Cheating is not a small mistake, and it’s not something we should condone. But if you cheated, you need to learn how to forgive yourself. If the act has already happened, there’s nothing you can do anymore but become a better person. The only way you can do that is through forgiveness and self-compassion.

Cheating is something that’s way too common. Temptation is high, and you might slip. That doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner. It can just mean that you had a lapse of judgment. Cheating differs from case to case, and every person reacts differently. One commonality is that guilt often crushes the cheater. But this guilt doesn’t help anyone.

It doesn’t help the cheater take accountability, and it doesn’t help their partner feel better. The best thing you can do is forgive yourself if you’re ever in that situation. Self-compassion is the only way you’ll be able to live with yourself and the best shot you have at fixing things.

Why Do People Cheat?

First, let’s go through some reasons why people cheat. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not just because they are selfish and mean. Some do it for fun and even brag about it to their friends. But that doesn’t characterize most human beings. If you want to forgive yourself for cheating, you need to understand why it happened in the first place. Only then can you use self-compassion to heal.

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Emotional Neglect

Studies show that a partner’s leading cause of cheating is emotional neglect. In those cases, adultery is not just about intimacy. People who feel neglected crave to have someone care about them. When they cheat, they also get emotionally involved with that person. Why don’t these people break up with their partner to be with someone new?

If you’ve cheated because you feel neglected, you know the reason. It’s because you fear your affair partner won’t love you or the relationship won’t last. It feels like you’re better off continuing what you already have because that’s more stable. Plus, just because you feel neglected doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings for your partner. Chances are you still love them and aren’t ready to let go. But the lack of love you feel from your partner could make you distant. Until you fix this, you cannot forgive yourself and move on.

You Fall Out of Love

Maybe you are slowly falling out of love and not ready to admit it. In that case, you are much more likely to stay with the one you had an affair with. It’s also much more likely to engage in severe intimacy and show your affection through words. This doesn’t happen often, but some people even confess their love to the one they had an affair with.

You Crave the Spice of a New Relationship

Another common cause for cheating is a lack of variety. The idea that relationships should be monogamous is outdated. But it’s still the norm enforced by society. Still, that doesn’t make cheating okay. There are people out there who live happy, polyamorous lives. But the people who are too afraid to try it often cheat on their partners. So even if you are romantically monogamous, you still might feel like you need more sexual variety.

In those cases, people will resort to cheating to satisfy their desires. Again, this is not an excuse to betray your current partner, but the reality is that it happens. Cheating also suggests anger and a need for revenge. This is potentially the evilest reason, but some cheat to get back at their partner. Studies have found that, in those cases, the cheater is most likely to confess. That’s probably due to the desire to make the partner feel horrible. People should never use cheating to get back at someone.

Poor Judgment

Lastly, some cheat because they have a lapse of judgment. Sometimes, this is a fake reason to get them off the hook. If someone was at the club, saw someone hot, and cheated, that’s still a choice. Sure, it’s not the most rational choice, as the drinks affected their judgment. But it’s a choice nonetheless.

But sometimes, people get caught up in the moment and don’t think clearly. So, for example, someone drunk could end up kissing another person without fully understanding what they’re doing. Or maybe they were hanging out with someone, started flirting, and things got out of control. But, of course, the cheater could still force themselves to be rational in all these cases.

But emotions are sometimes so strong that they override all logical thoughts. Of course, this is not an excuse; you must still own up to your mistakes. You cannot forgive yourself of fix your relationship until you accept accountability and solve this toxic behavior.

How to Forgive Yourself If You Cheated on Your Partner


Whether you stay with the one you cheated with, with your initial partner, or even end up single, you must forgive yourself. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward, do right by the one you betrayed, and start a better life.

1.      Come Clean Before You Can Forgive Yourself

The first thing you need to do is confess what you did to your partner. It doesn’t matter whether you break up. Not telling them will haunt you for the rest of your life. Instead of being scared that they’ll break up with you if they find out, accept that they need to know. Even if they decide to leave you, that’s healthier for both of you.

