Discovering that your partner has been unfaithful can feel devastating. On top of the unspeakable pain from the sexual betrayal are the lies they have told – either through words or by their silence. It is common for people to feel completely lost once they discover the infidelity and not know how to feel or react to the situation.
In order to understand what is best for you and how to proceed, here are 3 questions to ask yourself after an affair:
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. For this reason, it is important that you avoid making any rash decisions that you might later regret. Rash judgments can hinder the healing process.
Your best response is to take your time to think about what has happened and take note of your feelings before making any decisions. As you gather more information, you will be able to make an informed decision rather than a rash decision in the height of emotion and stress.
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. In an instant, you may shift from feeling safe and secure to anxious and fearful. Internalizing the situation or blaming yourself is common, though not very helpful to your overall well-being and can even further traumatization.
If you are dealing with a betrayal, asking yourself these three questions will begin the healing process.
Shane Birkel is a therapist practicing in Dover, New Hampshire. He specializes in working with couples and individuals who are dealing with the aftermath of an affair. For more information check out shanebirkel.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-852-3654.