It is never easy to find out that your partner has been unfaithful. It would seem that the hardest part is realizing that the signs were there, you just didn’t pay any attention to them.
When it comes to infidelity, the emotional roller coaster is a lot like what one would experience after a death of a loved one . You will go through all the different coping mechanisms whether you want to or not.
The good news is though, you don’t have to go through them alone or be blindsided when you hit a new stage.
You see when you put in so much time and effort into a relationship only to have your heart ripped out by a cheating partner you do grieve. There is a part of you that dies along with the relationship.
Unfortunately, there is no way of avoiding the stages of grief. You have to go through them in order to move on. Granted, there are some people who seem to hold it together better than others, but inside they too are dealing with these five stages in their own way. It is how you cope that makes you a stronger person.
So, just how do you survive the emotional roller coaster ride after finding out that your spouse has betrayed you?
One day at a time and one stage at a time.
Stage 1: Denial
The strongest weapon we have to cope with stressful situations is denial. Denial can be so strong at times that people can even use it to push the memory out of their mind and forget it even happened. When it comes to a cheating partner you will feel this stage the strongest because the mind needs protection.
Your mind will convince you that it is not happening. It will convince you that the signs you are seeing aren’t really happening and that you are being paranoid.
Yet, you can’t excuse the late night text messages and phone calls. You can’t hide the distance that grows every day between the two of you. Nor will you be able to explain away the excuses that they have been spouting on why they are home late, or why they smell the way they do.
But love is a fickle thing. When you are in love your mind will convince you of anything to protect itself.
Denial is the hardest stage to break free from. It is like a bear trap. The brutal truth is stabbing you from all sides, yet you refuse to believe you are bleeding.
It is a vicious stage.
The only way to get on with your life though is by accepting everything. You have to accept that your feelings mean something. That you aren’t going crazy despite what your partner may say or sway you to think.
You have to follow your gut instinct and stick to your guns. Only then will you be able to break out of the denial and accept the reality that yes, your partner is cheating.
Now that you have finally started to come out of the fog and see things as they really are your heart will shatter again. All this time you have been super gluing the pieces together praying that everything wasn’t really happening, but now that you see it is, your heart needs to break.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to let out the tears. Cry if you have to. After all, it is painful coming to the realization that your love has broken their promise to you. It is almost like they have died.
But the truth is something did die, your trust in them, your dreams of a future, and now you are left in a sea of chaos and confusion.
You don’t know where to go from here and that is okay. It is okay not to know what is going to happen next. Figuring out your next move can come later.
Right now, you need to feel and grieve for all that you have lost.
Stage 2: Anger
Now that you have gotten all the tears out of the way there is going to be a switch that flips inside your head. You are going to go from sad and a full blown pity party to raging bull.
All those signs that you ignored are going to play over and over in your mind and you are going to want to break something.
The thing to really focus on during this stage isn’t revenge.
Sure, your mind will drift to the dark side and try to concoct different ways you can get back at your wayward partner, but you need to resist.
If breaking something is in your cards then go to the Good Will and buy a $0.25 glasses and plates. Spend $10 on the cheap breakable stuff and go home and start throwing them around.
It may help get out all the pent up aggression you feel, but just remember that if you go this route you are going to have to clean up the mess too.
What is interesting though is after you break plates and glasses and other things, you see this huge mess before you and it is really quite therapeutic.
All the broken shards scattered about resemble what your heart feels like. Now the outside resembles what is on the inside and when you take a moment to look around and acknowledge what a mess everything is, you can begin to start picking things back up and making things right.
The moment you grab that broom and start to clean up there is something that happens on the inside too. It is almost as if you are sweeping up the mess of your shattered heart and repairing all that has been broken.
Of course, if you don’t want to spend money on cheap things to break, or deal with the mess afterward you can always burn pictures or have a garage sale to clean out the old stuff to make ready for the healing process.
One thing is certain though, you will be angry with your spouse, but more so with yourself. During this time, try not to beat yourself up too much. Remember that no one could have predicted this outcome and you can’t blame yourself for your partner’s faults.
