Discovering that your husband cheated online can devastate your marriage.
This article aims to provide you with the necessary tools and insights to heal after online cheating and move forward with confidence and trust—however challenging:
- Acknowledge how very real and destructive online cheating is
- Have open and honest communication about your feelings
- Find out what’s behind the affair
- Set boundaries around technology
- Have him hold himself accountable for his own behaviors too
Marital problems like online infidelity can be deadly for your relationship.
If you don’t want to end your marriage but you’re not sure how to save it, we highly recommend the techniques in marriage expert Dr. Lee Baucom’s best-selling guide Save The Marriage.
Click the link above now, or keep reading to learn what steps you should take when your husband strays in the virtual world.
Table of Contents
What to Do When Your Husband Cheats Online? 14 Steps to Relationship Recovery
1. Let him know exactly how his cheating made you feel
When your spouse betrays you, it’s crucial to communicate your emotions.
Begin by finding a calm, private moment where you can talk. Start with sharing your feelings and expressing the impact his actions had on you.
He needs to hear this so that he can see the gravity of his actions, and also for you to be able to move forward, eventually.
It’s hard, but if you can, avoid focusing the conversation on what he did wrong and instead focus on talking about your own feelings.
You’re not letting him get off scot-free by any means—what this does is keep his defenses down so he can really sympathize with you and feel your pain.
Make sure to address the damage to your trust and emotional bond as well as potential repercussions for your future together.
A cheating incident doesn’t happen in a bubble and can have far-reaching effects for your entire relationship.
And he needs to know that.
2. Acknowledge that an online affair is just as serious as an offline affair
One of the major issues with online affairs is that they’re often not taken as seriously as in-person affairs.
But this is incorrect.
Online affairs hold the same gravity as their offline counterparts, regardless of if your husband thinks he should be let off the hook because it’s not “real.”
Emotionally, psychologically and yes, sexually, online cheating is very real.
A cheating spouse may share intimate emotions and conversations online, forming deep connections with the other party, as in an emotional affair.
And with advances in technology and increasing online interactions, the impacts of virtual cheating can be truly devastating.
Virtual infidelity still leads to anger, betrayal and heartbreak.
So do not undermine the importance of addressing your husband’s infidelity. He needs to accept responsibility.
3. Find out why he’s cheating online
An essential step in coping with your husband’s online infidelity is understanding why it occurred in the first place.
While there are no excuses for his behavior and choices, knowing the underlying issues can help you mend the weak points in your relationship and ensure that the cheating never happens again.
There may be various reasons, such as unmet emotional needs, stress or lack of satisfaction in your relationship.
Here are some questions you can ask your husband:
- What was missing in our relationship that you sought online?
- How did you feel before and during the cheating?
- What attracted you to the online relationship?
4. Ban certain apps
When your spouse cheats online, don’t hesitate to set certain boundaries around technology to protect yourself and your relationship.
One helpful action is to ban particular apps associated with cheating.
This could help avoid future temptations and promote trust.
Apps to consider banning:
- Anonymous messaging platforms (e.g., Whisper or Yik Yak)
- Private chat or communication tools (Snapchat, Kik, Telegram)
- Dating apps (Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble)
After identifying the apps linked to the cheating, discuss with your spouse the reasons for banning them to get on the same page.
After all, you can’t do this without his help and participation.
Banning certain apps is not a punishment, but rather a means to strengthen your commitment to each other.
5. Have him hand over his phone when you’re feeling uncertain
When doubts arise about your husband’s online activities, one approach to address your concerns is to ask him to willingly provide access to his phone.
This simple act can reveal any hidden chats, messages or profiles that are less than honest and faithful.
When you feel unsure or uneasy, calmly and confidently express your feelings and reasons to your spouse, emphasizing trust and honesty in your relationship.
Be prepared for various reactions, as your spouse might feel shocked, defensive or upset.
But by staying calm and assuring him that you just need to feel secure and you’re not accusing him, you can help him understand where you’re coming from.
Ultimately, this should be a temporary solution—you won’t be asking for your partner’s phone forever.
If that were the case, it would mean you failed to develop trust and this essentially means the end of many relationships.
6. Work on emotional intimacy
When dealing with the aftermath of online infidelity, building emotional intimacy should be a priority.
Your emotional connection has surely been damaged, so it must be given some TLC.
Activities that strengthen your bond include finding ways to regularly express gratitude to one another, doing enjoyable activities together like cooking or watching movies and setting aside quality time for meaningful conversations.
Rebuilding emotional intimacy is a gradual process that requires patience and resilience.
But doing so is vital for your relationship’s health and growth.
7. Allow yourself to feel and process your emotions
You can’t move forward unless you fully recognize and embrace your feelings.
Ignoring or suppressing them will only prolong the healing, and anything you’re feeling—including numbness—is normal and part of your emotional process.
Find healthy ways to express your emotions.
Engage in activities that provide emotional relief, such as writing in a journal or doing music therapy.
If you need to, don’t hesitate to seek professional support from a therapist.
It’s crucial not to let your emotions control your actions and to avoid harmful behaviors like retaliation or sabotage.
Remember, processing your reactions is a personal journey, and everyone’s path will look different.
Give yourself the space to navigate this emotionally charged terrain at your own pace.
8. Stay open to the idea of forgiving your partner
Forgiveness is hard.
But it’s an important component of healing.
You do not need to forgive your husband right away or on any particular timeline.
Furthermore, forgiving doesn’t mean condoning your partner’s actions.
However, if you choose to stay and you want to move forward in your relationship, remain open to the possibility of forgiving your spouse to repair it.