Coming clean will allow you to patch things up with the one you’ve hurt. While you might part ways, you at least have a chance to stay friends. Or at least you’ll part on decent terms. If you confess and own up to your mistake, you do a morally good thing. That way, you don’t risk the possibility that your partner will find out from another source. Instead, they should hear it from you so that they at least know you respect them enough to confess.

This also gives you the best chances to patch things up. But that shouldn’t even be the goal. Instead, it would help if you did it because it’s the right thing. It also makes you feel less guilty and allows you to forgive yourself. Even if your partner doesn’t excuse you, you know there’s nothing more you could have done. That thought alone will wrap you in self-compassion and allow you to move on.

2.      Before You Forgive Yourself, You Must Take Accountability

One of the worst things you can do after cheating is to label what happened as an “accident .”Even if you had a lapse of judgment, nothing is entirely accidental. If you cheated because you were too drunk to control yourself, you shouldn’t have been drinking in the first place. You should have discussed things with your partner if you cheated because you felt neglected.

There is always something you could have done to avoid cheating and betraying the one you’re with. Taking accountability is a big step towards forgiving yourself and making things right with your partner. However, it would help if you didn’t let your partner walk over you because you cheated. Even though they were hurt, they don’t get to make you do ridiculous things.

For example, they have no right to forbid you from going out again. If your partner asks you to cut ties with the person you cheated with, that’s reasonable. If they ask you to drink a little less and stay home a little more, that’s also reasonable. You should do things to make up for the pain you’ve caused, especially if they decide to stay with you.

Trust is hard to rebuild, but if you have empathy and try to make things right, you can do it. If you decide to break up, you should still apologize and agree to what you did. Then, identify what went wrong and do your best to better yourself.

3.      Practice Self-Compassion as You Begin to Forgive Yourself

Self-compassion refers to the mindset that people are imperfect and are allowed to make mistakes. This mentality doesn’t tie your worth as a human to your mistakes. Instead, your worth is something you have as long as you try to be accountable and better yourself. It’s not about the error itself; it’s about how you act after the incident.

If you want to forgive yourself, you must stop beating yourself up over something that happened in the past. No matter how much you’d like to, you can’t take back what you did. You can only fix your behavior from now on. It’s even okay to talk to a therapist about what happened. After all, people sometimes cheat because they feel that’s their only option to be romantically fulfilled.

Even the cheater can be traumatized after these events. You need to understand that your feelings are valid no matter what. If you feel guilty and sad after cheating, you need to ensure those feelings are addressed. Don’t just sweep them under the rug. Take a few days to reflect and practice self-care. Sometimes, things like meditation to increase self-compassion. It can also help a lot on the journey towards forgiving yourself.

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Final Thoughts on How to Forgive Yourself If You Cheated on Your Partner

Cheating is a messy affair that has repercussions for you and your initial partner. There are many reasons why it happens, some more justifiable than others. Still, cheating is not something that people should condone. But we need to face reality and accept the fact that it happens. And the one who got cheated on isn’t the only one who will need to heal. As a cheater, you must forgive yourself and move on with grace and self-compassion. After all, life goes on, and the only thing you can do is become a better person.

The first step is to come clean. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t confess what happened. Plus, the constant anxiety of your partner finding out from someone else will eat you alive. It’s best to accept the consequences, whatever those might be, and tell your partner what you did. Then, it would help if you were accountable. Don’t try to pass the cheating off as an accident because it never is.

You undoubtedly did something to end up in that situation and need to fix that behavior. Also, remember that it’s your partner’s choice whether to give you another shot. All you can do is apologize and try to be better. Self-compassion will help you a lot. You’ll realize that all you can do is become a better person. If you take the steps necessary to better yourself, you’ll eventually be able to forgive yourself.