Cheating creates an ultimate breach of trust and the emotional betrayal is challenging to move beyond. Any established emotional intimacy is broken between both of you. You might be wondering, why is it so hard for my partner to get over this and open their heart to me again?
When they first learn of the betrayal, a series of questions, thoughts, and emotions floods their experience. They are taken into a river of tumultuous emotional overwhelm where they feel like they are drowning with no escape.
Your spouse may express incredible anger and rage, but underneath those emotions, they are experiencing irreconcilable confusion. The mind is unable to rest in the wake of questions and challenged beliefs such as I thought s/he loved me. Why would s/he do this if s/he loved me? How didn’t I know?
Permeating the confusion is the underlying solution: It must be me. I am not enough as to keep them from being with another person. I am not enough — period.
When you cheat, you have ultimately triggered and re-enforced a core lie that most people tell themselves, which is “I am not enough.”
The shame of others finding out can be too much to bear. The fear that others will know that “I am not enough or that there is something wrong with me or our relationship” is embarrassingly painful.
The betrayal is therefore multifaceted. The first betrayal is not the cheating. It begins with, Why didn’t you come to me if we had issues? Why didn’t you come to me, I am your person?
The cheating betrayal is next. How could you be with someone else when you know it would hurt me? How could you be with another person and put our relationship at risk?
The affair can create affect your partner so deeply that they feel sickened or repulsed by the idea of you with another person, which can make restoring connection between both of you very challenging.
If you have lied to cover an affair(s), the betrayal of lies is also a whopper of pain. They may question their mental, intuitive and emotional ability to discern whether anyone is telling them the truth. This can create anxiety, fear, and distrust that extends into other areas of their life and future relationships. Their mind will be crazy running scenarios constantly to figure out where they went wrong in their assessment of you.
In the fallout of an affair, one of the biggest confusions your partner will have to face is: “I thought I knew him/her.” This reflection will create the greatest puzzle to their mind. They may reconcile it by coming to the conclusion, “I can’t ever really know my partner.” That conclusion will not feel safe and they may have to leave you or push you out of their life.
If they thought they knew you, if they trusted you and you cheated on them, how can they trust you again? They may not be able to.
If they do trust you again, use your good fortune to reestablish emotional intimacy! Check out this article, How to Build Trust and Intimacy After Cheating.