How to Make Things Right After an Internet Affair


Here are a few tips on how to get your relationship back on track after an internet affair. I wrote this for a reader who said he was cheating online, and asked how to make things right with his wife. If you’re recovering from an online relationship (which is cheating), these tips might help.

cheating onlineA different reader recommends reading Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass. My reader is recovering from an internet affair in her own marriage, and said this book has helped a great deal.

Here’s what one husband wrote about his internet affair: “I love my wife and kids so much,” says Sammy on How to Save Your Marriage From an Emotional “Affair of the Heart”. “I would normally say I’m a great husband and father. I just made the biggest mistake of my life. I want to be with my wife and kids. Do I have a chance of saving my marriage and life? After reading about emotional affairs and doing some soul searching I realize I have emotionally cheated and betrayed my wife. I broke her trust. How do I save our marriage?”


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Here are a few thoughts on saving your marriage after an online affair…

How to Recover From an Internet Affair

Having an affair – even “just” an emotional one – is probably the worst betrayal in love and marriage. It’s a direct hit, and people don’t just get over it. Nor do they simply “forgive and forget” – especially when they blame themselves.

“She is blaming herself and feeling bad about herself,” says Steve. “She is wondering who this other woman is, if she is prettier, smarter, or more loving. She’s kicking herself.”

I wish she’d direct her kicks toward him, not herself! He’s the one who should feel the brunt of her anger, frustration, and pain. Taking it out on herself will only make things worse.

Reassure your partner that internet affairs aren’t a reflection of her

In Why Do People Cheat in Relationships?, marriage counselor Gary Neuman says that men don’t cheat because their wives are overweight, unattractive, or dumb. Men cheat because their wives aren’t emotionally and/or physically available.

If you want to make things right with your partner, you need to take the blame for the internet affair. It is your fault: your lack of morality, your bad choice, your weakness. It is not her fault.

Figure out what your partner needs, and give it to her

Does she want couples counseling? Does she want full access to work email? Does she want you to go into individual counseling? Does she need a weekend alone to think about it? Does she want a divorce or separation? Whatever she needs, do your best to meet her needs.

And remember — it takes time to rebuild trust after an affair, especially if it lasted for years. After some time passes, she probably won’t need to keep checking up or need continual reassurance that you’re genuinely sorry and love her above everyone else.

Initiate couples counseling or marriage therapy

Women are often happy and heartened when their husbands are willing to delve into their emotions and feelings without being forced into it. Another reason to initiate counseling is that you’ll benefit emotionally and mentally from figuring out why you had the affair. You won’t just make things right with your partner – you’ll gain insight.

Find resources about surviving online relationships to show your wife that you’re serious about saving your marriage. Read books about surviving internet affairs, or find out if there are any weekend retreats or support groups for couples. I’m not suggesting you do this just for show — do it for real!

Here’s a tip from a reader whose husband had an online relationship that lasted for years, with a younger woman:

“I discovered the affair by accident, and it pulled the rug out from underneath me. I was in shock for about two weeks, angry and depressed. I found it hard to concentrate on anything. If you are lucky enough to have therapy through your insurance at work, I highly advise talking to a marriage counselor.”

Be honest about why you cheated online

online cheating

There was a payoff for your behavior and you need to know exactly what it was. Find ways to get your needs met from your wife. Unless your marriage is over, she needs to decide that your relationship is worth saving and to learn to trust you again.

After an internet affair, the best thing you can do is to come clean, apologize, tell her that you are there for her, get counseling, hold her when she cries, hold her when she throws things at you, and be patient. It can take a LONG time for her to feel better about herself and marriage, and to trust you. And maybe even learn to love you again. Healing is not going to happen overnight.

There are no easy tips for making things right with your partner — healing takes time and patience. There will be lots of setbacks, especially at the beginning.

Are you worried about your relationship – and a possible breakup? Read 6 Things You Need to Know About Uncoupling.

For advice and insight from a marriage counselor, read The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It by M. Gary Neuman. He’s currently working on a book about why women are unfaithful.

