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Why Some People Take Back Cheaters, And Some People Don’t

It’s hard to predict exactly what you might do if someone cheated on you.

A 1999 study from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships revealed that 62 percent of the female participants and 86 percent of the male participants cheated more than once in their lives.

If you were the partner of one of these participants, your immediate reaction might be to say you’d dump that person’s sorry, pathetic ass and tell him or her to f*ck off forever.

You’d probably fantasize about confidently approaching the perpetrator, ripping him or her a new assh*le and stomping away triumphantly.

It’s easy — and kind of fun — to imagine how much you’d hate someone who went behind your back like that.

But if it actually happened to you, perhaps you’d react differently. After all, there would be real feelings involved.

There would be a real history between you and someone else whom you love, a real connection you thought might have been everlasting, a real trust that had been built.

When all of that is suddenly and abruptly ripped away, forcing you to deal with the real-life consequences of someone’s painful actions, it’s not as easy to predict how you’d respond.

Maybe you really would end the relationship — in that case, more power to you. But maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe you’d give your partner a second chance.

Everyone knows cheating is one of the most heinous relationship crimes one can commit. But what really determines if someone would or wouldn’t take back a cheater?

Men and women handle infidelity differently. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, when asked to imagine themselves in a long-term relationship and discover that their partner cheated, 22 percent of men and 28 percent of women said they would forgive a cheater.

Those forgiveness numbers might seem similar, but men were much more likely than women to actually break up with a partner who cheated. Overall, men in the study were far less tolerant of adultery.

Paula Hall, a relationship counselor, told the Daily Mail that men are definitely more likely to see adultery as a reason to end a relationship.

She says women are more threatened by the emotional connection that could have been present in an affair, and men are more threatened by the sexual aspect.

The thought of other people satisfying their partners sexually cuts men right at the heart of their masculinity, which makes sense since one of the main aspects of modern-day masculinity is a man’s sexual prowess.

Phillip Hodson, therapist and Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, also spoke to the Daily Mail and agrees:

For a betrayed woman, an affair is an offense against her dignity. For a betrayed man, it’s an offense against his manhood. It goes right to the core of his identity.

This is likely why men are more likely to get angrier about an affair. When a man’s partner comes clean about cheating, there’s no question that sex occurred, which is the exact thing that upsets him the most.

He doesn’t care as much about the presence of feelings, so there’s not much to reassess once an affair is out in the open: To him, the relationship is now done.

But a woman cares about whether or not there were feelings involved. And when her partner comes clean about his affair, yes, it’s true that sex definitely occurred, but feelings weren’t necessarily there, which gives women more wiggle room to think carefully about the situation and determine how to proceed.

So, if the affair were just physical and not emotional, she would be more likely to forgive her partner and stay in the relationship.

Besides this difference in the perception of the affair, there are a variety of other reasons women might stay in the relationship.

Ruth Houston, founder of InfidelityAdvice.com, author of “Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs,” in which she documents literally every known signal of infidelity, and researcher of infidelity for over 16 years writes in a blog post some of the main reasons why women forgive cheaters:

Love
Convenience
Financial reasons
Not willing to give up lifestyle
Insufficient proof of infidelity
For the sake of the children
Fear of change
Low self-esteem
Bad timing
Thinking the cheater will change
To achieve career goals
Hoping counseling will help
Fear of being alone
Loyalty
Religious beliefs
Desire to keep the family intact
Belief that it won't happen again

She emphasizes that these aren’t the only reasons because some reasons might only make sense to the people involved, but these are the most significant.

Of course, cheating is a terrible breach of trust, confidence and love, and it’s something that could deeply alter the dynamic of a relationship for a long, long time, however, someone’s decision to take back a cheating partner (or not to) is nobody else’s decision but that person’s, regardless of how much his or her friends and family might judge.

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Alexia LaFata

Digital Editor

Alexia LaFata is a Deputy Editor. She's a proud New Jersey native and Boston College graduate. When she's not writing, she's watching documentaries, practicing her Cher impression, or eating pasta. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.
Alexia LaFata is a Deputy Editor. She's a proud New Jersey native and Boston College graduate. When she's not writing, she's watching documentaries, practicing her Cher impression, or eating pasta. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.

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