Walk Away After Infidelity – 12 facts you need to know

Walk Away After Infidelity

When to walk away after infidelity and when to stay?

Your cheating spouse or partner has been exposed!

Now YOU need to know when to walk away after infidelity or if you should start an infidelity recovery process?

Hi, this is Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT. I am a professional couple and family therapist who specializes in infidelity recovery.

I am a real practicing professional who knows what he is talking about… and I want to help you.

If your husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend has cheated on you, you MUST read this before you walk away:

Let’s start by learning some scientific facts about infidelity:

  • In a national survey of couple therapists, extramarital affairs were ranked as the second most damaging problem to relationships, with only physical abuse having a more negative impact. 
  • In another study of more than 2,000 randomly selected married people in America, researchers examined the effect of various relationship problems that led to divorce.
  • The impact of extramarital sex on divorce was more than twice as much as any other relationship problem. 
  • Although there is a strong taboo in society against extramarital sexual relationships, sexual affairs are common. 
  • Recent national studies have found that nearly 25% of husbands and more than 10% of wives have had extramarital sex at some point in their relationship.
  • Among relationship problems, such as anger problems, emotional abuse, having an affair, having irritating habits, spending money foolishly, or abusing drugs or alcohol, extramarital sex was the biggest predictor of divorce.

Based on research found in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, October 2002,Vol. 28, No. 4,423-434. 

The 8 facts you need to think about before you try Infidelity Recovery

If you answer “yes” to any of the following 8 questions, staying with your partner will be very difficult.

1. Does the cheating continues?

The unfaithful partner is still involved with the person they cheated with. If the cheating continues, there can be no recovery process. The affair must be completely finished before any healing can begin.

Knowing how to tell if your partner is still cheating is difficult. There are procedures and resources to help you determine if your partner is cheating or not. However, they are beyond the scope of this article.

Severing the relationship with the paramour (illicit lover who is outside the marriage or committed relationship) sometimes means changing jobs, moving to a different city, or other accommodations to reduce the possibility that the illicit relationship can resume again in the future, and to provide some measure of security for the betrayed partner.

Is the cheating continuing? Yes or No.

2. Serial cheater

Infidelity is not an innocent error. It is a deliberate act that the perpetrator must take responsibility for. It is a calculated relationship sin that causes great harm to the entire family.

If the betrayer has a history of cheating, and there is no clear evidence that he or she will not do it in the future, there is little hope for infidelity recovery.

It is never possible to blindly trust a serial cheater, someone who has never learned or desired to control their actions. Therefore, with such a person, recovery is impossible.

There is a saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Is the unfaithful partner a serial cheater? Yes or No.

3. Remorseful

The philanderer must take full responsibility for his or her bad actions.

He or she must acknowledge his or her bad behavior and regret hurting his or her partner and other family members.

On the other hand, if the cheating partner thinks that it is possible to justify what he or she has done, then he or she is not a candidate for infidelity reconciliation.

Blaming others for cheating means that in the future, the cheater may find new reasons and excuses to cheat again.

Does the philanderer justify and blame others for what he or she has done? Yes or No.

4. Feelings of empathy

Can the philanderer feel the pain he or she has caused his or her partner and other family members?

For recovery from infidelity to be effective, the philanderer must empathize with their partner’s pain.

A cheater who does not empathize is not a candidate for reconciliation since he or she cannot recognize how much injury cheating causes others.

Is the betrayer unfeeling about the pain he or she has caused? Yes or No.

5. Good character

Good character is an integral component of relationship fitness and is necessary for a healthy and stable relationship.

A person in a committed relationship must recognize the difference between ‘right and wrong.’ If they cannot do this, they cannot sustain a healthy relationship with another person.

Cheaters often lie, and this demonstrates poor character and a lack of integrity.

A person who often lies and thinks nothing of it, and when caught covers it with another lie, simply does not have the requisite positive character traits needed to establish a healthy relationship.

A person can certainly learn to be of good character. However, without the desire to change for the better, a cheater is not a candidate for infidelity recovery.

Is the perpetrator of infidelity a chronic liar? Yes or No.

6. Humility

Only a humble person can learn from his or her mistakes.

Recovery from infidelity requires that the cheater sit in the ‘hot-seat’ and describe what happened and take responsibility for their bad behavior.

Being in the hot-seat is uncomfortable. Nevertheless, a willingness to face and examine one’s mistakes are necessary if they are to be transformed into valuable lessons. To do so requires humility.

A selfish and insensitive individual cannot look at oneself objectively and learn from past mistakes.

Is the cheater in your relationship arrogant and unwilling to examine oneself? Yes or No.

7. Willing to discuss what happened

The partner who was betrayed, the victim, has a need to know the details regarding what happened.

The betrayer, the cheater, who refuses to talk or gaslights twisting the reality of what happened, is not a candidate for infidelity recovery.

Does the partner who cheated refuse to discuss what happened and its details? Yes or No.

8. Willing to go to counseling

Infidelity recovery often requires a competent and caring professional.

If someone breaks a bone, they need an orthopedic surgeon. There is no getting around this fact. For a couple struggling to overcome infidelity, they often need to turn to an expert to help them get through the crisis. “There is no getting around this fact.”

A cheating partner who refuses to work with a trained professional to help recover from the affair is a partner who is not serious about taking responsibility for the damage he or she has caused.

Regardless of the need, the betrayer refuses the assistance of a professional therapist? Yes or No.

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above 8 questions, then it is very doubtful that your relationship can recover from infidelity.

Certainly, there are other considerations to be taken into account; such as financial, having children, and other imperfections in the relationship that must be taken into consideration regarding whether to divorce or not.

