Regardless of who you hurt for being unfaithful and how he or she reacted, there is no question that infidelity can really shake up any relationship. Research has found that about one in five Americans in a monogamous relationship say they have cheated on their partner at least once.

8 ways to fix your relationship after cheating

Infidelity does not always mean the end of a relationship and this will directly have to do with the disposition and attitude of each member. Here are the 8 most practical ways to cope and rebuild a healthy relationship after “cheating”:

1. Don’t automatically assume the relationship is doomed

Once your partner finds out that you’ve been involved with someone else (or once you confess), it might seem like the easiest thing to do is run away. But relationship experts say that “leaving a damaged partner can sometimes be a way to avoid taking responsibility or acknowledging your own faults.”

Instead, assume that staying together is just as possible, if you’re willing to put the effort into it. In fact, sex and relationships researcher Dr. Kristen Marcos says, “If a couple falls into an infidelity situation and they restore trust in the relationship, their relationship may become stronger. 

2. Acknowledge that you have created a problem

It may sound simple, but if you can’t come to terms with the fact that you screwed up, and therefore screwed up the relationship, the healing process is going nowhere. Instead, whenever you are apologizing for something you caused, acknowledge that you made a mistake that caused its associated pain. Even if the issue was just the tip of the iceberg in your relationship problems – problems that you also blame your partner for – you have to take responsibility for your personal transgressions.

3. Find out what led you to be unfaithful

Maybe it happened after the office holiday party, where you suddenly noticed that the guy sharing the cubicle with you looks so much better when he’s not hunched over a spreadsheet. Still, infidelity is not usually the result of a momentary loss of judgment or simply being attracted to another person . Instead, writes psychologist Dr. Peggy Drexler, it is important to get to the true root of the problem. Did you feel lonely in your current relationship? Were you feeling a constant lack of sexual satisfaction from your partner (an especially common reason women cheat)? Whatever the problem, try to solve it so that you can understand why you made those mistakes and don’t end up repeating them.

4. Cut off communication with your lover

The first step in repairing a relationship after infidelity is ending the affair, but that means no more encounters with the other person . In truth, commitment to your relationship means ceasing all interaction with the person with whom you were unfaithful to your partner.

It’s not going to be easy, especially if you’ve developed feelings for that other person or were used to seeing each other regularly. Still, you have to be able to let your partner know that the matter is over for good and that you are fully committed to moving forward in the current relationship.

5. Limit the times when you talk about infidelity

Once the infidelity comes to light, it’s easy for both parties to end up talking about it constantly – why it happened, exact details of where and when it happened, etc., but psychologist Dr. Coleman suggests that the two should roughly occur. 15 minutes each day to discuss the infidelity, and then move on.

The person who has been cheated on can decide when they are willing to talk less, or stop talking, about the infidelity. This is due to positive distraction – whether that is watching a movie or going out to dinner together – it can be very important for the future of the relationship and for the happiness of the couple.

6. Give your partner time to heal

In an ideal world, the cheating partner might simply say, “I’m sorry,” and win back the other partner’s affection. But in the real world, Dr. Coleman writes, it can take at least a year for the partner who has been cheated on to feel able to trust again . If he or she wants to talk about the infidelity (within the limits we’ve already set – see above), give him a chance. Silencing your partner by letting him understand that he should get over it now will only make things worse.

7. Be honest with yourself and with your partner

After weeks, months, or even years of dishonesty, relationship experts say that one of the most important steps in relationship repair is being completely open and honest . If your partner has a question on the matter, answer to the best of your ability. After all, it would be pretty awful if certain details were kept hidden, only for them to resurface later.

The most important thing to remember is “always look through your partner’s eyes,” says Dr. Janis Abrahms, author of After Infidelity: Healing Pain and Rebuilding Trust When A Partner Has Been Cheating. That could mean letting your partner know if you receive an email from the person you became involved with, and if you decide to respond.

8. Seek professional help

Not all couples will decide to participate in couples therapy, and that’s okay. But keep in mind that a licensed therapist can help both of you figure out how to put the matter behind you by thinking about the factors that motivated a person to be unfaithful. The therapist can also help come up with specific ways to restore trust and maintain a stable alliance in the couple.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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