Recovering from any kind of betrayal can be one of the most challenging tasks for any human being. We are programmed to navigate our world by using our ability to ally ourselves with people we trust and steer clear of anyone we haven’t built a sense of trust with. Without the ability to feel we can read people we feel in danger and alone.
Being in a room of people you have never met before would likely have most of us on a higher sense of alert than lounging on the couch with our partner watching Netflix, right? In reality, most of us only have a small circle of friends and/or family that we consider truly trustworthy, people we find we can completely relax with. So, then imagine you have built trust with a partner based on thousands of experiences with that person, a process whereby your brain gathers information day after day that says this person does what they say they are going to do. Now, imagine this person does something that is way, way out of alignment with the understanding you have in your relationship with them. Its so far from what you thought they were capable of that is blows your mind and makes you question the world as you have envisioned it. Your sense of safety that lies, at least partly, in the belief that you have the ability to predict this person’s behaviours. Now you find that you were wrong, or at least it seems that way, you didn’t have that ability after all. This is extremely destabilizing for the majority of people and makes their world suddenly feel unsafe.
I am including some links with ideas about how we might start moving toward healing but there is a lot of information out there to choose from so don’t hesitate to “google” whatever questions come to your mind.
15 Powerful Steps for Surviving an Affair in Your Relationship
Saving Your Marriage After an Affair
How to Survive Infidelity – a collection of articles
On the topic of forgiveness:
I generally ask my clients to do a little research on the topic before deciding if forgiveness fits for them. There is a fair bit of research that suggests that forgiveness is correlated with increased happiness.”Higher levels of forgiveness correlated with better health habits, lower anxiety, lower anger, lower depression, and more task coping. In addition, people with higher levels of forgiveness had lower hematocrit levels, lower white blood cell counts, and higher TxPA levels. Lower forgiveness levels were correlated with higher T-helper/cytotoxic cell ratios. In general, results supported the hypothesis that forgiveness is positively associated with indices of good health”. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Physiological and psychological correlates of forgiveness. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232490793_Physiological_and_psychological_correlates_of_forgiveness [accessed Nov 17 2017].
Having said that, forgiveness is not always a good fit for everyone so I am including some links to a few articles that might be helpful in deciding whether or not it would be possible for you.
How Do You Forgive When it Feels Impossible
Should You Forgive Someone for Cheating
Ultimately the healing that comes after the betrayal of infidelity will happen differently for each person. In my experience an important piece that I have taken away from helping couples and supported friends through this is to remember that this type of pain is one of the most intense a human being can feel and it will take time to feel better whether the couple decides to stay together or not.