If you’ve been through the shock of discovering that your partner had an affair during your long-term romantic relationship or marriage, you’re not alone. Many others, have also endured this shock. I have, too.
Rationally, we understand that our “ex” isn’t part of our life anymore. But the ordeal can fracture our ego and mess up our emotions. And the mental anguish doesn’t fit in with logic!
On some levels, we know we’re wasting our time going over and over the details, asking ourselves why we didn’t know that the affair was going on, how they could lie to us when we asked if there was someone else, or how they could say that they loved, or how they actively made plans for a future together.
I think that the main reason we feel this deep level of hurt is that we experience what I call “Fairy-tale Recall:” we recall only the good times from the relationship. But at the same time, we’re shocked that we were lied to, and overcome with the concept that our former partner is in love with somebody else. It’s no surprise we feel so bad!
Here are some things I found helpful while going through the trauma. I’m sharing it in the hope that you find them helpful, too. Feel free to add to the list or to share your own story in the comments section after the post.
Don’t seek revenge.
Think through, journal about and discuss, but don’t act out. The first thing many people want to do is to tell their ex that they were no-good, lying scoundrels. While that’s okay, actually doing this would reflect badly on you and harm your self image. So steer yourself away from actions like this. You generally don’t need to let everyone else know. Chances are, people already are aware of your ex’s character flaws–the narcissism, cheating, disrespect and broken friendships, strained professional relationships and “secret” romantic liaisons are likely already known by others.
Don’t dig for the dirty details.
Don’t waste your time playing detective in search of all the dirty details. Researching your ex like this might add insult to your injured sense of self. You’re already suffering enough. Totally ban, or at least greatly limit yourself, from combing through your ex’s social media updates about the person they cheated on you with. Your ex may look like royalty there. But you know the magic won’t continue forever.
Don’t accept blame.
Don’t allow your ex to place all of the blame on you. If you remain in contact with your ex, or have heard that they’re blamed you for their actions, remind yourself that cheating is a choice. Your ex could have discussed separation or divorce, offered to go to marriage counseling, or chose other respectful, decent courses of action. You did not cause them to be a lying cheater. That choice was made by your ex.
Take care of yourself. Spend time working on you. Join a relationship or divorce support group. Consider seeing a counselor or therapist to help you work through your loss, and to re-build your self-esteem. Go to the gym. Take a yoga class. Learn how to meditate. Take that bucket-list trip that you’ve been procrastinating about.
If you find self-help books are helpful, read them. If you think you need therapy, seek it. Care for your broken heart so you have closure and can move forward.
Remind yourself often that you will get through this, and through the process you will become a wiser and better person.
In closing, it’s important to know in our minds and our hearts that every experience in our lives is a learning experience. Even in a broken relationship, we’re intended to learn something positive to incorporate into our life’s journey.
Eventually, you will feel gratitude about the relationship. You may even feel so secure in your closure that you can be on friendly terms with your ex. However, it’s okay for now to feel the hurt, the pain, and the anger. It will pass.
Please leave any of your own stories, comments, or tips that you think might serve the good of other readers.