“If love hurts, let it go.” You must have heard that statement a million times, or more.
And maybe they are right; but maybe they are wrong, as well.
It’s a major life decision, and a highly complex one. So take some time to process what you really want, and need.
And if he’s lied to you before, then you might reasonably think his words cannot be trusted, and it’s better if you go.
But love is complicated; and the roots can go down deep. And sometimes we decide that what we want most is to stay – despite the fact it’s scary, for the future is unclear.
So why might a partner decide to stay?
1. Most of us are shocked when we first learn about our spouse because we felt we had a great relationship with them. We were genuinely happy, and enjoyed their company. And if it wasn’t for this news, then we would never choose to go.
Something to ask yourself here is: If your spouse or partner changed, and all this stuff was in the past, and they were now trustworthy, and they never strayed again – would you actually still want to be with them?
How would you feel if they permanently changed, but they were now with someone else as you had gone your separate ways?
2. Sometimes a straying partner compartmentalizes life, and they genuinely love us, despite the things they do. For example, it’s been shown that an addiction – including sex addiction – is a common way of coping with anxiety and stress. Also, it can offer some relief when we are feeling bored with life, or when we feel a failure, or we have low self-esteem. Here, sex is a distraction. It is just a fantasy. It isn’t about love. To them, ‘this isn’t their real life’. But when the truth comes out, and they cannot deny the facts, the shame is overwhelming, and they don’t want you to leave.
Something to ask yourself here is: If your partner recognizes they have underlying needs, and they’ve developed an addiction to distract themselves from these … and their willing to get counselling and address these different needs, can you believe they’ll do that? Do you really think they’ll change?
3. Your partner may never have attached properly. We form attachments to our parents in the first few years of life, and that bond becomes a template for attaching to our spouse. So, if your partner was avoidant and has learned to put up walls, was uncomfortable with closeness, and with being vulnerable, then sex for him may not have been relational at all. Instead, it’s likely he engaged in something known as ‘sealed off sex’ – where sex is a release, and is detached from genuine love.
Something to ask yourself here is: If your partner recognizes he was not attached to you (because of things that happened with his parents, as a child) … but now he longs for closeness and to form a healthy bond, do you believe he’s able to be vulnerable and real?
4. You have built a life together. You have memories you have shared. You may have raised a family. Your whole past is intertwined. And though betrayal’s awful, and the pain’s unbearable, perhaps your life together is defined by more than this.
Something to consider when you’re thinking about this is: It’s hard to come to terms with what your partner’s done to you. Betrayal’s a deep wound. The pain and scars are slow to heal.
Yet – it’s one part of your story; there are other chapters, too. Yes, you could walk away now – or rewrite how things will end.
It must be your decision. You will know what’s best for you. There’s no one right solution. You’re completely free to choose.