Five Dos and Don’ts for Betrayed Partners

Do

1. Make sure you get tested for STDs. Betraying partners can be careless about sex. Don’t take a risk with your own sexual health – even if they tell you it all happened on online. Perhaps it did; but perhaps it didn’t. How do you know that they’re telling you the truth?

2. Research your legal rights, even if you think you’ll stay. You might find you change your mind later on. One day you might decide that you want to want to walk away. So investigate your rights related to your money, joint possessions, shared property, and access to the children.   

3. Find out all you can about betrayal trauma. This includes normal feelings, thoughts and reactions (including physiological responses and triggers).  Also, understand the need to grieve, and allow yourself to grieve.

4. Trust your feelings and your gut reactions. If you think your partner is withholding information, or is gaslighting you, or is deceiving you then trust your intuitions; they are likely accurate.

5. Get help from a professional. You are dealing with a crisis, and you need proper support from someone who can walk you a crisis situation. Make sure you speak to someone who has specific training in trauma, betrayal trauma or sex addiction (depending on your personal needs and situation).

Don’t

1. Don’t take the blame; this was not your fault. Your partner chose to stray, and to break their commitment. You did nothing to deserve this. You are not responsible. Don’t accept any comments like: “It’s because you’ve put on weight; it’s because you’re not adventurous, or responsive enough; or it’s because you’re too busy, or involved with the kids.” These are all ways of deflecting the blame.  Don’t listen to this garbage. It was never about you.

2. Don’t make permanent decisions at this time. You can’t think straight when you’re in a state of shock. Also, you might not have all the information yet. It’s better to wait until your feelings stabilize, and you can rationally think through all the pros and cons of maintaining, or ending, the relationship. Most professionals recommend waiting six months to a year.

3. Don’t use sex to get close to your partner, or to ease the emotional pain you will be feeling. Sex should be rooted and grounded in trust. And trust has been betrayed so you won’t feel safe right now. Also, even though it might feel good, it’s a temporary fix; and it may confuse the issue, and decision-making process.

4. Don’t make idle threats that you will not carry out. If you set an ultimatum, then you need to carry through. If you don’t, you will weaken your credibility. Consequences are important – but don’t make them too extreme unless you have decided that you’ll never change your mind. This is something to discuss and explore in counselling.     

5. Don’t bury your head in the sand. For now, you can’t take anything they say at face value. They might say they have changed – but mere words are meaningless. You need to watch their actions, and observe them carefully. You might wish that things were different – but you need to stay alert. Also, if your partner is addicted this will not just disappear.  An addiction’s hard to break, and requires professional help.

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