So Your Partner Cheated…Should You Stay or Go?
Finding out that your mate betrayed you can be one of the most devastating moments for anyone in a relationship. You invest your time and energy into building a foundation of trust and intimacy with them, and in one brief moment, it all comes crashing down. You go from, “My partner is so amazing and can do no wrong”, to “Who the heck is this person, really?"
In the aftermath, you bounce back and forth between wanting to stay and rebuild that special bond you both shared, to feeling sick at the sight of a partner that has caused you such hurt and pain. It’s not fun.
The most difficult part is dealing with the consequences of either choice. Because whether you choose to stay or leave, you still have to go through the healing process. That ambivalence just comes with the territory.
So what do you do?
Well, there are a few things to consider:
Maybe You Should Wait...
The question to ask yourself here is, “Am I making this choice out of fear or out love?"
Some stay because they’re afraid of being alone. Some leave because they’re afraid they’ll look weak if they stay. At the end of the day, making your choice out of fear is unhealthy and can leave you bitter and resentful about your decision down the road.
If you choose to stay, stay because there’s something special you and your mate shared that is worth putting in the work to rebuild. If you choose to leave, leave because you love yourself enough to not continue allowing yourself to be hurt.
You might struggle to tap into that place of love while you’re still hurt, so it might even be helpful to not make any choices at all for the time being, and to give yourself and your mate some time to fully explore how you feel about the situation by seeking professional help or separating.
The fact is, how you feel about it in this moment might be very different from how you feel about it in 2 or 3 months time. Making major life choices from a place of pain is usually not a good idea. The course of action
[/column] [/row] that will take you where you need to be is chosen from a place of clarity and love. Whether it’s love for your mate or for yourself.
Is It An Isolated Incident? Or Part of a Larger Problem?
Not all men are cheaters, nor are all women cheaters, as a lot of betrayed folks might lament. The question to ask yourself here is, “Is this infidelity part of a larger picture of dishonesty and deception in my partner? Or was it out of character and a sign of an isolated mistake?
We all fall short of our ideal selves and make poor choices. And sometimes, those choices hurt those we care about the most. But once those choices become a habit, there’s a deeper concern to be addressed. And you may or may not be willing to go along for that ride.
A part of what makes commitment special is the security in knowing your mate will treat your vulnerability with the utmost care and respect. A mistake might be forgivable, but a habit of betraying that trust doesn’t give you anything to hold onto but a false hope. Is your partner generally a person of integrity?
How Committed Are You?
Being unmarried, it can seem like it’d be an easy choice to make considering the lack of permanence in your commitment. But it’s rarely that simple. The question is, how committed are you to each other?
Healing and rebuilding from the damage of infidelity takes a lot of work. It’s really not easy. So if you’ve only been together a couple of months, your level of commitment may not be strong enough to get you through the process.
For couples who have been together for longer period of time, the value you find in the history of your relationship will make it so much easier to work through, because you know what’s possible. So that might be reason to stay.
I’ve worked with couples who who've been together less than a year and chose to stay and work it out [with great success] to couples who’ve been together for 10+ years and choose to walk away. At the end of the day, if what you and your mate already built is worth the effort, you're in a better position to come out on the other side stronger.
And while it might seem like the best idea to seek comfort and advice from friends and family, I want to encourage you to seek professional counsel. The weeks and months following the incident are critical to your recovery, whether you choose to stay or not. Getting coaching or counseling can help guide you down the path that is best for you while avoiding the typical mistakes many people make when dealing with the damage of the betrayal.