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Does the pain of being cheated on ever go away?

Being cheated on can be an extremely painful experience. The betrayal of trust from a partner can make you question yourself, your worth, and your ability to have healthy relationships. It’s normal to feel hurt, angry, sad, confused, and countless other emotions after discovering an affair. These feelings don’t just disappear overnight. Healing from infidelity is a process that takes time. While the intense pain may fade, some residual hurt may always remain. However, it is possible to move forward and recover from the trauma of cheating. Understanding the stages of grief, getting support, focusing inward, and allowing yourself to fully process the emotions can help you eventually find peace. With effort and patience, many people do find the pain becomes much more manageable. The experience changes you, but it doesn’t have to define you.

The initial shock and denial

Discovering a partner’s affair often comes as a complete shock. You may feel blindsided, never imagining this person was capable of betraying you. It’s natural to go into denial at first, not wanting to believe it’s real. You may convince yourself there’s been some misunderstanding or feel sure it’s not as bad as it seems. Denial is a self-protection mechanism to help you cope with the overwhelming emotions. Don’t criticize yourself for initially being in disbelief – this protects you from feeling the full pain all at once. Give yourself time and space to process what’s happening. As the reality sets in, denial will fade. Allow this to happen naturally rather than forcing yourself to accept it before you’re ready.

Overwhelming grief and despair

As the shock wears off, grief often washes over you like a tidal wave. The pain can be excruciating. You may feel intense sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, shame, loneliness, helplessness, and despair. Some describe the agony as being worse than losing a loved one to death. The loss of the relationship you thought you had can be devastating. Your whole sense of identity may be shaken to the core. The future you envisioned together disintegrates before your eyes. It’s important to fully feel these emotions rather than suppressing them. This is a necessary part of the healing process. Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings emerge. Accept them as part of your inner turmoil so you can eventually make sense of them.

Time for self-care and healthy coping

In the aftermath of discovering betrayal, your physical and mental health are likely to suffer. It’s essential to be extra kind to yourself during this difficult period. Get lots of rest, eat healthy meals, avoid excessive alcohol, and lean on your support system. Pour your energy into healthy activities that comfort you and boost your mood like exercise, yoga, journaling, warm baths, and time outdoors. Try not to make big life decisions in this turbulent state. Avoid destructive behaviors and poor coping mechanisms that provide only temporary relief. Don’t isolate yourself but make sure to take time alone when needed. Implement whatever self-care tools help stabilize your emotions in the short-term.

The rollercoaster of emotions

Healing from infidelity involves riding a rollercoaster of emotions. Just when you think you’re feeling better, you may plunge back into anger and despair. Ups and downs are to be expected following trauma. Allow yourself to fully experience whatever comes up without judgment. Suppressing emotions will only prolong the process. Find healthy ways to release feelings like talking to a counselor, exercising vigorously, writing in a journal, or confiding in a trusted friend. Be prepared for triggers like certain songs, places, or anniversaries that may bring up painful memories. With time and distance from the betrayal, triggers tend to lose their intensity.

Questioning yourself and your worth

It’s normal to start second-guessing yourself after being cheated on. You may wonder what’s wrong with you that made your partner stray. Infidelity, however, is never about the person who was betrayed. It stems from issues within the betrayer. No matter your flaws or mistakes in the relationship, you did not cause someone else to break your trust. The reasons they cheated likely relate to selfishness, lack of integrity, conflicts with commitment or intimacy, or other internal issues. Their choice reflects on their character, not yours. Remind yourself often that you have value just for being you. Your worth isn’t defined by someone else’s actions.

Deciding whether to part ways

Discovering an affair forces you to make challenging decisions about the future of your relationship. Is it better to separate, reconcile, or take time to carefully consider the next steps? There are many factors to weigh when deciding whether to try rebuilding trust. Consider how long you’ve been together, if this is the first betrayal or a pattern, whether the cheater takes full responsibility and is committed to change through counseling, how healthy the relationship was beforehand, and your ability to eventually move forward. It often helps to work with a therapist to determine the best path. If you do attempt reconciliation, expect the healing process to take two to five years involving consistent effort from both people.

If reconciliation is chosen: Rebuilding broken trust

Repairing a relationship shattered by infidelity is challenging work requiring complete transparency and accountability from the betrayer. They must take ownership, express genuine remorse, answer all questions, cut contact with the other person, give you access to phone and accounts, attend counseling, and consistently reassure you. Make sure they follow through with their promises of change. You’ll need to communicate your feelings openly, ask for your needs to be met, set boundaries, and ensure your partner does the heavy lifting to earn back trust. Expect the process to take a long time with ups and downs. Most importantly, know that reconciliation is a gift – you can change your mind if it becomes too difficult or painful.

The necessity of grieving

Grieving is a necessary phase of healing after betrayal. Allow yourself to fully mourn the relationship you thought you had and expected future. Cry, vent to friends, make art as an emotional outlet – do whatever helps you process the loss. The five stages of grief often occur: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Though it feels overwhelming at times, grieving brings you one step closer to letting go, finding meaning, and moving forward. Grieving is the only way to come out the other side and recover. Rather than avoiding painful emotions, lean into them. You must say goodbye before you can say hello to a new chapter.

