Infidelity is an experience that’s almost unimaginably painful. If it happens to you, you might be so blindsided by emotional pain that you don’t feel anything. However, you’ll likely eventually find yourself feeling a great deal of hurt.
Is there any right way to deal with infidelity? Certainly, you want to avoid lashing out in ways that would cause you to do things you regret. However, you also can’t bottle everything up and expect it to be okay.
You may think that you have two options: either stay with your partner after they cheat on you or leave them. But a therapist will tell you that the situation isn’t so black and white. These are 12 ways to deal with infidelity.
1. Condemn what they did
16 percent of married people polled admitted to cheating on their spouse. No one cheats on their partner by accident. You can expect to hear all kinds of excuses, such as how they weren’t thinking. Your partner needs to know that what they did was unacceptable. They don’t get to try to tell you how to feel or minimize the extent of your emotional pain. If they’re feeling bad about what they did, remind them that can’t feel any worse than you do, because they’re the one who caused this pain in the first place. You have the absolute right to be angry and hurt by what your partner has done to you.
2. Reflect on your relationship
You aren’t obligated to stay with your partner after they cheat on you, nor are you obligated to leave them. However, if you’re looking for an excuse to stay with them or leave them, then you’ve likely already made up your mind. Think about how your relationship has been leading up to this point. If things have been rocky for a while, you might realize that this is as good of a time as any to end things. But if you still care about your partner and believe the relationship can be salvaged, then go ahead. This might be a bump in the road, but you can hopefully get back on course.
3. Find support
Infidelity is not something that should be dealt with alone. You need to communicate with your partner, but they won’t be a shoulder to lean on during this time. Look for support amongst your closest relatives and friends. These should be people who you can confide in. Anyone you tell them should be considered between you and them. If they betray your trust, you might have to cut them out of your life. Part of being a friend means being there for people and not betraying their confidence.
4. Talk to your partner
There might be some very intense emotions going on that prohibit you from wanting to talk to your partner. When you deal with infidelity, you need to realize that you’ll need to have a least one intense heart-to-heart conversation with them. Tell them precisely how you’re feeling in the aftermath of their cheating. Don’t try to downplay your emotions. You should also give them a chance to speak. Fixing your relationship can start with fixing your communication. You can’t expect them to try to excuse what they did. But you can get a better understanding of what led them to this decision.
5. Get tested
If your partner had sex with someone else, they’re putting your sexual health at risk as well as your emotional health. Get tested, even if they insist that they used protection. A thorough STD test can avoid keeping you in suspense and give you a good idea about how to deal with the consequences of your partner’s selfish decision-making. Even if your partner hasn’t cheated on you, it’s still a good idea to get tested for STDs. One out of every person can get an STD before their 25th birthday. That statistic is far too imperative to ignore.
6. Seek counseling
Infidelity can indicate deep-seated problems in a relationship. You might need to seek relationship counseling in order to get to the heart of the matter. A trusted counselor can help teach you and your partner methods for working through this, provided you both want to mend the relationship. When you sign up for counseling, you need to be prepared to listen as much as you speak. You might have some preconceived notions about what will occur, but you’ll likely be surprised by the results. You might learn how to gain more trust in your insticts and have more resolve when dealing with difficulties situations between you and your partner in the future.
7. Don’t think it’s your fault
Toxic partners will cheat and then try to blame their infidelity on you. It is unacceptable for them to gaslight you like this. However, you also shouldn’t put the blame on yourself. The only person responsible for your partner cheating is themselves. Any partner who cheats and tries to act like they’re not responsible isn’t someone who deserves your time. This is likely indicative of already existing toxic behavior. No matter how much they try to manipulate you, it doesn’t change how the blame ultimately falls on their shoulders.
8. Avoid seeking revenge
When you deal with infidelity, you might think that an “eye for an eye” mentality is the best solution. This could come in the form of cheating on them. While this might provide fleeting satisfaction, in the long term, you’ll likely end up feeling empty. You also shouldn’t commit any sorts of acts of retaliation that would be criminal or cause harm to another person. The best revenge you can get is to be the best person that you can possibly be.
9. Don’t accept easy fixes
Your partner might try to excuse their infidelity with a grand romantic gesture. While a lavish gift might seem loving, it pales in comparison to the loving nature of staying faithful. While a heartfelt gesture might be the first step towards mending your relationship, it should by no means be the final one. This is something that you and your partner can only get through by them proving they’re worthy of your trust again. Don’t let them try to speed up the process. Putting that kind of pressure on you says that they’re thinking about their own feelings over yours. They have the right to ask for forgivness, and you have the right to not offer it.
10. Don’t let others make decisions for you
When you share your partner’s infidelity with others, you’re going to get all kinds of conflicting advice about what you should do. To deal with infidelity, you also need to deal with your decision-making process. Some will insist that they have the best solutions for your predicament. Don’t make any decisions unless you’re confident they’re the right ones and what you believe in. It’s perfectly fine to solicit advice, but leave the ulimate decision-making up to yourself. If you’re having trouble deciding what you should do, ask yourself what you would say to a friend who was in the same predicament that came to you.
11. Find outlets
The pain of having to deal with infidelity isn’t something can be resolved just by trying to will it away. Telling yourself to not feel sad or angry is a futile cause. Instead, you need to find outlets that will allow you to deal with your emotions in a healthy manner. Creative pursuits like writing or drawing can help you to deal with the intensity of your emotions. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be an artist, you can still benefit from these practices. Starting an athletic hobby like running or team sports can help you let go of stress and anger. When you find yourself able to focus on something else, you know that you’re being good to yourself.