Earlier this year, I wrote an article that outlined steps to forgiving your mate after cheating. What was missing from my piece was the why. Why should you forgive your mate for infidelity?
Confession. I’ve been cheated on, cheated before once and have even been the side chick—I’m certainly not proud of any of the aforementioned. I vowed to never forgive my mate after infidelity, and honestly have always practiced what I’ve preached in that department despite my own shortcomings.
But lately, thanks to a series of life experiences that have pushed me to think beyond my stubbornness, I can honestly say that I’ve arrived at a different conclusion: cheating is not the end all and be all of a relationship.
What got me to this point wasn’t a need to excuse bad behavior. It was not a strong desire—or dependency for that matter—to rationalize my reasons for staying with someone after infidelity. It was simply understanding that people cheat for more than selfish, innate reasons and that just because you have cheated before does not mean that you are in fact a cheater.
Not everyone can forgive their mate for infidelity, nor should they. But if you’ve been cheated on and happen to be in the minority that feels like you’re not quite ready to throw in the towel, here are five reasons to consider sticking around.
1) Your significant other doesn’t have a known history of infidelity.
As I mentioned before, I’m no stranger to the cheating game. While I personally believe that monogamy is a choice, I do value fidelity. The one time I did cheat, I was fed up and emotionally drained. I felt like I was the only one working for my relationship, and sadly, after months of expressing and experiencing a disconnect with my significant other, I ended up in the arms of another. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it real. Not even a week after my betrayal, I ended the relationship. People can often find themselves feeling trapped. You do not want to leave your relationship, but things aren’t quite right. Often, there are several warning signs that many tend to ignore, and attempts to communicate are not reciprocated. When you opt to forgive your mate, you are not only forgiving the offense, but accepting that they are human. Understanding why your significant other cheated allows you to not only address the root cause of the infidelity, but to determine if they are even worth forgiving.
2) Your mate has been genuinely trying to make the relationship work.
If you can look back on your relationship and pinpoint several instances where your mate reached out to you regarding issues in your relationship, and actively attempted to communicate their feelings, there’s a strong chance that his or her infidelity is not a pattern, but a cry for help. If the love is still there on both ends, there’s also a high probability that you can move past the indiscretion. I’m not talking about someone who is simply “sorry” for getting caught. I’m referring to those genuine individuals who are quite remorseful for their actions. There’s a big difference, and usually we know when we are getting played. Choose to see the situation for what it is, whatever that may be and adjust accordingly.
3) Not forgiving your mate is mentally draining you.
If you find yourself ending your relationship over infidelity and the only reason in doing so is because “you’re supposed to,” chances are you’re going to be miserable. Often, we allow society, family, friends and those who mean well to get in our ears about what we should be doing. But the truth is that every relationship is different, and only you can determine if you can truly forgive your cheating mate. Allow your intuition to guide you and not your heart. Take a realistic look at who you’ve been involved with and the impact of their actions and determine if this is in fact something that you can conquer.
4) You are still madly in love with each other.
Love is never a good sole reason to stay with someone. It just isn’t. Nothing gets more tired than the, “But I love him (her)” excuse for staying with someone who mistreats you. But being in love is critical to any union and it is not to be discounted. People do strange and ridiculous things all of the time. While that doesn’t mean you should stay with them and allow yourself to be a doormat, how you feel about each other does count for something when determining if you should proceed. When you genuinely love someone, you accept the good, the bad and the ugly under one condition, and that’s if the ugly does not outweigh the good. In the case of infidelity love doesn’t conquer all, but it sure does help.
5) It may mean that you need to change.
In no way am I blaming you for your mate’s infidelity. Everyone has their own mind and is in control of their own actions. But often when cheating occurs it is a sign that some things—usually how you interact, appreciate and treat one another—must change. Your mate’s decision to seek outside affection didn’t happen overnight. Self reflection and an honest examination of how you’ve been relating to each other is not only crucial, but lends itself to some solutions moving forward.
The decision to forgive your mate isn’t one that should be made in haste. There are a lot of things to consider, namely if you can in fact get over what happened. Your mate’s willingness to rebuild trust is also essential. Understanding why they sought outside pleasure will aide you in deciding if continuing the relationship is the best move, but trust, there is a such a thing as life after infidelity.
Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY.com and JETMAG.com. Her book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction” is available on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em.