Seven Ways a Cheating Man Will Break Your Heart (Again)

Learning about the infidelity might be only the beginning of your pain.

Posted Jan 02, 2018

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The betrayal of infidelity is undoubtedly among the most painful emotional experiences an adult can have. There is nothing quite like the pain/fear/rage you feel when you find out that a supposedly monogamous partner has been cheating. The sense of betrayal is overwhelming, and may leave you feeling as if you will never be able to trust him (or anyone else) ever again. That said, it’s possible you still love your partner and want to stay together, provided he mends his cheating ways.

It’s likely that your partner has apologized, probably profusely, for hurting you. You probably also know that’s not enough, and will never be enough. He will also have to work hard to rebuild relationship trust, being honest and forthright with you in all matters from here on out. And he will plan, and promise, to do that. Still, your partner might continue to break your heart, most likely in one or more of the following ways:

1. Continuing to Cheat.

A significant percentage of men who cheat do not stop, no matter the consequences. They keep going, even after their infidelity (or part of it, anyway) has been uncovered, and even as their world is crumbling around them. The good news is that not all men fall into this category. Plenty feel deep remorse and do amend their behavior, once it’s uncovered, without slipping. But others either can’t or won’t, and this is miserable for the betrayed partner.

2. Continuing to Lie and Keep Secrets.

After cheating partners are caught, their natural tendency is to continuing lying, covering up, keeping secrets, and admitting to only partial truths. Even if they’ve stopped cheating, they may continue to deceive on other fronts. For a betrayed partner, this can be every bit as painful and damaging to a relationship as the actual infidelity.

3. Blaming Anyone but Himself.

Externalizing blame — making the problem someone else’s fault — one tactic that partners commonly use to rationalize and justify their behavior. This can be incredibly painful for the betrayed partner. What you want him to do is admit what he’s done and take responsibility, but he would much rather blame others — including you — for his decisions.

4. Apologizing, Then Expecting, or Demanding, Immediate Forgiveness.

Some cheating men apologize and think that should be the end of the discussion: Water under the bridge. And they will get frustrated or angry when a partner doesn't see it the same way. They don’t “get” that they’ve destroyed your trust in them and your relationship with their cheating, lying, and secret-keeping, and that you’re not going to forgive them until they earn it.

5. Trying to Buy Forgiveness.

One of the most common mistakes cheaters make is attempting to buy their way out of the doghouse with flowers, dinners, trips, jewelry, etc. If your partner has tried this, you know it doesn’t work. Gifts, no matter how expensive or thoughtful, cannot undo the trauma wrought by infidelity. They never have, and they never will.

6. Using Aggression or Threats to Control You.

Sometimes, to get an angry partner to “lighten up,” a cheater will threaten divorce, a cutoff of financial support, and the like. Sometimes a cheater can temporarily bully their betrayed partner into submission. They don’t understand that when they do this, they drive an emotional wedge into the relationship.

7. Trying to Calm You Down.

Has your partner ever said anything like, “Relax, this isn’t a big deal. You’re overreacting. You know I love you, and I always have.” These attempts to calm you down, even if temporarily successful, can’t and don’t fix the loss of relationship trust caused by infidelity. Moreover, these attempts to calm you down are painful, because he’s basically saying that your anger about his cheating doesn’t matter to him.

If your partner engages in one or more of these behaviors, it may hurt as much as, and maybe more than, the infidelity itself. The good news is that this does not mean your relationship is over, or that it’s not salvageable. It simply means your partner has a lot of work to do to restore relationship trust, make things right, and re-establish intimacy.

In my next post, I will discuss four indicators you can look for to see if he’s on this healing path (even if he’s still making some of the mistakes listed above).