Can You Really Forgive Your Partner After An Affair?

For so long society has been quick to say "forgive and forget" any time it seems like someone has wronged you. Eventually, it starts to feel like not gracing someone with your forgiveness means that you are in the wrong. However, forgiveness isn't effective if it's not genuine. While many experts tout the health benefits you'll gain from working through those negative emotions, from sleeping better to lowered anxiety and depression, forgiveness is extremely personal and needs to be on your own timeline.

On the other hand, forgiveness isn't something that has to be given in order to move on and live a healthy life. Taylor Swift pointed this out in her 2019 interview with CBS Sunday Morning when she said: "You don't have to forgive and you don't have to forget to move on. You can move on without any of those things happening." While this sentiment definitely applies to those who have been toxic people in your life, it becomes far more nuanced with someone you love.

Choosing to forgive someone after an affair is complicated. Not only do you want your partner to recognize how deeply they hurt you but there is also broken trust that needs rebuilding. In order to truly repair a relationship with your partner after infidelity, healing those deep wounds is essential.

What does forgiveness mean?

While people often associate forgiveness with simply forgetting the negative event that happened, it's far more complicated when emotions are involved. If you were cheated on by your partner, you don't have to stay with them. Forgiveness is a choice and it can look different for various relationships. Some partners call it quits when they first spot signs that you're having an emotional affair. However, if you still have a deep love for your partner, choosing to work through infidelity together is courageous.

According to Good Therapy, forgiveness is a process and the one who cheated will need to patiently support their partner through recovery. It's unrealistic to expect forgiveness immediately for such a huge betrayal. Instead, through open communication, therapy, and time, forgiveness can be something that occurs once trust is rebuilt. Plus, it may involve discussing the truth about micro-cheating.

It's also important to understand what forgiveness is not. It's not excusing or dismissing negative behavior. You can accept what happened in the past while also recognizing that it was wrong and never should have occurred. While forgiveness can bring freedom into the relationship and allow both partners to move forward together, the topic of the affair will likely always be a pain point because it's a reminder of the ultimate betrayal. Therefore, learning how to compartmentalize these things through the process of healing is essential.

Are you willing to trust again?

Those who trust easily are often labeled naive, while those who are much slower to let people in tend to have "trust issues." Interestingly, people usually develop these tendencies based on life experiences where somebody else wronged them or broke their trust in the past. Therefore, choosing to remain in a romantic relationship with someone who cheated on you will require a lot of internal work as well.

Learning to trust again will take time and it's okay to be unsure about what the future holds. Working toward forgiveness and trust with your partner may result in other issues coming to the surface or you may build something stronger than before. According to Regain, it's important to ask yourself tough questions about the reality of your relationship. Is forgiveness something you even want to work on? Is your partner worth choosing and fighting for?

It's also important to ask yourself what you need from your partner during this time. In order for the relationship to progress, they will need to be willing to put in the work and fight for you. There is no doubt that the healing process is difficult but if you and your partner can identify what went wrong, and work on yourselves individually, as well as a couple, it is definitely possible for forgiveness to take place.