Surviving Infidelity: 5 Steps to Emotional Recovery

Infidelity is an issue that’s never far away. From world leaders to our next-door neighbors, no one’s immune to cheating. The simple fact is that infidelity is alive and well -- and relationships, if not properly nourished, are vulnerable to it.

Posted on | Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD | Comments ()

Infidelity is an issue that’s never far away. From world leaders to our next-door neighbors, no one’s immune to cheating. The simple fact is that infidelity is alive and well -- and relationships, if not properly nourished, are vulnerable to it.

So what can you do if you discover you’re involved with a cheater? How do you reclaim your life, your dignity and your self worth? In short, how do you recover? By following these five steps, you’ll be able to reclaim your equilibrium and move forward with your life:

  1. Accept the truth: Realizing the person we’ve trusted with our vulnerabilities has betrayed us is incredibly painful. In response to this pain, we initially deny the truth or rationalize it away. But you’ll never live a happy and meaningful life that’s based on a lie. The sooner you accept the truth of what happened, the sooner you can heal from it.
  2. Speak the truth: Because there’s so much shame and humiliation surrounding infidelity, we’re terrified to talk about it. But this only serves to amplify the pain and make us feel like victims. Get the truth out into the light. Talk about your experience with a trusted friend or a professional.
  3. Breathe through the truth: Even though every fiber of your being wants to react, avoid acting from a place of pain or anger. The best way to reclaim your dignity is to act rationally and to treat yourself lovingly. Don’t self-destruct, and don’t try to destroy your partner.
  4. Process the truth: Give yourself time and space to find your equilibrium. Infidelity shatters our world. It makes us feel unsafe and vulnerable. Know that you’ll heal from this pain and establish a new, stronger foundation. Know also that this will take time. Give yourself that time.
  5. Create a plan based on the truth: While infidelity doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship, it will forever change your dynamic with your partner. Don’t expect the relationship to go back to the way it was before the infidelity was discovered. With this in mind, define how do you want to live your life from now on. Take out a piece of paper and write down any idea about the person you want to be and the life you want to live. Once you have clarity on this, you can take concrete steps toward realizing your goals. 

While infidelity is devastating, it does not need to ruin you. It may fill you with crushing pain, but this pain will subside. It may fill you with negative thoughts about yourself, but these thoughts do not define you and should not determine the course of your life.

Above all else, know you’re not alone. There are millions of other men and women who have gone through this and have moved beyond their pain. They learned how to love again by learning to accept and nurture themselves.

Blog written by Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD
Paul Hokemeyer is a licensed attorney, researcher and Marriage and Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and...