What Are Triggers After Infidelity?

When the horribly unexpected occurs in a relationship, such as an affair, both people often feel isolated, ashamed, humiliated, angry, and hurt. These emotions may last months or even years down the road as triggers rekindle them, especially when not worked through in a healthy way. It is completely normal to experience these triggers! However, it is also possible to work through them as you take steps towards affair recovery.

Triggers After Being Cheated On

Triggers after cheating in a relationship are unfortunately common. They remind you of how your relationship used to be, what happened, and the whirlwind of negative emotions you felt surrounding the affair itself. Infidelity may even cause you to  relive the affair, over and over, if bad enough. If not handled properly, some of these triggers can color your reactions in future relationships, as well. Some common triggers that affect people who have experienced an affair include:

  • Places: Your home can trigger thoughts and memories of the affair the most. It’s where you and your partner made a life together and was supposed to be your safe space. Photos around the house may cause you to question whether the relationship you and your partner had before even mattered or was real.

Other places that might trigger you include places where you and your significant other went on dates, where the affair happened, or where you were when you found out about the affair.

  • People: Anyone who knew about the affair before you can act as a trigger. These may be the other person/people involved with the cheating, family, friends, or coworkers.
  • Dates: On specific days, you might think about the affair more than other days. Such dates might be anniversaries, your partner’s birthday, or the date you found out about the affair.
  • Music/Movies: If your relationship had any music or movies associated with it, such as a wedding song or a movie you and your partner saw together, hearing or seeing them can send you on a rollercoaster of emotions. The same is true for anything that might have been playing when you found out about the affair.
  • Distance: Any physical or emotional distance between you and your significant other after you find out about the affair may make you question whether your partner is still in the affair or whether they may start another one.
  • Suspicious Behavior: If your partner hides their phone, doesn’t use a name when talking about someone, or takes their phone calls in a different room, you might start wondering whether your partner is still unfaithful. 

How Long Do Infidelity Triggers Last?

How long infidelity triggers last will vary from person to person. For some, it may only take months. For others, it may take 2 or even 10 years after the infidelity to recover. How long the affair occurred, how long you and your partner have been together, and who else was involved in the affair can all affect how long you experience those triggers.

Another factor is how the trauma of infidelity is handled after discovery. Having neutral ground for each partner to express their perspective and emotions, getting to a place of understanding, managing negative reactions in a way that promotes healthy recovery–these practices and more can help you move forward. Working with a specialized relationship counselor can help you navigate these painful waters in the most effective way, tailored to your unique experience.

Infidelity really hurts, and it probably will for a while. However, when you properly work through your emotions, you can overcome those triggers.

How to Get Past Infidelity Triggers

The first step you should take when attempting to move past your infidelity triggers is to let yourself experience those emotions coursing through you. Bottling them up will render it much more difficult to unpack them down the road and can even cause you to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms when dealing with infidelity years later. If you have a hard time processing your emotions and understanding exactly why you feel them, writing them down or talking to a trusted family member, friend, or counselor can help.

Once you let yourself feel those emotions, do something that might cheer you up. Meditation practices, positive self-talk, and physical activity can release endorphins, which are hormones that help your brain reduce stress and anxiety.

Working through long-term infidelity effects with your partner, while especially difficult in the beginning, can help you overcome your triggers and be a rewarding experience. Your relationship or marriage is never the same after infidelity, but that’s not always a bad thing. When you and your partner are both willing to rebuild your relationship, you may discover that you’re starting on stabler ground than you did before. From there, you can build something bigger and more beautiful than you had and leave those triggers in the past. Hiring a couples therapist or marriage counselor can help with that process in the most efficient way.

Rebuild Your Relationship With Well Marriage Center

Recovering from infidelity trauma is difficult. Even when you and your partner both want to start fresh, you may find days that even being in the same room as your partner prompts waves of emotions. The marriage counselors and couples therapists at Well Marriage Center understand that affair recovery takes time but that working through it with your partner is well worth the effort.

Our services are pro-relationship, meaning we don’t recommend separation unless that’s the only way both people can move forward. We also work with individuals who have decided to separate and want help navigating the healing process. Whether you are concerned about repairing your relationship or working through your emotions and triggers with your partner by your side, or are wanting to heal as an individual, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment to take your first step toward recovery.