No matter what you decide to do concerning your relationship, restoring a sense of self-worth and happiness is the key to moving forward after an affair. Affairs can shatter your sense of pride and confidence, and it may seem like everything you thought you could once believe in, is now just one giant lie.
Forgiveness is a tricky thing. On the one hand it may feel like you’re giving the cheater a free pass to do as they please. But it’s not about them anymore, and moving forward, it shouldn’t be about them any longer. You’re really forgiving yourself for investing in the lie of your relationship. If you’re going through a divorce it’s going to be difficult to let go because you’re still right there. You still have to interact with the ex and very likely, they’re going to try to draw you back in, even if that means they’re drawing you back into a fight. If you’ve made up your mind to move on then DO NOT ENGAGE. They’re simply trying to draw you into a pattern where the two of you were once still intimate, even if that means a couple’s quarrel. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward, you must not let them drag you into a fight. It will only prolong your healing process.
After the infidelity is a difficult time emotionally. It’s an interstitial period where you are between one world and the next. Once you make peace with the old world, you can fully move forward into the next.
Immediately after the affair, your heart is going to be filled with resentment, anger, sadness, and self-pity, all of which are very understandable emotions to feel. In order to move forward you must let go of all of them and this requires the very process that was mentioned above: forgiveness.
Happiness after infidelity may seem emotionally impossible at the time, but it is possible and you can get there. Think about this: you have obligations to your children, your job, and other people in your life. You’re not simply someone who was victimized by a compulsive liar and cheater, you’re someone who will survive the compulsive liar and cheater with both their pride and their integrity intact.
If you’re wondering how to forgive a cheater, how about you start by forgiving yourself. It wasn’t your fault that they cheated on you and there is likely nothing you could have done differently in order to prevent the infidelity. They may tell you there is but you have no way of knowing whether or not it’s true. So going back and saying “you should have done this,” or “you shouldn’t have done that” isn’t going to do anything for you except draw you back into the place you’re trying to escape. It’s one more argument in an indefinite chain of arguments that came too little too late.
Imagine that you’re in a car and you’re driving up the road. You’re not sure where you’re going and you’ve never seen these streets before. You check your rearview mirror and see the wreckage left behind you. You’re no longer focusing on where you’re going. You’re focusing on where you’ve been.
Rearview mirrors exist for a reason, but if you’re looking in the one you can’t also be focusing on the road ahead. You check them every once in awhile and stay focused on what’s ahead of you.