As much as we wish the shock of infidelity didn’t linger—for weeks, months, or even years—it does. How quickly or slowly affair recovery takes will depend on factors like:
- Your support system as you work through the pain of betrayal
- How you and your partner choose to discuss and process the affair
- The state of your relationship before you discovered the infidelity
- How severe the affair was (i.e., how long it lasted, what happened, who it was with, etc.)
- Whether or not you seek professional help from a couples therapist or marriage counselor
If you’ve just recently found out about your partner’s infidelity, please know you are not alone. A relationship or marriage is never the same after infidelity, and recovery can be a distressing process. Permit yourself space to be upset and angry, as this kind of pain cuts deep and leaves unseen emotional scars. No one should pressure you to “get over it” or expect you to heal at a rate faster than you’re capable of.
Eventually—no rush, though—you’ll find yourself wondering how to heal from infidelity trauma. Can you ever fully recover from infidelity, or is the pain permanent? Let’s explore what to expect in the aftermath of this kind of betrayal.
Does the Pain of Being Cheated On Ever Go Away?
Although infidelity is emotionally devastating, it is possible to recover and ease your pain over time. However, expect a bumpy ride to peace after such a betrayal. If you’re hoping to forget about the infidelity and never think about it again—that’s a little less likely.
While that may be upsetting to hear, it’s healthy to acknowledge this before you begin processing your rollercoaster of emotions and find a way forward. Infidelity has a lasting impact, even if you choose to forgive your partner and continue your relationship.
Sometimes, even after you’ve decided to stay together, you’ll still experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also called post-infidelity stress disorder (PISD). Various infidelity PTSD triggers can bring up painful reminders of what happened, even as you try to forget. You may experience symptoms like:
- Extreme fluctuation between feeling numb and feeling angry/vengeful
- Withdrawal from social interactions
- Severe self-blame and reduced self-esteem
- A sense of powerlessness
- Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
- Being overly vigilant and on the lookout for another betrayal
- Complete inability to trust your partner and others in your life
- Flashbacks to the infidelity discovery, or visualizations of the infidelity if you never witnessed it
How Long Does Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder Last?
Similar to the initial shock of betrayal, infidelity PTSD may be present for only a few weeks or months, while for others, it may take much longer to fully recover. This stress can severely affect your mental and physical health, which is why it’s crucial to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms.
This stage is where a therapist or counselor can be highly beneficial. These professionals will work with you to develop strategies for managing your symptoms and navigating your infidelity-related emotions. As the chaotic storm of feelings rages within you, a counselor can act as your lighthouse, showing you the least destructive path to regain some sense of normalcy.
How Does a Betrayed Spouse Heal?
Regularly attending individual and couples therapy sessions is the best way to heal from infidelity. Trying to recover without a professional third party is possible, but neutral, experienced guidance from a therapist will encourage healing.
For example, at Well Marriage Center, here are some of the techniques we use to help folks move past the open-wound stage of infidelity:
- Encourage Open Communication – Our counselors provide a safe and non-judgmental space for affected couples or individuals to untangle their feelings and experiences after infidelity.
- Promote Self-Care – We help our clients identify ways to care for themselves during this difficult time, like exercising, journaling, and spending time with friends and family.
- Foster Healing and Forgiveness – At Well Marriage Center, we take a strengths-based approach to counseling. This means we start with conversations about a couple’s strengths, the things they admire about each other, and any good memories that stand out. We find that this method opens up discussions about how each person perceives their relationship and why the infidelity happened in the first place.
- Tackle Underlying Issues – Affairs usually indicate some underlying problems in a relationship. Has one partner felt ignored and sought attention elsewhere? Has sex been challenging lately? Is there some sort of addiction in the picture? Identifying these root causes is vital to the recovery process.
- Develop a Plan for Rebuilding Trust – If both partners are willing to move forward in the relationship after infidelity, there needs to be a plan to rebuild trust. Increasing communication, practicing empathy, and focusing on the future should all be part of such a plan. Our therapists can help you set up and achieve these goals.
Remember, as you’re exploring the internet looking for tips on affair recovery, everyone’s process is unique. Reading about the experiences of others can be helpful, but at the end of the day, this is your story. You decide the final outcome. And if that decision feels overwhelming—Well Marriage Center is here for you.
Whenever you’re ready, you can visit our appointment-scheduling page to get started on your healing journey. Our intake coordinator, Melinda, is available to answer any questions and to connect you with one of our licensed therapists. We’ll start with an extended 90-minute session to understand the scope of your circumstances and make a plan for moving forward.
Please know that there is hope after such a traumatic experience, and we want to help you find it.