Rebuilding Trust Post Affair
Much of the work in rebuilding trust from infidelity is often work that you must do before entering a new relationship. It is only when you have moved through the process of dealing with the mistrust, resulting from past hurts, that you can begin to trust again.
Mourn the loss of trust.
Steps prior to beginning a new relationship:
Most people do not expect to go through a 'mourning process' once they have experienced an affair. However, for almost all people who have experienced infidelity experience the same mouring process (duration albeit largely differs). Mourning is a universal process, but we often don’t expect this process after an affair has occurred.
We often expect and prepare ourselves for the mourning process after a death, but many don't realize that we go through the same mouring process with any loss; the loss of a relationship (divorce), the loss of a job and of course after an affair (the loss of trust and a relationship that you may feel was all a 'lie' once you discover the affair).
The mourning process is a universal human experience. When mourning your loss it often helps to remember the stages the process involves to help you see how far you’ve come, where you might be headed and that the craziness of the process is NORMAL.
The Mourning Process Involves:
Denial and Isolation
Bargaining- “If only we had, or I had etc”
Sadness and/or Regret (depression)
Don’t judge your feelings and expect a rollercoaster!
The road to recovery is not a straight line.
It is important to allow space and acceptance for your feelings. Let them arise, and observe and feel them. Try not to judge them (I shouldn’t be acting like this, I should “pull up my bootstraps etc”). When we begin to judge our feelings we don’t honour how we them and what is happening, which is essential to the healing, learning and growth process of mourning. You can’t move forward until you know and understand where you’ve been.
Remember that there are many ups and downs in the healing and feeling process. Know that just because you were good on Tuesday, doesn’t mean you will feel the same on Friday. That’s normal and okay. Don’t rush or judge those ups and downs, they are needed!
Check in with your “story” of the old relationship
A good test for whether or not you might be ready to enter a new relationship, is to ask yourself what your understanding of your last relationship was. Often if you are unable to see anything good about your past partner or relationship and if you cannot remember anything apart from the cheating, this is an indicator that you are still quite traumatized by the old event. This means that you have not moved through the entire mourning process. When the mourning process has not been completed it can be very difficult to enter into a new relationship without the anger and resentment from your past relationship getting in the way.
If you are able to acknowledge the pain of the infidelity but also remember all of the other things that happened in the relationship like why you fell in love with that person to begin with, but are simply choosing not be in a relationship with them now, you are likely open to beginning something new with someone else. Sometimes part of having a well-rounded story about your ex and the relationship, is finding some space for forgiveness, either forgive your ex for making that mistake and feel grateful that you don’t have to continue that relationship with them, or if you can’t do that, try forgiving yourself for NOT knowing about the infidelity or for being in that relationship. Finding space for forgiveness of some kind often helps to squeeze out past resentments and anger and makes room for the love and trust you may want to find in future relationships.