If you have any thoughts or questions about making things right after an internet affair, please comment below. I can’t offer advice or relationship counseling, but you may find it helpful to share your experience…

xo


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22 thoughts on “How to Make Things Right After an Internet Affair

  • Nate

    I’ve had an online addiction since I was a teen. I always felt insecure about myself and I could be anyone I wanted online. People made me feel good and gave me confidence. Since I’ve been married, I’ve had emotional affairs and flirted with women online. I’ve been caught before and stopped for a while but kept going back because it was my comfort even though I should’ve been confiding in my wife and expressing my feelings to her. I even went to couples therapy but was carrying on an emotional affair during it. I tried to put on a facade and preserve my marriage while selfishly maintaining my double life. After the last time being caught, my wife said she was ready to divorce. I love my family more than anything but have been hooked for years by this addiction. I joined group counseling and individual counseling. Im willing to do ANYTHING to save my family. I honestly love my wife but I’ve been a crappy husband. Im at a loss right now and need to make this work and prove this time im dead serious and I’m actively getting help

  • Dave

    I talked with a old friend from my neighborhood for a few months. It was nice to reconnect with my past since most of my friends now are through my spouse. It felt like a forgotten part of me was coming alive, after I had pretty much abandoned my past. I first I had to fight some emotions, but I never acted on them, they are just emotions that need to be controlled. I never said anything inappropriate, nor did I suggest anything inappropriate. I steered clear of any type of sexual innuendo, even some things I thought would be funny to say, but I did not think they were appropriate to say, so I stayed silent. I rebuffed any advances made be her, I said that can never nor will happen (clearly she had some other motives). I had no intention of a private meeting or any physical contact what so ever. I just wanted to get to know someone who was willing to talk and see what she had done with her life.
    But it seems a little weird for me. It’s over now, just didn’t feel right about talking that way on-line. Not sure
    what else to do right now.

  • Danielle

    Just found out last weekend my husband of 17 years has been having an online affair for more than a year with someone he met on a game. I had a feeling this was going on but have been in complete denial. He has been so distant from me and our 3 daughters for some time now. I was constantly nagging him to get his face out of his phone and would jokingly say “tell your girlfriend I said hi.” He was doing this right in front of my face. I would sit next to him on the couch and he was doing this without me knowing. He had left his phone at home when he left for work last weekend and i found a message that he screenshot and then after looking through his phone, found all the messages in the game app. I learned from the text messages they have been facetiming each other and sexually pleasuring each other. He tells me theyve never met but i honestly dont know what to believe that comes out of his mouth. The messages constantly expressed their love for one another. I am at a complete loss. Im so confused and angry. I dont want to loose my husband but i dont want to be with him either. I thought we had a great marriage. How do I forgive and move on? Does it get any easier? How do I explain this to our teenage daughters? I’m so mentally drained and my mind goes 100 mph thinking about it. This is a nightmare!

  • Laurie Post author

    May you find hope and healing as you rebuild your marriage. I pray for peace in your relationship and in your life, in your heart and family. I pray that your wife chooses to heal and move forward…and that both you and she find the help you need. I pray for your relationship with your counselor, that you connect well, authentically, and honestly.

    Take it one step at a time. Open your heart and spirit to God, and let Him lead you forward. Take good care of yourself. Don’t let fear, doubt or negativity overcome you. An internet affair is a difficult thing to get over, but it’s possible to move forward and start fresh. It just takes a bit of time, energy, and focus. And a dash of the Holy Spirit! Keep your face turned to God. Ache towards Jesus if you have to, but don’t let your faith go.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Stan the Man

    As a man who has been cheated on by his wife (online only, I think) – it’s not easy. I caught her after only a few months into it. Within 10 days, she was doing it again. I caught her again. 2 months later, she’s doing it again, I caught her again. Then I THINK she stopped between December – June, but then started up again. I caught her again. Then within a week of being caught, she’s at it again. She’s had secret phones, bank accounts, and PO boxes to hide things from me. Also substance abuse and alcohol abuse issues. All of these addictions go hand in hand. She’s had a very troubled past and has always blamed her past for her actions. Now she finally seems to want to take accountability – after this last time of biting me so hard I was bleeding everywhere, pulling out a butcher knife, running through the streets in her underwear (trying to get her phone back from me), and then smashing the phone with a hammer) – I guess now she’s had enough. After 14 months of hell, I’m wondering if it’s too late or not. We have been married for 6 years, 2 kids. We get along fairly well but she also had post-partum depression really bad after having both girls, and we didn’t have nearly enough sex (for me) for around 5 years. As soon as she started a certain prescription med and found these dating apps, suddenly all she wants is sex. It’s very hard. I’m resentful for both those first 5 years of little sex, and now this behavior she shows for the past 14 months. We are starting counseling this week. I guess just say a prayer for me!

