Your heart sank when you saw his message. “There is something I need to tell you.” After that, you can hardly concentrate on anything at work. His words sent a chill down your spine despite your best effort to prepare for the worst. “I slept with someone else.”
You freeze, feeling your accelerating heartbeat. Suddenly your partner’s face, which you once thought was so familiar, becomes completely changed.
It is perfectly normal to feel confused after being cheated on. The overwhelming emotions can often make you wonder whether you are falling out of love after infidelity. However, this can be the wake-up call you and your partner need to properly examine your relationship or marriage before deciding what to do next.
9 things to ask yourself after you find out about infidelity
Infidelity does not have to be devastating for you or your relationship. As the shock subsides, it will become easier to consider your options. Essentially, the less judgment you can impose on yourself and your partner, the more likely you will see the truth of your circumstances and make the best decision. Here are the things to consider that may help you gain clarity and move on.
1. Do you love him?
Love is one of the most confusing concepts because people use it to describe different feelings. Attachment, attachment, and lust can all “feel” like love. However, true love is more than a chemical reaction in your brain.
When the biochemically induced euphoria has worn off, we start expanding our comfort zones to connect with our partners. Only then can two people begin to assess whether they could truly love each other. But unfortunately, this is when many couples realize they are not on the same page and break up.
The key question is — are you willing to extend yourself beyond what you previously thought was acceptable for your growth as a couple and as individuals? Be honest about whether you have the interest and desire for that level of devotion.
2. How is your self-esteem?
Falling out of love after infidelity is a normal reaction. When not treated well, people react with what can help protect and nurture themselves.
True love always requires effort. It becomes a serious struggle when your partner’s behavior is hurtful. Most people cannot continuously love someone whose life choices contradict their values and expectations.
When cheating is meant to hurt, get revenge, or show disrespect, it is rarely gratifying for either the cheater or the cheated one. Instead, it is a dangerous game often destructive to both partners. So the best thing you can do is accept that you are falling out of love and walk away.
While it is possible to rebuild trust after infidelity, if staying with your partner seriously damages your self-esteem, it is best to leave.While it is possible to rebuild trust after infidelity, if staying with your partner seriously damages your self-esteem, it is best to leave. Click To Tweet
3. Are you pressured to leave?
It takes rigorous self-examination to ensure you are not confusing your desires with external expectations regarding marital infidelity. When your desires do not meet the expectations of family and friends, it takes great courage to do what’s right for you.
You may often hear from your friends and relatives something along the lines:
“Staying with a cheating husband means you are weak.”
“It is shameful to put up with a cheating spouse.”
“Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
This type of advice typically reaches a tidy conclusion that one should always leave a cheating partner. For many, falling out of love after infidelity is the only option. However, it also prevents thorough examination and understanding of many truths about cheating and denies that human nature is complicated.
When faced with these opinions, pause and ask yourself whether you believe them. Do not feel pressured to leave.
If you were to leave, it should be because the relationship no longer serves you well, not because of others’ opinions which are often riddled with personal distortions and biases. Although you may value your friendships highly, realize that you are the one who must live with whatever will happen, while your friends are not.
Know when it’s necessary to ignore advice and find a place within yourself where your sense of self-worth is not dependent on your decisions. Falling out of love after infidelity is possible, but it isn’t mandatory.
4. Is he dependable?
Couples stay together for various reasons, not only for romantic love. Many marriages are formed and maintained for practical motives — sometimes in addition to love, and sometimes not.
People enjoy long-lasting relationships because they are good co-parents for their children. Childless couples stay together because they know they can rely on each other for emotional support and mutual growth. Connecting on the emotional level or maintaining a comfortable lifestyle may be enough of a reason to stay in a relationship, even if you are not physically attracted to each other at this stage.
It is rare to find someone on whom you can securely depend for an extended period. The fact that your partner had an affair may or may not change this. So ask yourself: does the affair make your partner less dependable for the things you need him for?Connecting on the emotional level or maintaining a comfortable lifestyle may be enough of a reason to stay in a relationship. Click To Tweet
5. Are you growing?
A relationship is only worth continuing if it nurtures both partners’ personal growth. Therefore, priorities in a relationship should include:
- Enhancing your understanding of yourself and the world.
- Increasing your ability to love.
- Heightening your self-esteem.
When a partner cheats, it often forces a couple to pause and review the values of their relationship. If your relationship doesn’t nurture you, it is likely time to finally walk away and restructure your life so your growth can continue.
It is also worth encouraging your partner to consider the same for himself. The affair may support his personal growth more than his relationship with you, especially if he feels emotionally involved with the other woman. If that is the case, it may be more productive for you both to part your ways lovingly.
