Do People Ever Regret Cheating?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from husbands or wives who want to know if their spouse will ever regret cheating on them.  Many times, the cheating spouse has been able to justify their actions or is making all sorts of excuses for the same.  Many spouses who cheat don’t seem to have an ounce of remorse so it’s natural to wonder if they will ever feel any regret whatsoever.

Common comments are things like: “my husband ended up leaving me for the woman he cheated with.  Our marriage was having some problems, but nothing that couldn’t be worked out.   When I found out, he didn’t even seem to be all that sorry.  He didn’t even want to try to save our marriage. He left me and our children for this other woman.  He said he was going to marry her, but they broke up before they could make it down the aisle.  My husband now says that she’s a conniving and selfish woman and that he misjudged her.  However, he has never expressed regret for his actions.  My family is torn apart.  I am struggling to make ends meet and to keep my house.  But he’s never once admitted that the cheating was a mistake.  I wonder if people ever regret it when they cheat or have an affair.  Do they?”

The short answer is a resounding yes.  On an extremely regular basis, I hear from folks who deeply regret not only cheating, but the fact that it’s sometimes too late to turn back time or to do anything about it.  Often, they are too ashamed to show this regret to their spouse.   But believe me when I say that a great many of people do feel some regret.

The Type Of Regret That Many People Feel For Cheating: Many people tell me that they suspect that their spouse only has regret when the relationship doesn’t work out between themselves and the person they cheated with.  Others will tell you that there is only regret after the infidelity has been discovered and the cheating spouse must now face up to what they have done.   We’ve all heard the phase “he’s not sorry he cheated.  He’s sorry that he got caught.”

But I have to tell you that it’s obvious from the correspondence that I get that there are varied and genuine reasons that people feel regret that doesn’t have anything to do with getting caught.  Often, they feel a good deal of sorrow that they didn’t take another path.  Sure, their marriage may have been rocky or they may have been struggling, but they often realize that there were probably better options than cheating.  Many regret the effect that their infidelity has had on their family.  And many are very disappointed in themselves.  This isn’t the way that they envisioned their marriage or their personal level of integrity.  However, often these feelings come long after the cheating or the affair has ended, which leads me to my next point.

Why Does It Take So Long For People To Feel Regret About Cheating?: Many faithful spouses complain that they aren’t seeing sorrow and they are tired of waiting for it.  I know from experience that this can be very frustrating.  But it might help to know that it often will come.  It just may come later than you might like.  The reason for this is that when an affair or cheating is fresh, people seem to spend a lot of time and emotional energy trying to justify it.  This becomes important to them because if they can’t justify their actions, then they  can’t continue to carry them out because of the guilt or conflicting feelings. So they must push down whatever guilt, sorrow, or regret that they feel.  But once the cheating or affair has been over for a while, they no longer have this need.  And that’s when there’s finally room for genuine feelings of regret to come forward.  It may help to know that almost without fail, there is often at least some regret present.   Because at the end of the day, there is really never justification for cheating. Unhappy marriages can be brought to an end before anyone needs to begin another relationship.  So when things don’t happen this way,  most people do come to regret that their actions weren’t the most honorable.

And, some people actually take this further and are able to look back one day to realize that they jeopardized a perfectly good marriage with the love of their life because they made a mistake.  Sometimes, such mistakes can not be fixed.  But just as often, they can, although there’s generally a lot of pain and hard work that need to be addressed. So yes, most people can’t help but feeling some regret for these things.

Once I began to believe that my husband felt true regret for cheating for me, things began to vastly improve for us.  But for a long time, he had a lot of defense mechanisms built up so he refused to show me how he really felt.  Once we figured out how to break through these defense mechanisms, things improved greatly and we eventually saved our now solid marriage.  If it helps you can read about that process on my blog at

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