Recovering After Being Cheated On
Finding out that your partner has cheated on you can be one of the most devastating experiences of your life. For many people, it isn’t just the sex – it’s also the extent of the betrayal. An emotional affair is sometimes regarded much more devastating than a sexual affair because of the time, attention and connect that was built with someone else.
The reason it’s called cheating is because you as the innocent party are being deprived of what you have a reasonable right to expect within a relationship. Like quality time spent together, physical and emotional intimacy and creating memories together.
Finding out that your partner has been giving these things to another person while you’ve been doing without can be humiliating and infuriating.
Part of the cheating or the affair that is hard to take is recognising all the lying and deception. It can magnify those feelings even more. It’s like you’ve been living with a stranger and don’t even recognize the person you cared for any more.
The confusion sets in. The detective mode kicks in. All you want to do is look for more answers so you can put the pieces of the puzzle together. You have a need to make sense of the shitshow you’re now calling your life.
The fact is, your partner has made a mess of the life that you know. Someone else has effectively pissed all over your territory. And you have to decide what you’re going to do next.
The most obvious advice someone would give you in this situation is “you need to kick them out.” “You need to leave them.”
But here’s the problem. One minute you were in a relationship that was your foundation of life. You had a future. You knew who you were and where you fit into this world.
All of a sudden your partner screws that up. They go off course. They made a series of decisions that didn’t involve you. They get caught out and now YOU are left to decide your fate. Not only yours but theirs and if you have kids, theirs too.
So the advice of just leave, they don’t deserve you blah blah, aint that helpful. The truth is you didn’t change your feelings about your partner. They decided to cheat. They changed their feelings. So it’s a pretty big call for you to make out of nowhere.
What are you going to do? (Read: What happens when you find out your partners had an emotional affair).
7 Ways to Recover After Being Cheated On
I won’t sugar coat anything at this point I know you will appreciate brutal honesty.
You are going to be a mess. Your mind is going to be pinging back and forwards over details, events, conversations in an order to fill in the gaps of what you don’t know.
Know this. Recovery is a process and it’s going to take time. The following 7 steps will help you get there.
Recovery Is a Process
Yet it is possible for couples to recover from infidelity, provided they follow a few essential steps.
1. Both have to Make A Decision To Be In or Out
Although affairs are shocking when brought out of the shadows they are rarely happen completely out of the blue. Someone has been feeling neglected, or the connection between you hasn’t been there for a long time, people get lazy and intimacy becomes less and less.
Ultimately someone didn’t feel loved or didn’t feel they got the attention they needed.These are not excuses but to decide if you want to work on the relationship or not you need to face facts. The facts that matter to you and your partner.
And even though they cheated on you and got caught it doesn’t mean they want to fix the relationship either. This can be confusing because you would assume they feel bad, they know they fucked up and they would do anything to make it up to you. It’s not always the case.
So step 1. Make a decision together if you are both willing to work on it or not. If the cheater has decided the relationship is over and wants to try to start a new life with their lover, there is not much point in trying to patch things up.
Sorry I know that one hurt to hear.
2. Each Person Has to Be Accountable
No one is perfect, so playing the blame game is not going to work. No one is making excuses, but there might be reasons for the affair which need to be addressed seriously, no matter how difficult they might be.
After 14 years as a Marriage Counsellor I can tell you the ones who pull through are the ones who take accountability for their part in the situation.
They own it and they know they can do something about it. The ones who get caught and act as if they aren’t caught out are the ones who don’t.
And I have to say it’s my pet peeve. If you got caught. YOU GOT CAUGHT. This is the point in time you have to make a decision. Lying is just setting another false sense of security. You can’t have it all your way.
3. The Affair Must End
As far as possible, the cheater needs to stop seeing the other person. This could be tricky if they have had the affair with a someone at work or a neighbor, but boundaries need to be set.
You would think this one is a no-brainer but unfortunately people need to be told. ‘You can’t see them anymore. You can’t contact them again.”
