You’ve discovered your partner cheated, and now you’re in a tailspin. Feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, and confusion flood you. You feel empty. You feel like your heart’s been ripped out of your chest. It’s easy, and natural, to think you’ll never get over what you’re experiencing. For many, the idea of “surviving” infidelity seems impossible.
Some couples who encounter cheating within their relationships immediately head for a breakup or divorce. While others might want to work through it. Whatever your ultimate decision might be for your relationship, there will need to be healing in order to move forward. If you’ve encountered infidelity, here are some tips on how you can heal and start feeling like yourself again.
1. Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
Burying, ignoring, and repressing your feelings will only delay your healing. You must allow yourself to feel all that you’re feeling in order to properly process and work through it. Honoring your feelings will also help keep you present, so that you’re less likely to act from knee-jerk reactions.
2. Don’t blame yourself.
It’s easy to blame yourself for your partner’s affair. For example, you might think, “If I only paid more attention,” or, “If I hadn’t started that fight the other day.” It might be natural to think you’ve done something wrong to provoke their behavior, but it’s important to know you’re not responsible for your partner’s decision to put their own desires above you and your relationship. Even if there had been issues within your relationships, that doesn’t excuse your partner’s cheating. Accountability for the affair lies strictly with your partner. Let yourself off the hook.
3. Love yourself.
Infidelity does a number on your self-worth and self-esteem. You might doubt your attractiveness or how amazing of a person you really are. This is when you need to remember just how lovable you are by doing things that make you feel good. Maybe that means exploring your favorite hobbies and activities that you put on the back-burner during your relationship. You might also want to join a gym or a challenging fitness class, like weight lifting or CrossFit, to prove to yourself how strong and badass you are. Loving yourself could mean taking a weekend retreat in Mother Nature and spending time with yourself. Whatever lights you up and makes you feel nourished and loved, do that.
4. Reach out for support.
A cheating spouse might ignite a sense of shame and embarrassment. However, this is a situation in which you will need all the love and support you can get. Dare to reach out to your most trusted friends and family for their support. You’ll find that they can give you a (nonjudgmental) ear whenever you need it. Seeking professional help, like a therapist, is also a good idea. Infidelity is a burden you shouldn’t shoulder alone.
5. Don’t waste energy hating your partner.
Whether you’ve decided to continue with the relationship or not, there are bound to be hurt and angry feelings. Feelings of contempt and revenge are pretty natural in this scenario. Yes, feel the anger but don’t live there. Anger just breeds more anger, and by staying in that vicious cycle, it will be difficult to move forward with your life. You don’t have to forgive your partner right away (you might not ever fully forgive what they did) but you also don’t have to give anymore power to your partner. Do yourself a favor, and choose your own peace of mind over wasting precious energy on someone who’s hurt you.
Healing after infidelity is a personal journey, so keep in mind that there’s no timeline to how you get there. Concentrate on what you need to do in order to feel like yourself again. And remember: getting to a place of peace is a process, so be kind to yourself.