By Sheena Lall, LGPC
Recovering from infidelity does not necessarily mean staying in a relationship. It could mean going separate ways because you realize that is for the best or it could mean working things out together because you really want things to improve. Your choice of what should happen in a relationship after someone cheats is a personal process before it is a joint venture. Each partner must reflect on what they want for their own future. Here are 5 things to consider when dealing with love after infidelity
Spend time with yourself checking in with reality.
It is important that you take the time to honor your individual self and reflect on the things you want and deserve in your life. There is no rush to make a decision. Take as much time as you need to get grounded in yourself. Do the things that make you happy and make the time to clear your head so you can truly get in touch with yourself. Find the version of yourself that is fulfilled and feels loved by you. Once you can make mental room to think, figure out what you truly want for yourself at this point in your life. Consider your desires and leave everyone else out for now. What do you value? What is important to you?
Only after you have connected with yourself and put yourself first can you start to approach the topic of whether or not you want to continue to work on things with your partner.
2) A New You- Two?
Whether you decide to stay together or not, know that this experience has changed you both as people. You are not the person you were when you met and your relationship cannot be the same as it used to be. Allow yourself and your partner time to mourn the loss of the old, familiar relationship. Then begin to look to the future. If it is a future that puts you together in a relationship, then think seriously about what the new relationship will look like. If the future is one where you are solo, make some rules for the next relationship. Discuss goals and boundaries. Be clear about what is and what is not acceptable. Do not take your own comfort off of the table when considering the new - you 2.0. Most importantly, accept and expect that change is here for good.
3) Vulnerable and Ugly Honesty
The truth- the very ugly truth- has to surface in order for healing to occur. The root cause of the infidelity must be exposed in order to truly work through it. Both partners have to be willing to listen to each other and hear the emotions and experience the other had in the relationship. It is very likely that two people have to take accountability for their actions and show empathy for their partners (yes, one has to take accountability for the infidelity). This is probably going to be a pivotal space- one of the places where you figure out if you truly want to make it together or not. Both parties are allowed to decide if they want to stay or go and if this stage of honesty is not comfortable, or it cannot be achieved, then the road ahead together will continue to be rocky.
4) Rebuilding Trust
In the world of psychology, we refer to a process called rupture and repair. When we repair, we make a stronger connection and show ourselves that future disruptions may not be as scary. Rebuilding trust continues along the path of honesty. Open communication about what makes someone feel like they can trust someone else must be as clear and detailed as is possible. This is an exercise that requires you to know what you need as an individual, what things in your past may come up and how to work through them, and what your relationship needs as a couple. Yes, it would be nice to have assurance that your texts are appropriate, but are both parties comfortable being under a watchful eye? The answer might be yes. It could be no. And these are the nitty gritty details you have to comb through to figure out the new you two.
5) Blank Slate
Think about this stage as an opportunity to start over. Work through letting go of anger and resentment individually -and if you can’t, that’s okay, maybe this isn’t the right fit. If you can, then start to date again, look for the positive things you can appreciate about each other. Have fun and laugh, create new experiences and plan things to look forward to.
Just remember that there is no right or wrong way to recover from infidelity. Each individual and couple are different. The only correct way to move forward is the way that makes you feel comfortable, happy, and loved in your own skin.