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How long does it take to trust again after being cheated on

If you’ve ever cheated on a partner, or been cheated on, you know all about the cataclysmic effect that infidelity can have on trust in a relationship. Relationships don’t always bounce back from cheating, but here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be the automatic deal-breaker you might think it is. In fact, it is possible to come back from cheating, but it takes hard work and two willing parties. Knowing how to rebuild trust after you cheated is essential to getting your relationship back on a healthy, happy, and perhaps even stronger track than it was before.

Believe it or not, according to Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love, it really is possible to rebuild the relationship to a point where it’s actually stronger than before the infidelity. "Despite common belief, couples can not only rebuild trust after infidelity, but make their relationship stronger than it’s ever been,” she tells Elite Daily. “Most of the infidelity that we see is that the person who cheated didn’t go out with the specific purpose of cheating. There are so many variables that come into play that you probably don’t need, but couples can leave their relationship vulnerable to cheating by assuming it won’t happen in their relationship, not defining cheating, downplaying threats, and not being diligent about boundaries and appropriate behaviors.”

It’s possible, but Chlipala stresses that this will take work — and patience. "Although it can vary for each couple, a good benchmark [for how long it will take to rebuild the trust] is 1-2 years,” she explains. “An important milestone to hit is the one-year anniversary of finding out about the infidelity. If used well, the time has allowed for some of the triggers and emotional reactions to lessen, giving the couple opportunities to learn from the infidelity and strengthen their relationship."

Believing that there is hope for the future of the relationship is just the first step to rebuilding the trust that was lost. Here’s what the experts say is the actual work necessary to make that a reality.

This may seem obvious, but Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, a licensed marriage and family therapist in infidelity recovery, stresses that you really need to be remorseful about the infidelity and the pain it caused your partner. “The unfaithful partner needs to acknowledge the emotional and physical impact of the affair on the betrayed partner and be able to provide a sincere apology for the damage they caused,” Dr. Alsaleem tells Elite Daily. “From the betrayed partner’s perspective, this shows that the unfaithful partner has the ability to reflect on the consequences of their actions, which can serve as a deterrent for any future desire to cheat.”

“Sincerity is key” in this situation, Dr. Carmen McGuinness, a board certified behavior analyst, psychologist, and relationship expert, tells Elite Daily. “If your partner truly believes you love him or her and are sorry, there is a chance [of rebuilding the trust],” she adds.

How long does it take to trust again after being cheated onmediaphotos / Getty

When my husband confessed his affair, everything seemed lost, broken, tainted, and ruined. Though devastated, my inexplicable inclination was to stay in our marriage even though I had no idea how to stay. The biggest roadblock on the steep, rocky footpath to staying was that my trust in my husband had been obliterated in the blink of an eye and I was certain I’d never trust him again.

I didn’t worry he’d cheat again anytime soon. I knew he was 100 percent remorseful and giving every ounce of himself to the saving of our marriage. I knew he’d wrecked himself as much as he’d wrecked me, and that he was fully committed to helping me heal. I worried about miles down the road. What if we grow apart again? What if he refuses to work on our problems again? What if I give up again and withdraw? What if his response is to cheat again?

“What if…” is a difficult game to play, and there is rarely a winner.

Timelines are important in the aftermath of adultery because, generally speaking, it takes couples who are committed to working through infidelity two years on average to get to the other side of it. When we sat across from our counselor for the first time, she hit us with that cautionary statistic and I visibly flinched and felt the urge to throw a tantrum; an outward expression of my frustrated, damn-this-all-to-hell state of mind.

Two years of irregular breathing and body-wracking sobbing? Two years of hurting, of hashing out all these hard feelings and regrets? That was a sobering come-to-Jesus moment for me, and I nearly balked.

Six months into the painstaking process of recovering from infidelity, I continued to struggle with learning to trust again. My husband had shown me what he’s capable of and I couldn’t unlearn that knowledge. How could I ever trust him not to do it again? Our counselor assured me that trust could be earned again, over time. But I felt I could only give my trust once. The best I could eventually do was replace trust with hope. I could hope that he would never again make the choice to be unfaithful.

A year into the long-term job repairing a broken marriage is, we graduated from counseling. Our counselor said her work was done, that we had all the tools needed to continue rebuilding on our own. We knew walking into that session we were ready to retire her and hearing we were on the same page was another indicator of how far we had come. But even at that point trust was still off the table for me.

