If you’ve ever been in a committed relationship, and your partner has cheated on you, then you’re well aware of the cataclysmic effect it has on your entire life. Not only on your relationship itself, but at some point, you’ve probably even blamed yourself for their actions.
You’ve probably asked yourself “Am I not good enough?”, “Will I ever be able to trust my partner, or anyone, again?’, and eventually “Am I able to get over it and continue the relationship?”
These are all very valid, natural questions. Discovering your partner has been unfaithful is a terrible blow. This fact will make you question your beliefs and expectations of your relationship. Where once you thought you were a part of a stable, committed union, a new reality quickly sets in. Your world has been turned upside down, and you are unsure of what the future holds.
Many couples who experience a partner being unfaithful, decide to end the relationship. How could someone who loves you ever do something like that, right? The pressures you ultimately face range from digging deep and deciding to work on the relationship, or giving it up and eventually moving on with someone else.
Why Do People Cheat?
Some of the reasons a partner may cheat are:
- A need for excitement
- Dissatisfaction with other areas of life
- Regret at not having enough life experiences
- For personal validation
- Sabotage – unconsciously ruining things for a need of self worth
- Low self-esteem – to ‘prove’ they are desirable
- Revenge; to ‘even the score’ if they suspect a partner has cheated
- Repeating a parental pattern – a parent may have committed adultery.
The truth is, once you have been cheated on, it is very difficult to start a new relationship without being on constantly on guard, or being cautious. Your previous partner who cheated has left you emotionally and mentally scarred and you may find yourself over-reacting to little things in a new relationship.
Why are they constantly on their phone? Why weren’t they home when they said they would be? It’s these little questions that will crop up, and ultimately, you will make your life almost unbearable, wondering if they are cheating on you, like your last partner did.
You are in a state of constant paranoia, but thankfully, there are a few things you can try to relieve some of these feelings. After all, you don’t want to feel like this forever, do you?
Work On Yourself
Initially, you will blame either yourself, or your partner, or both, for them cheating. You may even blame the person whom your partner had the affair with. After you’ve come to terms with the initial feeling of anger, distrust, resentment and doubt, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that they need help. The truth is, you probably both do.
Chances are, you’re going to have some trust issues. And, as was mentioned above, living in a paranoid state of mind 24 hours a day with the new partner (or the current one, if you decided to give them another chance), will make your everyday life miserable.
However, it goes without saying that one should be emotionally healthy and completely healed before even thinking of entering a new relationship following one during which they were cheated on. Betrayal leads to a heightened sense of awareness, but you cannot punish the new partner for the sins of the last.
It is possible to keep your head out of the sand without being in constant investigative mode, and if you find that you are in a perpetual state of mental unrest and anxiety, then additional healing should be your goal, not a new partner to constantly question.
Work On The Relationship
Make no mistake, if you want to give the relationship another chance after them cheating, it’s going to take time, patience and understanding. The fact that your partner cheated will not be forgotten easily or quickly, and you will face a myriad of feelings as a result. The affair may have happened after ongoing issues in the relationship, which can actually be solved to both partner’s satisfaction.
Many couple’s enlist the help of a professional counsellor, for an objective view of their relationship. Once these problems have been identified, if both partners are willing to change what’s not working, a relationship can be improved. Repeating the same behaviour will give you the same results, so some things will need to change drastically. Again, it may take the objectivity of a counsellor to help you figure out what changes are needed.
Take A Break From Dating
If you decide to call it quits on your relationship, it’s definitely a good idea to consider taking a break from dating altogether. This ties in with “working on yourself” and getting your sense of self back. Try spending some time alone and doing things that make you happy. You can try new hobbies, as well as healthy current ones you might have.
You’ll eventually learn that you’re perfectly fine on your own. You probably know those people who go from partner to partner, and maybe you are one of these people. However, if the same patterns keep repeating in your relationships, then that tells you that something has to change.
So what happens if you do date too soon after the cheating relationship? Every potential partner must be given the opportunity to enjoy a relationship with a healthy companion. So, if you do not feel that you are in a mental or emotional position to give a clean slate to a new individual, then additional time spent alone and being introspective is likely the best course of action.
Talk To Friends Who Have Been In Your Situation
Chances are, you know at least one person who has been cheated on. So how did THEY get past it? After a lot of tears and having to learn new coping mechanisms, they survived, moved on, and now have a wonderful and fulfilling relationship.
Always remember that you too can eventually go on to have a meaningful relationship. In the meantime, let their success stories motivate you to keep on healing and being confident that you WILL get through this. Remember, not everyone cheats and one day, you’ll meet someone who you are even more compatible with. Someday, you’ll feel whole again and that you’ve found your ability to trust someone again. But right now, keep doing the above and talk to people.
If both partners decide that they want the relationship to continue, they will both have to agree to work at rebuilding trust and establishing a fulfilling partnership together. Forgiveness takes time and small steps are what’s needed to help the relationship to survive. Bumps and emotional outbursts are bound to happen along the way, so it will require setting long-term goals.
Although an affair is a deeply personal experience for both parties, this does not mean that you must deal with the emotions alone.