With the first case of infidelity, innocence is lost. Our confidence in our partner is broken and many of our values fall to the ground. But how should we react to infidelity? What is the best option?
The impact of infidelity
Infidelity oftentimes happens when you least expect it. A message on the cell phone of our partner. An email. A photograph or an inescapable clue that the person you love has been unfaithful. How should you react to infidelity? Psychologists tell us an interesting aspect of humans is that people have an obsession for understanding everything. We search for an explanation that reveals to us why something had to happen.
- Lack of love.
- A chance encounter.
- A personality trait that we didn’t know in our partner.
- Lack of maturity on the part of our partner.
- Or even that is was our fault: due to inattention, lack of time spent together…
One aspect that remains clear is that after suffering infidelity we often feel a direct impact on our self-esteem. Not only do we feel anger, pain and even hatred about what happened, but it is also normal that we feel humiliated. Hence, sometimes we run the risk of falling into a depression. But really, how should we react? What would be the most sensible in this case?
What is the usual reaction to infidelity?
The way people react to infidelity usually depends on several factors:
- How long has there been infidelity? Was it something sudden? Or has the treason been going on a long time?
- Do we feel we are responsible? Have we neglected our partner too often?
- It also depends on how you discovered the act. Does your partner continue denying it? Or does he/she acknowledge it and regret it?
- Our own personality will also determine how we react.
Now let’s look at some of the most common ways of reacting to infidelity:
1. Looking for someone to blame
This is one of the most common reactions. In our quest to understand we sometimes obsess over finding someone to blame. Or we focus all our contempt toward our partner, or toward the person with whom he/she has been unfaithful. Looking for someone to blame helps us to let off steam, but it must be something specific. After focusing on the guilty, usually then comes a separation, or even forgiveness.
There are many people who, after an infidelity, look for ways to hurt their partner. They may decide to separate and end the relationship. Or maybe even decide to continue living together. Whichever way, some people seek revenge by having another relationship and seeking to cause the same pain to their partner, the same suffering.
We must be clear, to forgive does not always mean to reconcile. We can continue with the relationship but forgiving is not forgetting. Sometimes we are forced to rebuild the relationship from a troubled resentment basis, which is not always easy. But it can also happen that, in spite of everything, we achieve success. If forgiveness is offered because there is a real and true repentance, we can accept it. But it will not be easy; we must learn to live with a “small or large chronic pain.”
4. A new phase in the relationship
It may surprise you, but there are some couples who, after an infidelity, open a new intense chapter in their relationship. Reconciliation arises and a phase of greater emotional and sexual intensity. They bring together the fear of losing their loved one, the guilt of the one who has been unfaithful and those long conversations in which important aspects have been clarified. It is surprising, we know, but it usually happens.
5. A permanent separation
It’s unavoidable and understandable. Infidelity is a betrayal of the commitment to the covenant of intimacy between two people. It is an offense to our feelings and an attack on our self-esteem and personal balance. Not all people are able to offer forgiveness, and not all people deserve such forgiveness. More often than not, infidelity leads to a broken relationship.
But what is the best option after infidelity?
There is no one option that is the best or the worst. The best option is one that gives us emotional balance and tranquility. The wounds of infidelity are not forgotten with time and almost never heal. We can attempt reconciliation, but the fear will always be there. Forgiveness is always therapeutic, that we know, but sometimes it is not for everyone, what is most important is a healthy break and our own recovery.
But if you consider the betrayal as a one-time occurrence and you think it will not happen again, go ahead. Everyone deserves a second chance, but the other person must work hard and prove their sincere affection and genuine repentance.
Forgive if you are able to and if you think you will continue the relationship. But if your self-esteem is fragmented and you feel your heart is too broken to move on, set distances and end the relationship with the one that did you damage. Now is the time to recover, to get up again and look to the horizon with hope.