A year and a half after our near implosion, I realized that, while I didn’t yet have what I’d call trust for my husband, lack of it was not a roadblock anymore. I’d arrived at a new perspective on trusting again. If it’s early days for you on the pitch black, lonely road back from infidelity, you’re likely slogging through a soupy fog and can’t see two inches in front of your face. You may be feeling weak for choosing to stay, or to leave, though there is only fierce strength and courage in either decision. I’m not aware of an easy button available for either choice. But this perspective might shine a light just far enough ahead and just bright enough to make it all the way home by.

I saw an old video clip of Oprah interviewing Dr. Phil, the ultimate say-it-like-it-is guy, and the missing piece of the trust puzzle fell into place for me. He emphasizes these important steps for anyone learning to trust again after being betrayed:

  1. Realize trust comes from knowing you can handle what your spouse does, not in being able to predict what he’s going to do.
  2. Realize the amount you can trust again depends on how strong you are and knowing you can handle your partner’s imperfections.

Then he references the “what if” game we play when trust is broken. Dr. Phil says, “Play the game, but actually answer the question. What if he hurts me again? The answer is: I’ll be fine, I got through it before and I’ll get through it again. I believe in me and I’m betting on me this time, not on him.”

Nearly two years after the affair, in spot-on timing according to statistics, I can trust again. I trust I can handle whatever is to come. My husband’s actions are so far out of my control that I don’t spend time what iff-ing anymore. In this moment, I’m sure of his painful remorse for hurting me, his deep love for me, and his strong commitment to us. This moment is all there is.

In recovering from the trauma of unfaithfulness, whether you choose to stay or to go, allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the point where you’ll realize that regaining trust is about developing trust in yourself. Time is the boss, the master key to unlocking that door, but once you’ve learned to trust yourself to traverse daunting, unmapped roads, you’ll cease trying to rebuild trust in someone who broke it. You’ll realize that’s their job, not yours. And you’ll have played your final hand in the “what if” game.

How long does it take to trust again after being cheated on

Infidelity in a previous relationship can affect future relationships, causing various problems such as distrust, misplaced anger and emotional distancing. You and your new partner can work together to overcome those trust issues, utilizing a mental health professional to get through the most difficult stages when you can’t do it alone.

Learning Self-Trust

It is difficult to trust others when you don’t trust your ability to make good choices. After your previous partner cheated, you may not feel that you are a good judge of character or able to see warning signs. Lack of trust in yourself and your partner can create distance, insecurity, negative communication and rejection of genuine love, warns clinical psychologist Melanie Greenberg. Assert your right to live free from abuse as you strive for your full potential and explore your fears.

Working With Your Partner

Create conditions that help you learn self-trust by practicing the Golden Rule with your partner. Be honest with your thoughts and feelings so your partner understands when you don’t feel safe or secure. Discuss your basic emotional needs with your partner, such as the need for conversation or knowing who she is talking to on a regular basis. Take small steps that bring you closer together, such as taking your time getting to know one another, spending time together and sharing non-sexual physical affection before you are ready for more intimate contact.

Giving It Time

Trust takes time to build, especially when your trust has been violated in the past. Repeated demonstrations of trustworthy behavior from you partner can help you learn to trust him. With gentle reminders, you began to see that your current partner isn’t the one who betrayed you and notice when his actions demonstrate genuine love, concern and authenticity. When you need extra assurance, ask for it, such as asking your partner to call when he will be late or talking openly about contacts with others.

Dropping Your Baggage

You can decide to forgive the cheater in your past and acknowledge steps you might have made that led to the betrayal, suggests Terry Mizrahi, president of the National Association of Social Workers. That does not mean you caused the cheating — that was your partner’s choice to betray you. Let your new partner know what actions trigger feelings of insecurity so she is able to avoid the landmines of your past until you have fully dealt with the issues. Talk openly about what behaviors are acceptable in your relationship and which are not, such as not exchanging hugs or kisses with others or exchanging extensive chats and texts with a member of the opposite sex. Agree to avoid behaviors that violate your agreement.

If you’ve ever cheated on a partner, or been cheated on, you know all about the cataclysmic effect that infidelity can have on trust in a relationship. Relationships don’t always bounce back from cheating, but here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be the automatic deal-breaker you might think it is. In fact, it is possible to come back from cheating, but it takes hard work and two willing parties. Knowing how to rebuild trust after you cheated is essential to getting your relationship back on a healthy, happy, and perhaps even stronger track than it was before.

