Why would Beyoncé (or anyone) stay with someone who’s cheated?

Beyoncé — seen by many as a fierce symbol of female strength and empowerment — may have been cheated on by Jay Z. At least if you take the lyrics to her new Lemonade album as evidence.

They’re filled with lines like: “Are you cheating on me? … Today I regret the night I put that ring on … What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you.”

At one point in the hour-long visual album, which aired on HBO Saturday night, the 34-year-old takes a bat to everything around her while reminding her man that other women “don’t love you like I love you.”

So why would the notoriously private singer seemingly air the couple’s dirty laundry so publicly? And, given her reputation and the album’s fierce tone, why would she stay with her allegedly unfaithful husband?

“I think many people are kind of surprised that she stayed,” admitted family therapist Marissa Nelson. “She’s a feminist, a strong … woman. You’d probably assume that she’d never take this.” 

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But she does have one possible explanation for scale of emotions portrayed in the project, which The New Yorker compared to the Kübler-Ross model of grief “(denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, and so forth.)”

“People grieve being cheated on like they grieve someone dying.”

READ MORE: Beyoncé Lemonade features revenge anthems for scorned wives, a requiem for side chicks and an ode to forgiveness

“I also think that [by] staying in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’re weak, that something’s wrong with you or you’re less a woman for wanting to work through your relationship issues.”

Sexologist Dr. Jessica O’Reilly added there’s no evidence that suggests staying with a partner who’s cheated is a sign of low self-respect.

“In fact, in many cases, I would suggest that the willingness to continue to working through tough times demonstrates the opposite.”

“Think about it this way,” Nelson said. “If I came from a divorced family, like Beyoncé did (her parents divorced when she was an adult after her father cheated on her mother), who knows what her family went through in the wake of that divorce.

“A lot of people choose to stay because they truly love that person and want to work through things.”

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She says for some couples, cheating (though obviously not recommended) can actually be a catalyst that jump-starts a relationship back to life.

READ MORE: Family therapist shares 8 secrets to a happy and lasting relationship

Of course, rebuilding trust doesn’t happen overnight. If the person who cheated is completely honest, takes responsibility for the transgression (without blaming their partner) and ends the affair, there’s no reason why the relationship can’t rebound.

Neither Nelson nor O’Reilly believe the old saying “once a cheater, always a cheater.”

“Being a ‘cheater’ isn’t necessarily part of your identity. Isolated behaviour doesn’t amount to identity as a whole,” O’Reilly said.

She added that those who stay together after adultery for the sake of their kids or just to keep up appearances are more likely to break up.

READ MORE: How to improve your relationship and when to pull the plug: sexologist

She believes the state of your relationship prior to infidelity also plays a big role in the likelihood of recovery and rebuilding trust. She cited one study which found 56 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women who cheat report being satisfied in their primary relationship.

“You can be in the best relationships and the best marriages and still have an affair,” Nelson echoed.

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Despite men often getting the bad rap, research shows they cheat about the same as women. And unlike what you may have previously heard, it’s not always just about sex for men and emotional attention for women.

In many cases, Nelson said men and women who cheat “want to experience a part of themselves,” which they may have lost in their relationship — like their sense of spontaneity or feeling attractive, for instance.

It may have nothing to do with their partner. Even so, the person who’s been cheated on will often fixate on the “other woman” or man, wondering who he or she is and if they’re “better.”

In Beyoncé‘s case, that person may be designer Rachel Roy (or as Beyoncé refers to the alleged adulteress in Lemonade: “Becky with the good hair”).

READ MORE: Beyonce fans mistake chef Rachel Ray for designer Rachel Roy

The affair is said to be the reason behind her sister Solange’s infamous elevator attack on Jay Z in 2014.

Following that incident, the family put out this statement: “At the end of the day families have problems and we’re no different. We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.”

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With files from The Associated Press

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