When it comes to infidelity, it is one of the most common question asked. The straight and honest answer is – yes it can.
Well, I wish it was that easy though. Surviving infidelity is a devastating experience. Not only the moment you find out but the aftermath too. It can be a complex and long process to get to the end of it, if you ever will. People go through various stages with mixed emotions. It’s a tough and exhausting ride.
However the good news is this. Based on studies, research, your own life experience and self-knowledge we can find the right path for you.
Can your relationship survive and recover from infidelity? The answer is in your hands. Let’s explore ways of healing, handling, forgiving or letting go.
What is infidelity?
Even though this sounds like a simple question but people has different interpretations what it means for them.
Technically infidelity is breaking a promise we made to a romantic partner. Whether it happens in a marriage, a loving relationship or open relationship – does not matter. It’s about losing trust, faith and feeling betrayed.
What people may consider as infidelity
We are all different, and our values are distinct. Therefore how we think and feel about cheating is also different.
- Sexual contact
The obvious one. Most people consider it as the ultimate infidelity.
Flirting with a colleague, or your partner’s friend can be a “micro cheating”. For some people it is unacceptable and is viewed as infidelity.
We all know that in recent years watching porn became quite common amongst many but particularly teenagers and mid aged men. But is it a form of cheating? It can be. Your partner may strongly believe that any sexual activity outside of the relationship is an offence.
- Emotional infidelity
It tends to be more disturbing for women just as sexual contact is more troubling for men. Emotional infidelity is often perceived as betrayal by many. The source of it is your partner starting to become more attracted and emotionally attached to someone else. For some, this may be more painful than physical contact.
Surviving infidelity will require all of your mental strength. It will test your relationship and the love you have for each other.
Why do people cheat?
Before you can move on in the process of handling the situation with your partner, it is also essential for you to know what could have been the underlying reason of straying.
Falling out of love
Everything has a beginning and an end. At the start of the relationship there is passion, desire and excitement. If these cannot be kept or re-light, they will fade away as time passes.
In case the relationship was not built on deep emotions, understanding, stability and respect, it will not last long. When one of you reach this stage, you will slowly begin to fall out of love.
One’s needs are not met
In general, women tend to have a greater need for emotional support. This involves listening, respecting and accepting them. It requires a mature man who can stand by them and provide stability and emotional availability.
On the other hand men are more physical. Their sex drive is often higher. They need to feel that their partner is attracted to them. Men needs a lot of physical attention and care.
In spite of all that, many couples stay in the relationship. They hope things will improve and get better. As enough time passes they realize that their relationship is stuck. Not going forward nor backwards.
After all we are only human and we have certain needs. To fulfill those we will begin searching in someone else’s arms.
Revenge and anger
It’s not uncommon for people to cheat to get revenge. Other times it may be out of anger. To put it simply; If you hurt me, I will hurt you back.
Either way, as you are going through emotional hell you may not think clearly. Sometimes you do things that you will likely regret later. It’s also possible that you have discovered your partner’s infidelity and you are in pain. At this moment you might want them to experience the same misery as you do.
Surviving infidelity is tough. However I would still not suggest you to do the same as they have done to you. Why?
⇒ It’s not going to resolve the source of the issue
⇒ You are definitely not going to feel better afterwards
⇒ Later on you will regret it and wish you had not done it
⇒ It would very likely eliminate the chance for the relationship to recover
Unfortunately this is an unpredictable factor. As a good opportunity arises sometimes people cannot resist and go for it. This does not mean that the love has gone from the relationship. It can be only a one-off unique opportunity that presented itself in the “right” moment.
Of course it’s not an excuse for cheating whatsoever but it happens anyway. However more often than not these come from frustration and indicates an issue in the relationship. Perhaps it is distance from each other, or not being able to see each other enough. It can also lead back to be unable to meet each other’s needs. You can prevent it from happening by taking care of each other.
People with commitment issues are not equal to the ones who are emotionally unavailable. They are more likely to cheat though. Why?
⇒ Perhaps they are not interested committing to long term
⇒ Possibly they are only after casual relationships
⇒ Can be a way out of the relationship
⇒ Trauma from the past stopping them to commit
Again, they may be loving and caring while they are with you, but as things turn into serious they get anxious and frightened. It’s a complex issue. As a defensive mechanism they cheat, just to avoid commitment.
Boosting low self-esteem
Imagine you only ever had one partner in your life. You were however not treated as you hoped for. Perhaps you did not receive enough love and compliments. All you ever wanted is someone who makes you feel special and attractive but you got a careless and cold partner.
Such an experience can push people to find the missing elements in somebody else. For instance, having sex with another person can be liberating. To feel that you are wanted and desired again is empowering. It boosts self-confidence.
