How to Get a Man to Forgive Infidelity

by Sheri Oz

You made a serious mistake, and your man is hurt and angry. You are so sorry, but you cannot delete infidelity from your timeline as if it were a Facebook status. Instead, you need to start repairing your relationship by ending the affair and asking your man for forgiveness.

Accept your partner’s need for space, time and privacy. An article published in 2012 in the journal “Couple and Family Psychology” reports that discovery of an affair is a traumatic event for the betrayed partner; your man may need time apart from you or to have separate sleeping arrangements. He may not want particular individuals to find out about your affair, and it is important for you to respect this. Once he begins to digest the implications of your betrayal of his trust, he may be open to your attempts to apologize.

Acknowledge your wrongdoing. The first step in asking for forgiveness is to accept responsibility for your actions without making excuses or rationalizing. Saying “If you were home more, I wouldn’t have had to go looking for attention elsewhere,” is an example of blaming your partner rather than accepting responsibility for what you did. A simple admission is best; for example, “I am sorry I betrayed your trust in me.”

Let your partner know that you understand the impact of your infidelity on him. Research published in the article “When Apologies Work” found that showing that you know why your behavior was hurtful might contribute significantly to the wronged person's willingness to forgive you. Say something like, “I know that trust is of utmost importance to you and my affair shattered the foundation of our relationship,” or “I understand that now you may wonder if you ever really knew me.”

Listen to what your partner says. He will tell you whether or not you understand what is most hurtful to him about your affair. If he says you do not get it, do not argue or tell him he is wrong; he is teaching you something about himself. Your ability to listen uncritically may show him that your relationship is worth working on, thereby bringing him closer to being able to forgive you.

Ask him what he needs from you now. For example, he likely wants you to cut off all contact with the other man and discard all reminders of him, as well as provide detailed information about how you spend your time. This is part of the compensation you offer him for having been unfaithful. The authors of “When Apologies Work” report that compensation is an important component of a sincere apology.

Be patient. Linda J. MacDonald, author of “How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair,” claims that forgiveness may be forthcoming when you understand that his anger could last for up to two years. Be prepared to apologize repeatedly during this time.


  • According to an article published in the “Journal of Family Issues” in 2012, forgiveness is only the first stage in reconciliation, and many couples need professional help to get through the painful and difficult process.
  • Some relationships are stronger after having worked through the affair and improving communication between the couple, reports the Mayo Clinic.


  • You may offer a sincere apology and be willing to do all the work necessary to repair your relationship, but your partner may still decide not to forgive you. You can only do your best; ultimately, the decision whether or not to forgive is his.

About the Author

With an Master of Science in marital and family therapy, Sheri Oz ran a private clinical practice for almost 30 years. Based on her clinical work, she has published a book and many professional articles and book chapters. She has also traveled extensively around the world and has volunteered in her field in China and South Sudan.

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