Knowing when to walk away after infidelity is not always easy.

The 4 facts you need to know before divorcing a cheating spouse or partner

The events of an affair-induced divorce are reasonably predictable. You must be prepared for this being your new normal — at least for a few years. The divorce and post-divorce typically goes as follows:

9. The fight

Rather than recovering from infidelity and rebuilding their relationship, the divorcing couple fights about their relationship and who caused the divorce that has led to the disruption in the lives of the children.

The unfaithful partner insists on denying what is evident or blames his or her partner, while the victim announces to the world what their partner has done.

Both partners go around town advertising the most embarrassing secrets and repulsive activities of the other, which is highly unattractive to the captive audience.

Soon, everybody agrees that these two ‘should get a divorce.’

If children are involved, their parent’s slandering one another is especially embarrassing and burdensome.

The ‘divorce fight’ leaves the children, extended family members (grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins), and many others with deep wounds.

Are you ready for this if you divorce your cheating husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend? Yes or No.

10. Total relationship breakdown

Having an affair breaks the relationship bond. Both the cheater and the victim are disoriented, confused, and angry at one another!

Next comes the divorce.

The divorcing couple fight during the divorce proceedings, creating more and more miss-trust and distance between one another.

The divorce process causes increasing amounts of chaos and confusion for everyone, including the children.

Divorce is overwhelming and universally proclaimed as unpleasant.

Are you ready for this if you divorce your cheating husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend? Yes or No.

11. Post-divorce life goes on

Eventually, the infidelity victim and the cheater find new partners and life starts over again.

And if there are children, they too now have two new parents — four in total.

These new step-parents may or may not be loving and caring with their inherited children. This can cause great anguish for both birth-parents.

And if the newly minted couple brings in step brothers and sisters into the family, the difficulties increase exponentially. Every family therapist knows blended families are difficult and success is not guaranteed.

As time goes on, legal, financial, and parenting complications pile up. Often the victim of infidelity and the philanderer become increasingly angry and resentful.

Mourning the loss of the original family, especially when children are present, is often accompanied by expensive and emotionally wrenching litigation.

Are you ready for this if you divorce your cheating husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend? Yes or No.

12. Human sacrifices

Both partners, but most often the philanderer with more frequency and greater intensity, are shunned by family members and friends. One individual becomes “good,” and the other individual is “bad.”

Often the children are made to choose between one of the two parents — who are they to be loyal to, who are they allowed to love, and who they can spend time with. The alienated parent is devastated.

The children caught in the middle of the conflict between their two parents are severely injured. This is called Parent Alienation and it is common.

The desired divorce is achieved and everyone involved gets surrounded by tragedy, and gets to hunt for everyone’s support for the resultant state of mourning that will last for years.

Are you ready for this if you divorce your cheating husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend? Yes or No.

If you answered “No” to any of the above questions about divorce, take a second look at reconciliation.

If your cheating spouse or partner does not seem to be ready to reconcile based on the first 8 questions, perhaps a trusted friend or a professional can speak to him or her and explain the dire consequences of cheating and/or divorcing.

Surviving infidelity is difficult. This is why divorce often follows cheating.

Research shows that 53% of couples who experience infidelity divorced five years later compared to 23% of non-infidelity couples. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2014 American Psychological Association, 2014, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1–12.

If you are to survive infidelity, you will need to work at it likely for several years. Alternatively, you can get divorced, which is often equally difficult.

Whether you walk away after infidelity or stay, there will be challenges

  1. If you stay with your partner after the infidelity has been discovered, you will ask yourself over and over again if you made the right decision.
  2. Know, the hurt can resurface instantly when you look at your mate or react to something they say or do.
  3. Often, to cope with your recovery, the pull to rehash the affair must be set aside. At such times, you need to focus on the good years and the reasons you decided to stay.
  4. On the other hand, if you walk away from your cheating partner and start a new relationship, your new companion will not have the supernatural properties to save you from your past misfortune, nor will he or she take away the feelings of hurt, betrayal, and resentment.
  5. If you prematurely throw yourself into a new relationship before healing the wounds of your broken heart, you’ll be unable to navigate the challenges of a new relationship.
  6. Many second marriages fail. And the reason for this is that the pain from the first relationship loss has not subsided, and the relationship lessons needed for a good second marriage or committed relationship have not been learned.
  7. When you have fully recovered from your betrayal, loss, and the unfairness of what your ex-partner has done, only then will you then have an open heart that is open to a new partner.

Based on my many years of helping couples recover from infidelity or go through the divorce process, I would strongly urge you to seek reconciliation if it is at all possible. Although it is hard work, in the end, this is a better solution, especially when you have children.

However, infidelity reconciliation is not always possible. In such situations, it is necessary to deal with reality and accept one’s fate the best you can.

Wishing you and your family the best,

Professional couple therapist and infidelity expert, Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT.

VIDEO: When to Walk Away After Infidelity [8 factors]

Click the book cover below to learn more about our guide to Surviving Infidelity:

Surviving Infidelity Restoring Trust, Finding Forgiveness, and Living Happily Together
Surviving Infidelity Restoring Trust, Finding Forgiveness, and Living Happily Together

About the author

Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT, CCHT., is a Registered Social Worker, Registered Couple and Family Therapist, Certified Hypnotherapist, and award-winning Educator. He has a busy clinical practice in Toronto, Canada and throughout the world using the phone or Zoom.

After many years of clinical practice and research, Abe concluded that practical solutions requiring a focused effort of no more than a few minutes a day for very specific relationship problems were critically needed. GoSmartLife Publishing House has been created to fill this need.

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