As the person who was cheated on, you have to also understand your partner is going to go through a grieving process for the other person.I know. Cry me a river but they will grieve for the other person.
During this time they are not going to want to make things up to you. They are not going to treat you in the way you deserve because ultimately they are blaming you for not being able to see that person anymore. Yep.
4. Don’t Over-Share Details of the Affair
There’s no need to go into every gory detail about your intimacy with another person, but the cheater needs to be honest when answering questions about the affair, however painful it might be.
If you missed your partners birthday party because you were shacked up with your lover, this is not going to be the easiest thing to admit, but it’s the only way to move forward and heal. It also helps stop them jumping to conclusions.
This also helps to determine what is “true” or not within your relationship. You’re already feeling lied to, betrayed, and deceived. It’s as if your whole foundation has been shaken to the core.
My advice is to ask the questions that give you closure. And then stop asking for details. Remember those details will be burnt into your memory and will keep coming back to haunt you so don’t ask too much and as the cheater don’t tell specific intimate details. Just answer the questions respectfully. You want to give your partner closure not content.
You need to trust your own judgement again, which can usually only happen through complete transparency. Like having access to your partners computer and phone passwords so you can have peace of mind.
Think of it as the cheater being on probation, and needing to prove they’re committed to making things work.
I have people who have an issue with this one. They say it’s a privacy issue. And even the person who was cheated on feels guilty if they check their partners phone. Well, the saying goes “when there’s nothing to hide, there’s nothing to hide.”
It shouldn’t be a problem and as for privacy. They lost they right. Until you feel comfortable again. However long that takes.
5. Be Honest About Why You Want to Work Through it
If you have no children, it may be easier to walk away. Some couples with children, however, decide to stay together just for the sake of the kids. This may preserve the household, but the children are going to know the parents are at odds with each other.
The older they are, the more likely they will figure out what is going on. The last thing you want is for them to take sides or blame one parent over the other.
You also don’t want them to think that your love for them can change or be easily transferred as it was in the affair.
It’s important to be clear about all the reasons why each partner has decided to try again. Be clear about your priorities and boundaries going forward.
6. Set Boundaries
No one likes to be told what to do so I don’t want you to think of this as creating “rules.” Boundaries keep your relationship safe. It means everyone knows what to expect from each other. You know where the line is drawn.
Be aware that intimacy maybe very different, strained or full on. It effects people differently. But you have to be careful not to use sex as a reward/punishment. And on the other hand, as the cheater you can’t expect too much.
If you’re trying again you have to realise that the game has changed and that means you need to know what works for you and what doesn’t. Create boundaries that ensure you’re asking for what you want. You know that your heart and your family are protected.
Be honest if the new boundaries are doable. If not, you have to be honest. Don’t set up a false foundation.
7. Get Professional Help
This one is important. You are both going to be going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Some of it’s personal and it’ about you. The other part is about the relationship.
If you confide in your friends and family more people are getting involved. You don’t want people knowing your private business.
Also friends and family get torn over these situations. They get hurt too. All of a sudden you’re nursing their feelings over what happened in your life. It gets complicated.
Also, when you get to a point that you have forgiven your partner it doesn’t mean your friends and family have. They can hold a grudge and it makes get together very awkward and uncomfortable.
And lastly, please do not use your children as your Counsellor. Your kids will know what’s going no matter how clever you’re being about the situation. They pick things up and they hear and see much more than you realise. Don’t talk to them about your feelings. This will wreck them.
Talk to an adult who can handle it and help you. Not your children. They will be going through their own turmoil over this. (You can read more about that in my next blog How An Affair Effects The Children)
Conclusion on Recovering After Being Cheated On
If you’ve been cheated on and you need some help to work through it on your own or as a couple you can click here to make a booking. I’ve helped many couples get through this and I can help you too. In any case, just don’t go through it alone. This is a time to reach out for support. The right support.
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