Even after infidelity rocks the relationship, 70 percent of couples aim to repair the damage, suggests marriage and family therapist Ondina Hatvany in "How to Heal from Infidelity." However, a long-lasting, genuine relationship repair between you and your lover can't succeed until you've begun to overcome your own personal hurt. And even if you decide to end the relationship, you don’t want that bad experience to keep you jaded in the future. Learn a few ways to navigate through the pain of being cheating on.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Be prepared to experience a wide range of emotions after you learn about the infidelity, suggests psychiatrist Scott Haltzman in "After You’ve Discovered Your Partner is Cheating: 5 Unexpected Emotional Reactions." For example, alongside anger and sadness, you might experience shame, emptiness, possessiveness or even relief at finally knowing. Rather than fighting these emotions or denying their existence, acknowledge their presence and understand that they are natural reactions. Expect these feelings to drift away in time.
Understand the Cause
Try to understand what caused the affair, suggests Tammy Nelson, psychotherapist, in "Can I Get Over An Affair? The Three Phases Of Recovery." Even if you are not sure if you want to continue the relationship, talk to your partner about the roots of the infidelity without assigning blame on yourself or your partner. This can increase your empathy for your partner and relieve some of your own bitterness and frustrations.
Cut the Self-Doubt
Take the time to reestablish your own self-esteem. Learn to separate your own opinions from facts, suggests Suzie Johnson, co-founder of Dallas, Texas's Marriage Wellness Institute, in “How To Rebuild Confidence And Self-Esteem.” For example, if you find yourself thinking you aren’t good enough for your lover, acknowledge that this is your opinion, not necessarily a fact. Make a habit of questioning all of your own negative thoughts, not just surrounding the incident of infidelity, but in every aspect of your life. Replace each negative opinion with a potential positive counterpoint. For example, “He thinks I’m too fat,” becomes “He -- or at least someone out there -- thinks I’m just right.”
Prepare for the Future
Focus on a solution, rather than dwelling on the past. Determine whether you and your partner are truly willing to repair the relationship together, suggests research psychologist Peggy Drexler in "After the Affair: The Uncertain Road to Healing." If you are the only one sincere about avoiding a repeat incident, you open the door to future pain. If you both decide to patch things up, talk about how you will avoid future issues, rather than simply trying to forget infidelity occurred. If necessary, seek professional help to assist your relationship repairs and personal wounds.
- PsychCentral: How to Heal from Infidelity
- PsychCentral: After You’ve Discovered Your Partner is Cheating: 5 Unexpected Emotional Reactions
- Huffington Post: Can I Get Over An Affair? The Three Phases Of Recovery
- Go Ask Suzie: How To Rebuild Confidence And Self-Esteem
- Psychology Today: After the Affair: The Uncertain Road to Healing
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