By Ava Zorn
After your partner has an affair, you may be left wondering what it is that you’re missing, what you could have changed, or what might have been done to prevent the infidelity. It’s common and normal to start making comparisons, or begin looking at yourself differently. Betrayal can activate a trauma response, leaving you scrambling for answers and solutions.
When in this state, it’s best to slow down and remember the facts. Firstly, that a partner’s infidelity is not your fault. There is no secret or magic trait that makes people less likely to get cheated on. In fact, Dr. Kathy states that the main reason people in relationships cheat is “when people are in so much personal pain, they go looking for something to numb their pain; the affair is a painkiller.” Secondly, in a world where people like Beyoncè and Robert Pattinson get cheated on, it’s clear that something as simple as having a bigger butt or being more successful are not preventative measures.
But even with those things in mind, you may still be feeling down. During this time, an important part of the healing process starts with focusing on yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of beating yourself up or nitpicking every single thing about yourself. Instead, focus that energy on healing and boosting your own self esteem. Here are some suggestions on how to feel good again after a partner’s infidelity.
1. Remember what you have to offer.
As stated, it’s common to start comparing yourself during this time, whether that’s to the infidelity partner, people you see on social media, or even a “better” version of yourself. But use that energy instead to remember the unique things about yourself that no one else has. Maybe you have encyclopedic knowledge about Game of Thrones. Maybe you make the best burger this side of the Mississippi. Or perhaps you have those dimples that people have always envied. No matter what it might be, we all have our own special things to pride ourselves on. Remind yourself of those things, or maybe take this time to find them.
2. Get really good at something new.
Have you always wanted to take up crochet? Have you been eyeing that new yoga studio near your house, or have a cookbook laying around you’ve been meaning to crack open? Now is a perfect time to try those things! Channeling your focus into a new hobby or energy can really build your confidence. You might find that you have a new talent or skill set to show off. Furthermore, if you decide to pick up a new form of exercise and movement, the dopamine release triggered by movement can do wonders for your self-image. But remember, we all have different abilities and levels of mobility, and no matter what you may decide to try, the time spent focusing on yourself will be worth it.
3. Do whatever makes you feel best.
That might mean wearing winged liner just to go to Target. It might mean going out for drinks with friends. Or perhaps you feel best when you’re working on your garden, or dancing in your underwear, or wearing that one shade of blue. Whatever it is that puts that pep in your step, keep doing it! Whatever makes you feel attractive, confident, and deserving of love, make it part of your regular routine.
4. Remember your worth is independent of your relationship.
Relationships can be some of the most important parts of our lives. They require so much of our time and energy that they can feel consuming, especially if you and your partner are in a place where your relationship has been fractured. But it’s important to keep in mind that you exist outside of your romantic relationship. You have loved ones that cared about you before you met your partner. You experienced wins and moments of pride. Something drew them to you in the first place– and you still have it. Your worth is not defined by your relationships. Only you can give yourself value, and no one can take that away.
Written by Ava Zorn. Reviewed by Kathy Nickerson, Ph.D.
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