as these women stay discrete, don’t go near the children and remain mistresses she is OK. If he fell in love and was thinking of leaving her for one of them, then I think it would have been different.

It was interesting to see the type of women he would go for though. His wife was his equal. She was stunning and intelligent and held her own with him. The women he went for were not his equal at all. He didn’t abuse his position, but you could see they were not partners to him.

Post # 25
320 posts
Helper bee

Providing the cheating was a one-off and my partner was remorseful and wanted to work on the relationship, I’d like to think I would give them a second chance and fight for the marriage. Everyone makes mistakes. 

This has nothing to do with self-esteem – I’m very secure, and I’ve had no issue moving on from failed relationships. I just don’t view sexual fidelity as so important that transgressing it results in instant divorce, there are other things that I’d probably view as bigger dealbreakers.

Obviously people cheat for a multitude of complicated reasons that often go far beyond wanting to get their rocks off with someone new and interesting, but nevertheless, FH & have both agreed that if we were ever to be in a situation in the future were we are struggling with an attraction to someone else (I do think strict monogamy over many decades is a tough ask for most people), we would try and be open about this with each other and maybe re-evaluate our boundaries on what we can and can’t do.

Disclaimer: This is all purely theoretical and I haven’t been in this situation. I might react totally differently if it this actually happened. 

Post # 26
1472 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2021

I think for most people it’s because that seems like the better option than being alone and having to try to start a relationship with someone new. The reasons behind that can be really complex and varied though. I would hazard a guess for most people it’s either fear of being alone or because they have invested a lot into the relationship and didn’t want it to be for nothing, probably a combo of both, especially when kids are involved. I think a lot people feel partially responsible too, like “if I would have given him/her more attention then they wouldn’t have done it”, “if I didn’t nag so much”, “if I had sex with them more” etc. 

I think it is 100% low self esteem and/or dependency though to take someone back who repeatedly lies and cheats on you. I can understand someone looking past one incident, but when someone has cheated on you numerous times and you still stay with them you need to work on your self esteem because they’re making a fool out of you and clearly do not respect you or your relationship.  

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