Believe it or not, according to Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love, it really is possible to rebuild the relationship to a point where it’s actually stronger than before the infidelity. "Despite common belief, couples can not only rebuild trust after infidelity, but make their relationship stronger than it’s ever been,” she tells Elite Daily. “Most of the infidelity that we see is that the person who cheated didn’t go out with the specific purpose of cheating. There are so many variables that come into play that you probably don’t need, but couples can leave their relationship vulnerable to cheating by assuming it won’t happen in their relationship, not defining cheating, downplaying threats, and not being diligent about boundaries and appropriate behaviors.”

It’s possible, but Chlipala stresses that this will take work — and patience. "Although it can vary for each couple, a good benchmark [for how long it will take to rebuild the trust] is 1-2 years,” she explains. “An important milestone to hit is the one-year anniversary of finding out about the infidelity. If used well, the time has allowed for some of the triggers and emotional reactions to lessen, giving the couple opportunities to learn from the infidelity and strengthen their relationship."

Believing that there is hope for the future of the relationship is just the first step to rebuilding the trust that was lost. Here’s what the experts say is the actual work necessary to make that a reality.

This may seem obvious, but Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, a licensed marriage and family therapist in infidelity recovery, stresses that you really need to be remorseful about the infidelity and the pain it caused your partner. “The unfaithful partner needs to acknowledge the emotional and physical impact of the affair on the betrayed partner and be able to provide a sincere apology for the damage they caused,” Dr. Alsaleem tells Elite Daily. “From the betrayed partner’s perspective, this shows that the unfaithful partner has the ability to reflect on the consequences of their actions, which can serve as a deterrent for any future desire to cheat.”

“Sincerity is key” in this situation, Dr. Carmen McGuinness, a board certified behavior analyst, psychologist, and relationship expert, tells Elite Daily. “If your partner truly believes you love him or her and are sorry, there is a chance [of rebuilding the trust],” she adds.

Do you push people away? If so, your trust indicator may need adjustment.

The pain of betrayal runs deep. It can leave you feeling bitter, angry, defeated, and profoundly hurt. How could you ever trust again?

Maybe before the betrayal, you did trust people. What you trusted was that others would behave according to normal social rules. You trusted that family members would love and take care of you. You trusted that romantic partners would be loyal and respect you. You trusted that bosses and people in authority would have integrity. You expected people to have appropriate boundaries, and behave in appropriate ways. You believed that if you adhere to these rules, others would as well.

It is a shared social expectation, and without a doubt other people know the same rules and expectations. Since they know what is right and wrong, and what is appropriate and expected, it is perfectly reasonable that you believed that they would do the right things.

But you were wronged.

Someone you knew, cared about, and trusted, lied, cheated, and violated these social norms, leaving you in a puddle of disbelief and shattering your trust. Can you ever trust again? In some ways, the answer is no, you cannot trust the same as you used to before the betrayal. If a vase is shattered, you can glue the pieces together, but it is not the same. Your naïve trust will never be the same, nor should it be. Just because you believed people should act appropriately, does not mean that they will. It is shocking and unbelievable. It may take years to come to terms with it. Every time you think about it, it may bring up the same feelings. “How could this person that I trusted, that I respected, and that I loved, lie to me, cheat on me, and stab me in the back?” It is appalling.

The impact can feel devastating, and it calls into question trusting anyone. People say global statements such as, “I can’t trust any man (or woman),” or “I can’t trust any leader (or politician),” or that all people of a particular group are untrustworthy. These global statements are the emotional brain attempting to protect you. It is an avoidance strategy to be wary. Some even say, “I don’t trust anybody,” and turn to animals for social support. This is an understandable reaction, because nobody wants to feel the pain of betrayal again.

However, without some level of trust, it is impossible to build intimate connections with others. It is isolating and painfully lonely without relationships. In some circumstances, good relationships are vital, such as in a work environment. Trust helps us have peace in our hearts when we build relationships. So how do we address this conundrum of not wanting to trust others for protection, and allowing enough trust to form positive relationships?

I propose that we should not blindly trust others but rather have stages of trust where trust is earned in increments over time. Building trust includes noticing people’s behavior, attitudes towards others, as well as towards you. Do they show integrity (where their words match their actions), respect, loyalty, and caring about others? If so, they earn a bit more of your trust. This is not “all or nothing.” There are people you may trust for certain things but not others. Some friends are timely and others are flaky. We can love people for who they are and have tailored expectations and varying degrees of trust. Some you may trust with private information, and others, who you may really enjoy, would never be safe with your secrets.

