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After Infidelity, 7 Ways Cheaters Make Things Even Worse

7. Telling their spouse to calm down.

Key points

  • If you want to save your relationship, you must quit being unfaithful. Period.
  • Aside from continuing to cheat, ongoing lies and secrets are the easiest (and most potent) way to derail your relationship.
  • Trying to soothe a spouse with expensive gifts or trips might merit a "thank you" but will not buy forgiveness.
Shutterstock, Prostock-studio
Source: Shutterstock, Prostock-studio

After the discovery of infidelity, betrayed partners are deeply traumatized and reactive. They turn into detectives; they experience powerful mood swings; they are unable to trust a single thing you say or do. This is not fun for you, especially if you have stopped cheating and are now being honest. That said, if you want to repair your damaged relationship, you need to allow your spouse to work through whatever it is they need to feel and process.

As you work to regain relationship trust and heal your intimate connection, there are seven behaviors you should avoid at all costs, as engaging in them is likely to make your situation even worse.

  1. Continue to Cheat. If you want to save your relationship, you must quit being unfaithful. Period. End of story. If you are still cheating—even after you’ve seen the pain this causes your partner—you are almost certain to be caught (because your spouse is now watching you like a hawk), and the rediscovery will cause your partner even more pain than the initial discovery of cheating.
  2. Continue to Lie, Tell Partial Truths, and Keep Secrets. Some cheaters stop cheating but continue their pattern of lies, coverups, partial admissions, and outright secrets about both past and current behavior, including behavior not related to sex or romance. Aside from continuing to cheat, ongoing lies and secrets are the easiest (and most potent) way to derail your relationship. In fact, betrayed partners often state that lies and secrets are more painful to them and more damaging to the relationship than the behaviors they are intended to cover up.
  3. Blame Your Actions on Someone or Something Other Than Yourself. Externalizing blame by making your behavior someone else’s fault is one of the most common tactics cheaters use to rationalize and justify their actions (to both themselves and those around them). Unfortunately, this tendency often continues after the cheating is discovered, especially when the betrayed spouse seems exceedingly angry. If you want to heal your relationship, you need to take responsibility for your behavior, not shirk it.
  4. Apologize and Expect or Demand Immediate Forgiveness. Many cheaters get upset about the fact that their partners aren’t acknowledging their efforts at restoring trust. However, as your spouse sees it, the fact that you are finally behaving the way you promised to behave when you committed to your relationship is hardly cause for celebration. If you need some positive reinforcement, consider it high praise that your partner is willing to speak to you and/or stay with you after everything you’ve done. If you want something more tangible, it’s best to seek your “Attaboy!” elsewhere, perhaps from a supportive friend or your therapist.
  5. Try to Buy Forgiveness. A common mistake that cheaters make is attempting to buy their way out of the doghouse with flowers, dinners, trips, jewelry, and other gifts. This doesn’t work. Sure, your spouse will probably accept the gift and might even say thank you. But don’t expect forgiveness. Gifts, no matter how expensive, do not undo the trauma wrought by infidelity. In fact, they are often viewed as lame attempts to circumvent the problem.
  6. Use Aggression and Threats. Sometimes cheaters get sick of their partner being so angry or feel so ashamed of what they did that they become aggressive, threatening divorce, financial repercussions,or more. If you try this approach, it is possible that you will bully your mate into submission—temporarily. More likely, however, you will drive your partner further away. And if your partner does give in to your bullying, is that the kind of relationship you want?
  7. Try to Calm Your Spouse Down. If you want to watch your betrayed partner lose it, wait until they’re really upset and then try to calm them down. Then duck and cover because a tornado is heading your way. Betrayed partners do not like it when you try to diminish (i.e., invalidate) their emotions. So don’t do it. Instead, try to listen to what they’re saying (rather than how they’re saying it) and to empathize with the pain they are expressing.

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