Like I said before surviving infidelity is a tough ride. It’s absolutely necessary to create a space for yourself to think it through and reflect on your own feelings. The other thing you will want to do is talking with your partner about it.
These aforementioned elements will help you decide the right path forward. Let’s go step by step.
How to cope with your own feelings?
Your partner cheated on you. It will certainly hit you hard. You have a lot of questions and emotions and you are out of control. At this stage it’s only natural. There are things to consider and think about, which will help you dealing with the aftermath of the betrayal.
Get professional help
You are strong and you will make it. That doesn’t mean you have to deal with it alone. Asking for help is not shame but bravery.
Before you make any hasty decision it would be wise to talk to a coach or counselor. They will not tell you what to do – only you know that. But they can help you gain insight. Therapists will guide you and assist dealing with your emotions.
Take care of yourself
Obviously this is your priority. Due to the difficulty of digesting the cheat you might even have physical symptoms:
⇒ You may develop eating disorders
I understand how incredibly depressed and disappointed you may feel but nothing is more important then your mental and physical health. Even though it is hard now, but try taking care of yourself.
Accept your emotions
You are on an emotional roller-coaster for sure. Currently it feels like an endless ride but I can assure you that you will reach the finish line. And when you do, you will come out of it stronger.
Take your time but let your feelings come and go. Don’t push them away. It’s inevitable to accept how you feel. If you feel sad – cry. Maybe you feel like shouting and screaming – then do that. Hiding and keeping your emotions within will only do damage. Let them come and go.
Mind social media
After all we live in a modern world. It has become an important consideration. Be aware that some things you do on social media cannot be undone. Understandably you feel alone and seeking for help but social media may not be the ultimate solution for it.
For instance you highly likely have a lot of common friends with your partner. They could be seeing things differently as you do. Moreover you could get comments and messages that upsets you.
Nobody suggests you to fake everything is fine, but you don’t want to share your personal relationship issues with hundreds of people. Also you may want some space for yourself so you can reflect on what happened. Spending too much time on social media will definitely not help you move on to the right direction. Take a break from it.
Should you give your partner a second chance?
Evidence shows three difference possible ending after infidelity:
- The relationship will end
- The marriage or relationship will continue to limp along as it was before
- You and your partner will recover from infidelity and significantly improve the relationship
The choice is certainly yours. Usually the first option comes easier as it is clear. There is no way you can keep being in the relationship.
The second one is considered the worst one by experts. Why? Because in this case the relationship very often becomes lukewarm. Meaning none of the parties will get over it and the thorn stays in their sides.
The third one is an opportunity to make things even better than before. Easier said than done I admit. There are a couple of things you can do though:
Talk about the affair with your partner
Surviving infidelity and staying in the relationship is only possible with your partner’s involvement. I am not going to sugar coat it. This won’t be easy but it’s necessary. You would rightfully ask. Why do we have to talk about something that will hurt me again and again?
You must talk about it to clear the air between you two. Most importantly it will allow you to move on.
It isn’t only about you but about the both of you and the relationship. Remember that the person who went outside of the loving relationship may have actually done a one-time mistake. Yes, a huge mistake, nonetheless he or she might have truly regret it.
They often feel shame of hurting you therefore avoiding conversations. The reason you need to discuss it is because you want to know what happened. As painful as it sounds, but you must have that knowledge to be able to forgive or let it go.
You may want to consider the followings:
⇒ Was it a one time infidelity?
⇒ Have your partner recognized the effect it may have on your relationship?
⇒ Do they know how much hurt they caused?
⇒ Did your partner genuinely apologized?
⇒ Would your partner be willing to attend counseling if that’s what you wanted to do?
⇒ Can you see beyond the betrayal?
⇒ Is there love and willingness to stay together in the relationship from both sides?
⇒ Can you truly forgive?
⇒ Does the relationship worth saving?
If the answers are yes then you have a good chance of surviving infidelity together.
Give it time
Unfortunately such a crisis will not solve itself overnight. I am not saying time heals all wounds because it does not, but it certainly helps. Take it slow and give yourself and your partner some time to recover.
The beginning will be rough and tough, but as time passes you will be surprised to see how things can change. Of course you need to see your partner’s commitment and dedication to you. Above all they have to prove how much they care for you. Show their affection and love towards you.
Have faith in your relationship. Working through it together often strengthen the love and connection between you two.
It is your decision
Most importantly, to decide whether you do or do not give a second chance to your partner and with that the relationship, is solely your call.
You have certainly shared it with your family and friends. In addition you may have asked the help of a therapist. While it’s important to share the burden and ask for people’s advice and suggestions, do not forget, it is your life so you need to take responsibility for it. The decision is yours, and you will certainly make the right one.