Cheating. Infidelity. Affairs. Whatever terminology we use, it all adds up to a betrayal. Quite often, it’s also an unexpected betrayal.
That combination of shock, sorrow, anger, and shame can floor anyone. And your relationship may take any number of directions after cheating occurs. Through it all, it is absolutely essential that, as the betrayed partner, you seek and attain as much comfort and support as possible.
6 Tips for Seeking Comfort and Support After an Affair
1. Recognize that You Are Not Alone or Flawed
Like it or not, relationship issues are universal. There is no perfect connection and unfortunately, infidelity is not a rare occurrence. This crisis does not mean you have failed at something in a unique way. Changes must be made but many others before you have navigated a similar path.
2. Do Not Believe that the Affair is Your Fault
It’s easy to find fault with yourself. It’s not unusual for a spouse (or others) to assign blame in your direction. Pro tip: The cheater is to blame. You did not betray. You (like all of us) are not perfect but you’re not the one who broke a trust. Do not accept blame for what is not your fault. In fact, one of the initial goals should be for the cheating partner to accept responsibility and hold themselves accountable. Seek the objectivity of a support group or individual counseling to help put things in perspective.
3. Realize You Have Every Right to Make Demands
If you’ve been cheated on, you may find comfort in knowing that you can certainly demand that your partner come clean, apologize, and break all connections with the other person, thereby committing to new transparency. The healing agenda is yours to set. Through their choices, your partner has surrendered equality in this mission. Take the reins, make productive demands, and create the change you need. Comfort may come by resuming control of your reaction to the betrayal with clear direction and a call for respect.
4. Allow Yourself Time: Don’t Rush Recovery
Recovery is a process — a process that the betrayed partner must navigate in their own time. You’ll hear comments like “it’s time to get over it.” Not true! The post-affair process is over when you decide it’s over. Similar to #3 above, you are under no obligation to satisfy someone else’s expectations. Your old expectations were shattered via betrayal. Take your time, seek non-judgemental supporters, eliminate those whose advice stresses you out or pushes too hard. Make space for constructing healthy new perspectives and ideas.
5. Acknowledge that it’s Okay if You Want Your Relationship to Recover
Infidelity is not rare. A relationship recovering after infidelity is also not rare. But your relationship can recover. To recover as a functioning team, work must be done and major commitments must be made. It’s difficult, but worth it and undeniably comforting if you’re both “all in.” You’ll likely want to recruit the help of a guide (see below) and you’ll get plenty of unsolicited advice. Just make sure the call to reconcile you’re hearing is your own.
6. Remember that You Can Walk Away If You Decide It’s Best
Not all relationships are “till death do we part.” It’s possible that a betrayal marks the end. It may be comforting to know that you aren’t stuck, desperate, or destined to remain in your situation. While examining the post-affair fallout, either of you may identify a previously unspoken desire for change. There are big factors here — children, finances, etc. — but if necessary, you can find a way to walk away and seek happiness elsewhere.
Your Next Step? See a Professional for Comfort, Support and Guidance
At times — as in the case of infidelity — life throws us a curveball. Something happens that we didn’t see coming. We realize we’re not prepared or equipped, at that moment, to negotiate this crisis.
Where do we turn? Of course, friends, family, and loved ones are crucial. But professional guidance is also a very logical and time-proven option.
Comfort often comes from knowing where to turn and that those you seek out will offer honesty, compassion, and reliable tools for change. You may try this alone or perhaps with your partner. The goal may be reconciliation or closure. Regardless of the many variables, counseling can be a giant step toward post-affair comfort and recovery.