If you want to learn how to get over being cheated on you need to take care of yourself first. So you just found out about your partner’s affair. It’s a profound shock to your nervous system. You’re probably profoundly overwhelmed.
Do you want to know how to get over being cheated on? It’s essential that you engage in Extreme Self Care.
Chances are there may be others, perhaps children, who are relying on you. But you can’t pour from an empty pitcher.
Engage in Extreme Self Care by getting sufficient rest and nutrition, proper regular exercise.
Sufficient intake of Omega 3 essential oils to protect your stressed brain and nervous system, and find someone to talk to.
However, future affair recovery can be complicated by the choices you make right now about who you ask for emotional support.
Wounded spouses sometimes are impacted by how the loyalty of friends and family impacts future affair recovery, and these decisions of who to turn to for support are often made in these early days of affair disclosure.
You may want to add more regimes self-care, such as massage, acupuncture, or yoga. But try to add novelty in this area as well. There is comfort in falling back on comfortable and familiar routines. But novelty strengthens the mind and fosters a more alert presence. And as hard as it may be, spending time together helps as well.
Think of friends you can call whenever you need to talk but be careful to recognize that dealing with your pain and sadness can become a special burden, capable of fostering its own resentments and conflicting loyalties.
Being alone in your pain may make it harder, and a stoic simplicity of keeping your support system “thin enough” to get the job done might free up your future from unnecessary damage control.
The decision of “How much support do I want and from Where?” is an important one.
Finding an online group of helpful, nonjudgmental people to help support you right now is one option.
Perhaps you might choose to think out of the box and foster a brand new friendship unencumbered by family or social loyalties.
Or perhaps therapy might offer the support of clarity and confidence.
If you have strong religious faith, look to it for appropriate support. Research has proven conclusively, in a multitude of studies, that people with strong faith weather these types of storms with more grace and resilience.
Use prayer, meditation, scripture reading, and regular attendance at your church, temple, mosque or synagogue for systemic support and strength towards recovery.
Although spiritually-based counseling may comfort, let the proven power of science-based couples therapy be your standard for any therapeutic alliance. Science-based couples therapy really knows how to get over being cheated on.
Regardless of whether or not your relationship can recover from the affair, the first question is how will you recover from the affair? You can start by asking the best of yourself and others. And that includes your therapist.
The Neuro-Science of Affair Disclosure
It’s a sort of therapeutic gospel to assume that discovering that your partner is having an affair is a traumatic experience. I prefer to think of that more as a useful lie. Within a paradigm of trauma, we see three distinct behaviors from the hurt partner; hyper-vigilance, triggering and flashbacks, and what Shirley Glass (2003) describes as “an obsessive need to hear the story.”
Helping a couple to heal from infidelity requires working with them to resolve the great irony of affair recovery. The perpetrator must become the healer. This is why I call it a useful lie.
Neuro-science tells us that for about a year after discovery, the Hurt Partner may experience profound mood changes, declines in physical health, and cognitive impairments. Post-traumatic reactions tend to fall into three categories. hyper-arousal, intrusion, and constriction.
If you really want to know how to get over being cheated on you must manage your triggers. Triggers are an intrusion. I have a client who insists that her husband sell his car because she knows that she is sitting in the same seat as her husband’s affair partner.
Hurt partners also obsess while the involved partner tends to suppress, and research tells us this is a fact of the role, it is not a gender-driven behavior. However it is also a useful lie that women do tend to obsess, and men tend to suppress.
Keep a Journal
Perhaps the best advice for hurt spouses on how to get over being cheated on comes from trauma studies. It is important to keep a journal of your deepest feelings and thoughts.
Shirley Glass (2004) it didn’t matter whether you used a computer or a pen and paper. Recent studies suggest that going retro with a pencil, and/or color markers will be more helpful.
If You are truly invested in learning how to get over being cheated on, play with your voice when you write. Let other parts of yourself emerge.
Write from different perspectives. let minority “selves” weigh-in and have a voice as well. Embrace contradiction. Survivors of traumatic stress who keep a journal have a higher T cell count and better overall physical health. If you’re really invested in how to get over being cheated on keep a journal every day.
…. but not email. Handwritten letters invite you to slow down and express yourself carefully and with precision. I tell my clients that after the disclosure of an affair, conversations are like hockey games. Affair recovery is more like golf. We respect the lay of the emotional landscape. Ask questions in your letters. Let the curious and vigilant part of you do its job.
Schedule Worry Time
The paradox is that you will need to allow yourself time to worry, but you can’t let worry and grief contaminate every waking moment. You probably have other people relying on you. Give yourself anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour to obsess and worry.
When intrusive thoughts come up at other times, instead of denying them, you can tell them to come back Saturday at 3 pm, as that is the scheduled worry time. It sounds silly, but the brain is a resilient creature of habit. Instill new habits of coping to help you get through the tough first year.
Can you Change the Channel?
Glass suggests another intervention that works with how your brain operates. When unwanted thoughts come, imagine your brain is a TV set. Imagine changing the channel to another program. You can install another “channel” for example, one which involves a compelling future.
Thought Dispersal through the Vagus Nerve
Often a physical cue, tapping, a rubber band, pressing fingernails into the palm of your hand, etc. can be used to physically interrupt and intrusive thought. The neuroscience of marital affairs can encourage thought patterns in the early stages of discovery that are insistent and intrusive.
As the hurt partner, you need extreme self-care to navigate your emotions and the physiological impacts as well. If you manage well, your triggers will fade to twinges. Your mood will settle. Your paranoia and hypersensitivity will settle, with therapeutic help, into a stance toward your partner that will reflect your preference for security and accountability.
You may also have recurring fantasies about confronting the affair partner. This is probably not a good idea right now.
The decision to get over being cheated on starts with deciding together whether or not you want to heal. An affair doesn’t have to mean the end. Call us to learn more about Couples Therapy Intensives for affair recovery.
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He is the Blog Editor. He currently works online seeing couples from Massachusetts at Couples Therapy Inc. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.