However, some people (e.g., those who are malicious, bullying, self-serving, or blaming) should not be trusted at all. Not everyone should be trusted. Whether or not you remain in a relationship with such people is a different conversation, but it would certainly be wise to protect yourself. You may find yourself in a situation at work, with neighbors, or with family members who are toxic but you still choose to maintain a working relationship. If you cannot leave the situation, then it is important to be aware of who you are dealing with. Your trust is a precious gift, so give it wisely.

The idea of levels of trust is based on developing the skill of discernment. Discernment is being able to differentiate types of relationships and to what level you want to extend your trust. Try taking a step back to ground yourself, and with a clear mind, assess to what degree would you like to extend your trust to each particular person. In a healthy relationship, trust blossoms over time. Positive words and actions nourish trust. With repeated positive experiences, the relationship develops a history or a foundation to sustain itself. In an unhealthy relationship, you will notice anxiety, self-doubt, feelings of uncertainty, paranoia, and worry. These are emotional indicators to withdraw your trust or at least question what is going on.

If you find that you are very quick to assume that most everyone is harmful, then your system may be a little too efficient, and you may need to re-calibrate your betrayal detector. There are many good people out there that are trustworthy if you give them a chance. Broken trust may be a call to improve your boundaries and set limits. It may be an opportunity to learn better communication skills. Healthy skepticism may help you slow down when forming new relationships, and help you form healthy trust by practicing successive incremental levels of trust.

Action Step: If you would like, assess your own behavior around trust. Do you blindly give people your trust especially if they are interested in you, or do you push people away before giving them a chance? Either way, your trust indicator may need some adjustment. One way to practice developing trust is by taking a small calculated risk on someone who you think might be worth investing your trust. Share a bit about yourself (nothing too intimate that you might regret sharing) and see how it is received. Then ask if the other person has something to share. Notice how you feel afterwards, and the next couple of days.

If you feel ok, then see how it goes in your next encounter. See what develops over time. Practice communicating what is true for you as well as receiving from the other person. Giving and receiving helps develop trust for both of you. You may find that mending your cracked vase actually gives it more value, beauty, and appreciation. You learn about discernment, resilience, and intolerance for anything except a positive relationship.

How long does it take to trust again after being cheated onOne of the worst things that could happen in a relationship just happened to you: your partner cheated on you. Even though you’re devastated by it, you’re ready to give them a second a chance.

But, you’re worried that you won’t be able to trust after cheating. Trust is the foundation to a healthy relationship, so what do you do when that foundation has been destroyed?

You need to work as hard as you can to build that trust back up. How do you do that, exactly? It definitely won’t be easy. But, it is possible.

In fact, according to recent studies, about 60 to 75 percent of couples stay together after infidelity. But, you don’t just want to stick out for the sake of sticking it out. You want your relationship to be the loving and trusting one it once was.

How do you do this?

Read on to learn how to regain trust after cheating.

1. Let Yourself Be Raw With Your Emotions

Sometimes, when someone is cheated on, they try to keep their emotions bottled inside of them, thinking that this is somehow “taking the high road”.

While we certainly don’t condone screaming at your partner on the top of your lungs, it is important to wear your heart on your sleeve and make sure your partner knows exactly how you’re feeling about them cheating. Don’t be afraid to cry, grieve, and talk about your pain with your partner.

Letting yourself be 100 percent emotionally vulnerable in front of your partner can help you break down communication barriers in your relationship.

2. Don’t Ignore What Happened

One thing that’s even worse than holding in your emotions is to ignore the issue completely.

If you do this, there will constantly be an elephant in the room and you will never be able to rebuild your trust. And, you will never get down to the bottom of the underlying issue in your relationship.

Now, this isn’t to say that you’re at fault for your partner cheating. However, there may be an issue that, if you addressed it, would make your relationship a million times stronger.

Also, getting to the underlying issue can help you decide whether your partner is worth sticking with or not. For example, if they say the reason they cheated was because of something you did, and they try to shift the blame onto you entirely, it may not be worth fighting for your relationship.

3. Don’t Be a Helicopter Partner

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents. But, partners can be helicopters as well.

