Knowing when to walk away after infidelity is very important.
The trauma of discovering infidelity is devastating and it leaves us with jumbled thoughts and no idea how to move forward. As a result, we often make choices that are not in our best interest, choices that can drag out recovery indefinitely.
Knowing when to walk away after infidelity, keeping a lookout for signs that will let you know that it is time, is the key to making sure that the infidelity doesn’t affect the rest of your life.
Here are five ways to know when to walk away after infidelity. Understanding them might help you take the steps forward that you need to take to get through this.
#1 – The cheater refuses to take ownership.
Does your partner, the one who cheated on you, refused to take responsibility for what they did?
Do they tell you that it wasn’t a big deal, that it happened once, that the sex wasn’t very good and that you should just get over it?
Does your partner, the one who cheated on you, blame you for what they did? Do they tell you that if you had only been nicer or had more sex with them or given them more freedom, they would never have cheated?
If a cheater isn’t willing to take ownership of what they did, to own up to the fact that they violated the boundaries of your relationship and they caused you a tremendous amount of pain, it’s definitely time to walk away.
Someone who isn’t willing to take ownership of the fact that they cheated is somebody who might very well cheat again. They don’t believe that they were at fault and, consequently, they might see cheating as something that they can do again.
#2 – The cheater refuses to talk about what happened.
I am sure, now that you know about the affair, that you have a lot of questions about what happened.
You probably want to know why it happened, how it happened and all the nitty-gritty details so that you can wrap your mind around all of it. Perhaps you believe that if you only had more information, you could make sense of it all.
When you approach your partner to talk about the infidelity, do they shut you down? Do they refuse to talk about it and suggest that you act like it didn’t happen and move on? Do they yell and scream when you try to ask questions, telling you that you are being stupid to even ask?
A key part of surviving infidelity is communication. It is important that your person is honest with you, that they are willing to talk about what happened. If you are wondering when to walk away after infidelity, this is definitely an indicator that it might be.
All of that being said, I would absolutely recommend that you don’t ask too many questions. That you get some clarity about what is going on that brought you to this place but, I believe, that knowing too many details will ultimately be harmful.
One of my clients demanded that her husband show her all of the text messages between him and his lover. She regrets it. She saw things that she could never unsee, things that caused her substantially more pain and that stuck with her as they tried to work through this and beyond, after they got divorced.
So, keep that in mind going forward, especially if you want to work through this and maybe come out the other side intact.
#3 – The cheater isn’t willing to make change.
A key part of surviving infidelity is recognizing the need for change.
The need for change in the relationship, the need for change of perspective, and the need for things to be different going forward.
To survive infidelity, it is important to take a look at the relationship and what is missing from it. It is important to discuss how to do things differently moving forward. It is important to define boundaries that you might need to process what has happened.
After I found out that my ex had cheated, I requested that we go to therapy. I wanted to work through what had happened. I wasn’t sure I would be able to forgive him but I wanted to try. He said that he would go but only so ‘we could move on.’ He wasn’t willing to make change – he wanted me to accept what had happened and move forward, like an ostrich, with my head in the sand.
I didn’t forgive him. We didn’t ‘move on’ after his cheating. And his unwillingness to make change, to look at what we could do differently, to fight for our relationship, was a key sign for me of when to walk away after infidelity.
#4 – You can’t rebound from the self-esteem hit.
Be honest. Since you learned your partner cheated, have you been really hard on yourself?
Are you blaming yourself for what happened? Are you feeling like an idiot for missing the signs? Do you question everything about yourself – your body, your hair, your eyes, your brain etc.?
This happens after we are cheated on. We feel less than in every way. I mean, why would someone cheat on us? It can only be because we aren’t enough, correct?
I know that when I found out that my ex was cheating it threw me down into a darkness that I had never experienced before. Everything that I thought I knew about myself, I questioned. I was sure that I would never love or be loved again because I wasn’t worthy. I was sure that I would never survive the pain of what had happened.
But, after a time, my self-esteem rebounded. I found pleasure in life again doing volunteer work and getting my real estate license. I started dating and discovered that I was, in fact, loveable. I recognized what had happened in my relationship and took full ownership of my role in it. I healed.
I do believe that, if I had stayed in the relationship after the infidelity, I never would have been able to strengthen my self-esteem. I believe that if I was reminded every day about what had happened, if I compromised my principles, I just would have sunk deeper into that dark place, reliving what had happened over and over again.
So, if you are finding that your self esteem is at rock bottom and not rebounding, then it might be time to walk away after infidelity. Your self-esteem is key to your happiness and if it stays in that dark place, you might never get it back.
#5 – Forgiveness is not an option.
Have all of the things above happened? Has your partner been willing to take ownership, have they been willing to talk about what happened, have they been willing to make change and is your self-esteem recovering?
And yet, in spite of this, are you finding it impossible to forgive your person for what happened and to move on?
I have a client whose wife was never able to forgive him for what happened, no matter how much he tried to work through it with her. And, while she refused to forgive him, she also refused to leave the marriage. As a result, they had 10 more years of misery together.
Imagine what would have happened if that wife had left the relationship because she couldn’t forgive her person. If instead of re-injuring herself whenever she looked at him, instead of holding onto a grudge for ten years. If she had just walked away after infidelity, she might have had a chance to find love and happiness instead of withering away in an unhappy marriage.
If you are finding that you cannot forgive your person for what they did, then it’s time to walk away after infidelity. Staying will only cause you more pain and prevent you from finding happiness.
Knowing when to walk away after infidelity can be really hard to do. But it’s very important part of moving on, either with your partner or alone.
The important things to watch out for is whether or not the cheater can take ownership, whether they’re willing to communicate and whether they’re willing to make change.
It’s also important that you take accountability for where you are at. If your self-esteem is decimated and doesn’t seem to be recovering, perhaps it is time to walk away so that you can do what you need to do to rebuild your self-confidence. Furthermore, if there is no way that you can forgive your person there is no point in condemning yourself, and your partner, to a life of misery.
Know that, if it is time to walk away after infidelity, it’s OK. I know you feel like you will never be happy again and that you will never trust someone again but I can promise you that, with time, you will be able to find happiness and love and live happily ever after the way you’ve always wanted to.