The potential for post-traumatic growth

While infidelity often damages self-esteem and trust, many people experience profound personal growth in its wake. Their values, priorities, and sense of self deepen. Post-traumatic stress can give way to post-traumatic growth if you approach recovery with courage and intention. This involves reflection, cultivating compassion for yourself, identifying lessons, asking how you want this experience to change you for the better, and creating meaning. Many people emerge stronger, wiser, more self-aware, grateful for the little things, and purposefully living each day. While the pain never disappears completely, in time you can move forward feeling enriched rather than defined by the experience.

Counseling for gaining clarity and closure

Seeing an experienced therapist or counselor provides invaluable support following betrayal. They create a safe space to open up and gain perspective. You can freely discuss feelings without judgment or needing to protect your partner. Counseling helps you gain insight into yourself and your relationship patterns. It assists in making difficult decisions, processing emotions, identifying needs, improving self-esteem, setting boundaries, and finding closure. If reconciliation is desired, couples counseling aids communication, facilitates understanding for both parties, and determines readiness to rebuild trust. But even if you split, counseling gives you clarity and helps complete the healing journey.

Rediscovering inner strength and resilience

When you’re in the thick of despair after being cheated on, summoning the inner strength and resilience to move forward seems impossible. But you possess these deep resources even when you can’t feel them. Healing takes time and patience with yourself. Little by little, you’ll rediscover your courage, confidence and personal power. Let go of what no longer serves you. Recognize your capacity to survive and even thrive no matter the circumstance. Embrace how perspective expands through hardship. Any experience – even trauma – holds the seeds of transformation. Have compassion for all you’ve felt and overcome. Soon your resilience will bloom like the first flower pushing its way through the snow.

Learning self-care and establishing boundaries

An affair is often a wake-up call that it’s time to prioritize self-care and start establishing firm personal boundaries. Infidelity reveals where you’ve been neglecting yourself, not voicing needs, or compromising core values. Use it as motivation to care for your physical and mental health. Discover activities that make you feel safe, joyful and grounded. Define your deal-breakers and honor them. Speak up for yourself rather than suppressing feelings and resentment. Become fiercely protective of your time and energy. When you nurture inner peace and self-love, you’ll know your worth and tolerate less toxicity or disrespect moving forward.

Allowing forgiveness (mostly for yourself)

Though infidelity often feels unforgivable in the moment, allowing some measure of forgiveness is part of healing. This doesn’t mean staying in an unhealthy situation or condoning poor behavior. It simply releases you from carrying anger and resentment. Forgiveness brings the gift of lightness. Consider starting with self-forgiveness for whatever blame you carry. Then forgiveness toward a repentant partner who has earned it through changed actions. But forgiving the other person is primarily for you, letting go of what no longer serves your growth and wellbeing. Forgiveness that comes from a place of compassion for human fallibility heals. It means the betrayal no longer defines you.

Finding meaning and purpose beyond the pain

The deep pain of betrayal will lessen in time, especially if you fully process the emotions. Reflect on how the experience can provide a wake-up call for you to live more authentically and pursue new dreams. Let it spark reinvention and more conscious choices that align with your values. Rather than staying stuck in victimhood, take back your power and rewrite your next chapter. When one door closes, look for the open window. Every hardship bears opportunities for learning and growth. Healing leads to discovering new-found strengths, priorities and possibilities. Your pain will transform you, and you’ll move forward with wisdom that can only come from loss.

Leaning on community and avoiding isolation

Don’t go through the pain alone. Isolation usually worsens heartache after betrayal. You need extra support right now, so lean on the people who care about you. Let them reassure you of your worth and that you have what it takes to get through this. Reach out when the loneliness feels crushing. Spend time with positive friends and family who lift your spirits and make you laugh. Their ongoing companionship provides the safety net you need to rebuild. Gather strength from your community and the care they shower you with. You have so much love around you, even if it’s hard to feel it at times. Stay connected.

Emerging wiser and more discerning

Though nobody would ever wish for the anguish of betrayal, overcoming it cultivates emotional wisdom that serves you for life. You gain clearer discernment about others’ motivations and character. Your values come sharply into focus, along with an unwillingness to compromise them. Healthy relationships no longer feel expendable but require active nourishment. Life feels more intentional and precious when you recognize none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Cherish each joyful new day. Stay true to yourself. The wisdom forged from the fire of hurt makes you discerning yet never hard-hearted. You emerge wiser and stronger for future relationships.


The intense agony of being cheated on does lessen with time and intentional healing steps. While some residual hurt may linger, you can regain a feeling of inner peace, confidence and hope for the future. Implement plenty of self-care, get professional support if needed, lean on loved ones, fully process all emotions, rediscover your strengths, find meaning in the experience, and make conscious decisions aligned with your highest good. Though infidelity changes you forever, the wounds need not leave permanent scars. They can become places of growth and redemption instead. You have the power to take back control of your story. Your life and heart will open again. The pain will transform into wisdom.