Remember when you used to think, “If they ever did that to me, I’d be out the door—no questions asked. There’s no way I’d put up with that.”
You used to hear stories of betrayal and wonder how anyone could ever stay after infidelity.
After Beyoncé dropped the Lemonade album, people everywhere wondered how Beyoncé could possibly stay. I mean, after all, she's Beyoncé, right?
“No way,” you thought--no way you'd stay.
So now that you’re sitting here, dazed, confused, and heart-broken after finding out about your partner’s betrayal you’re also battling with the shame of staying.
“What happened to me,” you wonder. "How could I possibly be contemplating staying?"
Pause. Inhale. Exhale.
It’s easy for us to say what we’d do when we’re not emotionally invested in a situation. When our lives are not intertwined with another person. That certainty becomes less clear when our hearts and lives are part of the scenario.
Here are 5 THINGS TO CONSIDER IF YOU'RE SHAMING YOURSELF FOR STAYING AFTER BEING CHEATED ON:
- Forgive yourself for not doing what you thought you would do. Our internal dialogue has a powerful impact on our emotional well-being. If your inner critic is blaming, shaming, and berating you for staying then your ability to make an informed decision about what to do next is compromised. Forgive yourself. You only know what you know. Beating yourself up will only keep you stuck in limbo.
- Limit the amount of detail you give to family/friends about the betrayal. Pick a very limited amount of people you’ll tell about the betrayal while you’re trying to decide what to do next and limit the details you share about the betrayal. Be certain these people are supportive and non-shaming as well, otherwise, their criticism may become an additional factor that causes you anxiety about staying. (Note: Situations where there is emotional, physical, sexual violence are different. In those cases, it’s important to know that the perpetrator will intentionally isolate the person they are abusing in order to keep them from accessing help. If you're dealing with this type of situation, creating a safety plan is crucial.)
- Work with a relationship therapist. Processing the pain of the betrayal is critical whether you stay or go. Find a therapist who will work with you & your partner to process the pain and identify what factors contributed to the relationship being vulnerable to betrayal. One that will help you reestablish safety and boundaries in your relationship. (Note: If the situation includes out of control sexual behavior or other non-traditional relationship elements then find a therapist that also specializes in addressing relationship and sexuality issues.)
- Work with an individual therapist. In addition to your relationship work do some individual work. How are you different after this experience? What did you learn about yourself? How will this change who you are and how you see relationships? The last thing you want to do is carry the pain of this betrayal into your future relationship—whether that’s with or without your partner.
- Practice Unapologetic Self-Care. If self-care is not part of your regular routine, now is the best time to begin implementing an Unapologetic Self-Care Routine. Self-care is the ongoing practice of identifying and meeting your emotional, physical, spiritual needs in order to be have optimal health. Unapologetic Self-Care means you’re not sorry for doing what you need to make sure you are OK. Self-care is not selfish, it’s self-preservation.
The pain of betrayal is never easy to process--adding shame on top of that makes it all the more challenging to heal. Support, compassion, and empathy will help you move through the pain. It takes time and trying to speed up the process only slows down the healing.
Above all else, choose your well-being—emotional, sexual, physical, spiritual, to be the priority. It will serve as your compass as you navigate through this difficult and, often, lonely process.
Start today by being kind & compassionate to yourself for choosing to explore your options. Then get the support you need to heal and gain clarity.
DISCLAIMER: THE RELATIONSHIP & SEXUAL WELLNESS CENTER blog is not intended to be a substitute for legal, ethical or medical consultation or for treatment and is strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. Nothing found on the website or email is a substitute for professional psychological, psychiatric or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition.