Infidelity: What Do I Do If My Partner Has Cheated On Me?
Gain an understanding of common emotions and coping strategies
Trust is an essential component in a healthy relationship. So to discover that the trust you placed in your partner has been betrayed is an awful thing to come to terms with. You will likely feel an array of emotions and will have more questions than answers, including: Why did the infidelity happen? What happens now?
There is no correct response to betrayal and the emotions you experience may be confusing and conflicting, but they are all a part of the process towards healing and finding a way forward, with or without your partner.
It is important to try and deal with the emotions that arise or further strain and turmoil can be caused.
As difficult as it may seem it IS also possible to heal and rebuild trust when both parties are open and committed to repairing the relationship after betrayal.
This blog focuses on answering some key questions to help strengthen your resolve before you decide what to do next.
What is Betrayal
Betrayal is defined as “the violation of a presumed contract; trust or confidence, producing moral and psychological conflict.” Within a relationship, betrayal can take many forms, but it is ultimately characterised by the dissolution of trust between two partners following the event of some type of infidelity. Please note that what may be conceived as betrayal by one couple may be seen as totally acceptable in another relationship. Each couple needs to define what constitutes infidelity in the context of the marriage or partnership.
Types of Betrayal
When we think of betrayal in a relationship, we invariably picture a raunchy affair or a sexy one night stand on a boozy night out with friends. We can thank Hollywood movies like ‘The Graduate’, ‘American Beauty’, or ‘Betrayal’ to name only a few, for this warped perspective. Truth be known, betrayals are often much more subtle and unglamorous, but equally as hurtful.
Infidelity is often associated with the idea that one partner is physically intimate with someone else. However non-sexual forms of betrayal in a relationship can be as damaging as sexual forms of betrayal. Emotional betrayal can best be identified by the degree of emotional investment or intimacy associated with the acts of infidelity. Does your partner have a secretive and deep emotional attachment to someone else? Or perhaps enters into flirtatious exchanges outside the relationship? This may constitute an emotional betrayal, as it involves emotional intimacy and connection. Emotional cheating occurs when you develop a deep emotional attachment to someone else who is not your partner, especially when this relationship replaces the emotional connections you share with your partner.
This type of betrayal is more apparent. It’s the physical act of being unfaithful to your partner by engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with someone else. This can impact a relationship in many ways, such as influencing the physical and sexual relationship that currently exists between you and your partner. As well as the emotional connection within the relationship, as the experience and need shared between two people has been sourced elsewhere.
Cyber betrayal is when one partner in a relationship secretly reaches out and builds a connection with another person online. Or it may be when they have an intimate online conversation with someone who is already in their lives. This typically results in building an emotional connection with someone outside the relationship. Creating a betrayal within the emotional connection of the current one.
Typical Emotions Associated with Betrayal and Infidelity
Finding out a partner has betrayed your trust by having an affair can rock your world. It’s understandable that you may feel overcome with emotions. Some typical emotions to expect include:
Following a betrayal, you may feel a sense of confusion. This may stem from trying to make sense of why and how this could have happened. Or you may be confused by your response. For example, feeling intense negative emotions while questioning how you could still love and care for your partner.
You may feel angered by the situation and your partner. Perhaps acting with aggression towards conversations about infidelity. This anger is commonly also directed towards your partner and other people in everyday life. Anger is typically the reigning emotion when other emotions, like hurt and distrust, are not understood or dealt with deeply.
Yes! Interesting, isn’t it? Following a betrayal in a relationship, it’s actually common to feel a sexual desire for your partner. Because it may help you regain a sense of control, and manifests feelings of being desirable by your partner again.
Feeling distrust is a natural emotion associated with infidelity. Once the trust has been broken, it can be difficult to move forward with a sense of trust. It takes a long time for couples to develop trust and rebuild it in the case of infidelity. Once your partner provides you with a reason to distrust their actions, motives, or words… It can be challenging to overcome the doubtful thoughts that infiltrate your mind in future situations.
After a betrayal from your partner, you may feel shame when you share. Our natural tendencies in this situation are to compare with others and feel ‘not enough’. Feeling like a failure and that you’re somehow responsible can create a sense of shame. An affair can crack open your secret insecurities. ‘How does it look to others?’, ‘Am I not good enough? Interesting enough? Pretty enough? Sexually desirable enough?’ It’s important to know that this is a normal response. Please remember that it is not your fault, and there is no shame in going through a hard time and reaching out for support.
Common Questions around Betrayal and Infidelity
In addition to the questions above, here are some common questions and coping strategies to help you process all of these thoughts in your mind.
- Should I stay?
- Will our relationship ever be the same?
- My partner doesn’t want to talk about the betrayal?
- What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
- Why can’t I get this off my mind?
- How will I ever trust my partner again?
7 Coping Strategies to implement today
1. Expect a rollercoaster of emotions and accept your feelings
After a betrayal, you are likely to experience a range of emotions. Accepting the way you feel allows you to experience the full force of emotion, which is the only way to move on from it.
2. Focus on taking care of yourself
When in the midst of a highly emotional and painful experience, it can be easy to neglect your needs and wallow. However, it is important to take care of yourself and do things that make you feel calm and happy. This could mean reading a book or going for a walk.
3. Talk about what you’re feeling with your partner
It’s tempting to shut down when you’re hurt, but open communication with your partner is essential to heal after a betrayal. Raising any questions or concerns may create more clarity for you, so you can move on and start to clear away some thoughts circling your mind. If you want to stay with your partner, having an open dialogue about your feelings and needs can help repair trust.
4. Don’t seek revenge on your partner
Seeking revenge may relieve some feelings of anger, but only perpetuates the hurt you feel in the long term. As tempting as it may feel, don’t seek to spread the pain to your partner, but rather convey to them how you are feeling.
5. Don’t become a surveillance private investigator
There is a natural period of time you may want to monitor your partner who betrayed your trust. Checking phones, asking for passwords, and monitoring their movements. However this is only a band aid solution and trust must be rebuilt over time, to heal and rebuild the connection.
6. Reach out to family and friends if your struggling with the hurt on your own
The difficult emotions that come with distrust and betrayal may leave you feeling isolated and alone. To cope with these feelings, connect with a trusted family member or a friend, one that you know will just listen and not judge during this hard time. This may reduce the feelings of loneliness, help you make sense of your feelings and evaluate your options with support.
7. Seek a relationship counsellor with your partner
The most effective way to cope with betrayal and infidelity is to seek resources and professional services as early as possible. While it can help to speak with friends and family. A counsellor’s early intervention can help reduce further hurt, manage the heightened emotions and deal with the betrayal in a way that’s most important to your relationship. Seeing a relationship counsellor with your partner may create an environment where you can openly and safely discuss your feelings, understand each other, and strategise how to move forward.
‘The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.’
Help yourself overcome this devastating experience by understanding the emotions you may expect to experience. Follow these strategies, be kind to yourself. Try this recipe: combine relationship counselling with a splash of time and willingness to heal. Many couples emerge from infidelity with a stronger and more honest relationship than they had before.
If you’re struggling with infidelity, consider counselling support. Contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation. Discover how counselling can help you. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
The team at Kylie Lepri Counselling are all registered Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Specialising in Individual, Relationship and Family therapy. Providing online and in person support to clients all over Australia. Get Kylie’s FREE e-Book: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter below.