our everyday life

How to Get Closure After an Affair

by Scott Thompson

An affair creates chaos for all three people involved, and each person can only resolve that chaos and move on with life once the affair is truly in the past. Insecurity, resentment, daydreaming and fantasy can keep the emotional power of the affair alive, sometimes long after the affair itself is over.

Ending It

If you've had an affair and want to end it, then half measures will only sabotage your efforts to repair your marriage and to regain the trust of your spouse. Whether you end the affair in person, by phone or via email, communicate that you have decided to end the affair and that you are recommitting to your marriage. Also state that no possibility exists for any future relationship and that you won't respond to any attempt for contact. Be clear on these points, because mixed signals can cause pain and confusion for the person you've been seeing as well as preventing you or your spouse from gaining closure, according to Lynn Margolies, Ph.D., in her article, "How to Close the Door After an Affair" in "Psych Central."

Kindness or Confusion

You might feel that it would be unfair of you not to express caring for the person you had the affair with. Lynn Margolies advises against this because it could send a mixed signal and make it more difficult for the other person to move on. Expressing care for the other person would be appropriate and possibly helpful as long as you clearly state that you will not see this person again nor answer calls or emails, states Tammy Nelson Ph.D., in her article, "Ending Your Affair With Integrity," in the "Huffington Post."

Closure for the Other Person

If you had an affair with a married person, the only way to get closure after the affair ends is to deliberately choose to stop fantasizing about what could have been. Affairs are usually over for good within three years, Nelson says. No matter what you may have been told or what mixed signals you may have received, the person you had the affair with is not going to come back or leave the marriage for you. Accepting this painful reality is the only way to put the affair behind you.

Closure and Forgiveness

If you're the spouse who was cheated on, closure is to regain a sense of power over your own life. You don't have to stay married or forgive your spouse unless you choose to do so on your own terms and at your own pace. Focus on taking care of yourself and healing yourself first, says Steven Stosny, Ph.D., in the article, "Forgiveness After Betrayal," in "Psychology Today.” After that, if you choose to, concentrate on repairing your relationship with your spouse and rebuilding trust and commitment. Forgiveness usually happens naturally once this process is complete, but this process won't happen quickly, so you shouldn't try to rush it.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images