After the affair – has your relationship met its match?
If you’ve cheated, but you’ve decided fidelity is the path for you, well done, that’s the first step. But what next? Has your relationship really met its match or is there a way back? Whatever happens next, something has to change, whether you want to move on with your relationship or leave your partner. Our guidelines should help steer you through those first thoughts, after the affair.
To tell or not to tell?
This may be hard to hear but in nearly every situation, you should confess your indiscretion to your partner. To put it another way, how can you both change and move forward if one of you is still clueless?
If you do decide to come clean, it will be painful for both of you. There will be a lot of hurt and anger coming from your partner and a lot of shame and guilt from your side. It’s likely your partner will say a lot of hurtful things to you, and not necessarily about your infidelity. They may pick at your character flaws, reopen old wounds – anything they can to get at you. They may even admit their own affairs. There’s no way this is going to be quick or easy; you’re doing this to end your relationship, or get a clean slate to start over with your partner.
Does the relationship have a future?
A large portion of the answer to this question is based on the circumstances surrounding your relationship. If you’re married, or have children you might have more reason to work at it. Also, if your affair meant more than just a bit of sex, then you might be considering leaving your partner for the other person. There are hundreds of variables that will affect your decision over whether to stay but it’s worth remembering these points:
• Consider that people outside you and your partner will also be affected (depending on how long you’ve been together) – friends, family, even colleagues. You need to consider each and every one of these people.
• If you go down the route of working through your infidelity, you will have a lot to prove. Your partner won’t trust you for a long time, on lots of levels. You need to give them extra reason to believe you – always be where you say you will, always be on time, respond to phone calls, reply to texts…the list goes on. Your partner will probably also need more emotional reassurance, but may have a hard time being physically close to you, which is a hard line to toe.
Work out why you did it
Generally, cheating doesn’t occur in happy relationships, and isn’t carried out by happy people. It can show your state of mind, and may even highlight what’s missing from your current relationship. There aren’t too many upsides to cheating, but using it as a route to work out problems in your life can be one of them. You should accept that you may even need to see a therapist – alone or with your partner.
The most important part is that you take responsibility for your actions, and you do everything you can to repair the relationship. You may even end up closer to your partner than ever before.
Your partner may, or may not, choose to forgive you over time. But you have no control over this, and no concept of how much hurt your infidelity will have truly caused them. Your job is to give your partner space to heal, while striving to show them that you are being honest and truthful in this new phase of your relationship.
…but forgive yourself
There comes a point when you need to move on from what you’ve done. There’s nothing to be gained from beating yourself up for months or years. However, forgiving yourself doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook, and that you don’t need to take action to repair your relationship. It simply means that you can concentrate on the important business of repairing your relationship, which is the most important aspect of this process.
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