Betrayal is never easy. In fact, being cheated on is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in a relationship. But if you or your significant other have strayed, it is possible to reconcile, and have a happy, healthy relationship (eventually). Here are four guidelines for surviving a breach in trust.
1. Air Your Grievances
While infidelity may be what’s hurting you at the moment, odds are a whole series of events and emotions led the two of you here, to the aftermath of an affair. Now is the time to address the pre-existing problems. After all, cheating is more than likely a symptom of what’s really wrong as opposed to the sickness itself. Delve deep and assess your previous partnership, even though it hurts. Honest reflection is the only way the two of you will know if you have something worth saving in the first place. Say whatever’s on your mind, because if it doesn’t come out now, it will manifest later, either with words or in actions.
2. Ride the Roller Coaster
Whether you decide to stay or to go, there’s no quick fix to being betrayed. You will likely experience a whole host of emotions, from hatred and resentment to acceptance and love, and no doubt including disgust. All these feelings are part and parcel of this experience, regardless of how things work out between you and your mate. If you choose to leave to avoid facing your feelings, they won’t just disappear. Instead, the effects of the affair will just pop up in your next relationship as an inability to trust or the need to act before you’re acted upon. On that note, you’re going to need to ride the roller coaster for as long as it takes to resolve yourself with what happened and why. It’s the only way you’ll be able to proceed on solid ground alone or with your partner.
3. Reach Out Without Acting Out
While you’re probably embarrassed by what’s happened, you cannot go through this alone. It’s vital that you have someone to talk to, preferably an impartial person, like a counselor, in addition to any friends in whom you confide. Either way, when sharing your pain with those you hold closest, be advised: Unless you skip the seamier stuff, you run the risk of alienating your partner down the road. Why? Because you may come to a place of understanding and forgiveness, but if given too many of the down-and-dirty details, odds are that your nearest and dearest won’t be so kind. They’ll probably hold what they know against your formerly unfaithful mate, which is a recipe for disaster down the road should your reconciliation stick.
4. Invest Time and Energy in Rebuilding
Lastly, it will take a good amount of work for you to overcome the obstacles infidelity has placed in your path. Starting with what went wrong in the first place is ideal, but beyond that, you will need to heal bonds broken solely by the act itself. Whether the infidelity was a one-time thing or an ongoing affair, you will need to set new boundaries for each other about what’s acceptable without being overbearing. You’ll also need to speak about emotions with a candidness you may not have had before, something that’s even harder now that trust is at an all-time low. However, if you both commit to honesty and to making your relationship work, over time, with open communication and establishing trust through action, the bonds can be restored. In fact, they can be stronger than ever. For though ideally it should never take something as serious as cheating to wipe the slate clean, the one upside to infidelity is that, if addressed, it can give you a fresh start.