How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating: 21 Helpful Perspectives & Tools (2024)

Want to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating? This guide features 21 practical ways to relieve yourself of cheating guilt.

How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating
Photo By Marcos Paulo Prado On Unsplash

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping people learn how to improve their mental health, whether they’re suffering from guilt, low self-esteem or just feel rotten. I’m also commonly helping people discover how to improve their relationships with those closest to them.

So, let’s dive in.  

Should You Forgive Yourself For Cheating?

Yes, it’s the only way to move forward in your life and your relationship. Being stuck in self-hate forever won’t do you any good and will make it hard for you to co-exist in any future relationship with anyone. 

That’s why I’m so keen to share this guide with you. 

Do I Deserve Forgiveness After Cheating?

Ultimately, that’s up to you.

Your partner might decide you don’t deserve forgiveness for a one-night stand, physical cheating or even one-off ‘emotional cheating’ on a business trip. 

You can still decide that you do.

Believing you deserve forgiveness is the only way to move on with your life.

So, that’s what this guide will help you to do. 

How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating

Here are some key steps to help you forgive yourself after cheating.

Related: What Does Cheating Say About A Person?

1. Accept What Happened

Be honest with yourself and others about what happened. It’ll be tough to forgive yourself about what happened if you continue lying to yourself about it. 

2. Take Some Personal Responsibility And Accept You Were Wrong 

Accepting you were wrong will be the first of many noble steps you can take to forgive yourself over what happened. It’s a crucial step too. How can one forgive themselves if they’re still in denial about their wrongdoings?

3. Stop The Affair

Another essential step is to cut ties with the third party, or at least to refrain from having an ongoing affair with them. How can one forgive themselves for cheating if they’re still doing it?

4. Understand Why The Temptation Existed

This is the first step to ensuring it doesn’t happen again, which is another important step to relieving the guilt of cheating.

5. Take Some Time Alone To Reflect 

Understanding why you cheated shouldn’t be a five-minute job while you’re queueing at the bank. Sit down to truly understand all the reasons why you went off with this other person instead of your  partner.

Which of your weaknesses allowed this to happen? What role did your partner play in pushing you away? How can you stop yourself from making the same mistake again?

6. Journal 

It can really help to write things down when you’re exploring your thoughts and feelings this deeply. If you journal your thoughts surrounding your infidelity, you’ll be able to understand yourself better, plus it’ll be easier to present your thoughts to your partner later (if you choose to do so).

Related: Best Ways – How To Stop Him From Cheating

7. Does It Go Deeper Than You Realize?

When you’re journaling around this topic, try and dive as deep into your feelings as you can. Do you have a deep craving for validation? Where could this have come from? Do you truly love your partner? Were you destined to self-sabotage a great relationship? It’s not always easy to be this introspective, so it might help to talk with a therapist or a life coach.

8. Take Steps To Learn From The Mistake And Ensure It Doesn’t Happen Again

Your introspection shouldn’t stop until you truly understand why you cheated, and what you will do to prevent this from happening again, whether that’s in your current relationship or with a new person. 

9. Take Steps To Repair The Damage

Whether your partner knows you cheated or not, your relationship is surely damaged. It’s rare that someone would step out on a perfect relationship, after all. So it’s time to draft down some steps you can take to create a better relationship moving forward. It could prove handy to propose these steps to your partner, especially if you need to convince them to stay with you.

10. Accept That Everyone Makes Mistakes 

It’s a cliche piece of advice, but it’s true that all human beings make mistakes. You’re not a bad person just because you made a grave mistake. If you were, everyone would be a bad person! It’s worth reminding yourself as this can help with the self-forgiveness healing process. 

You’re only human! You’re still growing. Forgiving yourself is part of that growth.

11. To Confess Or Not To Confess?

There are strong arguments either way.

Some say confessing is the noble thing to do –  and is the only way to keep trust within your relationship. 

The best advice is to look inside your heart, decide what is best for both parties moving forward and to back yourself for whatever final decision you make.

There’s a right way and wrong way to confess. I’d recommend having a calm talk with your partner and to focus on how sorry you are, plus what you’re going to do to never make your partner feel so hurt again.  

