Discovering that your partner has violated your trust can feel devastating. On top of the unspeakable pain from the intimate betrayal are the lies that have been told – either through words or by their silence. Feeing completely lost, confused, and overwhelmed are common experiences after discovering intimate partner infidelity and betrayal.
Here are three questions to ask yourself after discovery that may help in the process:
1. How Should I Respond?
Once the affair has been discovered, it’s normal to feel completely out of control both mentally and emotionally. You may find that it is hard for you to think clearly and focus on daily tasks. Take your time to think about what has happened, process your feelings, and honor your emotions before making any decisions. As you gather more internal information, you will be able to make an informed decision rather than a rash decision in the height of emotion and stress, and fear. Take as much time as you need. There is no timeline.
2. Is This PTSD?
After discovering your partner’s affair, it is very common to experience symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sadly, most people believe PTSD is only manifested in individuals returning from combat. The reality is, PTSD can be experienced by individuals who are surviving an affair.
PTSD symptoms include:
- Reliving the event
- Avoidance of people, places and activities previously enjoyed
- Negative mood and cognitions (e.g. I’m not good enough)
- Heightened emotions and reactivity (e.g. Anxiety, hypervigilance)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider speaking with a therapist who can help you navigate your emotions and decide what’s most needed to help you heal.
3. Do I Feel Differently About Myself?
After discovering your partner’s betrayal, you may begin to question yourself. You may find yourself saying things like, “What did I do to push them away?” Or “What is wrong with me?” Even the most self-confident people on the planet can be reduced to self-doubters after infidelity and betrayal. In an instant, you may shift from feeling safe and secure to anxious and fearful. Internalizing and personalizing the situation or blaming yourself is a common response as an attempt to understand and make meaning of what has occurred. Remember, this is shame based thinking and a trauma response to the situation, it is not an accurate depiction of self.
If you are dealing with a betrayal, asking yourself these three questions will begin the healing process. Come back to these questions over time, check back in with yourself. Although painful, repair from intimate partner betrayal is possible. Most importantly, be kind to yourself during this process.
If you are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.