That is a common question, and I’m just going to answer it from the get-go: Yes! It is possible for someone to love you and cheat on you at the same time. Unfortunately, it happens all too often.
To understand this better, we must think of concepts like love and cheating in their entire complexity. Love can mean a lot of things, and people can cheat in several different ways.
They have in common the unique color in which people see them – that is, the subjectivity. We are influenced by what we see and what we hear, especially if we expose ourselves to it repeatedly.
The idea of loving someone despite being unfaithful is incomprehensible for most people.
Why cheat if there is love?
Most of the time, cheating is there because of other painful reasons. And pain doesn’t make space for the manifestation of love.
You can argue that infidelity eliminates love simply because it’s an action that invokes the idea of lack of love. But I would argue against that assumption.
Love is many things. And even if it’s hard to believe, it can exist even amid betrayal and hardship – but only if it’s able to be reborn out of the ashes.
Does fidelity equal love? Not necessarily. It can, but we have to look into it from all possible sides.
If we’re to tackle this complex subject, we must see things more nuanced while accepting that we might not understand everything about somebody else’s transgression.
However, trying to understand might bring you peace of mind and make you more able to discuss the issues in your relationship. If not for reconciling, then at least for closure.
The interaction between love and infidelity
What is love?
Like the song from Haddaway says, What is love? I can tell you one thing, It’s certainly not one-sided, like in the song.
Love is a lingering feeling that outlasts short-lived emotions. It is a feeling of joy coupled with deep intimacy and meaningful connection.
Then again, love is a verb. We must show it, and we must choose it every day. So we have to find ways to show it to our partners.
And last but not least, we must renew it every once in a while. So it also is work.
Love makes room for forgiveness, as long as forgiveness doesn’t mean self-sacrifice. Compromises are ok; self-sacrifice is not! Learn to distinguish them.
Romantic love vs. friendship
Romantic love is not the most crucial thing in a relationship. Fostering a deep and satisfying friendship is. But there are discussions about whether that is the true definition of love.
Friendship requires that partners be aware of how the other is feeling, have repair attempts, know each other deeply, have profound conversations, harvest mutual acceptance, appreciation, and turn towards each other.
All of these elements are important for building a loving relationship.
A relationship must stand on the foundation of friendship and deep intimacy, not just rely on the feebleness of the vague concept of love. It can’t only be passion or infatuation.
Love crystallizes and is never the same in every moment of one’s life.
From the intense infatuation, we may be feeling at the beginning of the relationship to the mature love we experience after some time has passed, it is an ever-changing feeling.
These steps and changes are essential for a relationship to develop. However, once things mature, other elements come into the equation.
And being as human as we are, we can’t always easily find solutions for change. After all, our relationships won’t wait for us to make a move. Life moves on, and love takes a back seat.
Why does cheating happen?
In a nutshell, infidelity is an act of betrayal that doesn’t make space for the other person’s needs. It’s a harrowing experience that can affect a person to its core.
The repercussions can affect you and your partner in ways that can sometimes be beyond repair. And the adverse effects on somebody’s self-esteem are long-term.
I’ve notoriously said that cheating is not about the person that is the victim of the cheating!! It’s not about their failings, weaknesses, or wrongdoings. It doesn’t say anything about them.
Cheating can happen for many different reasons, but the most important thing to know is that its motives are not simple at all.
Most of the time, infidelity is the last warning sign the couple gets that their relationship is problematic.
2 Signs a cheater still loves you
1. Takes responsibility and offers to repair the harm
Taking responsibility means understanding the hurt you caused, taking steps to repair the damage, being present in an emotionally intelligent way, and doing tangible things that show remorse.
Your husband engages in repair attempts.
Repair attempts are essential for healing a relationship. These can take many different forms, but their main purpose is to minimize couples’ arguments.
The important thing is that they soften the conversation between two people.
Apart from that, your partner cuts off the affair altogether and gives you complete access to his life.
2. Your partner gets help
Your partner wants to go to relationship coaching sessions to get to the bottom of the reasons behind the infidelity;
It doesn’t matter if they want to do it on their own or with you, as long as the purpose is to fix the relationship. However, couples counseling might be more fitting in this situation.
They acknowledge that, unlike cheating, coaching sessions is done deliberately.
And your partner might be onto something here because coaching can be a great way to fix many issues, including healing some of the damage caused by cheating. You can read more about it here.
How to know if they do love you
1. Look for the signs mentioned.
If your partner loves you, his actions will guide him. If they are doing everything they can do to make amends and even go beyond that, you might have something to work with.
Furthermore, if they are aware of the gravity of what they have done and work on themselves and the relationship, chances are they do love you.
2. Ask your partner if they love you or not, directly.
You may have thoughts that your partner might not love you or even that they might’ve never loved you, to begin with.
If you can’t help but obsess over this, a radical approach would be to ask him.
His answer might provide some comfort or not. But, at least you’ll know something for sure and go on from there.
The drawback is that you might not believe it when they say they still feel love for you. So if you compulsively look for an answer, none will offer you enough relief.
When talking about cheating, the conversations we have should be more nuanced. Nothing is black and white! Nothing.
That’s why there are more situations to take into consideration when infidelity comes into the equation.
Someone can cheat for the thrill of it and love you at the same time. They can cheat only sexually but feel no deep attachment to the other person.
Even if your partner is emotionally involved in the other relationship, they can still foster deep feelings for you. They can also feel caught up between two worlds.
Someone can cheat and not have feelings for either of their partners.
Lastly, your partner may be cheating on you (sexually or emotionally) and have no feelings for you whatsoever.
Try to ignore the word love for the moment. A lot of situations can be fixable if both partners cooperate. If not, then it’s doomed from the start.
Keep the subject of love apart from the reason behind the cheating.
You must know two essential truths. First, people can still love you even if they cheat; second, there is love after infidelity.
You can rebuild the love you have for your partner even after cheating happens.
Granted, there are situations when people cheat because of boredom or because they don’t feel love for their partner anymore.
There are situations where the cheater doesn’t feel remorse, doesn’t take accountability for their actions, lets their partner be overwhelmed without trying to soothe and wants a way out of the relationship.
I think the aftermath counts the most. Not because a good reaction after the fact can make cheating better; nothing can.
But because everyone can repair a mistake, as long as they never allow it to happen again (this is non-debatable).
Knowing this can shift the focus from love to a possible repair – of the relationship or the self-esteem.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the love is still there or not. Your partner betrayed you, and the hurt is just as bad.
Neither situation is ideal; in each of them, you have to process the negative feelings and find a way out of the current state of mind.
It is way more valuable and wise to think about the possible reason behind the cheating than to consider that the love is lost. From that point on, you can work on the pain.
Therefore, analyzing the situation and grieving are steps you must take – for your own good. Overthinking is not.