9. Ask him to monitor himself with honesty and integrity
Especially online, you can’t always be aware of when your husband is stepping into cheating territory with his digital footprint.
So he will have to hold himself accountable, too, if your relationship is to survive.
Encourage your husband to be open about his feelings and to monitor himself honestly.
This means acknowledging any inappropriate behavior and taking responsibility for his actions.
By doing so, he’ll demonstrate a willingness to regain your trust and work on rebuilding your relationship.
Together, you can discuss setting boundaries for online activities, such as:
- Avoiding chat rooms or websites where inappropriate conversations may take place.
- Limiting time spent on social media platforms or keeping profiles visible only to close friends and family.
- Not engaging in private conversations with strangers that may lead to emotional or sexual conversations.
Furthermore, you should:
- Discuss what online activities make each of you uncomfortable or threatened.
- Agree on a set of rules regarding interactions with others on social media or chat applications.
It’s essential that these measures are mutual and agreed upon by both of you.
Your husband should actively participate in this process to ensure he feels accountable for his actions and is genuinely committed to change.
10. Put limits on where and how screens are used
It can be hard to navigate how screens should be used post-cheating, but consider these guidelines.
Firstly, make bedrooms a screen-free zone. Designating your bedroom as a place for sleep, relaxation and intimacy can help ensure devices do not interfere with your connection.
But more importantly, setting limits on tech usage can help to remove situations where virtual cheating occurs.
As an example, you might decide together that laptops are for working or online shopping strictly and that they stay in the living room or in a designated social room, in the company of others.
This can really help your husband think about whether his online activities are appropriate or not.
Internet infidelity is a murky area, and it’s much easier to slip into questionable behavioral patterns where there are no rules or social reminders.
11. Keep communication channels open
If your relationship is to survive, both partners need to be able to express their thoughts.
Cultivate a safe environment where your husband feels heard and accepted.
Also, make sure he knows it’s better to come to you when he thinks he may have messed up rather than letting it get out of hand.
Fear and shame can easily lead to secrecy and lead down a dark path for your relationship.
Make sure you’re communicating regularly and encourage transparency.
You may consider sharing passwords or having periodic check-ins about your online activities.
While this may not be a permanent solution, it can help re-establish trust in the short term.
As you continue on this path of open communication, lean on external resources when necessary to provide a structured framework, guidance and additional insights to rebuild your relationship.
This can include consulting a marriage counselor, support groups or expert resources on marriage and infidelity.
To get started repairing your relationship now, get the 3-step guide Save The Marriage by therapist and relationship coach Dr. Lee Baucom.
12. Make sure you both recognize the different types of online infidelity
Online infidelity can manifest in various forms, and understanding the nuances of each type will help you be able to identify and prevent online cheating.
Again, you should both be aware of what constitutes online cheating.
The following are some common types:
- Sexting or cybersex: This includes exchanging sexually explicit content with someone other than your partner via text or online platforms. It can create a sense of intimacy and betrayal similar to a physical affair.
- Sharing racy photos: Nude and provocative pictures are definitely part of cheating.
- Flirting online: No matter where it happens in the online world and who it happens with, flirting and pursuing someone virtually is part of cheating.
- Online dating: If one partner is actively seeking new romantic connections on dating websites or apps and you don’t have a relationship that allows for that behavior, that’s infidelity.
Can a Relationship Recover from Online Cheating?
Recovering from online cheating can be challenging, but it is possible for a relationship to bounce back.
First, it’s imperative to acknowledge the emotional pain and betrayal caused by this type of infidelity.
Both partners must be willing to work together and commit to rebuilding the trust that was broken.
To start the healing process, open and honest communication is essential.
Discussing the reasons behind the infidelity and expressing feelings can help both partners understand each other better.
You’ll also need to set clear boundaries and expectations moving forward, as well as identify and address any underlying issues that may have contributed to the cheating.
Remember, too, that recovering from cheating is a process and will take time.
Patience and understanding are key elements as both partners work through the pain and move towards healing.
Is Online Cheating Grounds for Divorce?
Some partners consider online cheating a sort of gray area.
For some, online infidelity may be considered less serious than physical cheating, as there might not be any actual physical contact.
However, for others, the emotional connection and betrayal of trust are just as painful and damaging as a physical affair.
Infidelity is infidelity. Whether you want a divorce is entirely up to you.
However, you should bear in mind that laws governing divorce may vary by jurisdiction, and online cheating might not be recognized in and of itself as a legal reason for divorce in some areas.
Therefore, consulting with a divorce lawyer can help you understand your rights and options in these situations.
Is online cheating really cheating?
Cheating online may not be physically intimate, but these instances can be considered emotional affairs with sexual elements.
Cheating is about intention just as much as it is about what happens between someone and the person they’re cheating with.
How do you trust after online cheating?
Trust after online cheating can come with time, communication and drawing certain boundaries around technology.
Having your partner get rid of apps that they’ve used to cheat can help.
So can having limits on where, how long and for what activities devices are used for.
How to confront your husband about online cheating
There’s nothing like an honest and direct conversation.
If you want to confront your husband about his online cheating, do so calmly and make sure to firmly draw your boundaries about online infidelity.
If you have evidence of his cheating from pictures or a reverse email search, provide it.
Emphasize how his actions have made you feel so that the conversation stays on topic and doesn’t stray into an argument about what constitutes cheating, or how bad it was.
If you’re struggling with infidelity and other issues in your marriage, you can get help learning how to stop destructive patterns in your relationship now with Dr. Lee Baucom’s Save The Marriage Program.