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When an affair or betrayal happens in an relationship most people respond in a way that’s similar to a trauma. It’s a jolt our whole system at a core level. We lose faith in reality, we lose trust, we question our senses, and our whole world can seem to fall apart. Most affairs begin as friendship and are often the result of attempts to get needs met outside of the relationship. When disconnection and problems occurs in our primary relationship and fundamental needs to unmet, we’re more inclined to look elsewhere, often in dishonest and inappropriate ways.

Here are 5 steps to getting over an affair or a betrayal.

1. Decision – No Contact. This is the most important step. Each person must decide to make the relationship the priority and commit to doing the necessary work required to clean things up. The person who committed the infidelity must commit and promise to have no contact with the other person (or activity, etc.)  It could be gambling, substance abuse, internet sex, etc.

2. Full information disclosure. There must a period of time when all of the information about the affair is disclosed. The person who had the affair must agree to answer all questions no matter how awkward or embarrassing. THIS STEP IS TIME LIMITED. After the specified time, no further questions (interrogation) are allowed. It’s therefore essential that all questions be asked and all information be fully disclosed. A disclosure letter addressing all of the betrayed partner’s questions and concerns can be helpful.

3. Healthy Expression of Feelings. This is difficult but essential. Each person must express all of their feelings including anger, sadness, guilt, responsibility, compassion, etc. This is an emotional process and if this part is skipped, true healing and forgiveness is unlikely. The betrayed partner must see that their partner feels true remorse for the dishonesty as well as having a full understanding of WHY THE AFFAIR happened and how it can be prevented in the future.

4. Build trust. Each person must make an ongoing, long-term effort to keep their word and make the relationship a priority. Talk is cheap. Actions really do speak louder than words. Committing to counselling program can be a very powerful course of action that can ensure good relationship skills and tools are learned and applied.

5. Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not about forgetting, rather it requires a DECISION not hold it against the person FROM THIS POINT ON. It doesn’t mean forgetting; in fact it’s the not forgetting that allows for true forgiveness. Successful completion of this step requires that all of the above steps are completed. You must GO THROUGH the process – NOT AROUND it.

If you need help, call our office or send an email to book your initial consultation.