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After the Affair: How to Cope After Your Partner Has Been Unfaithful

"Cheated on."

The words leave a bitter taste in the mouth, a raw feeling in the nerves.  If your partner has been unfaithful to you, you are most likely experiencing a welter of strong emotions.

Your life is turned upside down, your world torn apart.  Everything you believed to be true about your relationship and your significant other is exposed as a lie.

You may feel as if your shins have been kicked and your heart stomped on.   You have a sense of being worthless and disposable.

Sad woman thinking about her partner cheating on her
Depression is common when you are the victim of infidelity.

 It’s a low point in life, no question.  If the relationship has been one of long duration, the feelings can be even more intense and difficult to manage.  You may feel betrayed, emotionally raw, ashamed, fearful about the future.  You may be in a state of shock.

All of these feelings are normal

Perhaps you’ve hired a private investigator to discover the truth.   This is the best case scenario, because you have irrefutable proof (ideally in the form of video evidence) and, consequently, the opportunity to find closure.  Whether you decide to stay with your partner or not, you still have powerful emotions to process.

As you search for ways to cope, it can be helpful to understand the natural responses that come in the wake of learning that a lover has been unfaithful.

The five stages of grief for the end of a relationship could be helpful to read through.

Denial that you have been cheated on

“I can’t believe this is happening.”  In this stage, you are likely in a state of shock.  You feel numb and confused.   At this time, it’s important to take steps that help you come to grips with the reality of the situation.   Allow yourself to feel your emotions.  Cry.  Talk to a trusted friend.  Write in a journal.

Anger about your partner's infidelity

Here, your gut responses come to the fore. You may want to exact revenge.  This is the stage where many people linger for long periods, and it is where rash decisions are formulated and, unfortunately, sometimes acted on.  Destroying your partner’s belongings, stalking them or their new love interest, going on a self-destructive alcohol or drug-infused rampage, or having “revenge sex” with their best friend are just a few examples, none of which are healthy and may reverberate back on you.

Go for a run instead.  Punch a pillow.  Roll up your car windows and have a good scream.  Throw some old dishes across the room.   You were meaning to get rid of them anyway, right?

Bargaining or trying to get back together

In this stage you may be tempted to make a last-ditch bid to recover your loved one’s affections or go back to your old ways of relating to each other.  You may want to text or call them, walk past their home or workplace, dress up for them, or beg them to give it “just one more try.”

Man kneeling on beach begging to get his relationship back after his partner cheated on him
Bargaining for your relationship is a common reaction to the grief of losing your relationship.

It’s best at this time to adopt new habits to anchor yourself in your new reality.  Put away photo albums.  Check social media less frequently.  Plan new activities that don’t remind you of your former (or current, if you have decided to stay together) partner.   Make time for yourself.  Repeat this mantra:  “I am independent and I am ok.”

Depression about your lost relationship and betrayal

As the reality of what has happened sinks in, you may sink into a funk; sleeping a lot, feeling hopeless, overeating or losing your appetite, and in general feeling stuck.
 Surround yourself with positive people.  Consider seeing a counselor.  Get some exercise.  Moving your body will get you out of your head and help you put things in perspective.

Acceptance that your relationship is over

Gradually, you begin to make peace with the loss.  This doesn’t necessarily happen in a linear fashion – most people move back and forth between the stages for a time – but the strong emotions have begun to subside and you feel the light returning to your life.  You’re able to focus more on the present moment and believe that everything will be ok.

These stages shouldn’t be rushed.  Take your time in moving through them and have faith that you will emerge stronger and wiser from the process. 

If you're still at the stage of figuring out what's going on, try getting in touch with Melbourne Investigations. Our private eyes are compassionate and discreet, and will help you find out exactly what the truth is.