Can you trust your boyfriend after he cheated on you? It depends. Here are five signs your boyfriend probably won’t cheat again, plus help forgiving an affair.
These tips are inspired by a reader’s question about her cheating boyfriend, and they apply to all girlfriends who have boyfriends who cheated on them. “My boyfriend and I have been together for three years,” says Liz on my article on how to know if your husband is lying about cheating. “I just found out he has been talking to three other girls on the internet. He says he won’t do it again but I am still not sure. I don’t know what to do anymore. What do I do?”
Deciding if you can trust your boyfriend after he betrayed you is one of the most difficult – and perhaps one of the most important – decisions you’ll ever make. Nobody can tell you if he’ll never cheat on you again. Even your boyfriend doesn’t know, especially if he isn’t willing to learn why he had an affair in the first place.
You need to listen to the still small voice inside you, and take a leap of faith. Maybe that leap of faith is trusting your boyfriend after he cheated…or maybe it’s letting him go. Only you can make that decision. One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is this: would you encourage your sister or best friend to stay with him? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should give your boyfriend another chance to prove he loves you.
Here are a few things to think about when you’re trying to read the signs you can trust your boyfriend after he cheated on you…
How to Know if You Can Trust Him After an Affair
Here are five tips for trusting your boyfriend after an affair – or even “just” online chatting with other women. After all, cheating often begins with the five stages of flirting.
1. He can talk about why he cheated on you
If he cheated because he wasn’t getting something from you or your relationship, then it may be easier to rebuild trust because you can change your relationship. It isn’t easy, but you can work together to rebuild trust after cheating. But, if he cheated because he was bored or it’s in his nature to roam, then you might not want to trust him again.
The reason he cheated may help you decide if you can trust him again. In Emotional Disconnection in Marriage, I share reason men cheat: their wives make more money than they do. That may not be the reason your boyfriend cheated – but knowing his reasons may help you decide if you can trust him again.
2. Your boyfriend is willing to work to win back your trust
You can’t do all the work in figuring out why he had the affair, how he can overcome his tendency to cheat, and how to get your relationship back on track. Your boyfriend has to take responsibility for the affair. What does this mean? Admitting he cheated and working to make your relationship better.
Books like The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It are helpful because they give an objective perspective (which you and your boyfriend don’t necessarily have).
It’s not your fault that your boyfriend cheated – it was either a really bad choice on his part, or a lack of moral character. If it was a bad choice, then you might be able to trust him again after he cheated. If he’s just a bad guy, then you shouldn’t trust him. He’ll cheat again. The best and most important sign that will tell you if your boyfriend will cheat again is your own gut feeling. I know what you WANT to believe…but you have to trust your gut.
In After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful, Janis Spring offers proven strategies for surviving the crisis of an affair and rebuilding love relationship. Read this book, and you’ll learn if you should trust your boyfriend after he cheated. Ask him if he’s willing to read the book, too. That’s a huge sign of how trustworthy he is! (If he’s not willing to read about how to rebuild your relationship, then he’s not worth trusting again. In my opinion.).
3. You know what you need from him and your relationship
If your boyfriend travels for work or spends a lot of time with his friends, you may need him to put you first more often. If your boyfriend isn’t willing to talk about his feelings, reasons for cheating, or your relationship, then you may need him to open up more.
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Before you can decide if you can trust your boyfriend after he cheated on you, you need to figure out what you need from him. if you feel like you’ll never be able to trust him, maybe there’s nothing you need from your relationship. Maybe there’s nothing he can do to win your heart back. What do you need him to do and say? If you can get clear on that, you have a better chance of communicating it to him.
4. Your boyfriend is willing to do anything to save your relationship
After you figure out what you need from him, ask him clearly if he’s willing to give you what you need.
Will he spend more time with you? Go to couples therapy with you — or get help from a marriage or relationship coach? Start individual counseling for himself, if he needs to work through his emotional issues? Read books about rebuilding trust after an affair (even if that affair was “just” talking to other girls online)?
If your boyfriend isn’t willing to work towards saving your relationship, then you should think twice about trusting him again.
5. He isn’t playing on your fears or insecurities
Is your boyfriend trying to reassure you? Is he helping you trust and rely on him? Both men and women stay in bad relationships because they’re scared they’ll never be loved again. If your self-esteem or self-confidence is low, find ways to boost it without relying on your boyfriend or a love relationship.
Getting as emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy as possible is more important that deciding if you should trust your boyfriend after he cheated on you! The healthier you are, the easier all your decisions in life will be — including your most important decisions about love and relationships.
And remember – trusting your boyfriend after he cheated doesn’t happen overnight. Rebuilding trust is a process that involves good and bad days – and good and bad discussions with your boyfriend! But, if you’re both willing to work on your relationship, you can rebuild trust and strengthen your love and commitment to one another.
Help surviving an affair
The Chump Lady Survival Guide to Infidelity: How to Regain Your Sanity After You’ve Been Cheated On by Tracy Schorn is a fantastic way to come back to yourself. When your boyfriend cheats on you, you start to doubt yourself.
When you’re trying to read the signs you can trust your boyfriend after he cheated on you, you question your self-worth and lovability. Of course you’re scared he’ll cheat again! The Survival Guide to Infidelity will help you move forward and regain trust in yourself.
Gary Neuman is the author of Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship. Neiman is a marriage counsellor who I first “met” on the Dr Oz show. He and Janine Driver of the Body Language Institute discussed several ways to discern if someone is lying about cheating; they strongly encouraged women to focus on nonverbal behavior. A man can talk and talk and talk, but you need to pay attention to his body language to see the real truth about what he’s saying. Emotional Infidelity is worth a read, whether or not you decide to stay with your boyfriend.
I welcome your thoughts on how to trust your boyfriend after he cheated. I can’t give you advice or predict whether he’ll cheat again, but if you write your thoughts out, you may feel better.
May you follow what your heart is telling you to do. May you listen to the still small voice despite the fear you feel, and second that you be true to yourself. And, may you have the courage, strength, and energy to do what you need to do, and don’t be manipulated by your boyfriend or your own insecurities and fears.
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If you need relationship help, get Mort Fertel's 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage - and FREE advice, no strings attached.