In the immediate aftermath of discovering betrayal, emotions run high for both the betrayed partner and the offending partner. There is chaos and confusion about what has happened and what to do about it.
For many betrayed partners, there can be a sense of pressure to know what they are going to do. This pressure is often created by the cultural belief that staying in a relationship after you’ve been cheated on is weak, and self-respecting individuals will always leave a relationship after the betrayal of infidelity. This societal message can create enormous internal pressure to make a quick decision about staying or leaving.
However, the reality is that most betrayed partners don’t know and, for a time, won’t know what the best decision is for them and their relationship. It takes time to wrap your mind and heart around what has happened in the relationship. It takes time to process the level of hurt, pain, and loss created by the betrayal, and to assimilate and integrate this new reality into your current understanding of your life and relationship.
It also takes time to find out the full truth about the scope and depth of the betrayal. It takes time to discover how your cheating partner is going to deal with the betrayal. It takes time to see if your cheating partner wants and is willing to work on repairing your relationship in ways that make staying together possible.
If you’re like most betrayed partners, these different facets of dealing with and healing after betrayal create a period of time where you simply do not know whether you want to and can stay in the relationship or need to leave it.
That said, you would probably like certainty. Certainty gives us a sense of knowledge and purpose in the direction we are heading. Uncertainty, on the other hand, often creates insecurity, fear, and anxiety. So, the period of uncertainty about the future of your relationship that you are likely to have can create fear and anxiety. When those feelings are added to the cultural pressure to leave the relationship, you may feel pressured to come up with an answer now. You might also feel like something is wrong with you because you’re not ready to decide.
Please hear me: Nothing is wrong with you. Not knowing whether to stay or leave your relationship is completely normal. Most betrayed partners experience a prolonged period of not knowing. You are allowed to take as much time as you need to determine whether your relationship can once again be safe enough for you to stay, or whether the relational safety has been damaged beyond repair.
Making the right choice for you and your relationship takes time. There is no way to know at the moment of discovery what needs to happen, or even what you want to happen. The situation must unfold, and, in this unfolding, it will eventually become clear to you how to move forward.
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.