3 Distinct Phases You Need To Experience To Heal From Infidelity

You can get past a betrayal in your relationship, but it will be a journey.

woman sitting on bed while partner sneakily texting on phone LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Okay, so you just got cheated on, and everything is going downhill. Your relationship? Shattered. Your trust and self-confidence? It's non-existent.

In times like these, it's all too easy to slip into depression or to get lost in your emotions. And figuring out where to go after infidelity is far from easy, especially if you still want to make the relationship work.

Thankfully, licensed therapist Lauren Consul breaks down the three steps you need to take if you want to heal from your partner's infidelity and continue moving forward.

@laurenconsul This is based on my experience and training in infidleity and what I use as a framework when working withe partners after infidelity. #infidelity #healingfrominfidelity #cheating #infidelityrecovery #cheatingpartner #couplestherapt #rebuildingtrust ♬ original sound - Lauren Consul, LMFT, CST, JD

RELATED: How To Get Over Being Cheated On In 5 Easy(ish) Steps


The Three Phases You Need To Go Through To Heal From Infidelity

1. Stabilization

Discovering your partner's infidelity can feel as if your world is being flipped upside down. And suddenly, everything you thought you knew feels like a lie, throwing you into crisis mode.

Consul explains, "This is the immediate aftermath after discovery."

Which is why you need to create stability during this phase. Whether it's a therapist, friend, or family, member having a stable boulder to lean on during this tough time is crucial.

Consul explains, "So, you can figure out how to move forward or if you want to move forward."

2. Meaning-making

During this phase, you're beginning to make sense of the betrayal, explains Consul.


You're beginning to piece together why it happened and what this means for your relationship. However, this stage isn't about justifying the betrayal.

No, it's about building understanding, that way your relationship can move forward.

Consul continues, "In this phase, we are looking at taking ownership, things like exploring the why it's such a key part, why the infidelity happened, and why partners are staying."

You're learning to process questions and to look at your relationship dynamic with understanding and clarity.

Consul continues, "How past experiences impact that relationship dynamic, and of course, this phase includes continued vigilance and validation."


RELATED: 3 Things A Cheating Partner Must Do To Regain Trust After An Affair

3. Envisioning

This last phase will require you to envision your relationship beyond the infidelity. As Consul explains, "Moving forward with renewed purpose."

During this phase, both partners should focus on creating goals within and outside the relationship.

This can look like planning date nights or revisiting old hobbies you enjoyed together. It can also look like having self-care days or enforcing talk sessions once a week. Consul also encourages adding playfulness and physical intimacy back into the relationship.

In this phase, the goal is to find ways to reconnect and move past the infidelity. To build trust and reestablish the bond that was broken.

@kp_counseling108 To build trust after infidelity, you have to both spend time understanding the pain and fears of the partner who was cheated on. Holding space for anger, sadness, and despair. You cannot rush the time it takes to work through the confusion and destruction that infidelity creates. If you are working on repairing the relationship, you must also understand why the partner cheated. Explore the meanings behind sex versus love, and how marriage or commitment is experienced.Book recommendation for those wanting to understand infidelity: "The State of Affairs" by Esther Perel. #couplescounselor #couplescounseling #marriagecounseling #relationshipgoals #relationships #relationshipproblems #relationshipadvice #communication #marriageadvice #marriagegoals #marriagecoach #love #couplegoals #conflictresolution #loveadvice #datingadvice #breakup #fighting #cheating #infidelity #buildingtrust #emotionalaffair ♬ original sound - Kim Polinder

But as Consul points out, "It's important to remember these aren't discrete phrases. You don't just go through one to the next, checking off boxes. They overlap and you're gonna go back and forth."

However, having a rough idea of how the healing process will unfold can give you clarity on where you currently are and where you're headed.

RELATED: How To Get Over Infidelity And Heal From Your Partner's Cheating


Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.