6. Why did he cheat?
People cheat for many reasons. Some have purely physical needs, while others long for emotional connections. Some are looking to vent accumulated resentment. And others avoid their primary relationship due to a fear of intimacy and commitment.
Many affairs start due to a partner struggling to fulfill a critical need. Therefore, identifying your partner’s reason for cheating is key to assessing whether your relationship is worth saving. You must understand what your partner needed but didn’t get before determining whether he can fulfill his needs within your partnership.
It is also helpful to ask: what is it about the dynamic between you that made him feel unable to ask for what he needed before looking elsewhere? You will need your partner’s collaboration to find the answer. Sometimes it may not even be apparent to him.
Remember not to turn it into a blaming session when you talk to each other. The objective is not to determine who is to blame but to identify whether there is something you can work on together to create healthier dynamics as a couple.Many affairs start due to a partner struggling to fulfill a critical need. Click To Tweet
7. Can you collaborate?
Open and candid communication is essential for reconciliation. To forgive your partner and reconcile doesn’t necessarily mean staying together. It can mean parting ways amicably.
Finding closure can be challenging, especially when the emotional injuries are still raw, so you may benefit from seeking professional help together. In addition, as we all learn so much through relationships, a good couples’ therapist can also help with your personal growth.
In any case, you and your partner need to negotiate through serious conversations to find ways to make each of you feel treated fairly so that you can move on with your lives, either as a couple or as individuals. If either of you insists on holding the other wholly responsible for what has gone wrong, then reconciliation may not be possible.
8. What part did you play?
Healing from infidelity and rebuilding a relationship requires looking at how both partners contributed to the problems in the marriage. It is perhaps the most challenging consideration of all.
No matter how loving and self-aware you are, part of you will want to put all the blame on your partner. However, the truth is that any significant problem within a relationship results from both spouses’ actions (or inaction).
It is tough for the betrayed spouse to reflect on what went wrong. Women who habitually take care of their husbands can become suffocating and controlling in their marriage. In addition, it is often challenging for their resentful husband to point out because he fears sounding ungrateful.
A woman with a lot of anxiety about the possibility of infidelity may regularly dump her jealous feelings on her husband. If a man is treated like he cheated or did something wrong no matter what, he may realize that actually cheating wouldn’t make things much worse for him at that point.
Hidden patterns like this can break down a couple’s communication and drive the partner to cheat. However, they are not easy to identify and acknowledge.
Relationships require us to put our ego aside to face our shadow side that hinders our wish to connect with the other person. That said, a relationship between two imperfect but honest people is infinitely more rewarding than one between two secretive individuals.
Even though you certainly aren’t the only person responsible for your relationship problems, you can apologize for any part of the trouble you contributed if that feels right. When you can reflect on yourself without judgment or blame, the increased self-awareness will serve you well in all types of relationships.A relationship between two imperfect but honest people is infinitely more rewarding than one between two secretive individuals. Click To Tweet
9. Are you attached to an outcome?
The best way to ensure that you make the right decision on how to proceed with your relationship is not to commit to any particular outcome.
Insisting on staying together may lead to distortion of reality and self-deception to continue your relationship because leaving means uncertainty that scares you.
On the other hand, giving in to pressure from friends or family to leave an unfaithful partner too quickly could mean you miss opportunities to assess the situation and move forward without regret.
Infidelity usually has multiple reasons. It is rarely black and white. Deciding whether to leave or stay is tough, so give yourself plenty of time.
Trust the inner wisdom that always speaks to you through your consciousness. It is where the answer resides, even though it may take a while to emerge clearly. However, the less you are attached to a particular outcome, the more open you’ll be when the answer finally comes.
How to get back on track after infidelity: 6 steps
Once you decide whether to split or stay together, you will need time to recover from the past. The healing process will take some hard work but can lead to significant personal growth. Here are the steps to help you heal and move on after your partner cheated.
1. Acknowledge your anger
Many people suppress anger because they fear what damage it may do, but unexpressed anger doesn’t go away. Instead, it gets redirected toward yourself or other innocent people, often inappropriately. To prevent this, you should allow yourself to be consciously angry.
Infidelity inevitably triggers anger which covers the pain behind it. Admitting that you are hurting can make you feel too vulnerable. You may be compelled to reason with yourself to bypass the discomfort quickly.
However, the head and the heart operate differently, and what can be intellectually understood isn’t necessarily felt. So when it comes to matters of the heart, take your time, and don’t push yourself to forgive your unfaithful partner before you are ready. He may apologize immediately, but you might need more time to heal and mentally process things before you can honestly forgive him.
Accept your pain and anger. Allow yourself to process your emotions instead of jumping to rationalize or springing to action. There are no right or wrong feelings. Only what you do about them can be either productive or destructive choices. The more you can understand your feelings, the more at peace you will be with the actions you take in response.
