A Psychologist Explains How To Handle The Pain Of Being Cheated On

Infidelity is a complex and painful experience that can cost both members of a relationship dearly. It can make you question the very basis of your identity by asking things like:

  • “Is something wrong with me? Am I not enough?”
  • “Was my whole marriage an elaborate lie?”
  • “Will I ever be able to trust my partner again? Or any other partner?”
  • “Why did this happen to me? Did I do something to deserve this?”

It’s never a good idea to try to rush to make sense of a traumatic experience. It can lead you into a dark and intrusive mind spiral.

Instead, before you begin a deeper investigation into the breach of trust, there are a few immediate steps you can take to regain your composure. Think of it as emotional first aid.

Here are three things you can do after a cheating episode.

#1. Take a break

Many couples will tell you that so much pain they caused each other after a betrayal could have been avoided if they had withdrawn and not attacked. This is true regardless of whether they have decided to continue the relationship or not.

So rather than forcing a confrontation or rushing to make a life-changing decision, the first thing on your agenda should be finding a weak spot to land on – for yourself and for other people (like children) who might be affected .

Take refuge in a safe place, like your best friend’s home or your parents’ home. Make sure the first conversations you have during this time are with non-judgmental loved ones who only want what’s best for you.

The instinct to hurt your partner might overwhelm you, but it’s not worth the regret later.

One way to be fair to yourself during a time of emotional turmoil is to imagine a loved one going through what you are and to treat them with as much patience and attention as you would treat them.

#2. Get professional help

An extramarital affair or a case of infidelity are scenarios that will draw the attention of others, for better or for worse.

You could be inundated with unsolicited advice and unhelpful sympathy. Even if they come from a good place, messages of regret and condolences won’t get you very far on your healing journey.

At such a sensitive time, it often makes sense to make an appointment with a therapist. Many therapists are specially trained to help people deal with difficult family and marital issues. Taking an unbiased perspective removes many of the inhibitions you may feel when talking to a loved one.

No judgment, no forecasts, no assumptions. Just an in-depth conversation about how best to get back on your feet.

#3. Remember that you are both human

It can be argued that empathizing with your partner after they break your trust will not help you in any way, and that might be true. But approaching them with vengeance and seeing them as monsters doesn’t necessarily help either.

You don’t have to forgive them or forget their actions, but it’s worth remembering that hating is like constantly digging at a wound.

To see you forever as a “perpetrator” is to see yourself forever as a “victim”. In most infidelity cases, the situation and the people involved are far more complex.


Even with infidelity there is light at the end of the tunnel. Research suggests that while the road to recovery can be long, practicing forgiveness, seeking counseling, and dealing with memories are some effective ways to begin the process. For reconciliation to work, therapists will tell you that there needs to be a shift in the power dynamic of the relationship. To get past your current partner, you’ll likely need to fundamentally redefine what you want in a romantic partner.

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