Ever had an experience where you felt like the air was pumped out of your stomach? A terrible feeling, isn’t it? That’s how being cheated on feels like. Only very few things in a relationship hurt as much as experiencing betrayal from your partner, and then, falling out of love after infidelity.
Infidelity is the breaking of a promise made between partners either in the form of vows or as an unspoken assumption of being faithful. This intimate betrayal wounds a person and leaves them devastated. You’d say, “Nothing feels the same after he cheated.” Or “Detaching yourself after she cheated on me feels so difficult”.
Even when it seems inconceivable that such promises can be broken, it’s way too common. When you look at statistics, you find that around 15-20% of married couples cheat. Current studies of American couples indicate that 20 to 40% of heterosexual married men and 20 to 25% of heterosexual married women will also have an extramarital affair during their lifetime.
When infidelity happens, it leaves us feeling confused, inadequate, and instigates self-doubt. It also leaves you with a lot of questions such as: Can cheating make you fall out of love? Is falling out of love after infidelity necessary? How do you do that if love for your spouse is still sitting at the bottom of your heart? Is marriage never the same after infidelity?
Letting go of a cheating spouse or falling out of love after infidelity is one of the most difficult things to do. I talked to relationship and intimacy coach Shivanya Yogmayaa (internationally certified in the therapeutic modalities of EFT, NLP, CBT, and REBT), who specializes in different forms of couple’s counseling, to better understand infidelity, its impact, and to find answers to the above questions.
Is Falling Out Of Love After Infidelity Normal?
This is one of the most common questions that crosses one’s mind when they hear about infidelity. People on the receiving end of infidelity often lament, “I do not love my husband anymore after he cheated”, “I can’t stand to look at my partner since the news of their infidelity”, or “I can’t believe she did this to me, I’m still in disbelief”.
Shivanya says, “Yes, falling out of love after infidelity is normal. This is because your trust is broken and your image of your partner might also be shattered.” It is an important point to note because you have certain ideas about your partner, that they would be loyal and would only think about ‘you’ as a romantic partner but when they cheat, it’s like a mirror breaking into a million pieces.
Is marriage never the same after infidelity? Will infidelity affect sexual intimacy? Shivanya thinks so. She says, ”Your sexual relationship with your partner will also get affected because now, intimacy, trust, and expectations in the relationship have been torn apart.”
Trust is paramount for any relationship to work. If you are not able to trust your partner or anything they say anymore after infidelity, you start to doubt their loyalty, not only when it comes to sex but also emotions. You begin to doubt them in other areas such as finances or parenting as well. It becomes really hard to regain trust after cheating.
All of these reasons can contribute to you falling out of love after infidelity and like our expert said, it is completely normal to not feel any love or affection for your partner after being cheated on.
Related Reading: How Long Does It Take To Fall Out Of Love?
How To Fall Out Of Love After Infidelity If You Still Love Your Spouse?
Of course, you might still be in love with your spouse or partner even after they have cheated on you. There were a lot of things that made the relationship, and letting go is difficult, to say the least. Logistically, letting go of a cheating spouse, more than a non-married relationship, could be harder due to the interlinking of families, the spouse’s constant presence at home, involvement of kids, joint finances, etc.
Shivanya says, ”Sometimes, we continue to love the cheating partner because there were many other ingredients and areas in the relationship which favored you, which you cherished, and that still makes you want to love your partner.
“But it is important to remind yourself to not rely on the person who was unfaithful to you. It is important to be mindful to not choose them over you. Even if you still love them, you need to love yourself more.” Choosing yourself over someone who stepped over the line of faith is a necessity.
However, it’s hard. Sometimes, there is a lot of shame in questions like “How can I still be in love with someone who did something so terrible to me?” Be extra careful to not get into this loop of mentally bashing your head. It’s never easy getting over your partner, moving on from a toxic relationship, and falling out of love after infidelity. But there are small things we can do to embark on this journey of healing, taking one step at a time. Here are some of them:
1. Do not take the blame
Infidelity can lead you to doubt yourself and make you feel inadequate. You might start to undermine yourself even when, in your gut, you know it’s not your fault. You might start thinking, “Was it something I did that led them to do this?”
No. It happened due to bad communication from your partner’s end. Even if they felt unvalued, unneeded, or unseen, they should have talked this over with you. It is okay to feel dissatisfied with a relationship, but cheating isn’t the solution. It’s not your fault if your partner didn’t communicate their dissatisfaction. You are not a mind reader.
If things didn’t improve even after communicating, they could have chosen to end the relationship instead of cheating. To put it bluntly, there are never any good excuses for cheating on someone (unless they are in an abusive relationship), and no, it’s not your fault. It’s fine and absolutely normal if you’re falling out of love after infidelity. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
2. Have a wake-up call
Shivanya says, “If your partner has cheated on you, then it’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time for you to question the reliability of that person. It’s time for facing and confronting the truth and accepting it as well. That helps you see things as they are rather than how you want them to be. It might also help you in letting go of a cheating spouse or partner.”
