I enjoy giving advice to others on fixing their mistakes in their relationships.
How to Apologize for Cheating
You were caught cheating. Chances are your significant other found out about your behavior in a shocking and ugly way and now things are extremely painful, awkward, and stressful for everyone involved. What can you do to make it better?
The first thing to do is apologize. How, where, and when you apologize are all important considerations.
Below, you'll find...
- How to say you're sorry properly: What to say and what not to say.
- How to write a letter of apology (and three different example letters).
- What to do after you express your sincere apology.
How to Say You're Sorry for Cheating
These options are listed in order of preference and impact. If you're really sorry and sincere, apologize all of the ways listed below. If your partner refuses to meet, then start by writing a letter and sending a text.
- Don't wait too long. It's hard to face the truth, but the longer you wait, the worse it will be.
- Apologize in person. If you only choose one method, a face-to-face apology will always be the most sincere and effective.
- Deliver a physical, hand-written letter.
- Apologize via voicemail, text, and/or email.
- Give your partner plenty of time to grieve and respond.
- Whether they forgive you or not, you will need to work on the issues that led you to cheat in the first place.
How and when you deliver your apology isn't the only consideration. What you say and how you say it is what matters the most. Crafting an effective apology is not easy. Don't make things worse by saying the wrong thing.
How to Apologize Properly
- Take Responsibility. Admit your cheating. Take full responsibility for your actions. Don't try to minimize or blame or you will only give your partner more reasons to hurt.
- Have Empathy. Show some understanding for how your actions have effected your partner. Acknowledge the hurt that your actions have caused. Focus on and verbalize how your partner must feel.
- Say That You're Sorry. Express your remorse explicitly. Don't try to explain or give any excuses, since all of these actions will detract from your apology.
- Ask for Forgiveness. There's no guarantee you will be forgiven, and you don't get to control their decision. You have to ask.
- Make Reparations. Ask them if you can do anything to help repair the wrong and rebuild trust. Better yet—start by listing all the things you will do to make things right, then ask them what else you can do.
- Promise to Never Cheat Again. If you can't keep this promise, then you'll need to come clean—with yourself and with your partner. This step of the proper apology is very important and will require some serious soul-searching.
- Give Them Time to Answer. Even if they lash out in the moment with sadness and anger, give them more time to digest your apology fully before you do anything more.
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
— Benjamin Franklin
How to Write an Apology Letter for Cheating
If you have cheated and want to apologize properly, then following your face-to-face apology with a handwritten letter that adheres to the seven ways to apologize properly (see above) will help show your sincerity. It may also help you express everything you need to say in order to heal and move forward. If you have cheated on your partner but want another go at the relationship, then then you'll need to ask for another chance to make things right.
Example #1 of a Sincere Apology Letter for Cheating
Below, you'll find three samples of apology letters for cheating, each written to address different needs and situations.
Dearest [ __________ ],
Sometimes, there are simply no words that can adequately express the depth of a person's feelings that are plagued by regret, guilt, and sadness for a wrong done. This is my predicament now for hurting you so badly when you trusted me so.
I want to tell you I'm sorry a thousand times, but I know my apology can't undo what has been done or ease the pain in your heart. Cheating on you is certainly an unforgivable mistake. I totally deserve all the anger and resentment from you for what I have put you through.
However, it also pains me to see you suffering as a result of my misbehavior. Guilt burns in my heart thinking of all the hurt that you must have felt because of my recklessness. Each time that I think of you, I get angry with myself because I can imagine all the bitter tears you must have shed when you learned of my indiscretion.
I'm feeling like this because there is still love for you glowing in my heart. Otherwise, I wouldn't have cared one bit and moved on. But I don't want this relationship to end. I still care deeply about you and love you with all my heart. I truly want you to be happy again with me still being a part of your life.
Well, a mistake is a mistake. I know I don't have the right to ask anything from you when I have foolishly betrayed your trust in me. But if you can find it in your heart to forgive me and give me another opportunity to prove to you how much I love you, I will be very, very relieved indeed. For that would mean I still have the chance to love and cherish you as you deserve, and a chance to make your future a happier one with more laughter and fewer tears.
Lastly, I just want to say that I have faith in my love for you. I have faith that we will overcome the odds and make our relationship even better than before. Give me another chance and I have faith that, one day, we will look back at this and be glad that we didn't walk away from each other.
Loving you always,
What to Say (And Not to Say) If You Are Caught Cheating
|Things to say in your apology...||Things NOT to say...|
I made some very bad choices.
Bad choices were made. (Avoid the passive voice.)
I was extremely selfish.
You weren't giving me everything I need. (This is a dumb excuse and blames your partner.)
I broke promises.
You have made mistakes in the past, too. (Don't try to shirk responsibility now.)
I didn't consider your welfare.
I'm sure you'll recover eventually. (This is not for you to say.)
I risked your health.
I don't know what came over me. (Don't distance yourself from your decision to cheat.)
I risked our children's home and happiness.
If you love our kids, you'll take me back. (You're the one who broke the home, not your partner.)
Please forgive me.
You have to forgive me. (This is an unfair demand.)
Example Letter #2 Apologizing for Cheating
Sometimes, it will be hard to demand forgiveness from your partner when you have cheated on him/her. For all the hurt you have caused, you might not want to put unnecessary pressure on your partner to reconcile with you. In fact, what you simply want may be just for him/her to be happy.
Dearest [ __________ ],
First let me say how sorry I am for the hurt that I have caused you. I know an apology now will do little to heal the pain. I know it's useless to say sorry when the mistake is unforgivable. But neither do I want to remain silent as if I don't care one bit about what I have done and the bitterness it brought you.
