"Can a relationship survive after cheating?" is the most common question after infidelity has occurred, yet is not easy to get the answer. It's more than, whether anyone can answer this question. However, counselling for infidelity or well known as cheating is not uncommon.
Many relationships or marriages do not survive infidelity because the trust has been broken and forgiveness is hard. Most of the time, the infidelity occurs when one of the partners (aware or not aware) feels dissatisfaction in their relationship, or one of the partners feels dissatisfaction in themselves.
However, there are many other reasons for cheating, and they may have very little to do with the relationship, the attitudes, appearances or the behaviours of either spouse. Let's look at a positive way of repairing your relationship and to build the trust that has been broken after the infidelity.
The first step is to involve your partner who has been offended by the infidelity, to attempt to bridge the gaps that have been developed.
Repaired After Cheating
Face your feelings and your fears, and share these with your partner/spouse who have been offended. Sometimes, the emotional closeness in your relationship has been cut off resulting in one or both of you becoming vulnerable to outside attentions.
Choose time to have this conversation and let the offended partner processes the information in their own time. Please note: it is up to you to disclose the details of the incident. Disclosing it too much or or not enough has equal effect of the injury, however this will differ with each couple in different situation or relationships.
Acknowledge that what you did was hurtful to your partner and be mindful that this may take time to heal. By acknowledging that you are conscious that your partner is injured by your infidelity, coupled with genuine apology and empathy, you express your commitment to repair the relationship.
Committed to change
This may be easy to say than be done. This normally will need a strong commitment by both of you. Building trust after being cheated on or lied to is a challenging period in the relationship. It will need a plan to overcome this. Often, this is where counselling plays a big role in mediating and developing a plan in helping each partner heal.
Put the infidelity or cheating in perspective.
By talking with a therapist, you may be able to get a clearer view of issues that may have contributed to the infidelity and to process your feelings and help you and your partner addressing underlying issues within the relationship. This may involve discussing mutual problems and bring all the secrets out in the open. This may also show that you are able to commit that you are not engaging outside the relationship again,
Although, you may not be interested in details of the affair, you can only find relief from wondering and final closure on the affair by letting go all the secrets. The secrets may make you angry, you can deal with the anger in therapy as part of the healing process.
Working on building trust
If you are uncertain about your feelings, it may be useful to take quality time to reflect on this. Nevertheless, a commitment not to cheating again during this waiting period is recommended - first to allow the offender to have a clear mind when reflecting on this relationship, - and second, to build trust - even if the relationship may end in the future, at least it will help to end in respectful terms.
Yes, damage has been done, and the best solution is to dissolve this painful relationship immediately? Sometimes - you feel that the best immediate solution is to end the relationship. But it is important to understand why you choose to end it.
If your aim is to 'get even' with your partner and to quickly move on to find another partner, this may feel good for a brief period of time. However, it does not erase the hurtful feelings, such as; - trauma, rejection, loss of trust or loss of self-esteem or loss of your dreams that you have built in the relationship.
Whatever choice you make, it depends upon many elements. What do you believe is the basic character style of your partner and what do you believe are the reasons for the infidelity? Perhaps, the injured partner has been neglecting the relationship and the needs of the offender partner for a long time. Sometimes, some couples remain together even though both are really unhappy and it takes one person to do something different to cause the breakup. The reasons for cheating may not be due to lack of love or lack of sexual desire for the partner.
This is where the problem becomes complex and one simple answer does not work for every couple or every situation. I do believe "when there is a will, there is a way" - "when there is a love, there is a way", even after the cheating or betrayal. Counselling sessions can either help to repair a broken relationship, or they can help each person to finally understand their own thoughts and feelings and one or both may discover that this relationship no longer serves them the way it used to be.
The counselling process can be difficult or very painful, but this is temporary and the way out is to go through it. Once all the emotions have been expressed - this can be forgiveness to self or to others - each person can gradually heal as they let go of the painful feelings or the relationship and get ready to start socialising again.
Counselling and psychotherapy are not a quick solution. They provide a safe and private place to explore what is going on in your life, and your relationship in light of your personality, family history, personal dreams, phantasies and goals. Before you giving up the possibility for recreating and reviving a previous painful relationship, do consider seeking counselling from a qualified professional. You may be able to repair "the damage that has been done" to gain something worth having and recreate your relationship for the both of you.
It is possible to survive from the infidelity and to repair the relationship from emotionally distraught, conflict to accept, forgiveness, sensual and sexual passion, and love. It is up to you to think - how important is your relationship to you? Are you willing to face the painful period and the problems that come along with it and the commitment to work through to take you to the other side?
Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives, yet we often forget how crucial our connections with other people are for our physical, mental health and wellbeing. Now, our society is more conscious about health than ever before, and we are paying increased attention to nutrition labels, fitness and wellbeing, organic alternatives, toxin-free environments and lots more. And yet, many health-conscious people don't realise that the quality of their relationship can be just as toxic to their health as fast food or a toxic environment. In fact, unhealthy relationship can turn into a toxic internal environment that can lead to stress, depression, anxiety and even medical problems.
We long for connection, and often this longing can lead us to settle for less than healthy relationships. Even worse, we may be so hungry to belong, or desperate to connect that we continue in toxic relationships when they are actually ruining our lives and happiness. It's not the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship, but it's the quality of your close relationship that matters.
Can a relationship be toxic? And how would you know?
This is one of the most common reasons for my clients attending therapy. Mental health and healthy relationships go hand in hand; some relationships can affect your health in a similar way to a poison, but unfortunately you won’t have a label to warn you.
Toxic means poisonous, damaging or deadly. A toxic relationship is often characterised by ongoing, mutually destructive modes of relating between partners. Such behaviors can involve jealousy, possessiveness, dominance, manipulation, desperation, selfishness or rejection. However, the most common theme in a toxic relationship involves the partners’ intense draw toward each other, despite the pain they both cause one another.
How can I know a relationship is toxic?
A toxic relationship does not need to follow a certain pattern, with high drama or regular visits from police. If you live with a partner who consistently denigrates and regularly “puts you down”, your relationship has likely become toxic.
The first step is working out whether your relationship has reached a point where your health and life is at risk. Some people will even feel suicidal when they have contact with the toxic person. Often many clients reveal that the relationship with someone they trust is the cause of their distress. Trusting others is important but you should not trust someone that is causing you significant distress. The toxic person may be a parent, adult child, relative, close friend, partner or work colleague.
I believe in ongoing relationships this toxicity could come about at certain times for certain periods - just like eating too much chocolate at certain times. Other relationships are like a dose of salts and you will become ill very quickly. Some relationships, especially those in which there has been violence or abuse, are very poisonous and should be avoided like poison. There are specific, identifiable behaviours that have a toxic effect on relationships:
If you can identify to most of those above behaviours then you may be at risk of suffering health problems in similar way to feeling poisoned. Feeling poisoned may be evident as the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In some cases individuals may suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from their relationships.
How Does Therapy Help?
Whether your goal is to repair your relationship, to leave a toxic relationship, or to mourn a lost relationship, it is important to make an initial decision about whether to:
Many clients will be hopeful in therapy that I will be making that decision for them, but unfortunately all a therapist can do is help you explore both options and support you in whether decision you make.
For many, the option to end the relationship is unthinkable, especially if they have been in the relationship for a long time. This is where being in therapy can be helpful. I have often shared about what it would be like outside the relationship when clients are too scared to think about the idea. Often those that have been manipulated or threatened will have been told by the toxic person that they can never leave successfully. Talking through leaving would be like swallowing a bitter pill. I have seen clients walk out of my practice released from the pain of the relationship by simply taking hold of the option to leave - there may still be challenges ahead but this decision has lifted a weight from them.
Others attend therapy planning to leave and end up deciding to stay. This may occur for example when a parent is forcing their child to separate from their partner. The person may need to re-negotiate the parent-child relationship before dealing with the partner relationship. Being a psychotherapist means that I do not take a side. I will often have an opinion that may differ from the decision made by my client, BUT it is my role to support any decision you made to stay or leave.
"You Survived The Painful Relationship, You'll Survive The Recovery"
Does Leaving Mean Leaving Forever?
Yes and No...
Most toxic relationships will end forever because returning would have life threatening consequences for the individual. Relationships where there was not abuse but conflict, may be renegotiated in another phase of life. This is most common in young adults who have parents that do not support their life choices in religion, sexuality, work, friends or hobbies. Young adults are likely to change what they value several times, and ten years later both the parent and child have changed and a different relationship may be possible.
Across a lifetime the ability to stay or leave toxic relationships is a skill that can be developed over time. The more effective you are are at making decisions to stay or leave, the more it will improve your emotional health. Social support is a key component of any emotionally healthy adult’s strategy to maintain health and wellbeing. If you feel that you or someone you care about might benefit from a consultation around a toxic relationship, my details are here.