It’s not easy though, to just get up and face the truth – it’s painful and it burns. It hurts to even acknowledge the fact that the person you love so dearly has cheated on you but it’s important to remind yourself that the first step toward moving on is to acknowledge and accept the reality. Constant self-reminders help ease the pain and in falling out of love after infidelity.
Our expert adds, “Allow yourself to fall out of love, move on, and love yourself even more. Don’t stop yourself from prioritizing yourself anymore.” Choose yourself over and over again because your relationship with yourself is the most important.
3. Allow yourself to grieve
The loss of a relationship is huge and you are allowed to grieve and cry. The truth of a partner’s affair can come as a shock that hurts profusely. The loss isn’t just of the partner, it’s the loss of trust and intimacy, both emotional and sexual, which is why you might find yourself going through the five stages of grief.
You can find yourself living in denial (a preferable reality), anger (angry at being abandoned through infidelity), bargaining (all the ‘what ifs’ come to play), depression (the onrush of sadness that comes from acknowledging the cheating), and eventually acceptance (accepting what happened and what it means for your future).
Falling out of love after infidelity requires you to allow yourself to feel the rush of emotions. Go through all of these stages and be kind to yourself when you are in the process of grieving. Remember you are not at fault. You are worthy of love.
Related Reading: Infidelity Recovery Stages To Heal From An Affair
4. Take your time
Take your time to go through the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance of the situation. There’s no timeline for moving on or falling out of love after infidelity, and it’s essential that you allow yourself to feel all of it.
Don’t pressurize yourself or rush your healing. Remember, being cheated on is traumatic and it’s important that you take it one step at a time and go through the process of letting go of a cheating spouse slowly so as to not have the long-lasting impact of infidelity.
There’s no need to be embarrassed that you are still overwhelmed by what happened. Of course, you’re overwhelmed. Alex, a reader, shares, “Thankfully, my friends kept reminding me gently that detaching yourself after she cheated will take a lot of time. They were right, it was quite an emotional and intense experience.”
5. Reach out for support
Shivanya says, “Talking to a friend can help you rationalize the situation. Taking help from a mental health professional would help you see whether the relationship is worth holding on to. This is because sometimes we are so overwhelmed with our own emotions that we can’t rationalize, see, or accept the situation. Therefore, one needs another person to help them see their circumstance from a new perspective.”
It can be hard to know what to do or where to start from but taking that help from your support system, including a therapist, can help you navigate this difficult time. You don’t have to go through what happened all by yourself. Ask for help and take support.
Is A Relationship Ruined Forever After Cheating?
Is marriage never the same after infidelity? Can cheating make you fall out of love? Once the trust is broken, you do start to wonder if it’s all beyond repair and whether your marriage will be the same after infidelity. Tiffany, a reader, shares with us, “I do not love my husband anymore after he cheated on me. We used to be so close, we shared every detail of our life with each other. But nothing feels the same after he cheated a few months ago. We’re still coming to terms with it.”
Shivanya says, ”When both emotional and sexual infidelity happens, it causes a huge damage to the relationship. This is because, during cheating, the person has already started giving less attention, care, love, and time to their partner. This kind of damage can be hard to process as well as repair.”
While the situation might have made you lose hope in your relationship, it is still possible to move on to the other side and rebuild a strong, healthy relationship again. It depends entirely on what you want after you’ve found out about the infidelity. This isn’t to say that this kind of damage will be easy to repair. It’ll take consistency, patience, and effort, but if both partners want to make it work, it is possible to move ahead.
Finding out that your partner has cheated on you is an inconceivable nightmare and you might need a little help to navigate it, either to make the relationship work or to move on. At Bonobology, we offer professional help through our panel of licensed advisors who can help you embark on a path toward recovery.
Infidelity can be confusing and would certainly leave you with lots of questions. We hope this article helped you find answers to some of them.
To answer this, you need to ask yourself: What were the reasons for the infidelity? What were the components that were lacking in the relationship or did the cheating happen purely for the excitement and thrill of it? And then ask yourself, is it worth staying and working through it? Do you have the bandwidth to work through this damage?
It takes a lot of commitment to rebuild trust between the couple because broken trust can be traumatizing. It needs a lot of effort and forgiveness in a relationship to make it through such a difficult time. It is also possible that you are falling out of love after infidelity, which is an absolutely normal emotion to feel. However, if you’re not in love with your partner anymore, staying together doesn’t make sense.
It takes a whole lot of time. It might take years to heal and get back to normalcy. The nature and details of infidelity matter a lot as well. Again, it takes a lot of commitment from both sides, and a lot of forgiveness for the relationship to rebuild into a much stronger and healthier one.
Making the relationship work after infidelity is like starting a whole new chapter. It’s a new relationship and should be treated like one where both discover things about each other and navigate the initial anger, anxiety, and insecurity.