You have just discovered your partner’s unfaithfulness. Your world as you have known it has come crashing down around you. The explosion of emotion is intense. Your reactions will range from frozen in shock, to crazed with anger or even jumping into action to regain control. The pain of this discovery doesn’t easily go away. How could it? This isn’t just about sex taken elsewhere; this is so much more. There are many fears and even more questions. The entire relationship, your entire story about “us”, was it all a lie? How can I can trust me when I didn’t know THIS? What does it say about me that my partner was willing to do this?
Your experience of this discovery is unique to you. It is not easily solved or rationalized away. How do you handle this? What can you do to feel the slightest bit better? There is nothing that will completely wipe away the pain; it is too big to be easily solved. Here are some ideas for finding moments of relief as you navigate this storm.
Ask for help. You do not need to go through this alone. Your partner’s decision to step outside of the relationship is about him/her, and is not a reflection of you. Utilize the relationships you have in your life. Seek out those you trust and ask for help.
Attend to the basics. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy nutritious foods, and move in some fashion throughout your day. These are the basic building blocks of self care. It might feel insurmountable right now to even think about these steps. Why are they important? What’s the point behind it? The whole idea behind attending to these basics is to give your body the fuel, the energy, and the recovery time it needs to rebalance, to regain sense of homeostasis.
Delay decisions. Now is not the time for you to be making long term decisions. Your body has been dealt a major blow. Your amygdala, the smoke detector of your brain, has spotted the fire and has taken over. You are now in a reactive “fight or flight” state. Give yourself time, give your body time. What you want to do right now might not be what you want once your body has rebalanced itself.
The right questions. There are questions that you certainly have the right to ask and know. There are questions you’ll want to ask that will be entirely harmful to you. I recommend meeting with a couple’s therapist to help navigate these questions. Having a therapist present to help process the story and navigate emotions can bring some sense of stability, a structure to the unpacking process.
Relationships are hard. A betrayal in a relationship is even harder. If you find yourself in this space, know that it is not forever. One way or another, you will heal, you will adjust, and you will move forward. I hope that wherever you may find yourself in this space that you choose to reach out and seek help and support. You can be more than what has happened in your relationship.