Counselling for Relationships after an Affair
Therapy for coping with the fallout after the affair, betrayal or infidelity
If you have been in a relationship and have been unfaithful or have experienced the pain of a partner betraying your trust and cheating on you, therapy can help you by looking at your experience, any patterns you recognise and also by helping you deal with the pain, anger, sadness and fear you may experience. It can also help you find a way forward…
A word on infidelity and cheating…
While 90% of people surveyed think that infidelity is unacceptable in a relationship, between 10% – 40% (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/infidelity) said that they had cheated at some point in their relationship. Infidelity as a concept is as old as the introduction of marriage. However, in our modern world, an intimate relationship is based on romantic love, rather than only an economic consideration. As such, we expect our romantic partners to represent all of our expectations for security, belonging, children, excitement, companionship and fulfilment. In our expectation of partnership our emotional identity is tied in, which is why when the relationship is torn apart by infidelity it directly impacts on our core sense of self.
Today we are managing a myriad of new definitions and ways in which we talk to ourselves and our partners about infidelity. We may find our partner ‘sexting’ or secretly chatting on dating apps. We question, is it ok to kiss someone else on a drunken night out? In other words, what does infidelity mean to us and our partner? Often we don’t discuss in depth what is ok in terms of commitment and fidelity and even if we do, can we trust our partner to hold the boundary?
Affairs can signal a longing and yearning for an emotional connection, an idea of freedom, sexual intensity or to capture a lost part of ourselves. Understanding this, can help us to understand the ‘why’ when people stray.
Esther Perel is a leading figure on affairs and relationships and here is her definition of an affair, which is as follows…
- A secretive relationship, which is the core structure of an affair
- An emotional connection, to one degree or another
- A sexual alchemy – which we base fantasy of the frisson upon, which helps drive and underpin the act of infidelity.
There are many reasons that people have affairs, which can range from a breakdown in communication between each other, loss of intimacy, feeling lonely, stress, patterns of attachment and how we originally learned about relationships and trust and the responsibility of children and parenting.
If you are dealing with the shock and hurt of discovering an affair or have had an affair, therapy will provide a safe and confidential place to listen to you and help you to process your feelings and thoughts.
How therapy can help after the affair
Therapy can help you manage and deal with the impact of infidelity. Maybe you had some idea or suspicions or perhaps it was a complete surprise and shock to you. You may need some time to process the impact of the betrayal, by talking about and understanding how this feels for you.
By unpicking and allowing time for you to process this, you can also decide what you’d like for yourself going forward.
If you are the person who is having an affair or have ended one, you may want to look at how you behave in relationship’s, how you connect with people and how you may block intimacy or yourself to feel it. What are the consequences for you and your friends/family, what are your messages about secrecy and excitement? What would you like for yourself?
Therapy after an affair: Staying in the relationship…
If you would like to work on staying in your relationship, there may be shame for you and/or your partner as well as anger and sadness. It is hard to share your experience because of the shame, because of how you may speak to yourself and imagine other’s will judge you. Others may indeed judge you for choosing to stay and work it out, and in today’s culture we are applauded for ‘taking action’, which often means moving on. This may be the right choice for you, as it is also a brave choice to stay and work through what happened and a chance for greater intimacy and love.
Counselling for Relationships following an affair: Next steps…
Every relationship we enter into, from short lived to long term partnerships gives us experience and information about ourselves and how we relate to others.
Part of your therapeutic journey will be helping you to decide what you’d like for yourself. You may still be with your partner, you may decide that you do not want to continue the relationship . Either way, there will be information about how you learn to trust yourself and others to move forward.
Helpful information to cope after an affair or betrayal
Bustle.com published an interesting and positive view for those who stay together following an affair or betrayal in the relationship.
Ester Perel shares her view on ‘why we cheat’ and how we can look at ourselves and others differently after the affair.