It’s all too easy to pass judgment when a public figure or someone you know decides to stand by a significant other who’s cheated. I’d never stay with someone who betrayed my trust like that, you think, a little too sure of yourself.
The truth is, you never really know how you’ll respond to finding out about an affair until you’re in that unenviable position.
On Monday, Redditors on the TwoXChromosomes board shared how they responded after they discovered an affair. Many of them said they remained in the relationship, at least initially. It’s a decision many HuffPost Divorce readers said they made as well when we asked them to share their experiences on our Facebook page.
Below, nine reasons people stayed in relationships with a cheating partner.
1. She wasn’t sure she could go it alone.
“The first times, I stayed because I didn’t believe I could make it on my own. The last one I made him leave because I had realized I was worth more than the crumbs he was giving me. I showed my daughter what wasn’t acceptable to take from a man and my son what wasn’t acceptable to do to a woman.”
2. She didn’t think she could find a better partner.
“If anyone were to ask me in person, I would simply tell them it was because I was young and stupid. However, in truth, it was because I was afraid. I was scared that no one would ever love me again (he had been my first). And I was scared that he was it, that that was as good as it was ever going to get. Everyone around me cheated on their significant others so i started to think it was normal and something I would have to accept. And of course, I didn’t want to be alone. Thankfully I’ve changed since then. My insecurities definitely played a big role in how I handled that relationship, and while I’m thankful from all I learned from it, it was a hard lesson to understand.”
3. He initially hoped he’d grow to trust her again.
“I stayed only long enough to know I couldn’t trust her anymore. We gave it a try but I was honest with my ex and told her the trust was broken and it might never be regained … The ex was none to happy about it and had the nerve to ask me why I was ‘walking away.’ It was a strange question since it was it was her choice to cheat and lie, not mine.”
4. She wanted to help her partner overcome his weakness.
“My husband cheated on me emotionally four years ago. We weren’t married then — we had been dating for about a year. Four months before that, I had found nude pictures on his computer from some other girl. The first time, my world was shattered. One of the reasons I grew to love him as much as I did was because I never would’ve expected him to do anything like that. My trust was gone. I forgave him for the little mishap — I took it as remnants of his single life. Then, when I went away on a weekend trip, he had an overtly sexual conversation with a friend of his on Facebook. When I stumbled upon this, I was devastated. I can’t describe the hurt I felt. It was like someone had sucker punched me. I cried for days, weeks, months… and even now, four years later, I still cry.
And yet, I stayed with him. When I confronted him about it, he broke down in tears, telling me he needed help, that he was so sorry and didn’t know why he did it. Seeing him in tears made me want to take care of him. I feel that’s why I stayed with him. I loved him, I didn’t want to throw it all away without giving it another try. Since then, I’ve never had any reason to believe he is still cheating on me. I honestly feel that it was a lapse in judgment on his part and that he realizes how deeply he hurt me. But that trust is no longer there, not completely.”
5. She thought her partner was willing to change.
“I stayed for 14 years, through multiple occurrences. I left after what became the last time, when I asked him what we could change and what we could do to prevent this from happening again and his reply was, ‘Nothing. Its not like you’re ever going to leave.” I left that moment.'”
6. She felt sorry for him.
“I walked in on him with another girl. I couldn’t believe it was real and he was so sorry. So I decided to stay with him and it was genuinely the worst decision I’ve ever made. I spent a year on and off with him, knowing I should break it off but still really wanting him and what we originally had. I never trusted him again and I couldn’t forgive him. I’d think I had but then I’d get drunk and all the emotions I was suppressing because it easier that way began to bubble up and and I’d think, ‘How could you do that to me?’ We broke it off properly around four months ago and I’m still not over him but I’m getting progressively happier.”
7. She believed they could recover from his affair.
“I was still team marriage throughout the infidelity because I was hopeful that we could make it work. I decided to leave when his mistress called me and told me she was having his baby. The choice was obvious then: I had to go.”
8. She thought the relationship was worth saving.
“Love is a difficult path, and unfortunately we don’t always grow at the same rate as our partners. I stayed and I’m glad I did. I still have moments of reflecting back to the hurt but I don’t want to live there. It was a habit for him and I recognize people do dumb things for even dumber reasons. He didn’t want to be the person he had become. I wanted a stab at a relationship that had amazing chemistry. And so far, it’s working. The biggest thing we’ve both learned is that you have to keep working on your relationship and not give up on each other. We will not allow boredom to set in with us, because we’ve both experienced unfulfillment in relationships before and that ended in us seeking fulfillment externally. That’s what happens, sometimes. We both intend for that not to happen to us. The only guarantee in life is that everything changes, but we are still hopeful.”
9. She believed his apology was for real.
“I stayed because I thought his apology was genuine and he was serious about wanting to fix our relationship — and also because I didn’t think I could do better. I was really wrong.”