Many couples make the mistake of thinking that building trust means watching your partner’s every move. As tempting as it can be to do this, this will actually end up destroying trust in the long run.

If you’re checking your partner’s texts and emails, checking in with them a million times a day, tracking them on their phone, or engaging in any other behavior that involves keeping a close eye on them, you aren’t building trust. All you are doing is giving them a constant reminder that you, in fact, don’t trust them.

4. Stay Present and Future-Oriented

When you’ve been cheated on, it can be easy to fall into a routine of constantly living in the past, dwelling on the incident and pitying yourself because of what happened.

But, this is not how you build trust after cheating. In order to build trust again, you need to make your best effort to focus on the present and future. Rather than focusing on what you or your partner could have done to prevent cheating, focus on what you can do now and in the future to make your relationship stronger.

5. Go to Counseling

One very practical solution to rebuilding trust in your relationship is to go to counseling.

Sometimes, all it takes is an impartial third party to help you figure out how to get your relationship back on track. While talking to friends or family can be helpful, oftentimes, they end up being a negative influence. This is because they love you and hate to see you get hurt. Therefore, they have personal biases that will cloud their advice on the situation.

Plus, sometimes it just helps to have your feelings heard by someone who isn’t your partner. Many couples who have happy, healthy relationships go to counseling too. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about seeing a professional.

6. Trust Yourself

If you can’t trust yourself, you are never going to be able to trust your partner.

Oftentimes, the partner who was cheated on starts developing doubts about themselves. If you find you’ve been asking yourself questions like, “Should I have done something different?” or, “Should I have seen this coming?”, then you need to take a step back.

Remind yourself that you’re smart, you can trust your own feelings, and that you’ll be okay moving forward. Also, it’s important to remind yourself that if your partner cheated again, you could survive it.

It’s only when you have full trust in yourself that you can have full trust in your partner.

7. Communicate About Communication

In a lot of cases, couples who have been through cheating had communication issues before the cheating happened.

This isn’t to say poor communication is an excuse to cheat, but excellent communication can help strengthen your relationship. While there’s a lot of argument out there about why cheating occurs, usually it has to do with one partner feeling like their needs weren’t being met.

So, when talking about the cheating incident, address why there was a communication problem and what both you and your partner are going to do to solve it. Sometimes, saying something as simple as, “You can always tell me when something about our relationship is bothering you,” is enough to strengthen your communication.

Trust After Cheating: Time to Build It Back Up

Building trust after cheating is a lot of work, but it can be done if you follow the tips outlined in this article.

There is no pain quite as devastatingly horrendous as that of heartbreak.

That pain is only exponentially magnified if that heartbreak was the result of being cheated on.

It is the ultimate betrayal. To have someone you have given your heart to be unfaithful is like having your beating heart ripped from your chest with a pair of loose pliers.

It can make you question yourself.

It can make you wonder if you’re enough. It can make you wonder what you did to cause this.

With time, you heal. You survive. You can’t help but wind up really guarded.

You gave your love to someone who discarded it once before; you’re not going to easily give it away again.

You may find it very difficult to find someone again because of how highly cautious you have become. This may seem like a negative thing, but it isn’t.

Being cheated on made you stronger, it made you better, and it made you open your eyes and realize what you want out of a relationship and what you don’t want out of a relationship.

As absolutely horrible as it was at the time, being cheated on was actually the best thing that could have ever happened to you.

Nothing will make you self-reflect and analyze quite like deception.

You won’t be easily fooled again. When you’ve been cheated on, you will tolerate very little BS from a future partner.

You will insist on being treated the way you deserve to be treated.

After all of the trials, the love you will find later down the road will only be that much deeper, resilient and stable.

These are six things you learn about love only after you’ve been cheated on:

You learn love isn’t always forever.

It’s hard to believe a love you were invested in so fully could not be permanent. Being cheated on will make you jaded to the term “forever.”

You will realize not every relationship is going to be THE relationship.

This should never deter you from seeking love. Love is a beautiful thing, but it is not impenetrable.

You have to go into every new relationship understanding this may not work out.

A little skepticism is healthy. Going in completely open is just plain naïve.

You learn jealousy is the most dangerous emotion on Earth.

Jealousy can get the best of you after a betrayal.

It’s easy to compare yourself to another person and wonder what YOU did wrong in the relationship to make your partner step out.

It is a slippery slope that can leave you tear-stained and empty.

Your partner’s lack of monogamy has nothing to do with you and has everything to do with him or her.