2. Examine the origins of your pain
I can’t tell you how much pain is appropriate to feel. People react differently to infidelity. Some are more deeply hurt and angry than others. However, infidelity shouldn’t be overwhelmingly destructive for an emotionally stable adult.
Not that you shouldn’t get upset or feel anything intense, but it’s worth digging deeper if you descend into serious rage or depression or feel like your whole life is ruined. These emotions are possibly caused by something beyond your cheating partner.
Typically, the more one experienced betrayal as a child, the more affected they would be by their partner’s cheating. If you didn’t grow up feeling respected and treated with openness and honesty, you’ve probably sustained many psychological injuries and resent lying.The more one experienced betrayal as a child, the more affected they would be by their partner's cheating. Click To Tweet
If your father cheated on your mother, and they divorced, you could be reminded of that now. Because you didn’t have the power to resolve such hurt as a child, a volcano of emotions erupts when triggered when you are an adult.
You might still be angry about an affair your ex had and disappointed that you let it happen again. It could make you doubt your ability to judge character in guys.
It explains why being cheated on is more overwhelming for some people than others. Considering that few parents teach their children how to deal with negative emotions effectively, overreactions to infidelity are very common.
It is worth examining where your pain originates. The realization will help you avoid being devastated in the future.
3. Detach your worth from his affair
Many women feel like they are no longer attractive after being cheated on. This initial reaction is natural but irrational. People cheat for many reasons, but they have more to do with the cheating person’s history than with their partner’s qualities. However, it’s not about the traits of the affair partner either, so avoid focusing on her.
Your partner’s actions say more about him than you or anyone else. When dealing with a cheating boyfriend or husband, make him take responsibility for his actions without trying to justify him. Believing that he cheated because you aren’t good enough is YOU taking responsibility for HIS actions.
Things he wasn’t getting from your marriage likely contributed to him cheating. However, there are many other (less hurtful) ways in which he could have responded to his dissatisfaction, so don’t feel guilty. It was your partner’s choice, not your fault.
His affair does not mean that you are a worthless person or a bad wife. Instead, it means that you and your partner could not communicate effectively. Often when people are afraid of revealing themselves or their vulnerable feelings, they resort to cheating or having an emotional affair, also known as micro-cheating.
4. Talk to a therapist
While couples therapy can make space for meaningful conversations with your spouse or partner, you might also seek individual therapy sessions.
Heartbreak can be a blessing in disguise. It is often during the darkest times when a person learns the most about living. A well-matched therapist for you can help make this learning process safer, faster, and more effective.
A therapist can demonstrate what a healthy relationship feels like and what it means to be respected consistently. These are valuable lessons that can enhance every aspect of your life.Heartbreak can be a blessing in disguise. It is often during the darkest times when a person learns the most about living. Click To Tweet
5. Identify relationship patterns
Becoming more aware of your relationship patterns can help you form healthier connections. However, the patterns can be painful to look at because you may have to admit mistakes on your part or become disappointed in family members you love.
We all learn how to relate to others through interactions with our parents. If your parents were distant or absent, their unavailability could have led you to expect a significant other who similarly fails to express himself or remain committed.
When examing your past, focus on how the family environment made you feel instead of looking for rational explanations for your parents’ behaviors. Much resistance against the critical examination of our relationship with parents arises from the fear of damaging such relationships.
However, it isn’t about blaming your parents or seeing yourself as a victim. Instead, it’s about recognizing what hands you were dealt in life to find a better relationship approach.
Every parent is doing their best according to their capabilities. That said, damage can result from even the best of intentions. As you become more aware of your relationship patterns, you make changes to relate more healthily to others while staying true to yourself.
Growth is a process that lasts a lifetime. While this sounds onerous, it also means there is plenty of time to make progress. You don’t have to rush, and you can take breaks if you are tired.
6. Dare to love again
Finding someone who can make love as enriching an experience as possible is essential. You may not find a new partner immediately, but don’t give up hope. If a relationship or marriage is what you want, it will come at precisely the right moment, when you are ready.
While you consider starting to date again, remember you can also find love and be happy with other people in your life. With your kids. With friends and family. With clients and co-workers. To quote a famous film Love Actually, “If you look for it, … you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Even if you choose to divorce an unfaithful husband, falling out of love after infidelity does not necessarily mean you stop loving him. It could mean your love becomes less possessive, less consuming, and more nurturing towards yourself. If true love existed between you in the first place, it wouldn’t disappear just because you are not his wife anymore.
Falling out of love after infidelity is confusing. It takes some rigorous and painful dissection to evaluate what happened and consciously decide what to do. Whether you decide to break up or to stay together, healing may take longer than you think. So allow yourself to take it slow. No matter what you have chosen to do at this point, my heart and admiration go out for your effort.