The easy answer is “No.” “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” “Cut them loose and run to the hills.” But, as with most easy answers, it’s incomplete.
In this case, the easy answer ignores most of the complexities of love and building relationships and the even more important element of personal contribution, so let’s unpack those.
Arriving at a productive and sound logical conclusion to a highly emotive problem is difficult. Your past feelings of love and connection intermingle with hurt and betrayal resulting in contradictory answers to even the most simple questions (like: “Should I burn all the possessions they left at my house?”).
To help strip the emotion from the decision, here are 8 logical questions to work through to help you decide if you should take your ex back when they’ve cheated on you.
Question 1. Are you ready to be in a relationship?
The first and most important question to answer first is: are you ready to be in a relationship? Are you strong and independent? Have you found your feet and are happy without a relationship? Getting into a relationship in the hope it will fill a hole will only lead to a frustrating experience. You must be ready to enter the relationship as a whole and complete person to give the relationship any chance of success.
So, are you ready to be in a relationship? If yes, then continue to the next question. If no, then stop right here, call your ex, and let them know you need more time before you get back into a relationship with them.
Question 2. Do you want to be in a relationship?
The funny thing about becoming ready to step back into a relationship is that it’s usually the time when you don’t want to be in a relationship. If you’ve been in a relationship where, say, your partner cheated on you and you were left feeling crushed, and you’ve just once again found how to enjoy life without them, getting back into a relationship is usually not high on your list. So, do you actually want to be in a relationship right now? Is that something you want to do? Are you ready to have that someone in your life? Or is the single life just too much fun right now?
If you are ready to be in a relationship, continue to the next question. If you’re not, then call your ex and let them know that it’s not the right time.
Question 3. Do you want to be in a relationship with your ex?
Now we get to the fun stuff: do you actually want to be in a relationship with your ex? Was the relationship you had worth fighting for? I’m not talking about the fun honeymoon 3-months where everything is exciting and new and everyone’s on their best behaviour.
I’m talking about the 9 to 12-months in where the excitement and desire to please has given way to the habitual repetitiveness of seeing the same person day in and day out. In those moments, when you’re waking up every day next to the same person, was that relationship worth fighting for?
Did they continue to inspire and excite you? Did they still intrigue you? Did they still drive you to be a better person? Was your relationship something special worth fighting for? Or was it just a run-of-the-mill, nothing special, everyday relationship that you could realistically find with someone else?
If it was something special, even in the slow moments, then continue on to the next question. If it wasn’t, stop right now, call your ex, and let them know it’s not worth pursuing.
Question 4. Does your ex think their behaviour was wrong?
We’ve dealt with you and your world, now let’s talk about your ex. Does your ex think their behaviour was wrong? We both know they should think it was wrong to cheat on you, but do they actually think it was wrong? Are they remorseful for their behaviour and do they see the error of their ways?
If they don’t, they’re just going to do it again and you’ll be in the same place in 3-months asking the same questions.
If your ex does think their behaviour was wrong, then continue to the next question. If they don’t, cut it off right here.
Question 5. Does your ex want to change?
We’ve established that your ex thinks their actions were wrong, but do they actually want to change? A lot of people do things they believe are wrong over and over again without any real desire to change. Is your ex one of them? Or do they truly desire to change their ways and start living their life differently?
If they do want to change, continue to the next question. If they haven’t displayed a desire to change their ways, cut this off right here.
Question 6. Has your ex displayed an ability to change?
Believing you’ve done the wrong thing and wanting to change isn’t enough. Change is a difficult process that takes commitment, time, energy and dedication. Whilst every person has to display the ability to change for the first time at some point in their life, a good indication as to whether someone will change is whether or not they’ve successfully changed their behaviour in the past.
Has your ex ever done this? Can you think of a time during your relationship where your ex successfully changed their behaviour? Whilst it’s not necessary to have changed their behaviour before, it’s a very strong indicator as to whether they’ll be able to make a change this time.
If your ex has displayed the ability to change their behaviour previously, then continue to the next question. If they haven’t, you can choose whether or not you progress.
Question 7. Was that change permanent or temporary?
It’s one thing to change your behaviour, it’s another thing to maintain that change and establish it as your new way of living your life. Habits are hard to break and whilst never achieving permanent change previously isn’t a sign that it will never happen, most people who can successfully change their behaviours have done so previously.
So, have the changes your ex made in their life been permanent? Or have the fallen off the wagon and gone back to their old ways after a short while?
If they’ve been permanent, then continue to the next question. If they haven’t been permanent, seriously consider whether or not you’re just going to end up back in the same position in 3-months before continuing.
Question 8. Will getting back together with your ex take you closer to your One Perfect Day?
If you’ve made it this far, there’s a fairly good chance you could rebuild your relationship with your ex and enjoy the process, but, and this is a big but, just because you want to and you’d have a good chance at success, should you still do it?
Just because something’s going to be enjoyable and probably successful, it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. You have to consider the bigger picture. In this case, that bigger picture is: when you think about the kind of life you want to live, will being in this relationship take you closer or further away?
This is incredibly important to consider. At the end of the day, when this relationship is all said and done, will you be closer to your One Perfect Day? Or will you be further away? Will getting back together with this ex help you:
- Form closer relationships with inspiring people?
- Challenge yourself to be a better person?
- Help you become more financially secure?
- Create the emotional freedom in your life necessary to discover your passions and desires?
Even though you want to be in a relationship with your ex and you think they can change their ways, will being in a relationship with them help you become the best person possible?
Even if the answer is yes to all seven previous questions, if being with this person doesn’t help you become the best version of yourself and reach your potential, then you’ll eventually grow to resent this person and this relationship. And that’s not fair to your ex or yourself.
So before you do anything, before you let emotion take control and follow your heart to a place that feels right
Are you setting yourself up to resent this decision and this person? Or are you making a smart decision?
Only you can say. So stop, think, and work out how to move your life forward.