If you’ve been cheated on, you are not alone, but you will feel that way.
You will probably feel betrayed, unsafe, and probably more than a little bit stunned. After all, you have loved this person, been intimate with them, maybe even raised children with them. Now you feel like that person has decided that their immediate gratification matters more than all of the love and care that you have devoted to each other.
If you’ve been cheated on, you will probably imagine that you have failed. You will think that you haven’t met their needs. That voice in your head will say, “You weren’t quite good enough”. – This is an illusion! Yes, there was something wrong, and we can figure out what it was. But, no matter what problems were in your relationship, your partner’s affair is not a reflection on you.
Cheating on an intimate partner is like saying, “Well, my house was cold, and I didn’t understand why the furnace wasn’t working, so I cranked up the oven and left the door open. And that warmed everything up until, well, my dish cloth lit on fire.”
In your pain, you will need to decide if you are staying or leaving. If you are leaving, now you are stuck with figuring out how do you exit and cause the least possible damage to yourself, your kids (if you have kids), and your loved ones. Often people have not enough money to support themselves and feel stuck with a cheating partner simply for survival. That’s just a pile of crap. It happens time and time again and it is awful.
If you’ve been cheated on, you deserve help figuring out options for you and anyone who depends on you.
If you stay in the relationship after the affair, you need to figure out what your partner needs to do to repair the trust he broke. Do they have the guts and fortitude to own the wrong they have done? The relationship needs a lot of care and attention and you will need love to heal. Do they deserve the right to help you heal? Can they make amends?
Does your partner have the moral fortitude to say, “I did something that hurt you. It is not your fault. I will work, for years if need be, to earn your trust and forgiveness again.” What do you require to make things better? What do you need? What are your core values?
Can you stay in your relationship and still be true to yourself?
If you’ve been cheated on, you didn’t deserve it, but you do deserve to heal. You deserve to feel loved.
You deserve to feel safe.
If you’ve been cheated on, you might need a compassionate listener to help you make sense of the wreckage. And someone to knows how to help you find where the life boats are.
You might want some help to help you find your core and your courage and your compassion for yourself again.
If you’ve been cheated on, and you need a place to summon your clarity, your centred-ness, and your self-compassion, I’m here.
I work every day with individuals and couples struggling with infidelity. We cannot always repair the ruptured relationship, but often we can. And when we can’t repair, I can at least help the hurt partner heal and grow from the awful situation.
Lindsey Jay Walsh, MMFT
Photo: Anna Sastre on Unsplash