Surviving Infidelity: Rebuilding Trust is Possible

January 18, 2022

Although staying in a relationship after infidelity is extremely difficult if two people are committed, then rebuilding is possible.

Many things go on in a marriage that can create distrust and resentment, but none so hurtful and shattering as infidelity. Infidelity can involve emotionally or physically turning to someone other than your significant other. And it destroys any trust and intimacy that two people can share.

Although for some, staying together might not be possible, if there is true honesty, forgiveness, and a willingness to rebuild, it might be an option. If two people work together, there are ways to overcome the hurt and to move past it. But for a partnership to make it through, both parties have to want it and be willing to work hard to do their part to repair the damage done.

Scientific Facts About Why People Cheat

Although most people assume they have a clear definition of what infidelity is, it can mean very different things to different people. According to the latest data from the General Social Survey, 20% of men and 13% of women admit to cheating.

But those figures vary by both gender and age. Similarly, a study done in 2015, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that the average person has about a 42% chance of cheating on their partner. But the reality is that there has been no real consensus about what the real number of people who will cheat or who have cheated is, mostly because there are so many factors that play into infidelity.

How Many Couples can Rebuild After Infidelity?

The science behind why people cheat and who is more likely to is much vaguer than the question of whether couples can recover after infidelity is found. One survey polled 441 people who admitted that they had cheated in their relationship.

And of those polled, over half of the couples broke up immediately upon discovery. And another 30%, might have stayed together for a bit, but eventually ended the relationship. Overall, in the study, only 15.6% of the couples were able to survive infidelity.

The most significant factor about whether a couple stayed together was the commitment level of their relationship. Of married couples, 23.6% were able to make it work. Whereas, when people were only dating, 13.6% of them stayed together.

Another factor was gender. If the man was the cheater, women were twice as likely to stay in the relationship and work it out. And when it was just a one-night stand, 19.7% of people stayed, but for a long-term affair, only 12.7% went on to continue the relationship for the long haul.

If a person cheats on their significant other, there is a 350 percent chance that they will cheat again over someone who has never cheated before. And in the same study, those who have been cheated on are most likely to be cheated on again. 

Other statistics

  • 10% of relationships start online
  • And, of that 10%, 40% go on to become a real-life affair
  • 9% of people cheat for revenge
  • 36% of the time a person will cheat with a co-worker
couple during counseling meeting

Individual Reasons why People Cheat

There are specific factors that might make it more likely that someone will cheat. Those factors include:


Men are more likely than women to have an affair. Studies explain the higher percentage of men cheating on the hormone testosterone, which is responsible for a stronger libido.

Personality Characteristics

People with less of a conscientious are more likely to cheat. And also, less agreeable people, in general, tend to cheat more often.

Political and Religious Orientation

People who are extremely religious or staunchly conservative tend to cheat less than those who aren’t committed to any political or religious affiliation. The reason is that they are more committed to their moral ideation. 

Most Common Reasons for Infidelity

Although the reasons people choose to engage in infidelity is dependent upon the person and the situation, there are some common reasons why people stray from their relationship, which include:

  • Loss of caring and fondness for one another
  • Lack of affection
  • Breakdown of communication-related to both individual emotional needs and the needs of the relationship
  • Physical issues such as disability or chronic pain
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, PSTD, or bipolar disease
  • Addiction, including gambling, drugs, sex or alcohol
  • Resentment in the marriage that continues to build without resolution
  • Relationship Related Reasons

People who are unsatisfied in their current relationship are more likely to cheat than those who are happy. For people who are more prone to cheat, a satisfying relationship is often enough to stop someone from straying. For these people, it is usually not a situation of once a cheater, always a cheater.

Researchers have found that people who are unsatisfied either by an unfulfilling sex life or having a lot of conflict in a relationship, are at higher risk of an affair. Also, when people are highly dissimilar in things like education, personality style, and other factors, they are more likely to seek out people besides their significant others to have their needs met.

Situational Reasons why People Cheat

There are times when a person will cheat due to a specific situation. Meaning that although they would not likely cheat, they find themselves put into a situation that increases their likelihood.

Things like spending time with someone who is highly attractive at work can increase the risk of infidelity.

Also, people who live in more metropolitan areas are more likely to cheat on their significant other. And those who live in highly populated areas are more prone to cheating than living in a smaller, less populated location. 

Man Using Cellphone While Her Wife Sitting On Bed

 Steps to Take After Infidelity

When you find out that someone has betrayed your trust, it can bring out intense and immediate emotions. People can experience a range of feelings, including shame, depression, guilt, anger, and remorse.

When an affair is revealed, it is difficult to think rationally enough to consider long-term decisions. Before you take actions that can have lasting consequences, think about the fallout.

Don’t Make Immediate Decisions

If you make a decision immediately without taking the time to think it through clearly, you might end up hurting yourself or doing something that will harm your future. If you feel as if you are going to do something rash, seek the help of a crisis professional

Give Each Other Room

When an affair comes out, it does so with intense feelings and emotions. Both partners might find themselves doing uncharacteristic things. Or, they might act erratically in an attempt to make sense of it all.

