Navigating the Wreckage & Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity

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Infidelity is the earthquake that can send the foundations of our lives into chaos. Whether you felt the rumbles and suspected something was up for a while, or whether the discovery left you in utter shock, the repercussions can be long-felt. While we are often conditioned through popular media to assume that all infidelity leads to the same dismal path, how couples choose to handle infidelity looks different for each relationship. 

In fact, many couples still opt to continue their relationship after cheating and make an earnest attempt to rebuild their lives together with more respect and understanding. Here, we’ve prepared some advice to help you navigate life after infidelity.

Give Yourself a Chance to Grieve 

It’s important to admit that with infidelity, comes a new chapter in your relationship. Once the trust is broken, it can’t ever fully recover. The relationship you had before discovering infidelity – or, respectively, having it discovered – will simply not be the same anymore. It’s okay to recognize that it’s tough, sad, and even scary. In fact, those feelings are natural and expected.

We often think of grief in the form of someone’s passing away, particularly the loss of a loved one. However, grief can take many different forms, often referred to as disenfranchised grief. This can include when you lost a job, missed out on an opportunity, lost your health or mobility, lost a pregnancy, or yes, the loss of a relationship as you knew it. 

There can indeed be life after the death of your old relationship, but the first step to healing is to recognize that even if you’re rebuilding rather than starting a brand new relationship, what you will build will still look different, with cracks and breaks that will need extra attention and TLC to hopefully not just re-create, but rebuild to be more sturdy. 

In the meantime, seek support and take care of your grieving self. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Wronged? It’s Okay to Be Honest with Yourself!

If you have been the one who has experienced a partner’s infidelity, it’s likely you’ve caught yourself falling into the “if onlys:” If only I spent more time with my partner. If only I asked more questions. If only I looked more of a certain way. If only I didn’t have that bad day and lash out. If only I asked my partner to stay home or I didn’t leave for the weekend. If only… only… 

It is also normal to have these kinds of thoughts, and very understandable to get caught up feeling guilty, wondering what you could have done to “prevent” this rift from even forming. But in order to start on the path towards healing and your relationship, please give yourself the grace and the space to recognize that you were hurt and that infidelity is called “cheating” for a reason. 

One of the biggest steps you can take if you were the one on the receiving end of infidelity is to recognize when you are pulling more than your weight. 

Found Yourself in The Wrong? Honesty is the First Step for You, Too

If your acts of fidelity brought you to seeking guidance on the next steps, start getting comfortable with asking yourself uncomfortable questions. Now more than ever is the time to troubleshoot. This can include reopening the questions about yourself that you thought were resolved, including about your past relationships, or even way further back well before you started dating, including past times in your life when you felt betrayed or hurt. None of our behaviors come from nothing, and being able to get curious and honest with ourselves can go a long way in helping us learn from our mistakes.

To do that, it’s highly advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist just for yourself, even if you are already seeking couples counseling you might already be attending (and good on you for doing that!). Getting help from a therapist is a great way to explore and address past traumas or patterns of behavior that led to indiscretion is a powerful step in growing from this experience. 

Learning how to address the root causes of undesired behaviors can be powerful not only to your future self but is a powerful sign of commitment to your partner that you are actively working on yourself to restore trust. This work on yourself will not always be easy, especially if it opens up some parts of yourself you don’t always like to see, but it is an investment in yourself and your relationship that will always be worth it.

Mindfully Move Forward

It’s natural to either want to shut down and take a step back to process and grieve or to get out of your “shell” and seek out support wherever you can find it. 

Both ends of the pendulum can have their benefits as well as their threats to rebuilding trust, and it’s important to find the appropriate balance in how you seek help. After all, infidelity can cause shame among both parties, which can mean that normal interests in privacy can cause downward spirals that lead you away from your network of family and friends who can support you. It’s easy to get “in your head” when you experience something that causes you to break trust with those you trusted the most.

Likewise, the anger and hurt you experienced can also set you on a path of negative emotions – after all, it’s equally as normal to want “revenge” or to broadcast your heart to everyone you know. While it can be satisfying at the time, it’s important to be mindful of the long-term consequences of oversharing, especially with modern technology, whether you have been wronged or made a wrong decision.

Take the Next Steps

How you choose to handle this relationship crisis can go a long way in navigating the wreckage rather than sinking in it. Being intentional about who you seek for help – such as a trusted friend, family member, or therapist – can be instrumental in making sure you aren’t alone and that you have someone on your team.

We wish you all the best on your next steps in your healing journey. 

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