This story is over 5 years old.


People Explain Why They Stayed With Their Partners Who Cheated

While some cut a cheater out of their lives completely, others choose a dramatically different route: they stay. We asked them why.
Image by Briana Morrison via Stocksy

Infidelity can be emotionally traumatizing for all parties involved. People cheat on their partners for a number of different reasons, and experts estimate that somewhere between 30 and 80 percent of married people have had some kind of affair.

Those who are cheated on often react in unpredictable ways. Some people may choose to grab a baseball bat and smash car windows a la Beyoncé, while others cut the cheater out of their lives completely and move on. Yet many people choose a dramatically different post-infidelity route: staying in the relationship.


Some studies have lent support to the belief that "once a cheater, always a cheater," but other findings indicate that couples are actually able to restore their relationships after infidelity. Another study also found that, for married men in particular, being cheated on did not make them fall out of love with their wives.

Read more: People Explain Their Reasons for Cheating

So what makes people who have been cheated on decide to give their partners the opportunity to make amends? Broadly asked people who have been cheated on why they chose to stay.

I think a big part of it was that she cheated on me with a girl, and I wasn't nearly as jealous because I saw girls as different from me—not, like, my competitors. Also, it was my first relationship, and I really didn't know what I was doing, so I couldn't blame her for being frustrated with me. I did blame her for cheating, and I think it presented problems later in the relationship. In fact, I kind of wanted to break up with her when she cheated, but somehow it didn't happen—maybe she talked me out of it? It's weird, but in this case I think the cheating itself was never that problematic. But it was her way of telling me our relationship was going downhill, so I tried to fix the relationship.

We'd always said we were poly, but it was never something we'd talked at length about or set up rules for because we never really met anyone new until two years ago. We'd had a very insular relationship, very focused on the two of us, and it never occurred to me that she would want more than just me in her life, because for almost ten years she hadn't.


Her and this guy we had just met were physically affectionate with each other the second time we hung out with him, and it was so shocking that it completely fucked me up. I was terrified and freaked out, and she promised me that she wasn't attracted to him, and that was it. They hung out together, just the two of them, after that. Because she'd never given me any indication that she would lie to me about something that big, I was OK with it, even though there were clues that something wasn't right.

One evening when she was going to hang out at his house and be home by nine, she was late and didn't answer my texts for hours. I knew exactly what was going on then—that she had lied to me and was fucking him at that very moment. She slunk home around like midnight, I think, and I freaked out, and I asked her if she was sleeping with him, and she said yes. I was so hurt and betrayed and scared that I basically lost my mind. This reaction (which did include me physically flailing at her) became the thing that was wrong instead of her cheating. The fact that I wasn't OK with it when we'd always said we were poly was the thing that was the betrayal.

I chose to stay because I thought it would be easier than learning to fall in love again

It took me about a year and a half to fully comprehend the extent to which she was controlling me, abusing me via poly terms, and using the fact that I was completely emotionally dependent on her, and incapable of leaving her, to do whatever she wanted without considering how it was affecting me. However, because I had been forced to spend time on my own and meet new people, because she was with her boyfriend all the time, or out with other men she was meeting, I realized that I was OK—if not better—without her, that I was capable of being on my own.


I still loved her. She said she loved me. We were in an incredibly stressful life situation at the time, with our wedding less than six months away. I didn't want to throw everything away because I was too prideful or egotistical to forgive someone I loved for making what they called the worst mistake they'd ever made.

Also, in a stupid way, it felt like it made things stronger between us. At the time I thought she'd be less likely to want to cheat later on in life… We broke up four months later.

I'd planned to surprise her at the bus station on her way back from New York City. When I saw her coming up the escalator at South Station making out with her ex, I was demolished… mostly because it felt clear that the relationship was over if she was that unhappy. It seemed cruel to tell her I found out, but after a few "how the relationship is going" conversations, she shared her unhappiness and then infidelity. Eventually, we broke up on great terms after four years of dating, although I still find that she feels guilty about it all to this day.

I chose to stay because I thought it would be easier than learning to fall in love again. We broke up eight or nine months later.

*All names have been changed