As for the cheating and not telling part, let’s explore the difficulties with that now… 

Related: Falling Out Of Love After Infidelity: 21 Easy Ways

12. How Do I Forgive Myself For Cheating And Not Telling? 

If you decide to go down the route of not telling your partner, the toughest part can be dealing with the guilty feelings that tend to remain inside you. My guide on the Best Ways To Deal With Guilt Of Cheating has more information that will help you. 

13. Don’t Obsess On ‘What Ifs’ or ‘If Onlys’

The truth is: this achieves nothing. It just makes you feel bad. You can’t change the past, but you can improve and act better in the future. So, focus on that only. 

14. Let Go Of Guilt

You might feel like holding onto guilt is the honorable thing to do after having cheated. Perhaps you think that one who doesn’t feel guilty must not care about their partner.

However, as long as the guilt remains, the ghost of what happened will continue to haunt your relationship. Both of you will still be able to feel that energy. These negative feelings will hold you back in all areas of life.  

After you’ve done everything you can to repair the situation, the best thing you can do for you and your partner is to let go of the guilt.  

15. If They Leave, Accept This Happened For A Reason

This is going to be hard to take if your partner decides they don’t want your relationship anymore. It will take some time to recover. These self-forgiveness tips should help, but it will also help to accept that everything happens for a reason and this might even be an opportunity for you to grow

16. Meditation To Forgive Myself For Cheating

Meditation is a highly-recommended practice to help separate yourself from negative thoughts, so it could absolutely help you to stop feeling guilty after cheating.

Indeed, there are guided meditations available on apps for a variety of emotions, including guilt. 

For more information, see this guide on proven ways to empty your mind effectively.   

17. How Do I Forgive Myself For Ruining My Relationship?

If you were caught cheating or admitted to it, it’s going to damage your relationship, perhaps beyond repair.

It’s tough to not feel guilty for hurting someone you cared about. 

The tips above should help, and it’s also worth remembering that your partner did play somewhat of a role too.

Perhaps the relationship was already unsatisfactory in your heart when you cheated. Maybe you decided your partner wasn’t meeting your emotional needs. Maybe they were unwilling to work things out afterwards. 

I’m not saying your partner deserves to be cheated on ,but it takes two people to make a committed relationship work, and there will always be ups and downs from both sides.

Related: Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes To Avoid After Infidelity

18. How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating When Drunk

For some people, the excuse of “I was drunk” is enough to help them forgive themselves. For others, it doesn’t work because the emotions that made them cheat still remain the next day. They can see through their own excuses.

If that’s you, I’d advise you to follow the steps above, particularly to do some soul-searching into just what made you cheat, why you’re unhappy in your relationship and what you can do to move it in the right direction. 

19. I Cheated On My Boyfriend And He Forgave Me But I Can’t Forgive Myself

This isn’t too surprising. He may have forgiven you, but you’re probably aware that he won’t forget. A lot of guilt stems from the hurt caused to the partner, and that’s often what’s happening in these situations.

This means you’re a good person who has empathy. You can probably imagine how hurt you’d be if your partner cheated on you.  

The steps in this guide will help you to forgive yourself. If you can learn the lessons from this mistake and use them to make the relationship better in the long run, this will do a lot to help you forgive yourself.  

Related: Gut Feeling He’s Cheating No Proof: 31 Critical Signs

20. Realize There’s No Use Beating Yourself Up

Make a list of ways that this self-loathing is helping you. You’ll do well to find one positive point.

While it still won’t be easy, this realization should help with the process of forgiving yourself. 

21. Get Professional Help

If you’re struggling to pull yourself together, I really would recommend getting help from a life coach, a therapist or another mental health professional. The professionals in these roles are trained to help clients understand the mental funk they’re in and how to get out of it. 

22. Forget About “Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater”

This is a popular cliche uttered by so-called relationship experts, but it’s an inaccurate one. 

There are people out there who cheat, learn from their mistakes and stop cheating. 

You can be one of those people too, so don’t walk around thinking you’re doomed to cheat on your current partner or your next one again. 

Related Content: Signs To Know When To Walk Away After Infidelity

Any Questions?

Thanks for reading my guide.

If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to write in the comments below. 

It would be great to hear from you – and I’ll do my best to get back to you with an answer.

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.