Every person who’s been cheated on has been forced with making a decision: send their philandering partner packing or surrender to a second chance at love, hoping that monogamy will be their guy or gal's friend the next time around.
While saying "everything you own in a box, to the left!" seems like a no-brainer, for some, the rapture of love is too hard to dismiss so easily. If you’re grappling with such a choice, here are a few things you ought to consider:
1. Privacy Protocol
When Toya Miles’ husband of three years committed adultery, Miles, 34, demanded unlimited access to her spouse’s email, cell phone and social media accounts before finally deciding to restore the relationship. While it’s normal for someone to police their partner immediately after infidelity (experts say 1 – 3 months is the norm), more monitoring can sometimes mean more problems according to Elana Clark-Faler, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in relationship counseling and sex therapy. Not only does long-term policing shine a spotlight on a partner’s unresolved trust issues, Clark-Faler says it is also a key indicator of low self-esteem, a lethal combination that could result in a partner or spouse cheating again.
2. Shutout the Naysayers
Like kryptonite was to Superman, entertaining outside opinions can be just as detrimental to a relationship. For LaShaun Booker*, 27, it was the side-eyes, whispers and negative comments from family and friends that prompted her to end a 4-year relationship with her fiancé following his one-night stand. “I began to feel guilty and ashamed for taking him back and I felt like something was wrong with me,” she said.
The solution to dealing with the peanut gallery?“Keep them out of your business,” says Terry Bam, relationship coach and author of The Mind of a Womanizer. “Tell them all the positive things and keep the other things between you, him and God, or someone else that’s a professional who is going to help you, not judge you.”
3. Slow Down on the Sex
You don’t take a child on punishment out for ice cream and you don’t have sex with your cheating partner while your emotions are still a roller coaster. Jumping back into the bed prematurely is a surefire way to complicate matters if trust and betrayal issues are left unresolved, says Clark-Faler.. Besides, there’s no sex like emotionally healed and restored make-up sex.
4. Consider Professional Counseling
With 70 percent of couples therapy cases showing positive change, according to a study last year in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Clark-Faler says professional counseling can be the difference in whether a relationship is scrapped or salvaged. Professional counseling also allows both parties to work through the individual emotional issues that may have led to the affair. “If people are going back to their best thinking, the problems are going to continue to keep happening,” Clark-Faler said. “A trained professional that works with infidelity over and over knows that it is a product of something larger going on in the relationship. [Therapy will] start unearthing the truth and why someone went outside of the relationship.”
5. It Could Happen Again
Though the “Once a cheater…” saying may not always hold true, when returning to someone with a philandering past there is always the risk that history may repeat itself. The key to making your odds better is consistency says Tiffany Alexander, a professional clinical counselor. “There’s nothing that is 100 percent guaranteed,” she said. “What you can look for when you’re having discussions about why the affair took place, and what you want, is whether the person is putting fourth the effort? If they are, and are doing it consistently, that can be something tangible for you to hold on to and say ‘That’s a relationship we can work for.’”
6. Were You Put At Risk?
Before rekindling a relationship post-infidelity, Clark advises couples to take inventory of all outside risks they may have been exposed to as a result of the cheating. HIV and STD testing are a must for any couple considering reuniting, along with a full disclosure of other potential threats such as financial mishandling and other safety concerns.
7. You Can’t Save ‘Em All
Not every relationship is bound for recovery; particularly those where the cons outweigh the pros. “If you feel like being back in that relationship is causing you to question who you are as a person, making you feel like you can’t express yourself, or is forcing you to give up a lot of your happiness, then that is not a relationship worth getting back into,” Alexander said. “Half the battle is knowing when to let go.”
*Name has been changed