  • Beth

    I think he’s always cheated online, I mean that’s how we met, but in 2 and a half years we built this family together, and when I finally wizened and accused him he didn’t deny it. He wants me to get angry … I don’t why, so I can look like the crazy one, I guess. The thing is, I’m just sad and confused. I love him and I don’t know what to do. Half way between just wanting to leave, and wanting to try and work it out because love.

  • Janet. Freshman

    I recently found out my husband has been online talking to women and trying to set up meeting them. I was totally shocked as we were happy. Making love and doing fun things together. Sometimes it was right after we returned from a camping trip where we had so much fun and I was right there while he was. Contacting her. Not. Sure. I can. Get over this.

  • Erica

    My husband of 9 years told me about 3 months ago that he has been talking to a woman online. That she was “helping” him with issues in our marriage, a marriage I didn’t think had issues. We have 5 children, 2 of them grown and troubled. I helped the kids more than he thought I should and told me that was why he talked to her. I took his phone and read 2 months worth of messages which totally disgusted me. I felt like I had no clue who my husband was anymore. The messages had NOTHING to do with us or the children, unless it was complaining about me never wanting sex. Because I was working 72 hrs a week then. Anyway the night he told me he told me he wanted me to talk to her and that she was his special friend. My heart was instantly broke! I messaged back and forth with her for a day and she talked about how much he loved me and how they had crossed the line. I’m thinking, really? Are you trying to tell me who my husband is? The man I love and live with daily? Not good! On Monday I txt my husband when he went to work and told him he would either stop all contact with her or I was gone. He apologized and left work, came home listened to me scream and cry and stopped contact. As far as I know, and I am a pro detective now (lol) he has had no contact with her. Why do I still feel so much betrayal and anger? Every other day I want to leave him! He lied to my face for a year!! Through every birthday and holiday. I don’t feel like anything will ever be special again.

    • Jammie

      Erica, what you wrote sounds a lot like what I am going through, how I feel. I realize your post/comment is fairly old. So, I wonder, how have you been? How are you getting along? Do you feel like you can trust him again yet? It has only been a month since finding out about my husband and the two females online. One of them was “just for fun” and lasted about a year, and the other “he had true feeling for” and was for a month, both sexual in nature, online only but with talk of meeting with the 2nd. I love my husband so deeply and can’t imagine life without him. He has done everything correct since I found his phone open. He gave me space, let me be angry, let me cry, and is back to being the perfect husband again. But the feelings of betrayal are still there. It still hurts.

      • Shelley

        Sounds very similar to what im going through.my husband has cheated on me online with several women but one was more of an emotional conection as well as obviously sexual . I found out 2 week ago and he was doing it for 10 months hes ripped my heart out we have been together 13 years and have 2 kids . I had no idea everything has been fine i only found it on his phone by mistake. Ive taken him back and hes due to start counciling but im struggle to deal with it i know it wad nothing to do with me but i dout everything about myself and our sex life everything . Dose it get easier is it possible to move on from it im my own worst enemy x

        • Cassie

          Shelley – Sadly I have been through online infidelity with my husband too many times to count in the last 10 years. I’m sure he has had more indiscretions than I even know about. Each time he goes to counseling for a little while to appease me. Then eventually I let him back into my bed and heart. This time for some reason is different. I am at a crossroads. I honestly don’t feel one way or the other about staying or ending things. Besides these online infidelity issues we have a pretty great relationship and he’s an amazing dad. But I don’t know if all that is worth being hurt again. Luckily I am beyond the stage of blaming myself. I know he is the one with the cybersexual Addiction, not me. He makes choices and has to accept the consequences. So I kicked him out for the time being. I’ve stopped wearing my wedding ring and I don’t know where we go from here.

      • Erica

        After I posted this I found out about numerous other woman that he was talking to. All the others were sexual of course but that didn’t make it any easier. We went through a very rough patch. I still hurt, and feel betrayed. I do not trust him again yet and I’m sure my questioning is very annoying but he knows it’s his own fault. I still feel very insecure but he trys to reassure me constantly. So I guess you can say we are still working on it. It sucks so bad because I never knew there was an issue with our marriage and I feel like an idiot because I didn’t see it. I can’t imagine my life without my husband either but if he betrays me again I will not stay and I’ve made that very clear to him. I feel for you and hope you can work things out and that someday our husbands will be the men we married once again.

