Have you recently had an affair, or perhaps are you in the middle of one? If you are I know you’re struggling, looking for ideas for surviving the guilt of infidelity.
I have had many clients who have had affairs and, while from the outside they might seem sexy and exciting, from the inside they’re scary, overwhelming and fraught with guilt. That’s not to say the sex isn’t good but the guilt that comes with having an affair can sometimes be more than you can bear.
Fortunately, I have many clients who have been able to let go of the guilt they struggle with. Let me help you do the same.
1. Accept that you are human.
One thing that we all forget about is that we are only human.
We are raised to think that we are special, that we are different, that we can handle things that other people can’t. And while to some extent, this might be true, because everybody IS different, the truth of the matter is that we are all only human and we make mistakes.
People who have affairs are People who are often not happy with their lives. More likely than not, people who have affairs are struggling both in their personal lives and in their relationships. They don’t feel good about themselves and/or they are struggling to find happiness with their partner.
It’s a horrible, horrible place to be and, if you are in that place, what I suggest is that you cut yourself some slack. You are only human. You are going to make mistakes.
You are a person in the world, one trying to manage the insecurity and unhappiness in your life in a way that allows you to survive. Some people drink too much, some people eat too much, some people drive their cars too fast and some people have affairs.
You are not alone in the world. Plenty of other people are having affairs right now and feeling the same sort of guilt you are. So, let yourself off the hook, know that you are a good person but that you have made a bad choice.
We all make bad choices sometimes and none of us should be forever condemned for it.
2. Recognize that it’s not all your fault.
I know you think that this affair is all your fault. You are the one who met someone else, developed a connection with that person and perhaps embarked down the road to a sexual relationship. Yes, you did that.
But you didn’t do it in a void. As I stated above, people who are having affairs are often people who are deeply unhappy in their relationship. And they aren’t the only person in that relationship.
Relationships are comprised of two people and two people are responsible when relationships start to suffer. Perhaps your husband works all the time and you are lonely. Or perhaps your wife has become detached and refuses to talk to you. You feel like you’ve tried to fix things but you haven’t had much success.
Most people don’t intend to have affairs. They just happen. And they happen when people are vulnerable. All of my clients who have had affairs are people who were in a relationship that wasn’t working and it wasn’t working because the TWO people in the relationship were not willing, or able, to repair it. And then infidelity can happen.
Yesterday, I was talking to a client of mine who carries a tremendous amount of guilt about an affair he had and I asked him to think about why he had an affair. What was going on in his relationship that gave him the space to have an affair? He responded by saying ‘Nothing. My wife is perfect and the affair was all my fault.’ I pushed back and we dug a little deeper and we realized that she repeatedly did things that made him feel insecure about himself and that led him to move towards someone who thought he was amazing.
So, please try to understand that your affair is not all your fault. Understanding that will help you manage the guilt that you are struggling with.
3. Get some help.
For many people who have had affairs, the prospect of reaching out to get some professional help is unthinkable.
People who have had affairs are racked with guilt and self-loathing and to admit what they have done just seems more then they can bear.
I can promise you that therapists, psychologists, and life coaches have seen it all and will absolutely not judge you if you disclose that you’re having an affair. I can promise you that they will look at you with understanding and be able to help you do the work that needs be done to help you manage your guilt.
Another source of excellent help are others who have also survived infidelity. Only people who have experienced infidelity can really understand what it’s all about. Having someone who has been through it can help you understand and manage your emotions in a way that will help you let it go.
Find a support group for people who have survived infidelity. The sharing could change your life.
Please, reach out today. Don’t go through this alone.
4. Stop fooling around.
The key piece of surviving the guilt of infidelity is to stop being unfaithful.
You can use all the techniques that I have described above and they will help you manage your guilt but they won’t help you let it go completely.
The only way to stop truly feeling guilty about having an affair is to stop having one.
I know, I know. That’s way easier said than done. But it is possible and doing so is the best thing that you can do to stop that guilt cold in its tracks.
5. Rebuild your relationship.
Rebuilding your relationship after having affair might seem like an impossible thing to do, and it just might be, but if you can do it successfully you have the best chance of surviving the guilt of infidelity.
Think about when you are doing a project and you make a big mistake and everything goes wrong but in the end the project is successful. It’s the same thing with a marriage that has been rocked by infidelity. The rocking doesn’t have to cause the ship to sink. If you can manage the rock and keep the relationship afloat and moving forward then all’s well that ends well.
Imagine how good it would feel to be back in your relationship, safe, solid and happy.
Right now, surviving the guilt of infidelity might seem impossible but it doesn’t have to be.
I know for days, weeks, months or perhaps longer you have been racked with the guilt of what you are doing but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Recognize that you are only human, know that it’s not all your fault, get yourself some help, end your affair and work to rebuild your relationship.
If you can do these things then you will survive the guilt of your transgression and might even end up in a better relationship as a result. How great would that be?
Get started now. You can do it!