How do you learn to trust someone again after they've committed emotional infidelity?
If your partner has committed an act of physical or emotional infidelity, you essentially have two options: stand by your man or kick him to the curb. You're here, reading this blog, because you've chosen or are considering choosing the former. You want to work it out with your partner, and you're determined to put your all into making the relationship work. The first step is going to be rebuilding the core foundation of any healthy relationship: trust. To get started, check out my top four steps to ensuring your relationship survives and thrives after infidelity:
1. Ask for transparency.
In my experience, one of the best ways to bounce back after infidelity is to have permission to look at his phone or emails if you suspect something else. If that isn't something that would work for you or your partner, consider other options, like daily updates about who you're both communicating with. Explain to your man that you need him to be transparent for a certain period of time so you can start to trust him again. Try saying something like:
"I think we both want the same thing, which is to work through this together. It'll be really important in helping ease my fears and building trust if I'm able to check up on you from time to time. What do you think about that?"
If he says yes, full speed ahead! If he resists, tell him that's concerning to you. Ask him what his reasoning is. If he refuses to agree to full transparency, you have to ask yourself why he's still hiding things from you, and refusing to do everything in his power to make you feel comfortable after his transgression.
2. Express your hurt feelings.
It's super important to able to express your hurt feelings and be heard over and over again by your guy. Let him know that in order to process your feelings, you need him to acknowledge the infidelity if you want to bring it up. Set the expectation that if you need to talk about his betrayal and express your emotions, he'll be there to listen, apologize and validate your feelings. Now, I want to be clear here: I know that you probably want to tell him he is the scum of the earth and should rot for what he did to you.
But I'm guessing you already let him know as much, and he probably feels pretty terrible. So use gentler language, but know that the two of you will keep going around in circles until you shift the focus back to you. Try to speak only about your feelings and at some point he will get the courage to respond and console you. Try phrases like:
"Every time I think about you with another woman, I get a pit in my stomach. I'm so sad. I feel betrayed and outraged that you could do this to me."
3. Fill your life with friends and family.
Build up a strong support network of loving people so your man isn't the only thing you have going on. By maintaining a full and vibrant life outside of your relationship, you'll be happier, more fulfilled and better adjusted to life after infidelity. Schedule time each week to spend with friends, family or do something just for you. (This is a great tip for everyone in relationships, too, not just ones affected by infidelity)!
4. Evaluate your bond with your man.
When you're in a good place emotionally, evaluate your overall bond with your man. Check in mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually to make sure you two truly are a match. Your values don't have to line up perfectly, but make sure you can still find common ground about the bigger picture. Ask yourself questions like:
Are we on the same page regarding family, finances and the future?
Does he make me happy?
Do I still want to make this relationship work?
Am I still attracted to him?
Do we see a future together?
Do we share the same spiritual values?
Do we set and accomplish goals together?
Remember that recovering from an affair takes time in addition to good communication, transparency, evaluation and a healthy sense of self. Be patient and look forward to a healthier life together.
More emotional infidelity advice from YourTango:
- Infidelity 101: What Is An Emotional Affair?
- What Lies Beneath Emotional Infidelity?
- How to Move On From A Painful Breakup