Finding out about an Emotional Affair is devastating.
What do you do?
If you’ve just found out your partners had an affair, you will no doubt be feeling a whole range of emotions.
You may still be in shock or you may be playing “investigator” trying to find out all the clues and details you somehow missed along the way. You may experience an overwhelming rush of emotion.
It’s a big shock to find out that life as you knew it, has just changed. All in an instant. There’s a mad rush of thoughts that race around your brain, you don’t know who to talk to or who to confide in or what to feel.
4 Ways People React When Finding Out About an Emotional Affair
Who really wants to think or believe their partner had an affair or is confiding in someone else?
Usually finding out about an emotional affair triggers denial and disbelief. Denial is one of the first emotions you will feel because it protects you from processing the truth.
Denial has a great purpose, it allows you to live in the ideal world you have created and keeps your life intact, just the way you believe it to be.
The problem with denial is exactly what was just described – it keeps you from confronting the truth and living in the real world. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
Even though you may not want to face the reality of the situation at some point you will have to decide what will happen next.
Denying what’s happened doesn’t change the fact that it’s happened or is happening. Denial doesn’t protect you.
2. Minimising the situation
It’s not that big a deal – is it? Minimising the situation is similar to denial because it allows you to believe the situation is much less important than it really is. It allows you to hold onto the belief that everything is fine when in fact it isn’t.
It’s worse when other people know the truth and you’re the only person seeing it as something different. Minimising the details of the situation is another form of self-protection but it doesn’t lessen the hurt you feel.
In order to work through the situation you have to see it for what it really is, nothing more or nothing less.
Obsession is when you over analyse every detail you’ve been told. You analyze it to death till there’s nothing left to squeeze out of the facts. When you obsess about it, you can end up twisting the details and changing them.
Obsession takes up all your spare time and cuts into time that should be dedicated to other areas of your life like family, friends and work.
You may feel compelled to think about the other person, the past and other things that revolve around the situation and it can become addictive. Not in a good way.
There is no doubt your mind is trying to make sense of a situation that has robbed you of your happily-ever-after. When you don’t know all the facts its’ your unconscious minds job to try and fill in all the details.
So, if you are obsessing and over analysing it just know it’s normal but it also keeps the pain you’re feeling alive. You need to decide how much information you really want or need to know.
Because in the long run, it doesn’t help how you feel and if you decide to stay in your marriage or your relationship the details that you demanded to know will be the details that keep you awake at night long into the future.
Don’t want to think about it? Hoping by being busy it will just disappear? Wrong.
Distracting yourself with work, projects or anything else is just a really good way to burn yourself out. You can overdo things to the point of exhaustion. These situations are already emotionally, physically and mentally draining.
You can get busy and distract yourself but as soon as you slow down, the problem will keep resurfacing.
When the Truth Sets In
So what happens when the truth actually hits home and you realise the cold truth that your partners had an affair?
You may experience a feeling of anger, sadness, fear, hurt or guilt. Then the other emotions come in secondary to these such as loneliness, failure, embarrassment, helplessness and feelings of being not good enough or unloved.
Everyone experiences this differently but just know if it feels really hard, it’s because it is. It’s hard to hear, it’s hard to acknowledge and accept that something like this can happen to you.
At some point, it may be in the beginning, it may be the day after or a week after you find out, you will feel an overwhelming rush of emotion. And it’s going to hurt like hell. Your mind will be in overdrive and it might feel like you’re going to have a mental or emotional breakdown.
It doesn’t mean you will have a breakdown, but you will feel strong emotions. Maybe one emotion at a time or several all at once. You need to understand these emotions are normal. You need to feel them so you can heal.
It wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t feel the emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to say you that won’t be upset and you will get over it, but the truth will help you cope. I’m saying it how it is because I know how much you appreciate the truth – especially right now.
Emotions You’ll Feel When Finding Out About Emotional Affair:
The first two emotions will be anger and sadness. Anger is adrenaline and it feels like a rush of power and control.
It will make you feel like taking action and doing something to resolve the situation. If nothing else it will stop you feeling sad for a while.
Sadness is a withdrawal coping skill. It will allow you to shutdown so you can process what has happened. Shutting down gives you the space to deal with the reality that your partners had an affair. You can process your thoughts and feel what you need to feel.
What do you do with these feelings? You’ll direct your sadness and anger inwards or outwards. Inwards means you are blaming yourself. It’s your fault because you didn’t do this or didn’t do that, it’s because of how you look, or you’re not interesting anymore and so on.
To deal with it outwards means you’re going to do a bit of yelling, arguing and talking to people about it. You will also fluctuate between these two feelings many times throughout the day.
So it might feel like you are moving a step forward and a step backward at the same time. So be gentle and kind to yourself. You need to feel what you need to feel as part of your grieving and healing process.
During the process you will find yourself looking for someone to blame. You will blame yourself, your partner or the third party.
Is it your partner’s fault because they are the one who made a commitment to you? They made promises to you and they betrayed you.
Is it the third parties fault because they should respect the fact that your partner is already in a relationship and should have backed off and found someone who is single?
Who should be blamed, who should feel guilty and who should feel betrayed? At this point does blame even matter?
How Much Information Do You Need To Know?
You need to decide what is most important to you. Do you want to work it out and keep your marriage, do you need some time to process the situation yourself or is it a deal breaker?
If you are like many people who have sworn that if your partners had an affair then it’s a deal breaker. However in a real life situation, you might find yourself wanting to do anything possible to save your marriage or relationship, so don’t beat yourself.
It doesn’t mean you’re weak or a doormat. Like any real life situation, you really don’t know how you will react until it’s happened to you.
So please don’t judge yourself if you want to stay and work things out or if you need space to process what’s happened.
Can Your Relationship Survive When Your Partners Had An Affair?
I’ve seen many couples that are willing to work through it and do whatever it takes to get past the infidelity and get back to a loving relationship. I’ve also seen couples that have tried and haven’t been able to get past the hurt and heartache.
If you have children you also need to consider the affect an affair has on the children and how to help them cope.
You also need to know when it’s time to walk away from the relationship after an affair.
Consider these questions:
What to do next
If your marriage or relationship is trying to survive after finding out an emotional affair book an appointment for marriage counselling.
It can get very overwhelming to try and resolve the situation yourself.
You’ve already invested so much time, energy and emotion into your relationship – isn’t it worth knowing you’ve tried everything before making a big decision on what to do next?