After the Affair: How to Maintain Your Sanity and Self-Esteem

The shock of an affair. A painful and debilitating blow.

Raw and intense emotions sweep over you – jealousy, anger, sadness, and despair. You feel like you’re going insane. As you turn your anger and anguish inward, a flood of negative thoughts begins pulling you into a whirlpool of self-doubt.

‘Why didn’t I see this coming? How could I have missed all the signs? What is so wrong with me  that my partner chose to turn to someone else? Did I do something to cause them to stray? Am I not enough to keep them satisfied?’

Holding on to your sanity and self-esteem in these moments can feel like an overwhelming task. But you can do it. How?  

Maintaining Your Sanity and Self-Esteem After Infidelity

No matter what happens, it’s your life. Nobody can live it for you. The affair is now part of your life story. But it isn't the end of your story.

There are things in your life that may feel totally out of your control right now, but you’re still in control of your own choices. Examine your strengths and weaknesses, determine what you have the power to change, and take charge of your thoughts and feelings.

Accept that the affair happened

Nothing will be gained by subjecting yourself to emotional torture. Spending a lot of time wishing it never happened or you had never found out about your spouse’s infidelity is futile. It will change nothing. Let go of any denial. You will see that your negative emotions are not permanent. You can overcome them and recover.

Understand that it’s not your fault

Be kind to yourself – you’re not perfect. Don’t blame yourself. Your spouse decided to cheat, you didn’t push them into that. The responsibility lies with them. There’s no valid justification for their behavior, no matter what excuses they may try to make.

Don’t play detective

Obsessively trying to find out how and why the affair happened will just cause you more pain. So will tormenting yourself with mental images of your partner and their lover together. Lingering on those kinds of thoughts will only tear you down and destroy you.

Talk about your feelings

Don’t hold your emotions inside. Find a constructive outlet. Specifically, don’t resort to drinking (or any other addictive behavior). Alcohol is a downer; it will only make you feel sadder, lonelier, and angrier. Drinking can lead to actions and behaviors you will regret later. Instead, talk with someone who is willing to listen and understand the crazy things you’re feeling.

Rediscover yourself

Take time to nurture and love yourself. Focus on things you can do to feel happy. Do things you always wanted to do. Travel, take up a hobby, go back to school, reconnect with old friends or family members you haven’t seen for a while. Restore yourself and rediscover the personality that has been buried under all the pain, sadness, and disappointment you feel.

Satisfy your emotional needs

That does not mean you should have a "revenge affair." You don’t need anybody else right now to boost your self-esteem. You’re quite capable of doing that yourself. Take a good look at what you need emotionally and take steps to provide yourself with it. Tell yourself: I’m strong. I’m resilient. And watch! Your words will start transforming into positive thoughts and feelings.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve

You have experienced a loss, and all losses have to be grieved. The world as you knew it and expected it to be has changed.

Hopefully, you may be able to forgive your spouse sometime in the future. Resentment isn’t helpful or healthy for your sanity and self-esteem. But first, you need time and space to heal. Everyone grieves differently and at his or her own pace.

Above all, remember that an affair is not the end of the world. You may be wounded, but you can heal and move on with your life.

Some spouses even decide that it is not the end of their marriage. They use the infidelity as a stepping stone to a new beginning or rebuilding of the relationship. If you want to explore that path, you might be interested in reading