How do you deal with judgement when you get back together with a cheating ex?

It’s tough to figure out whether to take back an ex after they cheated.

Can they be trusted? Is the relationship worth saving?

Even once you come to a decision, the path ahead remains tricky.

There’s already a lot of shame and embarrassment attached to being cheated on. You can feel like a fool, and might worry about how people outside the relationship see you.

If you decide that yes, you want to take back your cheating ex, you’ll then face judgement for that choice.

Friends who declared that your ex was an awful person, advised you to steer clear, and wiped your tears as you dealt with the betrayal, might not be so happy to hear you and your partner are back together, while further-removed acquaintances could make assumptions about you, your ex, and your relationship.

It can be difficult to deal with that overwhelming pressure – knowing that you’ve made a decision that feels right, but that other people may think you’ve made a colossal mistake.

Just look at Millie on Love Island. She could be thrilled to be back with Liam after he kissed another woman in Casa Amor – but outside the villa, many people are shouting at their screens. If she stays in this relationship, she may have to exit the show to the knowledge that thousands of people don’t think she and Liam should be together.

Few of us will experience this to the same scale, but if you’ve ever got back with an ex who people think is bad for you, you’ll know just how uncomfortable the weight of everyone else’s perception can be.

So, how do you deal with feeling judged for your choice?

Make sure you’re confident in your own decision

It feels obvious, but we’ll say it in case: make sure that you are actually making a good decision in taking back an ex after they cheated.

If you’re uncertain, judgement from others will cut to the core. It’s tough to defend a relationship against criticism when in your heart of hearts, you don’t really think you’re better together.

Jessica Leoni, sex and relationship expert at Illicit Encounters, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘You overcome the feeling that you’re making a mistake or being silly in taking back a cheat by gauging your cheating partner’s reaction when they are found out.

‘If they are genuinely contrite and it was obvious that it was a one off and they show in a concrete way that they aren’t just prepared to change but actually modify their behaviour, then I don’t think it is a mistake to go back to an ex. We all make mistakes, particularly when we are young and finding our way sexually.

‘If the trust can be re-established, then why feel silly by going back. You could be throwing away the best your relationship of your life over one silly lapse.

‘However, if your partner has lots of form for cheating and has strayed with previous lovers before dating you, then, yes, you do run the risk of coming over as a bit of a doormat if you go back.’

Don’t try to keep the relationship a secret

We’re sorry to say that you will have to face some judgement from your friends eventually – so don’t try to keep the relationship undercover.

Sneaking around will only raise more concerns from your friends, and they won’t appreciate being lied to.

Break the news gently

A cuddled up Instagram picture, bringing along your beau to meetup, sending a message to the group chat cheering that you’re no longer single – these are all bad ways to reveal you’re back with an ex who treated you poorly.

Instead, have a chat with your friends (without your partner present) about your choice.

‘Go gently,’ says senior therapist Sally Baker. ‘Less triumphant fanfare and more honesty will help friends and those who love you overcome their reservations about your ex.

‘Let them know you will be honest with them and ask in return if you are willing to give your ex another chance, would they please do the same?’

Ask your friends for their support

Explain that you’ve come to this decision alone and are feeling positive. Say that you’d appreciate their support going forward, and set boundaries such as no longer bad-talking your partner.

‘Frankly, it is your life and your friends should be there for you, even if they know that you are making a mistake in going back to a rat,’ says Jessica.

‘Explain to your friends: “I know you’re wary of X but they make me happy and have promised to change and that is why I am going back. Life is too short to give up on a relationship that feels this good.

‘Also explain to your friends that you are not naive and you are aware that you are taking a risk in returning to a cheat, but sometimes risks are worth taking.

‘By all means involve your friends in the process and encourage them to let you know if they see your partner behaving inappropriately or even cheating again.

‘Say you have got your guard up, but you aren’t ready to give up on this relationship yet.’

Don’t automatically cut off people who advised against the relationship

Avoiding any negativity is tempting, we know, but try not to ditch friends out of fear they’ll momentarily judge your relationship.

But remember: any friends who advised you against getting back with a cheat will have done so out of care.

‘Much will have been said about your partner’s cheating ways,’ says Sally. ‘All of it will have come from a place of love and care.

‘A red flag would be if your ex wanted you to see less of your support network or even drop friends who had been critical of them in the past.

‘Make sure you stay connected with people who have got your back over those who have taken liberties with your heart. You may need to see your friends and family on your own for a while but that’s more crucial than not seeing them.

‘Another red warning flag would be if you no longer wanted to see the very same friends who had bad-mouthed your ex in the past.

‘What are you trying to avoid? How much does their criticism resonate with you? Are you in denial about what has happened? What would you have to focus on if you were reminded of your ex’s behaviour by seeing them?’

But do be ready to tell someone when they’re overstepping the mark

Your friends are within their rights to think you’re making a mistake and express their concerns. What’s not okay is people refusing to accept your choice and making you feel rubbish in every interaction.

‘I am all for friends being supportive but not by exerting so much pressure that they are essentially choosing who you date,’ says Jessica.

‘You need to lead your life as you see fit and, while you may listen to your friends and value their judgement, you will decide who is right for you and not them.

‘If they fail to grasp this message and continue to show hostility to you and your partner, then tell them where to go.

‘A good friend brings out the best in you, lets you grow and live your life as you wish, and shows a light touch when you have taken ownership of a decision and made it clear to them that your life is enhanced with this person in it.’

Let go of the need to appear perfect

It can be tempting to try to avoid judgement by presenting your rekindled relationship as perfect. Honesty will serve you far better.

Sally says: ‘If you’re struggling with external judgements are you ignoring your authentic judgements in favour of putting on a positive facade?

‘You might find everyone else’s opinions matter less to you when you can honestly express your doubts too.’

Accept that judgement will come your way, but that you don’t have to take it to heart

The reality is that yes, you probably will be judged by friends, family, and followers for getting back together with someone who cheated.

Remember that other people’s opinions are out of your control. You can’t stop people from thinking you’re silly, or seeing you in a way that’s different from how you see yourself.

The key is not avoiding judgement, but prioritising your own thoughts and feelings about your relationship, not those of other people.

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