The Bewildering Pain of Infidelity
Updated: Jul 4
Perhaps the emotion which is most commonly experienced in the wake of infidelity in a relationship is bewilderment.
The hurt partner’s world has been rocked. Everything that they thought they could count on has been called into question. Trust, security, confidence, and the future of the relationship shift from being a given to becoming completely uncertain. Feelings of hurt, anger, insecurity, and self-doubt can feel overwhelming and the hurt partner is often desperate for both an explanation that will help them to understand why and how they ended up in this position and repeated assurances that nothing like this will ever happen again. They may be torn about their own commitment to remaining in the relationship or they may feel ashamed for wanting to stay in a relationship where they have been betrayed.
Surprisingly, the involved partner is often equally bewildered. Usually they had no anticipation that their involvement with their affair partner would be so painful and traumatic to their committed partner. Many times the involved partner has trouble reconciling the hurt that their actions have caused with their own sense of self and deep love for their family. They hate the idea that their actions have resulted in so much pain and upheaval and in their experience of shame and disappointment in themselves they often become frustrated when their partner isn’t ready to “move on" past the infidelity and can’t understand why their partner seems so stuck. Sometimes these feelings are complicated by a sense of pain and loss of the affair partner.
All of these feelings are typical, understandable, and profoundly difficult. For couples trying to recover from infidelity it may feel like an insurmountable morass. But infidelity and the resulting upheaval doesn’t need to signal the end of a relationship. For many couples the crisis of an infidelity can serve as an opportunity to build a more fulfilling, authentic, connected, intimate, and cherishing relationship with one another. A relationship that eclipses the one that they had before.
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