Getting wrapped up in jealous emotions will only burn you up from the inside out.

This person broke your heart; he or she is not deserving of your anger, only your pity.

You learn people are capable of doing really terrible things.

You will become privy to the depths of selfishness that exists in the world.

People are capable of doing unforgivable things, even to people who they supposedly love.

You may be shocked, and you will be horrified by what people are able to do to others.

These kinds of destructive behaviors will only facilitate your ability to rise above them.

You know people are terrible, and you are among the few who are great.

You learn trust is the most important thing in a relationship.

There will never be something as important as trust. Once it is broken, every single relationship will fall apart. It is the key ingredient in making something last.

If you can’t trust someone, you are doomed to fail.

Once you’ve been cheated on, your trust becomes very hard to earn. You know it is something easily broken, and only a handful of people are deserving of it.

You second-guess people because you don’t want to get burned.

It only makes your bonds that much stronger. Those who have your trust have proven they are worthy of it.

You learn love isn’t always enough.

There is a lengthy education only life can give us. One of the lessons you will learn is despite what the movies have told you, love is not always enough.

It takes a lot more than love to make a relationship last. It takes a lot of work and a lot of commitment.

There will be fights. There will be ugly moments. There will be awful things said to each other.

It takes ultimate, full-bodied dedication.

You can’t just expect something to thrive without being looked after and tended to.

Love is powerful, but with just love alone, you won’t survive. It takes WORK.

You learn just how strong you are.

After being backstabbed and left for dead, you will learn just what you are capable of. You may have been battered, but you will never be broken.

Betrayal will only make you that much stronger.

Being cheated on is devastating, but it will not destroy you. We are a collection of the trials of our past.

They make us who we are. If you can come out the other end of a serious trauma and continue on with your life, you are the one has won the war.

How long does it take to trust again after being cheated on

There is perhaps no greater marital adversity to overcome than infidelity. With an expectation of complete and total loyalty and faithfulness, betrayal of marriage vows shatters the very foundation of the relationship.

While the one committing the infidelity may believe their choice to cheat is justified because of certain qualities they perceive missing in their marriage, the repercussions of pain never justify those actions. Rebuilding the marriage, if even possible, may take a long, long time.

Infidelity is, tragically, commonplace. Approximately 50 percent of couples will experience unfaithfulness in their marriage, with gender not being a significant factor. Both men and women cheat. Both men and women act out sexually. Many marriages are fraught with numerous instances of betrayal.

Why do people cheat on their mate? While the reasons differ, there are patterns that can be considered and even used to prevent infidelity. Studies exploring why men and women cheat suggest the following factors:

  1. Lack of functionality: fighting over the same issues again and again
  2. Lack of intimacy: ineffective communication, with feelings of distance, resentment and turmoil
  3. Lack of acceptance/ significance: ignoring your mate’s need for acceptance, appreciation and significance
  4. Lack of excitement: allowing the relationship to become stale, lacking that spark of adventure
  5. Lack of sexual enthusiasm: allowing the sexual relationship to become boring, routine or even nonexistent

While these factors help us understand why unfaithfulness occurs, they never justify it. If these issues are not attended to, any marriage could be vulnerable to an affair. Unfortunately, many discover these problems after it is too late.

Recently a writer sent a question addressing the issue of infidelity head-on:

I really need some help recovering from my soon-to-be ex-husband’s affairs – plural. I desperately wanted to save our marriage and be able to rebuild from this blow. Unfortunately, he did not want to save our marriage because it was too much work and chose instead to move in with his girlfriend.

Divorce has never been an option for me and it is very hard for me to accept this. I don’t know how to heal and move on. It seems like he has caused all this damage and hurt but has gotten off scot-free. He is accepting no blame; he has his girlfriend, is buying a new house with her, has his kids part-time, bachelor life the rest of the time, and doesn’t sit home on his weekends without the kids crying like I do.

It all seems so unfair. I know life isn’t fair. But this is where I get stuck. He has done all these horrible things, but he’s not suffering. I am. I just don’t know how to heal and move on from this.

What is noteworthy about this email? What can any of us learn from her horrific experience? Let’s consider a few ideas:

First, no one escapes the repercussions of infidelity.

While it may appear that one is getting away with bad behavior, this is rarely the case. Patterns of bad behavior are just that—patterns to be played out again and again. Unless one fully faces their failures, deals with the issues and seeks transformation of their lives, they are destined to repeat them.

