No matter who you are or what happened, there are countless people who have been in your situation, and have successfully dealt with infidelity.
If your partner cheated on you, then you have a right to feel hurt, angry, and less trusting. Other emotions might be low self-esteem, fear, and not being able to “look at them the same way.”
If there’s a good side to this, it’s that you’re not alone. Believe it or not, infidelity unfortunately occurs in many, many relationships. Boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, long-time partners, and marriages of many years can all be impacted by cheating.
Adultery being very common, there’s a rather large body of how-to information around this matter. Many wives, husbands, victims, perpetrators, therapists, and writers have covered this subject from many angles.
Chances are, no matter what’s going on in your head, no matter what questions you have and what fears you face, someone, somewhere has experienced it, gone through it, and written about it.
And that’s the goal of this article: to not only help you “deal” with this, but to help you get what you want. Since this article is well-researched, we’ve tried to cover as wide an area as we could—-a lot of the insights mentioned below will definitely apply to you and your situation.
Below are a number of questions you (and your partner) need to consider in order to discover where things go from here.
1. “Now What?” (But Don’t Feel That You Need To Answer That Now)
This wasn’t the question I wanted to lead with, but since infidelity can, in some cases, end a relationship, it’s best that we start here, and work our way back.
Having said that, in no way does your relationship have to come to an end—-there are many couples who work through this. The reason why I started with this question is because, at some point, a “final decision” is going to have to be made. It’s good to keep that in mind.
Don’t feel that you have to answer the “now what?” question right away, especially if you’re early in this process. You might feel that this is the end, but maybe further down the road, weeks or months (or even years) from now, you’ll feel differently.
And speaking about feeling differently, the steps below can really help you come a long way to resolving this situation and some of the ramifications.
2. Begin With The Cause: Why Did It Happen?
The way to solve virtually any problem is to clearly identify and define the cause of the problem. There are many reasons why an extra-marital affair occurs.
When looking at these causes, try as much as you can to be as objective as possible. It’s challenging, because dealing with this affects you subjectively, and your good judgement may be challenged, but do try to be as objective as possible.
Some of the probable causes may or may not have anything to with you.
Here are some underlying dynamics that has caused people to be unfaithful:
- Unmet emotional needs
In the weeks, months, or years before an affair, one partner may have felt ignored, unappreciated, or otherwise that “the spark was gone.”
When doing research for this article, we read a few letters where one parter said, “When we got married, we were in love. But after a while, I didn’t feel the connection.”
Emotional needs can vary. One woman who cheated on her husband did so because he wasn’t communicating to her any more.
Another emotional need can simply be the desire to be commented.
- Unmet sexual needs
Picture this: Joe and Jane get married in their twenties, when their sex drives are mutually equal, and they could keep up with each other.
Now, Jane is in her 50’s and going through menopause. Due to hormonal imbalance, one of the effects of menopause is a lowered sex drive.
But, Joe’s sex drive is still high, or at least higher than Jane’s.
Jane doesn’t want sex as often, so Joe essentially has unmet sexual needs—-needs that, until now, had been fulfilled.
Get where I’m going?
And of course, in the above example, this can cause Joe to be unfaithful to Jane.
Here’s another example: one partner just loses interest in sex.
So, what’s the other partner supposed to do…?
Now of course, we’re not wholeheartedly saying that if you lose interest in sex, or your sex drive lowers, that it gives permission to your partner to cheat on you. That would be an insult.
But, that said, you do have to consider the possibilities.
- Simple attraction. As you can imagine (or, not want to), a lot of affairs take place as a result of the workplace. Your partner knows this person (sometimes unfortunately, better than their spouse), they develop an attraction, and then it happens.
- Drunken stupidity. It happens. Maybe your partner had a year-end dinner with their co-workers, paid for by the company. Drinks were served, one thing led to another…and it “just sort of happened”.
- Was it just a one-time thing? Of course, the depth of an affair differs depending on whether it was a one-time occurrence, or a planned relationship.
A one-time occurrence is more…”forgivable,” if we may say, whereas a series of meetings is a requires more digging.
3. What’s At Stake?
You and your partner may have a binding mutual commitment, such as a child, a pet, a church, or other social group, a shared work environment, mutual friends, a car, or even just shared living space.
If this is the case, you’re going to have to really assess how this impacts what you 2 share together.
That’s where things can get more complicated, but it can be worked through with time, resolve, and patience.
Of course, it’s fine not to have an answer right now. A lot of the outcome of your mutual commitments will depend on whether you two stay together.
If you two have one or more children, and you ultimately decide not to be together, that’s going to have an impact on the children.
And as a side note, some people say, “Don’t stay together just for the children,” meaning that if there’s no more love between the two of you, or despite many attempts at resolution, things don’t work out, then it may be time to part ways.
4. Where To From Here? (Tentative Solutions)
Without having to come to a final decision on the destiny of your relationship, there are a few things you can do in the interim.
One thing you can do is the two of you (and hey…maybe even the third party) can have a deep talk about this.
It’s imperative that everyone be objective and honest, otherwise it’ll just breed more dishonesty, which is the last thing you need right now.
Another is to see a marriage therapist.
(Here’s a tip if you want to stay together: try to see a pro-marriage therapist, one who is not just going to say “you two are done,” but rather, values the sanctity of marriage and will operate from that value. Of course, there are some relationships that just can’t be saved, but if one partner wants to, then it’s worth trying to save it.)
A third thing you can do is talk to someone. What you’re going through is very soul-crushing, and can wreck a lot of havoc on you emotionally. Be sure to speak to a friend (maybe someone who’s gone through this, a counselor, your minister, your your partner, your life coach…someone).
If you choose to talk to your partner, feel free to, at times, express your anger, hurt, and disappointment. It’s part of the grieving process.
Don’t keep the anger bottled in.
Just remember that, at other times, when you’re talking about resolving this, you should try to be collected, calm, understanding, objective, and above all, non-judgmental.
Here’s a rather bold solution: agree to separate…for a while. When most people think of separation, they equate that to eventual break-up.
But, that doesn’t have to always be the case.
If there is some love that can be re-kindled, then some time away from each other can help you two find it. You never know how much you appreciate something until it’s taken from now.
That might apply to you now more than ever.
Here’s another rather wild solution. It may not be for you, but it’s an option: you can have an open relationship. If you don’t know what an open relationship is, it’s one where you two are officially in a relationship, but agree to see others.
It’s not for everyone, but you may be surprised to know how common this arrangement is. Of course, open-relationship couples may fear being shunned, so despite their openness, may not publicly talk about such an arrangement.
Finally, though it’s not ideal, breaking up may be the option that you choose. It’s painful, yes, but if one partner feels that their standards weren’t met, then it may be time to say bye-bye.
That doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t be friends.
We hope that this article has opened your eyes to what’s possible with your situation. If we could tell you 4 things to take away from this article, they’d be:
1. Keep the final decision in mind. Eventually, you’ll have to decide on whether or not you’ll stay together.
2. Find out why it happened. And when you do, see what you can do to minimize the chances of it happening again.
3. Consider what’s at stake. If you share a reputation together, the same friends, children, then those definitely add a whole other dimension to this.
4. Be patient. It takes time to work through an issue like this.
This is no doubt a hard issue to work through. We hope you bookmark this page or remember this site, and come back to this page from time to time. After all, they say that time heals all wounds.