You found out that your partner cheated and are dealing with the repercussions. The next step is to figure out if you want to end the relationship or try to work through it. Everyone has their own process for figuring out what to do, but here are five questions you can ask yourself when you’re trying to clarify your next move:
1. Did the behavior cross your line in the sand?
Not everyone draws the same line in the sand. It’s important to figure out yours. Some people have a narrow definition of infidelity and wouldn’t leave a relationship if it isn’t one of these specific, “deal-breaker” behaviors. Others have a low tolerance for any sort of promiscuous behavior and won’t give someone a second chance after even a slight transgression.
2. How long did the behavior occur? Did it happen more than once?
It may be easier for a person to rebuild trust if the betrayal was a one-time experience rather than if they find out that their partner has had a long history of this sort of behavior. Not only is it more difficult to find out that it occurred for many years, but it also means that there have been more instances of deception — more lies, more cover-ups, more omissions. It is important to assess whether the length of time and the number of times that the deception occurred might result in a scenario that is just too difficult to overcome.
3. Did you confront your partner about it? Were you shamed?
Some people can get over the fact that they were lied to but find it more difficult to deal with the experience of being shamed and/or criticized by a partner for accusing them of infidelity. Maybe you were manipulated into believing that you were “crazy,” “making things up,” “insecure,” or “too needy.” The more damage your partner’s cover-up has done to you, the harder it is to commit to trying again.
4. How committed to each other are you?
People often try to work through betrayal if they are married, economically dependent on their partner, or have children together. It is often much more difficult and complicated to walk away in these circumstances. Figuring out what else you have to lose if the relationship falls apart is also a crucial part of this process.
5. What does this betrayal mean to you?
Some people have a history of being lied to or abandoned. People with this kind of trauma often have a more difficult time dealing with the rejection and the betrayal of infidelity. You have to determine whether this betrayal just stirs up too much for you emotionally or whether you can heal from it and learn to trust your partner again.
Recovering from infidelity is difficult. No one can tell you what to do, and there is no right answer. You have to make your own decision, and that will inevitably be difficult.