Can my relationship survive an affair?

Infidelity is the number one cause of relationship break-ups, separation and divorce. It causes distress, mistrust, friction, resentment and conflict.

A relationship with a romantic partner is there to provide love, comfort and security. If this trust breaks, the quick reaction is to put all the blame and responsibility onto the person who cheated; the implication being that it is them wanting to have their cake and eating it too.

So can your relationship survive an affair? The short answer? It depends

As ever, the reality is more complicated

Unsurprisingly, it's not easy to work out a percentage of people who have been unfaithful in a relationship as it would rely on the person who has been unfaithful being truthful and honest. Even if you look at estimates on the lower side of 14% (which is a bit over one in ten), that is a significant amount. If you include emotional infidelity, this rises significantly.

Emotional infidelity
What is emotional infidelity? It is infidelity that breaks the boundaries of your relationship where the connection is more than platonic. Remember Tim and Dawn from The Office?

The classic indicator that a relationship is slipping to something more than just a friendship is when you find an unexpected, possibly intense, connection with someone else and do not tell your partner about it because you know they will not be happy.

It is a sign that all is not well with the relationship.

Why do people cheat?

  • Lack of emotional intimacy
  • Lack of physical intimacy
  • Lack of communication
  • Stress

That is to say when there is a block in communication or we do not feel valued by our partner.

It is worth pointing out here that monogamy isn't for everyone; it's just one way to have a relationship. Whatever your relationship style, however, respect and communication are always vital.

You need to invest time and energy into making relationships work. How often do we see the couple finally getting together as the final chapter? In real life, the happily ever after isn’t the end. You need to show your relationship some care.

Finding out that your partner has cheated is hugely distressing and traumatic, causing some serious consequences.

When you have experienced infidelity in your relationship, getting professional help through counselling is so important for your psychological well-being. An affair doesn't impact just the mental health of the betrayed person...both partners can experience issues with their mental health - anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are commonplace. There can also be an increase in both emotional and physical violence within the couple.

Counselling will help you to look at the issues that triggered and fed the infidelity. You should be aware that this will be uncomfortable as, to heal and repair, you will need to look at the impact the affair has had on you as individuals and as a couple and also the impact on your family. Whether you are the unfaithful person or the person who has been deceived, you will also need to understand your part in this. If you do not know what the circumstances of the affair were, it will not be possible to resolve these issues and move through them.

Counselling will also help you work out forgiveness and moving on – and whether you want to remain together or not.

Should I stay or should I go?
You will both need to work out what areas of the relationship need work on, such as communication and emotional intimacy, and both commit to working on these. If your relationship does not meet these needs, it is not working and you will experience problems. Healthy relationships need love, comfort and security.

It is not easy to end a relationship, even if it is not meeting our needs. You will have formed some bonds and connections over the time you have been together.

Separation distress
It’s ok to grieve the loss of a relationship; even the loss of what you hoped the relationship might have been.

Infidelity is about looking to have your relationship needs met – but it is done with someone else, rather than within your existing relationship.

It is ok to admit that our partners might not meet all our needs all the time. It's unrealistic to expect just one person to always and forever, meet all of your needs emotional, romantic and sexual, but the emphasis needs to be on caring, mutual consent and openness.

Think about (and talk with your partners about) what your expectations of the relationship are;

  • Is fantasising about Tom Hardy cheating?
  • Is flirting online with someone you will never see in real life a betrayal?
  • What makes a betrayal or violation of trust?
  • Can you define (together) any deal breakers in your relationship?

We need to look at the impact of the fairy tale - what happened after the final scene?
How are Cinderella and Prince Charming now?

Working with me

  • Will help you work out what you want in your relationship.
  • Will ensure your relationship stays transparent, trusting and truthful.

I can provide counselling to you either as an individual or as a couple if you want to try and work through your affair or betrayal. I can help you keep your relationship on track and help you both remember what first sparked that attraction.

And, by doing this remotely on Zoom, I can make this easier for you both to manage and engage.

Contact me here to find out how I can help.