Coping with infidelity

Dr Lynda Shaw looks at infidelity in long-term relationships and how to cope with the betrayal of a cheating partner.
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When we discover that our partner is cheating on us we go through turmoil of emotions. From disbelief, anger and bitterness; to low self esteem, fear and perhaps revenge; plus many more in between. The stress and pain puts the brain on a roller coaster pushing cortisol the stress hormone to excessive levels. This in turn negatively affects serotonin, dopamine and more. All this has a huge impact on our thinking, mood, memory, sleep, eating, motivation and emotions. We will be operating on automatic whilst coming to terms with the shock and betrayal.

If this is the first time it’s happened it may be worth considering that infidelity can be symptom rather than a cause of problems within our relationship, that we were either unaware of or chose to ignore.

In this case and if we still love that person, we may feel it’s worth trying to save our relationship even if we are hurting badly.

This takes time, a lot of honest talking and soul searching with perhaps a professional third party to help steer conversation forward rather than going round in never ending circles of blame.

To rebuild trust is a huge task and only time will tell if it’s at all possible.

If, however, this is not the first episode of infidelity and/or we no longer love our partner and feel it’s not worth saving the relationship, then perhaps it’s best to walk away.

There is no doubt that when a long-term relationship ends many people are affected – children, extended family and friends. This is not easy to handle and may bring more disappointment, but if this is the path chosen there are a few things we can do to try to ease the transition.

  1. Be absolutely sure of the facts. Do you have any evidence? Has he/she admitted being unfaithful?
  2. Quietly get legal advice. This is not being sneaky. People morph into the unrecognisable at times like this, so it’s wise to know your rights before showing your hand.
  3. Make sure you have some money of your own, especially if everything is in joint accounts.
  4. When you tell him or her that you want to split up, do this in a calm way. Try not to blurt it out in a heated moment. Things will just go from bad to worse.
  5. If there are children involved agree between you what you will say, then say it together.  The children will need to see that you are being civil to one another if they are going to handle this the best possible way.  This goes for extended family and friends too.
  6. Stay strong. This may be a blessing if the relationship was already floundering. So don’t get drawn into lengthy emotional conversations. Once you’ve made up your mind stay focused and do this as cleanly and simply as possible.

Last modified: January 8, 2021

Written by 8:59 am Relationships, Relationships and dating