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Should I Forgive My Cheating Boyfriend?

Photo by Austin Guevara from Pexels

A wise man once said, “If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.” That wise man was Johnny Depp. While he is no philosopher, I’ve never read a quote about two-timing that resonates so strongly. If you’ve been cheated on, think of this quote when he asks for a second chance.

If he cheated on you and is asking for a second chance, before you give him any kind of answer at all, you need to do some soul-searching. Do you believe that people can change? Let me clarify; I mean, did you believe that people can change before he came back claiming to be a changed man? This is important; you have to think long and hard on this. Once you figure that out, you have your map in front of you. There will be some soul to be searched, but figuring that out will set you up with a good foundation to direct your choice.

If you do believe that people can change, and you believe he's genuine when he asks for a second chance, take the next step: label his betrayal. There are two major types of cheating: emotional and physical. The debate over which is worse can be endless and completely depends on the participating parties. They each take slightly different tolls, but they both leave behind a lot of pain. After he cheats on you, he may not always come back asking for a second chance, but if he does, your answer should depend on his form of betrayal.

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Thanks to Johnny Depp's quote, I hope you agree that you should never forgive emotional cheating. If he loved you, he would never have given another woman a chance. He shattered the love and trust that you once shared as soon as he opened himself up to falling for another woman. This is the kind of betrayal that should not be forgotten. This form of cheating is about one thing: him not understanding the worth of your love. That is in no way your fault; he’s just an idiot. You deserve better than the disrespect that he showed you.

Physical cheating is a little more of a gray area. There’s more that goes into this. If it is a repeated offense, it's as terrible as emotional cheating. They are close to the same thing because they both come from his inability to appreciate the worth of your love. Then there’s the one-time, genuinely apologetic cheater. It could have just been a terrible and painful mistake that he truly is sorry for, but he also could just be a great actor. Be careful.

If you believe him when he apologizes and says that it was just a one-time mistake, and if you truly see it as more of a mistake than a betrayal, then give him a second chance. However, if you have never really believed that people can truly change, then you know your choice. Once a cheater, always a cheater. It's a completely valid train of thought, and I highly encourage it for anyone that was emotionally cheated on or physically cheated on repeatedly. He doesn't deserve all that you have to offer if he was willing to put your relationship on the line. Know your worth and demand respect.

I may shy away from suggesting this immediate rejection towards someone who just made the infamous ‘one-time’ mistake. It is still a betrayal, but the circumstances around it can sometimes excuse this behavior if it is followed by immediate honesty and authentic sorrow. This is completely up to your judgment. The details vary so much in these situations that you have to play it by ear.

All of these points become moot when he starts to drag out the dreaded excuses. Cheaters tend to have a lot of them, such as ‘I was drunk’, ‘It meant nothing to me, or my personal favorite ‘You have been ignoring my physical needs!’ Boohoo! The truth is, there is never an excuse for hurting someone who loves and trusts you. No matter what, don’t accept his pitiful attempts to shift the blame off of himself. At the end of the day, he made a decision and it was the wrong one. If he isn’t man enough to own up to his mistakes and give you an actual apology, do you even really want him?

Let’s say you’ve made it this far into the soul search and you’re still contemplating giving him another chance. Take a breath and look at yourself. How did you feel when you found out, and how have you felt since then? That kind of betrayal from someone you love can be very damaging. It can create all kinds of new insecurities and paranoia.

Neither of those things is good for a relationship. If his affair made you feel like there was something wrong with you, you aren’t going to just forget about that and move on with him. It will haunt you and eventually, you will both spiral out of control into a completely toxic and untrusting relationship. If you do not think that you can look past his indiscretions and trust him again, then don’t try. You know yourself well enough to know what you can and cannot handle.

Whether you take him back or not, the most important part of the entire process is forgiveness. This aspect is completely for your own well-being. You cannot hold onto your anger forever. If not for the sake of having a clear and happy mind, you have to forgive him because there is a fine line between love and hate. If you keep all of your feelings channeled towards hate, he continues to live rent-free in your heart and mind. If you forgive him, you can let everything about him go. All of it will fall out of your mind, and you can live a happy and successful life without him, and that is what will really haunt him.

While you should most definitely forgive, do not forget. Cliché of me to say, I know. In forgiving him, you will let go of all the anger that you feel towards him. But you still should not forget what happened. Learn from the experience so you know the red flags for future relationships. If you forget or ignore the experience, then you cannot avoid getting back into it in the future.

Whether it be with the same guy a second time around or a new guy, if you don't learn the red flags, you’ll end up with another jerk who doesn’t know your worth. You should always follow your gut when it comes to red flags. If it's between listening to your heart, your mind, or your gut, always choose your gut. Women tend to have the uncanny ability to tell when something is wrong with a guy; embrace that talent and trust it.

No matter what you end up choosing, you need to make sure that you let go of all the insecurity and hurt. Whether you decide to go through the healing process with him or without him doesn’t really matter because either way, it is going to take a while. Time is all that can help you in moving beyond getting cheated on. It’s okay to take your time. Just remember that you did absolutely nothing wrong.

The worst kind of cheaters will try to make you think it was your fault, that you were lacking something. In reality, they are lacking more than you ever could. Don’t settle for disrespect. Remember through it all that you are beautiful, and there is someone out there who will recognize that and treat you how you deserve.

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