In the account above, assuming the man is unrepentant, he is likely to act out again in the future. The beliefs and attitudes that gave rise to the problem are likely to be repeated, bringing about further trouble. No one truly escapes the consequences of their actions.

Scripture supports this idea: “Righteousness guards the one who is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner.” (Proverbs 13: 6)

Second, both usually have some responsibility in the problems leading to infidelity.

It is human nature to blame. We want to find fault, to explain why something happened. We are very tempted to think in black and white terms, with one being right and the other being wrong. This is rarely the case, even in desperate circumstances such as infidelity. (This never excuses infidelity!) It takes great maturity and self-reflection to explore a larger perspective, seeing what part each played in the troubling situation. Growth and recovery, however, demand that we explore the part we played in the marriage problems.

Third, it takes two to fully heal a marriage after infidelity.

Having stepped back and made a decision to heal, which all do not choose to do, a plan for healing must be agreed upon. Healing takes both. One cannot do it alone. Healing the marriage means walking together through the immense grief, loss of trust, and profound changes that occur to the marriage. When a couple chooses to heal, marriage counseling is usually necessary. New boundaries will need to be put in place as they sort through the complex layers of betrayal. Working with a skilled clinician/pastor, they will do the work required to rebuild trust.

Fourth, emotional healing is possible.

Fortunately, we have been created in such a magnificent way that healing is possible–not without scars and painful memories, but we can heal. I have witnessed countless individuals and couples, having experienced betrayal and trauma, discover healing. Healing requires dedication to a healing process. Through the guidance of supportive friends, wise counselors, reading, and support groups, recovery is possible.

Finally, no matter what, commit to move forward with your life.

Whether or not your marriage can be saved, your life can be. You can determine to move forward with your life. You can live out the Scripture that “All things work for the good of those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8: 28) While you cannot see how betrayal of this magnitude could possibly cause you to grow, it can. Life can take on new meaning. You will have a new testimony and a greater appreciation for life and even love. Commit to move forward, no matter what.

My long term boyfriend cheated on me and I left. Never in a million years did I think that he was the cheating type. I am glad I found the strength to walk away but it has really affected me. As I start to date new people, I find that I am skeptical and untrusting. How do I get past this? — Paranoid in Pittsburgh

There is nothing like the searing pain of betrayal that is so unique to cheating. It can tear your heart out. It can make you question your value. It can make you paranoid and suspicious. And certainly it can make it terrifying to try dating, or letting yourself be vulnerable, again. Even if you think you're ready, or really want to.

But despite the anguish and terror, most people eventually step back into the dating world. Especially now that cozy cuffing season is beginning, and the concept of companionship is seeming, maybe, not so bad once again. You may not be the exact same person you were before this happened to you, but you cannot let the experience define you or prevent you from opening your heart again.

Here are some things you can do to feel like you can date — and trust — again.

1. Take a dating hiatus. Taking a dating detox can give you the distance and perspective needed to go back to the dating world and evaluate potential partners. Detoxes help you focus on healing those wounds of betrayal and building yourself back up. While on your romance pause, consider getting yourself into therapy so you can explore what happened in your last relationship, and expedite your healing process. Going into the dating world without taking that time for self-care leaves you vulnerable to making decisions out of desperation.

2. Take things slow. Really take the time to get to know new partners. You can't know if someone is trustworthy if you don't truly know them. Taking things slowly requires emotional discipline. Let yourself be the gatekeeper of the relationship. Here's how: Pace the dates. Even if you want to see your new love interest every day, slow down the frequency of how often you get together. (Try to chill out on texting, too.) Try to meet in places where tearing off each other's clothes and jumping into bed is not possible. Taking the time to get to know someone before sleeping with them can help trust develop. We are more likely to trust someone when we feel that they are invested in who we really are.

3. Evaluate over time. The only way to develop trust is to observe behavior over time. Anyone can be charming, fun, connected, and make you feel good here and there. Consistency, transparency and truth telling are the traits that really determine trustworthiness. Look for someone who shows up for you and keeps their word. Do they call, or come meet you when they say they will? If they promise they are going to cook dinner for you at their place, do they pick a date and make it happen? If your car breaks down and you call them, do they answer, and then arrive ready to help? Observing how someone shows up (or doesn't!) in difficult times is a good way to determine trustworthiness, plus it takes some time, so it's a good way to let yourself warm up to the idea of trusting them, too.