Stage 3: Bargaining
From the beginning of this ordeal, you have probably been feeling the ups and downs of this journey.
The first stage that is denial, was all about the anticipation and the climb when you are on a roller coaster.
The second stage of anger was the free fall where you feel like everything is out of your hands and the only thing left to do is crash and see where the pieces may fall.
During the bargaining stage though you may feel like you have some control of what is happening. You may even begin to communicate with your partner during this time.
Many people fall into the trap of letting their partner back into their life at this point. You may want to bargain your way back into a relationship. You may tell yourself that you can handle just a physical relationship. Or you may think that you can handle being in an open relationship.
But don’t fool yourself. If you fall into this trap you will only prolong the hurt. Bargaining is a stage that comes quickly and far too many people get trapped only to be hurt more so later on.
The only way to navigate this stage is by standing your ground. Find reasons to be alone. Go see that movie that you want to see that they didn’t want to go to.
Go to that restaurant you always wanted to go to. The bargaining stage should be all about you and the things you want.
It should have nothing to do with them.
Don’t let them suck you back into their world, go out and build your own brand new life.
Stage 4: Depression
When it comes to the fourth stage many people find themselves right back at the beginning where emotions are high and all they want to do is cry. Crying is a great stress reliever. But you need to recognize the signs of serious depression and when to get help.
For some people when a relationship ends it feels like the end of the world. They feel like there is no reason to go on.
This kind of depression needs professional help. If you ever feel suicidal you need to seek help right away. But as the saying goes, misery loves company. Depression doesn’t have to last forever.
The best way to conquer depression is with a group of friends or family members that you can trust to tell everything to. You want a strong support group that won’t judge you and will encourage you to continue on your path.
Surrounding yourself with positive people is the first step to getting through your depression. The second step is taking life one hour at a time because let’s face it trying to rationalize one day can get overwhelming.
But everyone can handle one minute, one hour, one meal, at a time. And before you know it a day has passed, then a week, then a month. But it all starts with that one hour. What you do during those 60 minutes can pull you up and change your life.
Depression isn’t something that is easy to deal with or get over. All the memories come flooding back and it can be painful. But with the right group surrounding you, you can explore those memories without letting them pull you under.
Stage 5: Acceptance
The final stage to surviving the roller coaster ride is acceptance.
This is the stage where everything comes full circle and you will finally be able to exhale. Acceptance can happen on a clear day or a rainy day. But it is one of those things that happen suddenly and without warning. You wake up and realize that you have changed and that the world seems brighter.
When you are in the acceptance stage, you will feel as if the roller coaster ride has finally come to an end and you can get off the crazy ride. The moment you accept the new reality that you are moving on alone as a stronger and independent person the better you will feel.
Of course, there are also those who have found that their relationships are worth saving during the bargaining stage. They have worked with their partner to rebuild their relationship and have accepted their differences and are trying to figure out a new way of life together.
No matter which road you find yourself on, remember that you have been through something traumatic and have come out stronger and better prepared for the future.
Accepting the fact that life happens and understanding that some things are just out of your control will help you deal with life in a whole new light.
Sure, being cheated on hurts and can cause you to become jaded. But it doesn’t have to. You can accept that the only person you can control is yourself and let bygones be bygones.
Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual on how to deal with situations.
The only thing you can do is take life and the situation one moment at a time. If you find yourself in the situation where your partner has cheated on you, just remember that you are not alone.
Remember that both sexes cheat and there is no real way to tell if the relationship you are in will end because of infidelity. All you can do is take care of yourself and live the life you choose.
Love with all you have, forgive, but never forget and don’t let the world cause your heart to grow calluses. Remember that every day is a lesson and that no one gets out of this world alive so make the most of what you have when you can.
Infidelity hurts, but it doesn’t have to change you into someone you don’t want to be.
If you’re ready to STOP the craziness and take back your power and your sanity, there are a few books and resources I recommend for further reading.
Here they are:
- The First Step in Surviving Infidelity
- Break Free From the Affair
- Survive Her Affair
- One on One Personal Coaching