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41 Tactics Used by Cheaters Seeking Forgiveness

Minimizing the betrayal, blaming the victim, using the kids.

Key points

  • When infidelity is discovered, culprits use persuasion techniques to convince their partners to forgive them.
  • Researchers identified 41 such acts of persuasion, such as downplaying the incident or blaming the victim.
  • The persuasion strategies used by unfaithful partners vary depending on gender, age, and personality.

People cheat for a variety of reasons, but how do they try to convince their partner to forgive them?

Published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, a series of studies by Apostolou and Pediaditakis has identified 41 ways cheaters and adulterers attempt to persuade their partners to give them a second chance.

The authors conducted several studies, using three samples—of 108, 657, and 416 Greek-speaking participants. The average age ranged, depending on the sample, from the mid-20s to mid-30s.

The studies had varying aims, including identifying the methods cheaters use to convince their partner to forgive them, persuasion tactics employed most often, and the effectiveness of persuasion tactics in eliciting forgiveness.

Six types of persuasion tactics used when seeking forgiveness

Analysis of the data identified 41 acts of persuasion that unfaithful individuals used to elicit forgiveness. (See Table 1 below.)

Arash Emamzadeh (adapted from Apostolou and Pediaditakis, 2023)
Source: Arash Emamzadeh (adapted from Apostolou and Pediaditakis, 2023)

These acts can be categorized into six types of persuasion tactics, as described below (examples in parentheses):

  • Blame the victim (blame the victim for having been distant, unloving, and responsible for being cheated on).
  • Relationship importance (mention how invested the victim is in the relationship).
  • Minimize the infidelity (say the affair was “just sex” without feelings).
  • Use children, relatives, and friends (ask the victim to think about how divorce may affect the children).
  • “It will not happen again” (apologize and promise never to do it again).
  • Repair the relationship (seek couples counseling).

The results also suggested these tactics were considered relatively effective in eliciting forgiveness.

Namely, over 40 percent of participants believed that if a cheating partner attempted to persuade them using these tactics, they would find at least one of the approaches to be persuasive.

Another interesting finding was that culprits often had a good idea of which persuasion strategy would work on their partner.

In addition, the tactics chosen by the participants for persuading a partner often “mirrored” tactics that would convince themselves to forgive a partner’s infidelity.

For instance, people inclined to use blame-the-victim approaches were more likely to have been thinking of cheating on their romantic partner or to have done so in the past. Hence, if a cheating partner argued that an act of unfaithfulness was their fault, they would find this argument compelling.

Infidelity persuasion tactics and the effects of sex, age, and personality


Data showed that compared to men, women had a greater inclination toward using the persuasion strategies listed. There was one exception, however; men had a stronger preference than women toward employing the persuasion strategy of using friends, relatives, and children.


The largest age effect concerned blaming the victim persuasion strategy, which the older people were more inclined to use.

The opposite was true of It will not happen again tactic.

In terms of perceptions of persuasion effectiveness, the largest effect concerned Our relationship is important, which the older participants considered more convincing.


Source: Sammy-Sander/Pixabay

Overall, personality played a small role.

Openness and neuroticism had the biggest effect, with people high on these traits claiming they were less affected by persuasion tactics.


The reviewed investigation found that after engaging in (hypothetical) infidelity, culprits may use any of six types of manipulation tactics to elicit forgiveness.

Specifically, culprits may:

  1. Promise they would not be unfaithful again.
  2. Say the original relationship is too important to give up on.
  3. Argue it was their partner’s fault that they cheated (i.e., blame the victim).
  4. Suggest the original relationship needs repairs (e.g., going to marriage counseling).
  5. Claim they did not love the other man/woman (“It was just sex”).
  6. Involve their friends, relatives, or children (“Forgive me for our children’s sake”).

Notably, nearly half the participants felt that one or more of the above strategies could motivate them to forgive their partner.

So, which of these persuasion tactics would you find most convincing?

Facebook image: Gladskikh Tatiana/Shutterstock

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