Each relationship is a journey with its own twists and turns, high jumps and quick drops. No one is alike and what constitutes success in a relationship is subjective. What, perhaps, may be the trickiest part of a relationship is what determines the end of it–that too is subjective. It is often said in movies and the tabloids that cheating is an unpardonable offense, but a new survey of nearly 10,000 Americans found there is really no universal rule.
To start, the survey finds millennials are the most forgiving generation, followed by baby boomers, then Gen X. Those in the New England region ( Connecticut, Maine and their neighbors) are believed the most forgiving, whereas the West North South (Iowa, Kansas and the like) is least. And politically, Republicans polled more defensible than Democrats, and of the religions, Atheists/Agnostics are most forgiving and Christians are least.
What is even more intriguing is while men are more forgiving in general, when it comes to matters of infidelity, women are more likely to give their partner a second chance. Seven in 10 said they’ve previously pardoned a partner for cheating compared to 57 percent of men. Still, both figures seem remarkably high. Worse, 44 percent of women and 33 percent of men gave their partners a chance after they’d cheated a second time.
Seventy-one percent of people believe cheaters can change. Sure they can, but it doesn’t mean they will. For instance, more new research from the University of Denver, Colorado, found that people who’ve cheated in a past relationship are three times more likely to cheat again. Likewise, those who suspect a prior partner of cheating are four times more likely to suspect their partner will cheat in another relationship. According to Forbes, estimates suggest around 20 percent of married couples will encounter infidelity in addition to 70 percent of unmarried couples. Other instances that tear couples apart are spreading rumors (26 percent), telling too many lies (32 percent) and stealing (35 percent).
In her experience, dating and relationship coach Deanna Cobden cites infidelity is the the most difficult deceit to forgive in a relationship. “It’s going to be tough,” Cobden admits. “You’re dealing with betrayal, lack of trust, anger, sadness, insecurity, jealousy, etc. There are a lot of emotions to work through. Trust being the hardest to reconcile,”
“The guilty party must address all emotions and issues related to the adultry as well as the underlying issue that caused it in the first place,” she continues. But before all of that happens, the afflicted party must be amenable to heal the relationship. “Are they willing to trust again? Are they willing to forgive, and better yet, is it even worth it? Do they still love, respect and have fun with their partner now that the trust has been lost? If they do want to work it out they have to keep in mind that its going to take time,” Cobden shares.
According to a survey from lifestyle website YourTango, which polled 100 relationship experts, open communication is most effective for building trust. Results found poor communication was the leading contributor for divorce. But it looks like even this solution is complicated, as researchers found both men and women are at odds with what needs to be communicated in the first place. Seventy percent say men most cite nagging and complaining as the biggest communication problem in their relationship, whereas 83 percent say women believe their spouse doesn’t validate their opinions or feelings enough.
Strangely enough, data from dating app Coffee Meets Bagel notes we’re quickly approaching peak breakup season, so if you want to do it, do it quick. To be specific, the time most couples split is just two weeks before Christmas. According to their insights, this most festive season proves taxing on relationships as it’s often a time families organize reunions and parties. As such, many realize their partner is not someone they would like to introduce to their families and promptly cut them loose.
But, of course, breakups aren’t seasonal, and relationships often end for more valid reasons and cheating proves itself the ultimate deceit. So is it foolish to forgive a partner for who’s been unfaithful? Once a cheater, always a cheater, right? “I don’t believe that you can ever speak in absolutes this way,” Codben shares. “If they have cheated on you and have a history in previous relationships then you definitely have to factor that in, as the odds are pretty high that they will do it again. If they have cheated in the past, you have to look at what the root cause is and how willing your partner is to change,” she says. “If they seek counselling and the underlying root cause is addressed maybe they can create a new pattern.”
Ultimately, you have to make the decision for yourself and guage how willing you are to fully trust the person and risk getting heartbreak again. “If they cheat again, take a serious look at why you’re staying in the relationship.”