Our relationships work best when they feel safe. After experiencing infidelity, our relationships often feel a bit like a minefield or narrow road winding its way along a cliff. There’s a tension in everyday interactions that wasn’t there before—and the strangest things can set us off or remind us of how we were hurt. If you think of infidelity as an old injury that flares up from time to time, it’s possible to see it for what it is: a wound to be understood, managed and cared for.
Here are some helpful tips to help you cope:
Know Your Signs and Triggers
Signs of Infidelity Triggers
Our bodies like to avoid pain; we remember the way it hurts to touch a hot stove or take a nasty fall. When we’re hurt—emotionally or physically—our bodies take special note. What does it feel like when we’re experiencing an infidelity trigger?
You may also feel it physically in your body. It could present as something like a panic attack, obsessive thoughts, or even nausea. Your mind may fill up with racing thoughts, feeling pulled back to the past or drawn forward into worrying about the future. It’s important for you to recognize signs of infidelity triggers so that you can understand what caused them.
Common Infidelity Triggers
The strangest things can bring the memory of infidelity right back to the surface. Triggers vary widely from person to person, but some common ones include anniversaries, trips, or particular people and places. Sometimes these feelings don’t come up until you’re in the moment. A deep sense of sadness and loss may surface during an anniversary dinner, or heartfelt conversation. Your partner may need to travel for work, or you may be out at the grocery store and encounter someone that brings up memories of the affair.
Other times, these triggers can come from unexpected places. You might be snuggled up on the couch binging a tv show, and suddenly find yourself triggered by a bit of dialogue or a plot line that hits a little too close to home.
Knowing your triggers can be empowering. Being aware of these triggers can help you plan for the future, and manage your feelings in the moment. Just like managing an old injury, knowing what might cause it to flare up allows you to avoid those situations.
Develop Coping Strategies
Once you understand your infidelity triggers, you can begin to plan how to manage them. It’s often helpful to develop a mindfulness routine that you can rely on to ground you when these feelings start to overwhelm you. Mindfulness is the practice of engaging your senses to bring your focus back to the present. By changing your focus to the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations all around you, it’s possible to short-circuit the intense feelings brought on by an infidelity trigger.
When old traditions start feeling hollow and sad, it’s time to make new ones. If an anniversary keeps bringing up painful emotions and memories, consider setting aside a night to celebrate healing instead. Use that night to acknowledge the hard work you are doing to recommit, heal and make amends.
Communication and Journaling
An important aspect of re-establishing safety in your relationship is knowing you can express them without fear of judgment or confrontation. You can do this with your partner, or you can do this by yourself, by journaling. Your heartache is real, and healing is not always a linear process. There are good days and bad days. In some ways, it may be helpful to think of this as a grieving process–you have to let yourself move through it.
Schedule a Consultation
Overcoming infidelity is rarely easy to do on your own. If you need support on your healing journey, I’m here to walk it with you. Reach out to learn more about marriage or individual relationship counseling.