Infidelity is a complex and painful experience that can be costly for both members of a relationship. It can make you question the foundations of your identity, asking things like:
- “Is there something wrong with me? Am I not enough?”
- “Was my entire marriage an elaborate lie?”
- “Will I ever be able to trust my partner again? Or any other partner?’
- “Why did this happen to me? Did I do something to deserve this?’
Trying to rush to make sense of a traumatic experience is never a good idea. It can lead you down a dark and intrusive spiral of thought.
Instead, there are some immediate steps you can take to regain your composure before launching into a deeper investigation into the breach of trust. Think of it as emotional first aid.
Here are three things you can do after a cheating episode.
#1. Take a time out
Many couples will tell you that so much of the pain they caused each other after a betrayal could have been avoided if they had backed off and not lashed out. This is true regardless of whether they chose to continue the relationship or not.
So instead of forcing a confrontation or rushing into a life-changing decision, the first thing on your agenda should be to find a soft spot to land – for yourself and for other people (like children). that may be affected by it. .
Take refuge in a safe place, such as your best friend’s or your parents’ house. Make sure the first conversations you have right now are with loved ones who are non-judgmental and want nothing but the best for you.
The instinct to hurt your partner may overwhelm you, but it’s not worth the regret it may cause later.
One way to be fair to yourself during a time of emotional upheaval is to imagine a loved one going through what you are and treat yourself with as much patience and care as you would treat them.
#2. Get professional help
An extramarital affair or a case of infidelity are scenarios that will attract the attention of others, for better or for worse.
You may be inundated with unsolicited advice and useless sympathy. Even when it comes from a good place, messages of sadness and condolences can’t get you far on your healing journey.
During such a sensitive time, it’s often a good idea to make an appointment with a therapist. Many therapists are specially trained to help people overcome difficult family and marital issues. Gaining an unbiased perspective removes many of the inhibitions you may feel when talking to a loved one.
No judgement, no projections, no assumptions. Just an in-depth discussion about the best way to get back on your feet.
#3. Remember that you are both human
It can be argued that empathizing with your partner after they’ve broken your trust doesn’t help you in any way, and that might be right. But approaching them with a vengeance and seeing them as a monster doesn’t necessarily help.
You don’t have to forgive them or forget their actions, but it’s worth reminding yourself that harboring hatred is like constantly picking at a wound.
To forever see them as the “offender” is to forever see yourself as the “victim.” In most cases of infidelity, the situation and the people involved are much more complicated.
Even with infidelity, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Research shows that while the road to recovery can be long, practicing forgiveness, seeking counseling, and managing memories are some effective ways to begin the process. For reconciliation to work, therapists will tell you that there has to be a shift in the power dynamics of the relationship. To get over your current partner, you will likely need to fundamentally redefine what you desire in a romantic partner.