24 Aug Have you just discovered your partner has been cheating on you?
The news that hackers have exposed millions of cheaters names registered on www.ashleymadison.com has sent waves of panic across married couples around the world. The promise of anonymity by the website has been shattered as millions of names have been revealed ranging from high profile figures in government and religious circles to the spouse next door looking for an extra marital affair.
This website has never sat well with me as it facilitates affairs for those who want to cheat on their partners whilst in a long term relationship or marriage. It acts along the lines of a dating agency and social networking site with the twist that it is for those already in committed relationships. I remember about a year ago watching Ruth and Eamon Holmes interviewing Noel Biderman, the company’s Canadian CEO and internet entrepreneur, and cheering Ruth on from my sofa as she expressed her disgust at the business he had created.
Their somewhat shocking strap line is: “Life is short. Have an affair” A distasteful statement that seems to imply that there is nothing wrong with breaking your wedding vows. Whilst I appreciate there appears to be a huge demand for this service I am uncomfortable with the premise behind it that affairs are an acceptable way to deal with problems within your marriage.
Honesty is key to a successful relationship and my advice is always to face up to issues head on and communicate with your partner. You may be able to resolve the problem and even improve your relationship. If there is no way to make it better then leaving your partner before you embark on a new relationship is the decent thing to do.
It is always a tough decision to leave your marriage, especially if there are children involved. Many parents worry about how often they will see their children if they leave or how they will cope as a single parent. However as a role model for your children it is always wise to do the right thing, not take the easy option. Having an affair and getting caught out by your partner will cause a lot more potential damage to your children. The impact on your relationship with them may suffer irreparably and it is something you may well live to regret deeply.
Of course affairs can happen without malice or intent to hurt but the truth is they invariably do cause a lot of pain. If your name is registered with this website the implication is that the affair was considered and calculated. Your intent to cheat is clear.
This recent revealing of millions of cheaters names and sexual fantasies may be karma for those caught in the act. However my thoughts go to the millions of spouses who are left reeling, devastated and humiliated from this very public news. Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful can cause your whole world to fall apart as you start to doubt every part of your life. It can trigger confidence and self-esteem issues as you try to figure out why this has happened to you and if it was your fault. I see clients driving themselves crazy with questions that they will never get the answers to.
- Why did they do it?
- What is wrong with me?
- Why aren’t I enough?
- Who else knows about it?
- What else have they been dishonest about?
Everyone deals with betrayal in different ways. For some it is black and white that if their partner has cheated the relationship is over for good and there is no way back. For others they are able to see a way to forgive and rebuild the trust. There is no right or wrong decision and it really does depend on your beliefs, values and circumstances. The one common reality that I see in my clinic is the hurt and pain that it causes. It can hit even the strongest of people like a freight train and take the floor out from underneath them.
Here are my 7 top tips on how to cope if you have discovered your partner has been cheating:
- Create a positive support team of friends and family who have your best interests at heart. You will need people you trust around you to help you come to terms with what has happened.
- Cry and let your emotions out. Stuffing them down can cause more upset later on so best to let it out.
- Understand that it is normal to feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. Some days you will feel more able to cope than others but it is natural to have bad days too. Don’t lose heart as you will get over this.
- Take up some regular exercise as this is a good way to release your negative emotions. A strong and healthy body will give you more strength to get through this.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Visit your local GP, Coach or therapist for support as it may well speed up your recovery process.
- Don’t try to answer all the questions in your head. There will be some answers you will never know. It is natural to search for clues and reasons as to why this has happened however it’s important to focus on doing what you can to feel better and not waste energy on answers you cannot find.
- Take a break from your partner while you decide what you want to do next. Move forward on your terms and at your own pace. Don’t feel rushed to respond to messages or to answer your phone if you are not ready yet.
Sadly there is no magic wand to take away the pain you are suffering but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever the outcome of the affair you can find happiness again.
If you decide to make it work with your partner then here are my 3 top tips:
- Take some time out to get clear on what you want. Do not rush into any decision.
- Define some clear boundaries with your partner and define what is acceptable and what is not in your relationship
- Find ways to create more open communication for the future to help you both deal with issues as soon as they come up.
If there is no way back with your partner it may take some time for you to heal, but you will. There are many techniques you can use to speed up your recovery. Here are 5 techniques that will get you started:
- Create your own space. Clear their things out of your home. Make some changes such as moving around the furniture and changing the photos. You will be surprised at how small changes can make the home feel very different and give you a fresh start even if you are in the home you shared.
- Take off the rose tinted glasses and focus on the negative parts of your relationship
- Try not to tell your story to everyone you meet. Every time you relive the experience you will experience more pain.
- Write a bucket list of things you can do now that you would never have been able to do whilst you were with your ex. Start doing them!
- Do every day things differently such as wearing a new colour, trying out a new haircut or using a new supermarket.
If someone has betrayed you and you decide to go your separate ways then there are two big NO NO’s to aid your recovery.
- Do not “cyber self-harm “yourself by following them on social media. Seeing what they are up to will only upset you more. Delete them and if necessary any of their close friends so you can ensure you won’t see their posts.
- Do not text or call them when you feel low or after a few drinks. If you find this hard then delete their number from your phone. You can always write it on a piece of paper and give it to a friend to keep if the thought of losing their number worries you right now.
It’s important to remember that many people go through break-ups every day and go on to be happy again. Some people go through heart break several times in life before they meet the right partner for them. Remember that sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together. Learn from your mistakes and be open to new opportunities. Life has a funny way of working out and I’m a huge believer that everything happens for a reason. You may not be able to see it now but you can bounce back from this. By using the tips and techniques above you can definitely speed up your healing process and create a life you love to live. You only live once so enjoy it!
First featured on FemaleFirst.co.uk http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/relationships/have-you-just-discovered-your-partner-has-been-cheating-on-you-868677.html