Not many can live with the idea of being cheated upon. Few can put the past behind them and revive a troubled relationship. Not many can find happiness with a partner who has betrayed their trust. I understand that perfectly. The wound in your heart requires time to heal and it is only right that I allow you the space to do so.
This relationship of ours is now at a crossroads, but I know that the decision of where we go from here is not mine to make. I relinquished that right when I cheated on you. If you feel that you can no longer love me the way you used to, I will accept your decision, although it will be with a ton of regret and sadness. Because deep in my heart, I still love you and wish fervently for a chance for our relationship to bloom once again.
But to me, what matters is your happiness and well-being. If you can no longer feel love, trust, and security in our relationship and wish to walk away, I won't stop you. Once again, I'm truly sorry for what I have done. Whatever you decide, all I want is just for you to be happy and for the pain in your heart to go away. And hopefully, it will, one day, very soon.
Thinking of you,
What Not to Do in an Apology
- Don't make it worse by exaggerating, lying, back-pedaling, or making excuses.
- Don't include the word “but” (“I’m sorry, but…”). This word cancels the apology and turns it into a criticism or an excuse.
- Don't bring up your partner's previous words or deeds. A sincere apology will remain focused on your actions, not on the other person’s. Instead of saying "you," use "I" statements and take ownership.
- Don't assume that you will be forgiven. You can ask for forgiveness, but you can't demand it.
- Don't play word games or twist the responsibility around. “I’m sorry that you feel hurt,” is not an apology. “I’m sorry I hurt you" is a lot better. Own your behavior and apologize for it.
- Don't try to get them to share the blame. This is no time to point a finger at your partner and accuse them, all or in part, for your actions.
- Don't use the passive voice and take full ownership for your actions. Say "I made mistakes," not "mistakes were made."
- Don't get all wrapped up in your own feelings. This is no time to overdramatize your own pain or remorse. This is your partner's turn to feel sad, not yours.
- Don't downplay the cheating. If your partner sees your actions as infidelity but you don't, don't argue. Read What Is Considered Cheating (From a Man's and a Woman's Point of View) for more information.
Poll: Why Did You Cheat?
Apologizing does not mean that you are always wrong and the other person is always right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.
Example #3 Apology Letter With a Separation Request (If You Can't Promise to Stop Cheating)
If you want to initiate a separation after you have cheated on your partner, you can also explain that in your apology letter. While that seems a little cruel, sometimes, we may indeed need to be cruel in order to be kind, especially if we know the relationship will not last.
Dear [ __________ ],
A successful relationship is built on love, respect, and trust, and when trust is broken, it is not easy to rebuild. It is me who allowed the trust to evaporate overnight between us with my selfishness and unfaithfulness. For that, I'm really sorry for all the hurt and pain that I have inflicted on you.
I know no amount of apologies will be sufficient to heal the wound in your heart. Because of that, I don't know what else I can do to make you feel better except perhaps for me to allow you the time and space to lessen the pain. A separation would give both of us a chance to collect our thoughts and decide where we want to go from here.
It is not easy to commit a wrong and then walk away. The guilty feeling never fails to gnaw at the heart. As much as I want to say sorry and promise you happiness once again, I also do not want to end up hurting you even more months down the road. It is just too cruel to make promises now that I sincerely do not know whether I will be able to keep, given the many challenges in our relationship to date.
What is done cannot be undone. I have hurt you badly. I have failed to be a faithful partner. I have betrayed the trust you put in me. The onus is now on me to rebuild the foundation of our relationship and regain your trust. But this is also where I fear I will fail horribly. Instead of making things better, I'm just afraid I will end up prolonging your misery.
So that is why I believe a separation is the best plan. Let the dust settle and we will be able to look into our hearts and see a clearer picture of our feelings for each other. If ours is a true love, I'm sure we will find a way back to each other's arms. If we don't, perhaps, it is just not meant to be.
I'm deeply sorry for all the hurt I have caused. I hope the next time we meet, we will both have more clarity. Until then, please take good care of yourself.
Ways to Show You Are Sorry After You Cheated
Apologizing is the first step, but that's not all you'll need to do. Here's a list of ways to demonstrate your sincerity and physically communicate your remorse.
- Meet them face-to-face. Instead of passive and "safe" communication, this is the time to go to them.
- Keep apologizing. Your partner might need to hear it over and over again. Give them time.
- Show them you love them. If they have forgiven you, thoughtful gifts, deeds, and gestures are in order. How to Say Sorry to the One You Love has some great gift ideas.
- Follow through on your promises. Do the hard work it will take to actively rebuild your relationship and fix what was broken.
- Be completely truthful and honest. This includes saying what you need from the relationship.
How Do Couples Heal After One of Them Cheats?
The apology is the first step. This is what comes next:
- You'll need to come completely clean and be entirely honest about the extent of your cheating.
- You'll need to decide if you're going to stay together to work it through or separate. If you cheated because the relationship is over for you, it's time to tell the truth. Don't put your partner through it all again if you know you aren't fully committed. If you decide to separate, skip to step #6.
- You'll need to break contact completely with the person(s) you cheated with. If you're having a hard time stopping, read How to Stop Cheating in 7 Insanely Simple Steps for insight and guidance about your behavior.
- You'll need to regain trust. This will take effort, persistence, and time.
- Seeing a couple's therapist to get help recovering and dealing with the residual resentments and underlying issues. How to Fix Your Relationship After You’ve Cheated has some good suggestions.
- You'll need to figure out why you cheated. There's something wrong—either in your relationship, in you, or both—and it will take a concerted, committed effort to fix it and prevent it from happening again.