Coping with Infidelity in a Relationship
When dealing with the pain and discomfort of learning about infidelity in your relationship, it can feel overwhelming to determine the next steps. The topic in itself is a polarizing one, and it is not always as simple as asking the people around you for advice. Today, we’ll discuss four steps that you can take to support your ability to navigate through a painful and nuanced relationship issue like infidelity.
When dealing with infidelity in a relationship, there are a lot of layers to the losses we feel upon discovering it. One experience many report is the fact that the person they would typically rely on for a source of support and comfort is their partner, but due to the infidelity, the relationship no longer feels like a safe and supportive space. Additionally, it can be hard to disclose the details of your relationship to those closest to you because people often have big reactions to the news of infidelity. It is normal to want to protect yourself and your partner from those reactions as it takes quite a lot of energy to have to manage the emotions of others while dealing with so many of your own.
Whether you are a partner who engaged in the infidelity, or a partner who experienced the disloyalty, it is important to remember that all parties need and deserve support. In emotionally charged, complex situations like this, it is often best to seek support from an unbiased, professional third party like a therapist or counselor. Here at Genesis Counseling of South Tampa, we counsel couples of all types and dynamics through situations like infidelity. Having an external support option is so important during a time like this to help you navigate an experience like infidelity individually and with your partner/s.
Infidelity comes to light in a variety of ways. Sometimes the partner chooses to disclose it, and sometimes it is discovered unintentionally. Either way, this can create a variety of situations where one partner is chasing or trying to “fix” while another partner needs space. However you choose to process the scenario is entirely up to you and it can be helpful to create boundaries that give you the space to process as needed.
This might look like asking for some time away, or perhaps creating boundaries around physical touch or intimacy when you’re in the presence of your partner. It could be asking not to be contacted first thing in the morning by your partner so that you can ground yourself and focus on the day at hand before heavy emotions kick in. Your boundaries are entirely up to you. It’s also important to remember that your partner has the right to set their own boundaries as well and that should be honored and respected. As a reminder, boundaries are set in order to protect you from reaching your limits, not as punishment or control over your partner.
Make space for your feelings
When dealing with something as complex as infidelity. It’s okay to not know exactly how you feel. It’s also okay if you feel many feelings, even feelings that conflict. Feelings of guilt, shame, and grief are common no matter what the scenario. You may even feel relief to know the “truth” despite being angry, sad, or hurt.
Whatever you feel, it is important to let those feelings exist without judgment. After all, feelings are a valid part of what you’re experiencing but they aren’t always factual. Knowing this makes it easier to feel the feelings and let them pass without getting caught up in judging yourself for your human reaction to a painful situation. Trauma can compound when we don’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions so giving yourself the grace and compassion to wade through your uncomfortable feelings can be a tremendous gift to both your current and future self.
Practice Self Care
In emotionally taxing times, we often cope by packing our schedules full to distract ourselves. Sometimes, the emotions feel too heavy to do anything at all. Both scenarios can lead to neglecting our self-care practices during a time when we can most benefit from them.
Self-care looks different for every person but it’s most important to remember that it absolutely does not need to be complicated in order to be effective. In fact, quiet, mindful moments will likely be the most beneficial in a case of coping with infidelity. Take 5 minutes to focus on your breathing. Be intentional about staying hydrated. Create a bin of emergency snacks to eat when you don’t have it in you to cook a meal. Say yes to soft, comforting clothes and prioritize rest. If your body is asking for more sleep, that’s okay.
There is no “one size fits all” blueprint for navigating the aftermath of infidelity. It’s important to remember that you don’t necessarily have to make immediate decisions, but if you feel confident in a decision that protects your well-being, that is okay too. For infidelity support and counseling, feel free to contact us at Genesis Counseling of South Tampa. We’re here to offer support to individuals and couples facing the aftermath of infidelity.