By Emily // 5th April 2022
Let me start by saying, I am not a licenced therapist and by no means a relationship expert. What I do have is life experience working amongst a wealth of different characters, who have trusted me with their fragile hearts in times of woe, searching for some perspective.
Whether it’s friends, family, strangers or within your own relationships, you will find a time when topics like these cross your paths. Today, we’re discussing whether it is possible to ever truly heal from cheating and if so, some advice on what might help the journey along the way.
The decision to repair a relationship after infidelity is a big choice, but it could be the turning point to a brighter future together. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t for everybody and depending on the circumstances, the best thing for you might be to walk away. There are a lot of good reasons to leave a relationship in the past and move on.
No amount of effort and love poured into the wrong person will make them right for you. You can’t force something that isn’t supposed to work. When you think you need that person, it makes it difficult to leave because you’re too busy pretending that the person who hurt you, is the person who can make your heart happy.
You’ll consider all of the time, energy and love you have invested into this person, but the only way to find real love is discovering the courage to leave the wrong person in the past. Don’t kill opportunities for a better future by mourning the past.
One of the most hurtful things within a relationship, is the realisation that the person you thought you knew, you really didn’t. Or to see someone you love unconditionally, choose somebody over what you have built together. With that said, if staying together is something you are both striving to achieve in the long run, a number of considerations should be made. It is essential that you are both open to having difficult, honest conversations and face some home truths when tackling this issue.
In order to give the relationship your best efforts, you must strive to understand the other person and their actions wholeheartedly, focusing on the good the bad and the ugly. Remorse will be an essential emotion and without it, you might as well stop reading now. There must be an acknowledgment from the person who has caused the damage, to understand how this is impacted their partner. The person who is suffering will need validation for their feelings of hurt, anger and perhaps humiliation that the infidelity occurred. They will be going through complex emotions of not feeling good enough and questioning what they did wrong, so it’s crucial to minimise their pain and acknowledge their experience.
Words can feel empty without concrete substance and these days “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know why I did it”, just isn’t going to cut it. We want to know, what is it you’re sorry for and why did this happen. You are both going to have to delve deep into uncomfortable conversations, but with the shared aim of coming out stronger in the end.
Both of you need to be willing to reveal potential contributing factors which may have led up to the affair, rather than focussing on just the betrayal itself. By only centring your focus on what the other person did, you will be surrounded with negative emotions and lose sight of how to make progress. Of course, it is essential that conversations are had about what that person has done, but it’s important that we don’t let it consume us. There is no justification for the other person deciding to step over the boundary away from your relationship and towards another someone. However, reflecting back on your relationship and how it has evolved over its duration, can be eye opening to issues perhaps you didn’t realise were there, or both just wanted to ignore. This process is tender and you must be mindful not to begin an aggressive game of ping pong accusations and blame. Stopping obsessive thoughts will be a healing contributor for your heart during this time.
Being able to take ownership of any contributions you made, will positively reinforce a healthy and trusting environment for your partner to do the same. It’s not easy to tell your significant other faults in their personality and actions, but this could help lead you both to a more honest platform for your relationship moving forward. As humans, we often internalise irritations and allow them to build up into resentment towards another person. Letting it out, needs to be letting it go and allow the other to make conscious steps towards improvement.
You must both make a conscious effort to be mindful of your partners worries and how your actions can support them to feel secure within the relationship. This is a journey, not a quick road trip to success, so be prepared to put the time in. Introduce new ways to spend quality time together by doing something you both enjoy, or perhaps something unique to create new memories. Remember to check in on how your other half is feeling to ensure better, open communication. Listening will play a big factor in positive progression, as there is nothing more frustrating than expressing raw emotions and not being heard. The fact that you have acknowledged and remembered the little things that your partner has said, will help the feeling of security and love within the relationship.
Lastly, be selective with who you tell about your personal circumstances. People will jump at the opportunity to put their two pence in, blurting unfiltered, thoughtless advice to you during your time of vulnerability. Even the strongest of people still need people, but make sure it’s somebody you trust. You need somebody who is willing to be your emotional crutch and listening ear, so stop telling the wrong people what is going on in your life. That might sound a little harsh, because their intentions are likely born out of feelings of protection, but it can make moving forward difficult. The last thing you will want to hear is a loved one saying that if it were them, they’d leave the person immediately. Life, love and your heart doesn’t work that way. The only decision makers here should be you and your significant other.
Your heart is capable of replenishing itself with the right ingredients. They say actions speak louder than words, I believe a combination of both is a better recipe to success. If you can manage these difficult conversations, put the work in and assume a fresh perspective, your relationship will have the chance of revival. Nevertheless, I hope whoever is reading this can gain something for themselves or someone else. You mustn’t forget that you are capable of creating your own happiness that you deserve, everyone else are mere contributors along the way.