Life After Betrayal

Jennifer MitchellCouples Counselling, Jennifer Mitchell

Ashley Madison – most people are aware of the website that promotes infidelity – and if they weren’t aware before, they certainly are now. Following a security breach that left thousands of user’s emails and information exposed, the Ashley Madison fallout is far from over.

I certainly have heard the gamut of opinions on this situation. However, I am much more concerned with the individual human beings affected by an affair or betrayal. It is certainly not a laughing matter for the individuals who have been betrayed. It is not funny for the children who may find their families torn apart. Nor, for the individuals who have been unfaithful; they face humiliation and the fallout of their actions on their families, their friends and potentially their employment. While this is a highly charged subject and each story is layered and individual, if you are in an infidelity situation, consider the following points:

  1. If you have been having an affair or engaging in activities your partner wouldn’t agree with, and are considering disclosing these to your partner – please consider seeking support – even before you disclose to your partner. Your confession is not just about you. While relationships need honesty and transparency, it is imperative you understand the impact your secret will have on your partner. You must have the empathy to understand the devastation, confusion, shock and anger that your partner may experience.
  2. If you and your partner begin receiving support, it can be beneficial to have a facilitated disclosure session with a therapist. It is incredibly painful for your partner to continually hear about your unfaithful incidents over extended periods of time. It makes it difficult to rebuild trust when they are worrying about when the next secret will be disclosed. Hence, with support, ripping the band aide off once is much better than continually ripping the band aide off.
  3. Infidelity does not equal sex addiction. Now, I won’t get into the debate about the legitimacy of sex addiction – what I will say, is that not all those who are unfaithful are sex addicts. It is important to talk to a therapist about your own personal story to gain a fuller understanding about what might be driving your behaviors.
  4. If you are a partner who has recently found out your partner has been unfaithful you will likely be experiencing a myriad of emotions including numbness, shock and rage. These emotions are a completely natural reaction to an extraordinary experience. (learn more on Healing from Infidelity ). Consider getting support from a friend or a therapist who can provide you with education and tools to manage your pain and your healing.
  5. It IS possible to heal from infidelity whether you stay in the relationship or whether you separate. The important part is ensuring that you don’t get stuck in resentment or bitterness – this is for YOU and your health.
  6. If you have found yourself continually engaging in affairs, a therapist can help you figure out what might be at the root of these behaviors, particularly if you have tried to stop but continue to step outside of your relationship.
  7. Infidelity does not always lead to divorce. In fact, while no one desires to go through this experience, many couples report coming out on the other side with a deeper relationship.

Everyone is individual, with a different experience and this in no way reflect everyone’s experience nor does it replace the work done in the therapist’s office. If you are interested in learning more about your behaviors or if you need support because you have been betrayed, we are here to listen.