As stated in this previous post, learning that a partner has cheated is miserable. (This post specifically refers to males who have been involved in infidelity.) The betrayal you feel can be overwhelming, and you may feel as if you can never trust him (or anyone else) ever again. That said, it’s possible that he truly does love you, that’s he’s remorseful about his infidelity, and that he wants to mend your broken heart. Following are a few signs that he’s making a sincere effort:
1. He Develops and Displays Empathy for You
The single biggest step a cheater can take toward repairing a broken relationship involves empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of another individual. This is something women tend to do better than most men, but even though emotional empathy may not come easily to many men, it can be developed with practice. The bad news is that, for many men, learning to decipher another person’s thoughts and feelings is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll know a partner is working on empathy when you can tell he’s really listening to you, and you hear him say things like, “I sense that you’re feeling some anxiety right now. Is that correct? And if it is, can you explain what you’re anxious about? I really want to understand what you’re feeling.”
2. He Learns to Disagree in Healthy and Productive Ways
Disagreements are inevitable, even in good relationships. That’s a good thing—believe it or not, arguments can evolve into deeper intimacy. Plus, the desire to argue is a strong indication that your relationship is worth saving. Think about it: Do you argue with people you don’t care about, or over topics that don't matter to you? Probably not. The trick, of course, is learning to resolve such conflicts healthfully, in ways that strengthen rather than diminish a relationship. This can be very difficult after trust is lost because of infidelity. If you feel like your partner is listening to and hearing your side of an argument, that’s a good sign that he’s not fighting against you, but with you—as members of the same team—to overcome whatever it is that you two disagree about.
3. Instead of Telling You He Cares, He Shows You
After infidelity, actions speak much louder than words. Sure, it’s nice if your partner tells you he’s sorry and that he really does love you, but after all the lies and secrets, you may struggle to believe him. He needs to back up his words up with behaviors. When he remembers dates and events that are important to you—not just your anniversary but your sister’s birthday, the neighborhood picnic, and your monthly night out for your book group—you’ll know he cares. When he wants to spend time with you, even to do things he doesn’t enjoy, you’ll know he cares. When he takes care of little tasks you don’t enjoy, without expecting a pat on the back for doing it, you’ll know he cares.
4. He Keeps Relationship Trust in Mind at All Times
Let’s face it, your partner is going to be in the doghouse until he can restore trust. You’ll know he’s working on this when he’s honest not only with you, but with everyone he encounters, and when he keeps his commitments, especially those that involve you, no matter what. When your partner actively works to rebuild trust, it helps you both heal. One day you’ll wake up and realize you haven’t doubted him in weeks. And that will feel incredible. But you shouldn’t expect this to happen overnight; it won’t. Rebuilding trust after infidelity typically takes a minimum of six months, and often a year or even longer.