You certainly know what physical cheating on someone means, but have you ever heard of emotional cheating?
This happens when your partner starts sharing feelings with someone to a degree where it can’t be regarded as a platonic relationship anymore. Even though they never shared a physical connection, this could be a door to it, and it can be equally hurtful.
So how can you forgive such a betrayal?
Steps to forgive emotional cheating:
1. You need to know if you are willing to forgive them or not:
Believe it or not, the first step to forgiving someone is to be willing to forgive that person. This is not always easy because you might still be hurting and holding on to grudges. If your partner cheated on you emotionally, it’s natural to feel like you weren’t enough for them, thus making you retract to a shell where you don’t have to expose your feelings anymore.
However, if you do want to forgive them for what they did, you need to be ready to expose everything you have been feeling to them. You need them to hear you and only then can you make a founded decision on whether to start forgiving them or move on.
You also need to bear in mind that what your partner did will never be erased, but that’s not the point of forgiveness. The point of forgiveness is to be able to move forward without any resentment despite what happened in the past.
2. Ask your partner to explain all their reasons:
You have been cheated on and you feel wronged and hurt, perhaps even angry. However, as much pain as it might bring you, people who are in a serious relationship, sometimes cheat not because they don’t take their partners’ feelings into account, but because they were not happy in the relationship.
Of course, it is still wrong to cheat on someone, but maybe you need to be confronted by what made your partner do this before you start forgiving them. If you create a safe space to hear what your partner has to say, they may tell you that they didn’t feel like you were there to help them during their bad moments, or that you weren’t emotionally available most of the time.
After hearing this you can decide to recognize those flaws and express your willingness to change, as long as they promise to share what they feel is wrong in the relationship with you before anyone else.
3. Assess if your partner is sorry about what happened:
Usually, when people cheat they feel terrible about it, and you need to make sure that that’s your partner’s case. It will be hard or even impossible for you to forgive someone who doesn’t show remorse, therefore, doesn’t necessarily want to be forgiven for the right reasons.
If your partner hasn’t expressed their remorses yet, you need to directly ask them if they feel sorry for what they did. In the worst-case scenario, if they aren’t sorry because they think they were entitled to emotionally cheat on you, based on the relationship’s state at that time, you need to consider if you want to forgive that person.
But if they want to be forgiven because they’re sorry and regret what they did, you can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The reason for this is that you will be able to sense that your partner didn’t want to cheat on you in the first place.
They only did it because there was bad communication between you two and they preferred to share their feelings with someone else. If you both agree on focusing on the well-being of the relationship, you can easily forgive them and give them a second chance.
4. Reflect on if you are willing to rebuild your trust:
One of the worst things that result from cheating is the loss of trust. You can’t regard your partner with the same eyes, knowing what they hid from you and how they acted.
So, to be able to forgive them, you will have to ask them to be completely honest with you from now on. You will also have to tell them that, at the moment, your trust has been shaken up, and it will take time and effort from both sides to rebuild it.
If you see that your partner is willing to show that you can trust them again, if you truly see a change in their behavior for the better, you can start forgiving them with a clear conscience.
5. Ask the opinion of people you value in your life:
Remember that you don’t have to feel alone in this. There must be people in your life, like close friends or family members that are wise and whom you can ask advice from since they will only want the best for you.
They can give you a perspective from an outsider, without having the influence of your feelings. Feel free to directly ask them for their opinion on whether you should forgive your partner or not.
You don’t have to take their opinion on board, but at least you will have options laid in front of you. In the end, you can also check this article out on how to heal as a couple after an extramarital affair ends, but that’s more for married couples.