One out of every five American adults has cheated on their partner, according to a 2015 YouGov survey. It's an alarming statistic, and if you're lucky enough to be among the other 80 percent, you probably assume you'd dump anyone who betrayed your trust like that. But often times, it's not that simple.
Everyone has an opinion on what a person who has been cheated on should do, but only the person in the situation can decide what's right for them. The following 20 women chose to forgive their partners for cheating, and while some went on to end things down the line, others found it led them to true happiness. Read on to find out why these women forgave their partners for cheating.
1. "With us both determined to fix it, we did."
Nakia toldBest Life she hasforgiven her husband for cheating three times over the course of their relationship. The root of their issues, she said, stems from the fact that he wanted children, and she already had two and didn't want more.
"He was a flawed, broken man and I understood that, [but] not at first," she said. "I was [upset] the two times, but the last time was different." How? Well, "the last time produced a child," she noted.
"When I found out, I didn't even flinch. I immediately congratulated him and said, 'You want your family or me?'" He chose her. "We, of course, had some work to do as we had only been married two weeks. Yep, you heard right, I found out two weeks after I married him that he had a baby that week. But with us both determined to fix it, we did. It has been five years now."
2. "Forgiveness is for yourself, not necessarily for the other person."
"My boyfriend cheated on me and brought home an STD to make it worse," one anonymous woman told Best Life. Still, she chose forgiveness. "Always remember forgiveness is for yourself, not necessarily for the other person," she noted.
She explained that while she thinks it is impossible to love another person unconditionally, you can move past things. "I know this sounds strange, but I didn't really get attached to the idea," she said. "Does it mean my boyfriend doesn't love me? No, he loves me very much."
3. "He moved across the country to resume our relationship."
"We broke up after he cheated, but stayed friends and after seeing other people for about a year, we reconnected and are now back together," wrote Reddit user @roadkill_burrito. She was skeptical at first that he wouldn't be serious about their relationship, but "he moved across the country to resume our relationship and has been the perfect boyfriend ever since, going on four years now," she said.
"I had trust issues for a while but things really have been different. I think we understand each other better now. Things worked out, I wouldn't have expected this, but I guess sometimes life surprises you."
4. "I fantasized about our 50th wedding anniversary."
Stacey was cheated on about eight years ago, and was completely blindsided to find out just after she and her husband celebrated their 25-year vow renewal. "When confronted, my husband confessed immediately and said that the affair had been going on for about five or six months," she told Best Life. "I imagined the first 25 years of our marriage. It was good. So I fantasized about our 50th wedding anniversary with all of the kids and grandkids around. What would five months be compared to 50 years?"
In the end, they made it work. "I am thrilled to say that my husband and I learned so much about each other and what we really want from each other," she said. "We are goofy, in love, and ready to celebrate our 33rd anniversary in a couple of weeks."
5. "I gave him a 'non-negotiables' list of all the things I was not willing to compromise on."
Penelope and her husband have been married almost 14 years but, a decade back, he was a cheating ex-boyfriend who had hurt her. "I only found out about him being unfaithful after we had broken up," she told Best Life. "That breakup and trust life crisis actually turned into one of the biggest self-growth journeys of my life. I hired a coach and trusted the process, and I completely changed who I was. Read: total 180!"
She said she turned into a healed confident woman and then, when he came back, she chose him again. "I gave him a 'non-negotiables' list of all the things I was not willing to compromise on—things that he had to do, and things he was not allowed to do in order to rebuild the trust that he broke," she said. And lo and behold, he did it.
6. "He's tried to do everything he can to make our relationship better."
Reddit user @lemonsunshine found out her husband was cheating on her, but they decided to make things work. He then spent the next year putting his all into the relationship. "He's tried to do everything he can to make our relationship better and to help me trust him again," she wrote.
7. "He vowed to change 100 percent and he did."
At first, Reddit user @mango2407 took some time away from her boyfriend when she found out he was cheating. But four years later, they finally got to a good place.
"What I think really made it work was me getting my own apartment in a s***** unit and him seeing it (when about half my stuff was moved in)," she wrote. "It really hit him hard that this was where we were." She said that the idea of her and their son living there was unbearable to her boyfriend. "He wanted better for us and vowed to change 100 percent and he did."
8. "I'm glad I didn't let my pain at the time get in the way of an otherwise great relationship."
Reddit user @expat_sally discovered her then-boyfriend (now-husband) was cheating about a year after the fact. "It was a very difficult time, but I believed him when he said he'd cut off contact with her," she wrote. "I'm glad I didn't let my pain at the time get in the way of an otherwise great relationship, but it wasn't easy to trust him again. … We're married now, and very happy."
9. "We still have a great deal of love for each other."
"My ex-boyfriend cheated on me," wrote Reddit user @Rosieco. But she decided not to hold onto the negative feelings of hating him and chose, instead, to forgive.
"[He] misinterpreted my self-worth by mistreating me, got very drunk and made a very bad choice. Is it grounds to break up? It just might be. However, is it worth the energy and self-sacrifice to hate them and waste precious time slandering them? Absolutely not," she wrote. "We aren't back together, but we still have a great deal of love for each other."
10. "It's not a big deal."
