“Should I cut my losses and leave now?” If you’ve asked this question, you’re not alone. Many if not most betrayed partners wrestle with thoughts about whether they should cut their losses and leave their relationship now or stay and potentially have to leave later if things break bad down the road.
At heart, this question is about the uncertainty that is unfolding in your relationship. After betrayal, everything feels uncertain. Will your cheating partner want to save the relationship? Do youwant to save the relationship? Will the two of you, working together, be able to heal the damage of infidelity and repair your intimate bond? These questions often take time to answer, and even after they’re answered the ultimate outcomes are not always clear.
Because of this, there is typically a period of waiting after betrayal. The ‘wait and see’ time when you are exploring your options and evaluating your partner’s intentions. Even if both of you have declared your commitment to work on the relationship and stay together, there is a period when it is not clear if you will be able to do this successfully. Emotions run high, the pain is immense, and the work is hard. What if it doesn’t work out?
So betrayed partners often ask, “Should I cut my losses and leave?” But what they are really asking is, “Can I tolerate this uncertainty? Can I roll the dice and bet again on someone who has just hurt me? Can I bear it if we try and then don’t make it?”
Think of the words that betrayed partners are actually saying. Cut. My. Losses. They are literally asking if they should cut out the potential for further loss. Should they accept the loss they have already incurred and limit their potential for further hurt and pain by counting the cost and leaving now?
When you ask this question, you are evaluating your capacity for disappointment. What will happen to you if you allow yourself to hope, to take another risk, and then you are once again devastated with disappointment and loss? Can you bear it?
One of the hardest things about this question is that there is no answer that does not involve the possibility of loss. No matter how you answer the question, you are taking a risk. If you leave, you risk losing a relationship that might have been savable and eventually even great. If you stay, you risk disappointment and loss of hope if you have to leave down the road.
What a hard choice. No wonder betrayed partners wrestle so deeply with the question of whether to stay or leave.
Each person’s energy and capacity for hope, disappointment, and risk-taking is unique to that individual and his or her circumstance. You are you, and you must make your decision based on who you are and what your life looks and feels like. You can leave or to stay, whatever is best for you, and no one can make this choice for you.
As an example, I will offer you my own story. Years ago, when I was married to a sex addict, this is what happened to me. I stayed and tried, and I tried and stayed. For a long time. Until it was clear that I had to leave.
It would be easy to look back on that ‘trying and staying’ time as a wasted period in my life. However, that was so incredibly not my experience. During that time, I learned enormous amounts about myself and who I am. I learned about healthy relationships. I learned how to value myself based on my inherent worth rather than how I was being treated. I learned how to be kind to myself and to nurture and care for myself. I broke free from shame. I claimed my voice and my power as a woman. I learned how to give myself permission to fail and be imperfect. I grew. A lot.
In the process of healing from betrayal trauma, regardless of whether you leave now or stay and try to make things work, there is no such thing as wasted time. Everything that is happening, however your personal journey unfolds, all of it will be used in your life to help you grow into more of your true authentic self—if you will allow it. So, if you stay, and then you eventually have to leave, you will not have wasted your time. All that you learn and the ways that you change will become part of your story and will shape who you are going forward. Nothing will be lost, and nothing will be wasted. Do not fear that you will waste your time, because on the path of healing there is no such thing.
About the Author:
Michelle Mays, LPC, CSAT-S is the Founder of PartnerHope.com and the Center for Relational Recovery, an outpatient treatment center located in Northern Virginia. She has helped hundreds of betrayed partners and sexually addicted clients transform their lives and relationships. Michelle is the author of The Aftermath of Betrayal and When It All Breaks Bad and leads the field in identifying and crafting effective treatment strategies for betrayed partners.
Braving Hope is a ground-breaking coaching intensive for betrayed partners around the world. Working with Michelle will help you to move out of the devastation of betrayal, relieve your trauma symptoms and reclaim your life.