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Ask Dr. Ruth: Can a Relationship Overcome Infidelity?

2 minute read

After 30 years of working as a sex therapist, the legendary Dr. Ruth isn’t done sharing her wisdom. Here, she answers your most pressing questions on sex, relationships and life. Email your own queries to drruth@time.com, or catch up on previous installments of the Ask Dr. Ruth series.

Q: How do I rebuild trust in my relationship after my partner cheated on me?

A: The first thing you must do is ask yourself the question, “Do I want to stay with my partner?” If you’re hesitant about the answer, then it’s going to be very difficult to rebuild trust. It’s going to be difficult no matter what, but if you’re not in the right frame of mind, it may be impossible. If every time you see your partner naked you think he or she was naked with that other man or woman, then how are you going to ever trust your partner again? You probably can’t because it’s going to take a lot of willpower on your part not to think such thoughts, and you won’t be able to push such thoughts out of your mind unless you are committed to saving the relationship.

If you can honestly say to yourself, whatever happened, happened, but I want us to stay together, then it will be a lot easier. If staying together is your goal, you’ll stop yourself from wondering whether every late night business meeting is an actual meeting or evidence of hanky-panky.

Assuming your partner has apologized profusely and promised it will never happen again, there’s nothing else he or she can do. This person has to get on with his or her life. If you insist on keeping them on a tight leash, the relationship will never last. So the key is really inside your own head. If you’re willing to trust your partner, then you can. But if you have doubts, then I doubt that you’ll succeed and suggest you move on.

Email questions to drruth@time.com.

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