"I forgave him after I found out about the first time he cheated on me," Reddit user @ThisIsNotAConspiracy wrote. Her partner had been drunk at a New Years party and then kissed another girl. "So I went, 'Oh okay, it's not a big deal. You just kissed a girl at midnight.' Whatever."
But three years later, she found out about "the 30 other women he cheated on [her] with (all different degrees)." She noted their relationship is now "non-existent," which is "for the best."
11. "We love each other very much."
"He had been sexting another girl, and met up with her once," Reddit user @overlordkim wrote of her significant other. Initially, that destroyed their relationship. "But, he has proven over and over that it was a one-time thing, spurred on by our mutual depression and stressful relationship."
Ultimately, they decided to make it work. "He makes sure I am always comfortable with what is going on. If I get kinda suspicious, he will show me his phone anytime. I don't ask to, or even accept his offer to look anymore," the Redditor wrote. "If anything, it helped us. We both learned to work on ourselves. We communicate better. We give each other 100 percent. … We love each other very much, and I would say our relationship is very healthy."
12. "Our mistakes don't really define us."
"He cheated on me and ended up coming clean about the whole deal," Reddit user@Wlady_littlejohn wrote of her significant other, whom she's been with for seven years. "I just ended up feeling like our mistakes don't really define us. … I wasn't going to throw all the good parts of him away because of a moment of weakness, a bad decision, especially one I know I just as easily could have made. We gave things another shot after taking a few months off and things have been good ever since."
13. "I had to stop bringing up the past."
"He cheated on me emotionally, and sort of physically," wrote Reddit user @fetusnachos of her significant other. She was crushed and had lost all trust for him, but still wanted to make the relationship work. However, it took a long time for that trust to come back.
"I kept on telling myself that I was the one giving him this second chance and that … I had to stop bringing up the past because he was trying very hard," she said. "We've had our fair share of squabbles, but we are now better than ever. There was also a communication barrier before, but now we are much more open with each other."
14. "I'm not saying it was easy to forgive him."
Reddit user @Soinloveitsgross found out she had been cheated on months after it happened, after some suspicions. "The cheating happened in the very beginning of the relationship, and he stopped it after less than a month of us being together," she wrote. "I think that's what helped me the most, was he was never really caught in the act, but stopped it because he started caring for me too much."
She added, "I'm not saying it was easy to forgive him, but … I trust him fully, and we couldn't be happier."
15. "I believe he was horrified by what we had gone through."
After her significant other cheated on her, Reddit user @Xixia wrote, "I'm still hurt and I still have moments where the low self-esteem really hits me hard … [but] I believe he was horrified by what we had gone through back when it happened." She added, "Things are much better now."
16. "I saw texts from this girl talking about Plan B."
One woman's boyfriend went on a cross-country road trip while she stayed at home. "He slept with this girl in Colorado and then when he got back, he acted like everything was fine," another anonymous woman told Best Life. "Then one time I was on his phone and I saw texts from this girl talking about Plan B." She said she forgave him because she probably would have strayed while traveling as well.
18. "I'm not straight, she probably is."
According to Reddit user @aa_man_duh, she and her wife had only been married for four months when she "found out through her text messages" that her wife had an affair "with a guy from her work." They attempted to save their relationship and stay together. However, after three years, they decided to split up. "I'm not straight, she probably is," she wrote. "It is the best thing for us both."
17. "People can grow and change."
Reddit user @Northerncalikhaleesi's boyfriend, who eventually cheated on her, showed some red flags early on. "He even ghosted me our first few months of dating for like two weeks," she wrote. "I can laugh now because it was like, 10 years ago and could never imagine him doing that now. People can grow and change."
19. "We were both hurt, but not as mad as we would have expected."
For Reddit user @laidymondegreen, the cheating came from both sides. "We both cheated while he was doing a study abroad. We both confessed when he got home," she wrote. "We were both hurt, but not as mad as we would have expected. We started discussing non-monogamy and eight years later are polyamorous."
20. "It's not even something I think about anymore."
Reddit user @Owlpowaa's boyfriend cheated on her a year into their relationship. "I was overly sensitive for awhile after, but he hasn't done it again and we've been together over two years now," she said. "We're happy, we have a home together, and the incident is in the past now. It's not even something I think about anymore." And for more on how to handle catching someone in the act, here are The 17 Worst Things You Can Do If You Catch Your Partner Cheating.
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The cheated-on partner can experience various mental health symptoms, including posttraumatic stress disorder and depression. The main reasons people forgive infidelity are a reduced likelihood of future cheating, dependency, children, and one's own infidelity.
It is not easy to forgive a cheating partner. But in order to do so, you must have open communication with your spouse regarding the reasons for infidelity and what they are willing to commit going forward to making the relationship work.
There's no definitive answer as to whether you should forgive a cheater. It's up to you to make that decision to forgive and it's important to remember that forgiveness is a strength. You need to think long and hard about what you want out of a relationship.
In practice, it tends to be uncommon for a relationship to survive instances of cheating. One study found that only about 16 percent of couples who'd experienced unfaithfulness were able to work it out.
Experts say it's possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they're willing to put in the work. “The couple can survive and grow after an affair,” says Coleman.
People can cheat on someone they love due to neglect, commitment or self-esteem issues, lack of intimacy, or even revenge. A person who cheated once will likely cheat again, but this is not true for everyone. Infidelity doesn't signify the end of a relationship; a couple can repair their relationship after an affair.