When you discover that your partner cheated on you, it can feel like your world is ending. You rewrite the whole history of your relationship. Everything the two of you built together comes into question. Because of the affair, you wonder who they really are and if they were ever honest with you.
If you open up to family and friends about the affair, you’ll hear lots of advice, some sympathy, and if you’re lucky, words of love. It can be hard to know who to listen to; you question yourself and your own judgment. You doubt your intuition, forget how to trust yourself, and may even devalue your worth as a person.
As a therapist and relationship expert, I can tell you: You’re not alone.
During the process of recovering from an affair, most people feel alone. Both the cheating partner and the partner who has been betrayed. Much of our identity and how we grow to know who we are in our community and with our friends comes from our relationships with others. We pick a partner because we have a vision of the life we want to create with this person. We build a world with our life partners. We build an identity around and within this life. Our families, our friendships, and our social interactions define who we are and our relationship – and with betrayal, we can lose all sense of where we fit in the world.
But this shift in our identity is not always tragic. Sometimes it is a wake-up call from our higher selves. A call to grow into the person we want to be. Whether we stepped out of our monogamy agreement or we were the one betrayed by a cheating partner, our world has changed, and the shakeup has a fallout. This fallout is at first a crisis that feels untenable. Over time, and with good therapy, this turning point in our lives can give us new clarity into who we are as a person and where we want to make changes.
For over thirty years I have been speaking, leading, and working with women who have had affairs and been cheated on. People survive. It amazes me that our capacity to pivot is our greatest resilience.
As someone who has been cheated on, but also someone who cheated, I know the pain of both. In therapy today with my clients, I can relate to the absolute devastation that comes from such dramatic change, and I also know the freedom and clarity that comes afterward, the relief of honesty, real and true disclosure, and the transparency that is possible in a life lived with integrity and passion.
After many years of doing couples therapy and speaking around the world, and after the birth of my sixth book, I have decided to start another women’s group. We will focus on creating safety and trust within the group, a space for women to come together to process their worries, frustrations, desires, and their pain. Group can be a great way to help women find their path to affair recovery, reconciliation, and the beginning of a path to seeking out their best lives.
The key to not feeling alone is to find a community of peers who understand where you are in your life journey and can support you in your healing. Their own emotional experiences may come from their affairs or from other personal traumas. Everyone today in our world has suffered, and we all hurt. We can offer each other hope and accountability, safety, and a place to grow.
I will be sharing my personal experiences with the group as I watch the women in the group grow and change, of course keeping all identifying features of the members private. I want to share my journey with you, so that you can follow me, as a therapist, on my own road of transformation, as I watch the women in the group grow and change.
The group is limited in size, and I am opening registration now. I hope to see you there – for more info on my new online women’s group, go here.