  • LeeAnn Thibodeau

    What do I do if my husband is dismissive about his online affair and keeps calling a few emails! It was 3065 emails, hundreds of nude photos sent to him and it lasted over 10 months!

  • Peggy

    My husband started using different apps on his cell phone to talk to women. He is 62 and they are between 25 and 35. Things went from casual, to flirting, to loving each other, telling them how beautiful they were, wanting them to come live with him to intimate stuff and worse and then lying about me. I asked him to give up his phone or I would get a divorce and he would not be given an ultimatum, so I divorced him and he still has his phone. Sounds like he made a choice. We were married 43 years and 7 months when the divorce was final. It has almost killed me. I never knew my heart could be so broken, the loss of trust, some days I can hardly breathe. To this day, he still says that he did nothing wrong and that you cannot have an affair unless it gets physical. This man who I gave my whole heart to when I was 18 years old, has ruined my life. I am 62 years old and feel like a lost lamb. Thank you

  • Julie

    My husband of 18 ears is having an online affair I found out and confronted him to be told it was all innocent she’s 28 he’s 52!from Russia! Scam alert???? I have since seen emails and photos from her not innocent at all yet I’m still with him he gets defensive if it’s mentioned and when I saw photos and asked about them I got asked for a divorce! We decided to wait and see what happened and all ws great till we had a big fight it’s all so confusing he left then come back now I feel as if were in limbo going through the motions with this underlying thing that is just there he doesn’t talk to me it’s awful. If this happened to any of my friends I’d tell them to get out asap but it’s not that simple is it!

  • Laurie Post author

    It’s important to find a way to talk through your feelings, to get them out in the open and express them. Otherwise you’ll never heal from an internet affair — nothing heals if it’s left in the dark!

    To make things right with yourself and others, you need to find strength and courage to be vulnerable and honest.

    Who can you talk to, to help you work through your feelings of guilt and shame?

    Here’s an article that may help:

    7 Practical Ways to Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes
    http://blossomtips.com/how-to-forgive-yourself-for-your-failures/

    Working through the pain and grief of cheating on the internet is not easy, but it will be worth it. It will get darker and more difficult…but the light is coming! Deal with your guilt and shame. If you need tips or resources on how to cope with those toxic feelings, let me know. I’d be happy to share what has helped me.

  • freda Huff

    How can you heal from an internet affair. I can’t stop thinking what did I done so wrong. I can’t talk about my feelings I just feel trapped.

  • Laurie Post author

    The best way to make things right with your ex-girlfriend after an internet affair – or any type of misunderstanding – is to talk to her.

    Does she want to get back with you? What does she need from you? Are you willing to work on your relationship with her?

    Your girlfriend wants to feel safe and secure with you. She wants to feel loved and valued. How can you help her feel this way? Once you figure that out – by talking to her – you will be closer to making things right with her.

  • zachary ball

    i started talking to my ex girlfriends friend and said some things i shouldnt have. it wasn’t an internet affair but it was inappropriate me and my ex broke up about 2 months ago then i pray and ask if were meant to be and if we are guide are steps together and we drew each others name for a secret santa then she messages me and ask what kinda stuff i like which let me know she drew my name she told me she knew what i said to her friend and she was mad about it i still like her and want a future with her but i dont know what to do can anyone help me make it right

  • Mercy

    You are gracious. Chirst Jesus is full of Grace and Mercy. Pray, then read and study 1 Corinthians chapter 7. Then take a look at 1 Peter chapter 3. God loves you, and is able to restore the years that the locusts have eaten. He alone is able to redeem what the enemy meant for evil, and turn it in to something beautiful. Just. Believe. Reading His Word will help! Pray for understanding. God bless you. Believing for you!!!

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Peppercorn,

    I’m sorry I missed your comment! Are you still with your husband – have things gotten better?

    Sincerely,
    Laurie

  • Peppercorn

    My husband has emotionally betrayed me several times, I was hurt, bitter, and felt unwanted although he stayed with me, and have learned to live with it, I can’t forget however and the resentment lives on in my mind, even though I am financially stable and had been on a sexless marriage for at least ten years, I still stay with him. Why?