A person in a monogamous relationship places every ounce of trust into their partner and infidelity is a complete violation of that sacred trust.
After the infidelity has occurred it can feel like the world has ended and there is no way back. Depending on the relationship, you can move forward and restore the lost trust to form a new, stronger relationship. Here is how to start.
Recovering from Infidelity – Step 1: Work Through Your Feelings
Right now you are feeling hurt, confusion and anger. Your partner has committed a betrayal at the highest level. The feelings you are experiencing are a natural way to feel after such gut-punching news. Suppressing your feelings and/or avoiding your own feelings does no one any good. Don’t hide from your feelings and do not react until the initial feelings subside and so you can make a rational decision, not one based on emotion.
Reacting upon this emotionally stands only to make the situation worse. So take some time to feel and identify those feelings. Once you have identified your feelings, you will gain a better idea how and if you can move forward in the relationship.
To help you and partner through this, seeking couple’s therapy is vitally important. The emotional toll from infidelity can be summed up in one word, “traumatic.” As with all traumas, it can be too hard to emotionally handle on your own. Talking with someone can really help emotionally resolve the trauma of the infidelity. Most couple’s counselors have the knowledge to help you move beyond the infidelity and process the trauma. A therapist can also act as a guide through the difficult process of moving forward after such a violation.
Recovering from Infidelity – Step 2: Ask Questions
Once you are in a calmer place ask questions but remember only ask questions for which you can handle the answers. Hearing the details of the infidelity that a person cannot handle can be an additional emotional trauma you do not need right now. However, there is one exception to this rule: protection and STI risks. If your partner had unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with another person/s, you may be at risk and may need to see a doctor to be tested.
Other questions to ask may be: how long did it go on for? What was the reason they did it? Sex is often not the reason for cheating, but rather some other bigger issue within them or within the relationship.
Recovering from Infidelity – Step 3: Finding a Path Forward
The next step is developing a plan to reestablish trust and to move forward. Tell your partner what they must do for you to be able to forgive and trust them again. Set clear rules and boundaries for each other and the relationship. Communication and transparency are your keys to reestablishing trust.
As hard as it is to trust your partner, give them a chance to reprove their trustworthiness. If you slam the door shut on trust, your partner is powerless to open that door without you because only you can open it. A relationship cannot recover if the trust cannot be restored. If you want this relationship to continue then you must allow a place for trust to grow.
Recovering from Infidelity – Step 4: Forgiveness
The next step is the hardest and most important, forgiveness. Resentment is relationship poison. If you decide to stay with your partner you must forgive them for what they did. That is the only way the relationship can survive.
Forgiveness is the only way forward. Letting go of bad feelings even if the relationship is going to fail is vitally important. Forgiveness brings closure and without closure a person can never move forward and will be stuck in the past. Only with forgiveness and closure can we move beyond the issues that oppress our emotional and cognitive minds.
Recovering from Infidelity – Step 5: Starting Over
The last step is starting over. Rome was not built in a day, neither was your relationship. You must take things slowly and get reacquainted with each other. A new relationship must be formed; a relationship that is stronger and more connected than the one you previously had with your partner.
Remember what made you fall in love with each other in the beginning of the relationship. Sexually, you should start slowly there as well. By taking things slowly in the bedroom and respecting each other’s boundaries and desires, this will allow the passion and sex to come back in time as well.
With time, love, and forgiveness infidelity does not need to be the death of your relationship. Your relationship can be salvaged if you are able to complete these steps and with help. Do not write off the one’s you love over a terrible mistake; after all, they are only human. No relationship is perfect and through trials comes strength. Often through, destructive acts like infidelity can be the catalyst to a relationship that can grow stronger and even more resilient in the future.