Being cheated on is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can ever go through.
So, how do you get over the pain? Does it ever go away?
Clinical Psychologist | Inspirational Speaker | Author, But It’s Your Family: Cutting Ties with Toxic Family Members and Loving Yourself in the Aftermath
Decide if this relationship is one that you really want to work
Getting over infidelity is absolutely no joke. Infidelity breaks the structure of trust in a relationship, which fractures everything at the foundation. it’s very difficult not to live a paranoid life if you have been the one who was cheated on.
The best thing to do is to try to get into treatment with your partner and do some individual work on yourself and decide if this relationship is one that you really want to work.
If it is a relationship that you want to work, especially if you have children, then it’s going to be about learning to tell a new story about your marriage and doing what you can to focus on your future and let go of the past. However, when triggers come up it’s important to be able to talk about them as a couple.
It’s important to look at infidelity as the symptom of something that was missing in the marriage itself. If you can find what was missing in the marriage and fill that hole with what is needed in the first place infidelity will be easier to avoid going forward.
But it’s important to understand that trust will probably never fully return, and it’s important that you learn to really love yourself, so that if your partner ever cheats again that you are strong enough inside of you to not go back.
Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, The Aiki Relationship Institute | Author
Talk about the feelings with your partner
One of the things that are often striking for couples who do the work to recover from infidelity, gain an understanding of what happened and what they need to do to change, and move through that process is that the pain of the infidelity still crops up and can be problematic to the relationship.
The feelings can be triggered by all sorts of things, from driving by a restaurant where your partner conducted part of the affair to storylines in movies or on television. The tendency is to often feel like you should be over the feelings because you have done the work, but it is important to remember that emotions are often slower in their change than thoughts are.
If you feel like you should be over it the tendency is to try to ignore the feeling and certainly not talk about it with your partner, who often will respond defensively and plead with you to get over it.
A problem with this is that ignoring it often requires you pull back a bit from your partner and that separation doesn’t feel good, replicates (on a much smaller level) the separation you felt from the infidelity, and keeps the feelings happening more and more often.
It is better to create a way to talk about the feelings with your partner and connect around them rather than separate.
This usually takes the form of an additional apology and acknowledgment of the pain caused. When that is done in a way that is genuine and accepted, the feelings will fade more rapidly. Of course, this requires the work of both partners.
Best accomplished while working with a skilled therapist
Surviving infidelity can often be very tricky – and it’s probably best accomplished while working with a skilled therapist. If you have suffered infidelity in your relationship, one of the main challenges lies in separating your feeling of betrayal from the act of infidelity itself.
You need to be able to consider the infidelity as an indication that something in your relationship needs to be changed or examined more closely. It can take a long time to rebuild trust if you decide to stay with a partner who has committed infidelity.
You have to be able to forgive your partner, and in turn, your partner must have the strength to take in the anger that will understandably come their way. Looking at infidelity as a wake-up call can be an excellent impetus for positive change.
Dr. Jess O’Reilly
Author | Astroglide’s Resident Sexologist | Relationship Expert
Allow yourself to be hurt, sad or angry for a short while
You don’t have to pretend to be happy or force yourself to move on right away. Research suggests that focusing on the pain of a breakup (or infidelity) can help you to get over it more effectively.
Remind yourself that it’s not your fault
Focus on yourself and actively remind yourself that it’s not your fault that your partner/ex cheated. You may look back and blame yourself, but ultimately, it was their choice to cheat.
Consider what you can do to invest in yourself. Can you make one small change to your daily routine? Can you break one habit you shared with your ex? Is there a new class you can sign up for or a skill you can develop.
You’ll likely be tempted to check up or check in with your ex, but consider setting boundaries to create space. Rereading hurtful texts may help you to move on in the early phase after the breakup, as research suggests that admitting to and focusing on your negative emotions after a breakup can help you to get over the split; however, you’ll likely want to set a time limit for the wallowing in sadness.
Related: Best Books to Read after a Breakup
Pick a dump date by which you promise to delete all the evidence and recruit a friend to keep you on track — and celebrate should the mood strike you.
Allen Wagner, LMFT
Author | Founder, Married Roommates
Individual therapy is a great place to start
Infidelity is terribly hard on any relationship, as this is generally to trust at its core. There is a lot of anxiety in both partners following discovery or disclosure and this leaves both people unsure of how to behave.
Most people who have been cheated on, feel intense sadness and hopelessness. This can manifest as rage, anger, or detachment. Feelings of “I’m not good enough” can overwhelm a person.
Related: How to Feel Good Enough
Individual therapy is a great place to start, as it can help a person look more clearly at what they need to move forward.
Many people don’t tell anyone out of shame or wanting to protect their partner’s reputation with the people who are close in their lives such as family or friends. It’s understandable to feel embarrassment, but sadly it is not uncommon.
Many people can relate to feeling a disconnect in their relationships, and oftentimes emotional affairs develop at work or social circles when couples don’t really talk, trust or like each other much, on most days.
What starts off innocently, can be mistaken love through emotional intimacy about their lives and struggles. Most people who have cheated, do not intend to cheat, but rather it was a process, and many were operating unconsciously.
The person who was cheated on can move forward but there has to be initial transparency, the ability to ask anything, and new habits in place to work on trust and connection through quality time and real validation.
As I said earlier, individual therapy is a great way for individuals to first forgive and trust themselves, and then work on real measurable ways to rebuild trust in their partner.
Staying in your own head is usually unhelpful and it also leads to emotionally volatile communication that rarely garners the empathy people need from their best friend.
Adina Mahalli (MSW)
Certified Mental Health Expert, Enlightened Reality | Family Care Professional
You need to give yourself adequate time to grieve
There are many stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Even though these are the five stages, you may feel many of them at the same time and that’s completely normal. Eventually, you’ll be able to reach acceptance which is extremely helpful in getting past the misery and agony.
In the meantime, you should make time for yourself. Spend time doing the things you enjoy, learn something new, or take up a new hobby. You are important so you should make yourself and your needs a priority.
It may be difficult but at some point, you’re going to need to come to terms with the affair and understand how important it is for you to move on. Get all your questions answered so you can stop asking them and move forward.
- Get professional counseling from a licensed therapist.
- Individual and couples counseling. Anytime, anywhere.