4. Hone your picking skills. This is a good time to look at what red flags you might have missed and to improve your selection process. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to picking a mate. What are your blind spots? What red flags do you tend to overlook? What bad behavior do you make excuses for? Make a list of all of the negative traits from your past relationships and look at the commonalities. These are your dating weak spots. We tend to re-create the same issues in our relationships over and over again until we resolve them internally. Knowing what yours are can help you to work through them, or avoid re-treading that same path again.

5. Examine what made the relationship vulnerable. It is never the victim's fault when a partner has an affair. If the relationship is not working a person can always get out or ask for a separation instead of simply staying and cheating. That said, cheating generally doesn't happen in a vacuum. There is usually a problem in the relationship leading up to the affair. It is important to look at your contribution in an unhealthy system to make sure that you do not re-create it in future relationships. If you are able to put a finger on a problem that was isolated in your last relationship, it may make it easier for you see future potential mates as different individuals, and trust that your new potential relationship can be different, too.

6. Create connection. When you do meet someone who you think has long-term potential, nurture the connection. Connection is the greatest vaccination against infidelity. Studies show that a lack of connection is the number one reason why people, irrespective of gender, cheat. There will always be someone who is younger, smarter, hotter, richer, more successful or alluring, for whatever reason. If you are nurturing a sense of connection with your partner — striving to make them feel loved and adored, and providing something unique that no one else can provide overnight, or in the way you do — you have the home court advantage.

7. Use the pain to make you stronger. It is the things that we survive that make us stronger. When we have painful experiences, we must choose to learn from them. Going from victim to warrior is part of that growth process. Using our experiences to make us stronger is the path to growth and better self-esteem. That person who cheated on you will have no power to continue bringing pain in your life, if you've moved on to better things (and people!). So when you're ready, get out there and get moving.

Trust is the foundation for intimate, secure and successful relationships. It must be earned and maintained. But what happens when your trust is violated? Here are 5 steps to rebuild trust in a relationship again… Trust has to be a living, breathing entity in order for any relationship to survive. It isn’t an emotion, but a learned behavior that we gain from past experiences. “Truly honest people don't need to talk about their trustworthiness,” says Lifescript Relationship Expert Venus Nicolino. “They show, rather than tell, people that they have integrity. “ Trust is also a risk, and unfortunately, we’ve all been victims of betrayal. Whether you’ve been stolen from, lied to, misled, or cheated on, there are different levels of losing trust, some more devastating than others. You may want to restore faith again in the violator, but when it comes down to it, you simply don’t know how to start regaining trust in a relationship. You’ve been too badly hurt and can’t bear to be that vulnerable again.

But if you’re willing to try, follow these 5 tips: 1. Learn to really trust yourself
If you don’t trust yourself – your ability to have good judgment and make good choices – how can you trust someone else? Once your trust has been violated, your defenses start working overtime to protect yourself. Pay closer attention to your instincts and work on building trust in yourself. 2. Grieve
When a loved one dies, the natural grieving process tends to come in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These five stages can also occur when you lose trust in someone. Don’t fight any of these stages. You’ll usually get through all of them – with time. Seek out help from a professional if you’re having an especially difficult time.

Forgiveness can also be added as the sixth stage in regards to trust. “Forgiveness does not mean forgive and forget,” says M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It (Wiley). But if you can find it in your heart to forgive, then you’ll be able to release anger and hurt. 3. Stop labeling yourself the victim
If you’ve been betrayed, you are the victim of your circumstance. But there’s a difference between being a victim and living with a "victim mentality." Some people choose to wallow in the sting of betrayal while others make an real effort to overcome it. If you choose to wallow in pity, you’ll stifle your ability to heal because you’ll end up angry and blaming everyone else for something you actually have more control over than you think.

4. You didn’t lose “everything”
When we’re severely betrayed, such as being cheated on in a relationship, we tend to feel like we’ve lost everything that means anything to us. Once trust is lost, what’s left? Instead of looking at the situation from this hopeless angle, look at everything you still have and be thankful for all of the good in your life. Seeing the positive side of things doesn’t mean you’re ignoring what happened. Instead, it’s a healthy way to work through the experience to allow room for positive growth and forgiveness. 5. Keep your expectations high
Avoid the same types of where your trust was violated. But it’s also important to recognize that just because you’ve been violated before doesn’t mean it will happen again.