It's one of the most difficult conversations you can have: the one in which you apologize to your girlfriend for cheating and ask her trust you again. When you understand her needs during this difficult time, you can provide her with the answers and emotional support she may need while also granting her space and patience. In addition to expressing your sincere remorse, you will need to demonstrate through word and action that she has no need to fear being hurt again.
Commit to Faithfulness
An essential element of promising your girlfriend you will not cheat again is being committed to that reality yourself. While you might initially experience concern about falling into old patterns as soon as you notice another cute girl, know that recognizing others' attractiveness is not a problem. According to psychologist Shirley Glass in “Not 'Just Friends': Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity,” staying strong in the face of temptation has to do with your commitment, opportunities, values and level of vulnerability. Focus on making your relationship commitment a priority and reflect on your own moral stance toward faithfulness.
Apologize With Remorse
As difficult as a frank apology may be, it affords you the opportunity to help alleviate your girlfriend's concerns about your future behavior. An apology that demonstrates sincere remorse sends the message that infidelity is not an ongoing problem that will translate into a pattern of cheating, according to psychology professors Gregg J. Gold, of Humboldt State University, and Bernard Weiner, of the University of California in Los Angeles, in “Remorse, Confession, Group Identity, and Expectancies About Repeating a Transgression,” published in “Basic and Applied Social Psychology.” Your visible sorrow over the transgression can help convince her that you will not repeat your mistake.
Understand the Process
After confidence has been broken, your girlfriend will need to learn to trust her own judgement again. When you understand the process of regaining confidence in your intuition after surviving a betrayal, you can better show her empathy, support and patience. In the Psych Central article “How Can You Rebuild Trust When Your Partner Cheats?” therapist Tammy Nelson advises that those who have been cheated on need time and practice to separate their unrealistic fears from their helpful instincts. If your girlfriend initially fears the worse whenever you go out, proactively disclose the details to help calm her worry.
Work as a Team
While your girlfriend may want some time to herself in order to deal privately with the initial shock, you should not back off and leave the healing process up to her. In many cases, cheating stems from lost emotional intimacy, according to therapist Erica Goodstone in the Psych Central article “Can Your Relationships Survive Cheating?” Your girlfriend may find it all too easy to confide in, and seek consolation from, someone new. Let her know that you want to solve this problem with her. By working as a team to overcome this obstacle, you might be able to recover the lost intimacy, thereby increasing the likelihood that she will be able to trust you again.
- Not 'Just Friends': Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity; Shirley Glass
- Basic and Applied Social Psychology: Remorse, Confession, Group Identity, and Expectancies About Repeating a Transgression
- Psych Central: How Can You Rebuild Trust When Your Partner Cheats?
- Psych Central: Can Your Relationship Survive Cheating?
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