I Cheated On My Boyfriend: Is Reconciliation Possible?

Updated July 30, 2021

Cheating is, by and large, considered an unacceptable transgression. Although some cultures might not place as high a premium on fidelity, most individuals agree that to cheat is to trespass some form of morality and is undoubtedly a betrayal to your partner. What happens, though, when you are the one who has made a mistake?

Why People Cheat

There is no hard and fast rule about why people cheat. Cheating can occur when someone is not in their right mind, such as during a drinking binge or while engaging in substance abuse. Still, it can also happen when you are in your right mind entirely and you make a split-second decision to step outside of your relationship. Cheating comes in all forms and with all types of reasoning, but figuring out your reasons for cheating is an integral part of moving forward.

Although you cannot answer the question of why people cheat, you certainly can answer the question of why you cheated. This will be an essential part of reconciliation because getting to the root of why you cheated can help you make sure you do not repeat your mistakes and can help you explain to your partner why you stepped outside of your relationship.

The reasons for cheating are numerous. Many of them might not even be conscious; insecurity, fear of abandonment, addiction, fear of vulnerability, and poor childhood models can all be unconscious reasons for cheating. Conscious reasons for cheating can include vengeance, bids for attention, acting out, and trying to sabotage a relationship. No matter the exact reason, though, cheating almost always signifies the presence of dissatisfaction, and a need for healing, and a deeper issue at play.

Working Through Infidelity

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Working through infidelity requires both partners to be on board. Even if you want to work on your relationship after you’ve made a mistake, your partner might not want to-and, you must respect that decision. Cheating breaks the trust in a relationship in a compelling way, and rebuilding trust can be a matter of literal years and countless hours of dedicated work. Even if you are prepared to put in the miles to make your relationship work or make it stronger than it has ever been a before-the partner on whom you cheated might not be willing to put in the effort, which leaves you to navigate your wounded heart on your own.

If your partner is willing to work through infidelity, the two of you must agree upon certain boundaries, communication issues, and relationship troubles, and you must both be willing and dedicated to committing 100% to your relationship. To work through infidelity, the two of you must work on several aspects of your relationship, including:

  • To move past cheating, both partners must communicate honestly, openly, and with compassion. Your partner might want to know every intimate detail of your affair-and you may be compelled to offer those details. This is an important step in reconciliation, but it can also be a step that drives a wedge even further between the two of you. Even so, you owe it to one another, to be honest, as honesty will be a driving force in healing your relationship.
  • Building trust can take years but starts with honesty and openness. To build trust, the two of you must be willing to be transparent with one another, which means being honest about any resentment, frustration, or pain you are both dealing with. When one or both of your lies, hides, or in any way breaks trust, it is imperative to take steps to correct your mistake immediately.
  • Although it might seem counterintuitive, many relationships begin to go sour due to codependence and couples being far too intertwined in one another. Make sure you are exploring interests and relationships outside of yourselves, cultivating friendships, skills, and interests on your own or with friends. Making each other your entire world can put immense pressure on a relationship and can make partners feel stifled. Cultivating independence can help improve your relationship and allow both of you to heal faster if your reconciliation does not go as planned.
  • Setting boundaries is another important part of healing, as the two of you need to create space to heal. There will be times when one or both of you will be hit with the pain and frustration of cheating, and you will likely need some space from one another. When you or your partner need that space, you must honor each other’s needs and adhere to boundaries that you’ve set.

Although these are not the only facets of healing a broken relationship, these are some of the basic steps involved in repairing a broken relationship and can set yours both on your way to healing.

When Cheating Breaks A Relationship

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In some cases, cheating cannot be resolved. The most common reason for cheating completely obliterating a relationship is a habit: if you have habitually cheated on your boyfriend, there may not be as great hope for reconciliation. While some partners may be willing to work through a problem of this magnitude, habitual cheating often signals something far greater at play than a simple indiscretion or a one-off mistake.

Cheating can also break a relationship when it is a symptom of a greater problem. Cheating can be indicative of mood and personality disorders, including Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In these cases, relationships may not work out unless the root cause has been worked through and treated.

Being unwilling to work and deal with the intense emotions of your partner will also put a wedge in reconciliation. Your partner is likely experiencing a massive storm of emotions, and these emotions can rise and explode for months after your affair. If you are not willing to deal with the intensity of your partner’s pain, and you are not willing to put in the immense amount of work required to make your relationship better, reconciliation is highly unlikely.

Working On Yourself After You’ve Cheated

One of the most important parts of healing, after you’ve cheated on your partner, is getting help on your own, in addition to getting help with your partner. Cheating is not healthy behavior, regardless of the circumstances, and usually indicates something else. With the help of a therapist, you can start to work on any conditions that might have led to your cheating, such as self-esteem issues, chronic stress, depression, and other concerns, including maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Reconciliation is a joint venture, but you might bear a greater weight than your boyfriend as the person who cheated. After all, you are the half of the relationship that may have a more significant need to prove your trustworthiness, and you may have to divulge information about yourself and any past activities that might have led to you cheating or influenced your behavior toward your boyfriend. Building your self-esteem and learning to be honest with yourself regarding your needs and wants is vital to healing and moving forward in your relationship.

Not all relationships move from confrontation to repair immediately; instead, some couples take some time apart to determine whether or not reconciliation is possible or even desirable. This is a perfect time to begin working on yourself by building your confidence, getting to the root of your issues, and determining what about your relationship needs to be worked on and why your relationship means so much to you.

Can Reconciliation Occur After An Affair?

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Although reconciliation is certainly difficult following an affair, it is not impossible. Provided that both of you are willing to put in the time, effort, and devotion to making your relationship work, you can rebuild trust, improve communication, and create an even stronger relationship than the one you had before your affair.

As the offending party, you may have to put in more hours and reveal more of your relationship history than your partner. On the heels of infidelity, many partners want to know as much as possible about the time of the affair, all of the factors involved, and exactly how involved the two of you were and might want you to rehash the events again and again to understand. This is why setting strong boundaries, and open communication channels are vital pieces in reconciliation; partners can hurt each other more if they are not careful during the reconciliation process.

Many couples experience a more effective and streamlined reconciliation approach when involving a third party; therapists, such as those who work through ReGain.Us, can help bring a third-party perspective to the relationship, can help the two of you create realistic, healthy expectations within your relationship, and can guide you as you work toward your mutual goal of reconciling in the face of infidelity. Although the road is long and arduous, healing your relationship in the wake of cheating is possible and can be a beautiful journey.

Counselor Reviews

“Stephen Witte is a fantastic listener! Stephen's guidance and experience with couples helped me and my partner through a time of infidelity and deception. Our sessions with Stephen helped guide us to healthier communication and the road to forgiveness. We used video chats. But I chatted Stephen with messages a few times throughout the week, and his responses helped me through tough/anxious moments with his perspective and encouragement. He was truthful about the tragedy that had occurred in our relationship, yet offered supportive strategies and guidance for us to help us get through. I felt like I could speak at him for minutes and throw a bunch out there, but he had a great way of picking out the most important part of what I was trying to say. He did a great job facilitating the discussion that helped me clarify my thoughts and communicate with my partner. My partner and I had multiple sessions with Stephen and both felt very comfortable speaking to him. Thank you very much, Stephen, for being here for us.”

Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”


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