If possible, try to avoid discussing what happened until both parties have had time to clear their heads and process both what happened and a road to healing.

Seek the Help of Friends, Family, or a Professional

Talking about how you feel will help to lessen the burden. Find someone you can speak openly and honestly to who will support and help guide you about what steps to take.

In the same respect, avoid those people who tend to be judgmental, biased, or overly opinionated. It might also be helpful to seek the help of a spiritual guide or an experienced counselor who deals with marriage issues and infidelity to help sort through your emotions.

Don’t Rush

You don’t have to make any immediate decisions about what to do after infidelity. The longer time you give yourself to process what happened and to come to terms with the hurt, the more clear the path will be.

Don’t try to talk it through until you are absolutely sure that you can handle the intensity of emotions that need to be dealt with. When you are ready, having a professional present might help you both to better communicate your feelings and to diminish the potential that things can get out of hand. 

Ways to Get Past Infidelity

If you are committed to staying in a relationship where there has been an incidence of infidelity, learning to trust is imperative to making it work. Another component is forgiveness.

Often, we say that we can forgive, but find it very difficult to let go. Over time, if you don’t fully forgive your partner, it can lead to resentfulness that will put a crack in your relationship, which will only build and make it much more difficult to find happiness together.

See a Counselor

There are many reasons why a person cheats. And although it is never the fault of the partner who was cheated on, arguably, if there weren’t problems in the relationship, to begin with, the cheating would probably not have happened. Couples counseling is an excellent way to learn to talk through not just the infidelity itself, but also whatever issues might have led to someone going astray. 

Also, certain personality disorders can put someone at risk for having an extramarital affair. If you or your partner have a mental illness that hasn’t been addressed and might have predisposed them to cheat, personal counseling might help to get them to learn to deal with things like impulse control and risk-taking behaviors. 

Encouragingly, research tells us that although people who seek therapy after infidelity come to counseling with a lot more emotional issues to work through, they improve more quickly than those who are addressing less grave relationship issues. 

Openly Communicate

If one partner has cheated, it is going to take a long time to learn to trust again. You can’t expect your partner to trust you immediately after you have cheated. In fact, there might never be a point where they will allow themselves to be hurt by trusting blindly again.

So if you want to try to keep the relationship together, then you are going to have to understand that they might question a bit more or put restrictions on what you can and can’t do. If you are unwilling to put in the extra time and effort to make it work, it isn’t going to work.

Take Responsibility

If you want to remain in the marriage after there has been infidelity, it is critical that the person who cheated both take responsibility for their actions and be remorseful. Taking responsibility means that you don’t blame your partner for the affair.

It might be the case that you were dissatisfied with the way things were in your relationship, but there is never an excuse for betraying someone you love, and their trust. It is alright to openly discuss what is wrong in the marriage, but only after you admit that what you did was hurtful. And only after you ask for forgiveness for your actions.

Forgiveness Isn’t Just a Word

The only way to maintain a relationship after an affair is to truly forgive. A lot of people can say that they forgive, but in their heart, there remains resentment and hurt. Over time, that resentment, if not addressed and atoned for, will create little cracks in the marriage and make it very difficult to have a civil and trusting relationship.

Of course, at first, forgiving is a lot easier said than done. But if you promise to forgive, then you have to let go of the hurt and not carry it around. If you hold it over your partner’s head like punishment, the only one you will probably punish over the long-term, is you.

Carrying around emotional baggage and anger is not good for your health or the health of your marriage. So you have to decide upfront whether you can truly forgive and put it behind you. 

Sometimes Talking About How it Takes Two Helps Couples Heal

If there is a problem in a relationship, then both parties have an obligation to talk about it openly and communicate without breaching trust through infidelity. But infidelity is usually the result of many factors. And it doesn’t always rest in just the actions of one partner.

It is helpful in the healing process for both individuals to diminish talk of “fault”. And also, to take responsibility for what they might have done in the relationship that might have led to problems. Having a mindset that it takes two sometimes for things to go wrong, can help you both be kinder and more loving to one another as you try to rebuild.

Work on Falling in Love Again

Over time, we can start to take advantage of the people we have relationships with. If you find that some of the reason for infidelity was a disconnect, then taking time to get reacquainted is an excellent way rediscover why you feel in the in the first place.

The bond that you had will always be severed by the incident. But that doesn’t mean you can’t form a new and more stable one by getting to know one another all over again. 

Rebuilding is Possible

Infidelity is something that not many couples can make it through and come out together on the other end. If you are committed to staying together and rebuilding trust, then at the heart of it is finding forgiveness and atonement.

Things will probably never be the same, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And once a cheater, always a cheater, isn’t still the case. If you can work with one another to find the root of the problem and overcome it together, be transparent and communicative, and try not to play the “blame game,” finding a way to move forward, stronger, is possible.

Sometimes the best place to start repairing is finding a professional who can help navigate the hurt and help you both find a way to heal. 


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