Surviving An Affair: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Your Partner Cheats

Surviving an affair is difficult!

Make any of the following 6 mistakes, and your chances of recovering will be even more difficult! Bonus: Take the FREE quiz, “Are You Ready To Explore Infidelity Recovery?” Keep reading…

Surviving an affair: Can couples recover from infidelity?

Research shows that many people have engaged in extramarital sexual activity, with 15% of women and 25% of men admitting to it. Emotional affairs may include petting and kissing the affair partner, which increases the percentage to 35% for women and 45% for men. Regardless of the infidelity statistics, once the affair is discovered, it devastates both the cheater and the betrayed partner. Feelings of betrayal, trust, security, love, and one’s future are no longer taken for granted and are replaced with uncertainty, anger, and sadness. Given all the confusion, it can lead to fear and anger too.

If you are considering a future with your partner who has cheated, the question becomes how to survive the affair, rebuild the trust, and bring back the love. The answer is that with the right effort, you can survive infidelity and rebuild your relationship. A successful recovery from infidelity can increase the emotional connection—love, trust, and cooperation—in a way far deeper than experienced before.

How to approach affair recovery

There is limited research data regarding infidelity recovery. One study claimed that 70% of couples survive infidelity. However, simply surviving an affair is not enough. Unfortunately, countless couples stay married in name only after the affair has been discovered, remain emotionally polarized, and lack a sense of safety. Individual emotional injury is prevalent, especially if you were the individual who was betrayed. There is even a word for it, ‘betrayal trauma,’ and one therapist claims that 70% of individuals suffer from this condition. Healing from infidelity is possible. However, the healing process can be long and difficult. Surviving an affair requires more than what ‘to do’; it includes what ‘not to do.’

Surviving Infidelity Is Possible: The 6 Mistakes To Avoid

1. Making irreversible decisions or doing something extreme

You found out your partner has been cheating on you. This is a difficult time! You are overwhelmed with emotions that are pulling you in all directions. You are confused, devastated, and angry. You never thought you would have to survive an affair!

Your first impulse after you find out about your partner’s affair might be to:

  • Also, have an affair
  • Confront the paramour (the outside lover)
  • Tell your cheating partner to leave and never come back
  • Start divorce proceedings
  • Change the locks to your house
  • Tell your children about their father’s affair
  • Broadcast what happened to the world (or at least to all your family and friends)

These actions, or any other type of extreme behavior, will only confuse you and make surviving an affair more difficult. Surviving infidelity requires time and patience. Wait a few days until things settle down, and you can think clearly before you make any important decisions. Doing so is in the best interest of you and your family.

2. Seeking advice from the wrong people

When you find out your partner has cheated, it’s normal to need support, answers, and a way to move on. However, if others know about the affair, it may complicate your full recovery. For example, if you hastily inform your parents about the affair, they might become angry and hold a grudge against your unfaithful spouse, adding more complications. Imagine that you and your partner are recovering from infidelity six months or a year from now. Your commitment to each other is strong, and you have grown close to one another. Family events are uncomfortable because of your parent’s negative attitude towards your partner. Dealing with infidelity will be much easier when it is done with planning and consideration of the future. If you and your partner choose to heal from infidelity, it’s important to agree on who should be informed, what they should be told, and why it’s necessary to tell them. The exception to limiting what you say to family and friends would be to speak with a caring mental health professional or your family doctor. Such individuals are bound by confidentiality; whatever you say will be confidential, and your privacy is assured.

3. Attacking the paramour

After discovering an affair, it’s okay to ‘hate’ the affair partner. He or she is a threat to the well-being of every family member. However, attacking the paramour may result in illegal behavior or retaliatory attacks from him or her. Surviving an affair requires that you focus on the accountability of your partner who cheated, not their partner! Hold your cheating partner responsible—blame him or her and NO ONE ELSE! Blaming the outside lover for the affair means you’re NOT holding your partner responsible. You don’t want to hand your partner excuses for behaving badly now or in the future.

4. Communicating about the affair in the wrong way

Speaking about the affair requires a high level of communication skills. When anger, sarcasm, lying, and distrust are present, it can be challenging to have open discussions about what happened and what to do about it. When you are speaking about the affair, you need to stay calm, take turns speaking, and be sensitive to one another’s feelings. You must be in a safe space when talking about the affair and what to do about it.

5. Blaming yourself

You are the victim. Your partner has betrayed you. It is not your fault. After the affair has been discovered, if your partner blames you, do not accept his or her assertions. This is not to say that you have been perfect in your marriage—no one is perfect. However, your ‘mistakes’ are not an excuse for your partner to cheat and possibly destroy the family. Protect your dignity. “IT IS NOT MY FAULT MY PARTNER BETRAYED ME.” Repeat this over and over again in your mind until it is non-negotiable.

6. Not getting help to survive an affair and rebuild your relationship

Infidelity striking your marriage is comparable to a body being hit with cancer. No one in their right mind would consider dealing with cancer without help. Trained experts are the only ones who can properly treat a life-threatening disease. The same is true with infidelity because it threatens your marriage. You will benefit from having a trained expert to help you survive an affair. I would love to tell you that you can do this alone. And there are exceptions; some people find a way to overcome the infidelity that has broken their relationship. Couples who don’t seek professional help struggle to fix their relationship and suffer unnecessarily. If you are to heal and establish healthy emotional and sexual intimacy, you will benefit from a caring and trained relationship expert. Well-meaning friends, lawyers, and clergy can support you, but they do not have the expertise to guide you in recovering from infidelity. 

These listed websites have trained therapists who can help you and your partner survive infidelity:

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

The Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

After the affair has ended and you have completed your healing process, you and your partner should be comfortably connected in every way. Your sex life should be healthy, robust, and frequent. Romance and sexual intimacy are the natural tonic to smooth over rocky times in your relationship. You should feel emotionally safe when you are around your partner. You should feel they understand you, are interested in you, and are sensitive to your feelings. Kindness, cooperation, and respect are the bedrock of every healthy relationship.

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abe kass

Abe has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families for twenty-five-plus years. When it comes to relationship expertise — Abe is the real deal and can be trusted!

abe kassProfessional Therapist Abe Kass MA RSW RMFT

Abe has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families for twenty-five-plus years. When it comes to relationship expertise — Abe is the real deal and can be trusted!