Should you stay in your relationship after an affair? How do you know whether to stay or go?
More importantly, how do you get through the times when you question your decision?
An affair is a trauma in a relationship. Nevertheless, the relationship can recover. However, both parties have to want that, and they have to work towards it. It isn’t easy.
It’s especially complicated when your loved ones don’t support your choice. How do you handle these moments with grace?
It isn’t easy deciding whether to stay after an affair. However, you do have what it takes to make the decision that’s right for you.
Whether or Not to Stay After an Affair
The affair has happened. You’ve cried. You’ve fumed. Now you’re ready to make a decision. Only you can decide the right thing to do.
Signs You Might Want to Stay
- The relationship is in a difficult time, but it’s fundamentally healthy. For example, it isn’t marked by drug use or domestic violence.
- Your partner has expressed regret. Moreover, you believe them.
- There are many ways in which you trust your partner, and you hope to get that deeper trust back.
- You are both open to staying. You both want to rebuild a friendship.
Signs You Might Want to Leave
- You felt ambivalent about the relationship even before the affair.
- The person who cheated has not ended the affair. They have to be willing to put your relationship first.
- Your partner doesn’t want to continue the relationship. No amount of arguing with them will make this better.
- You fundamentally believe, “once a cheater, always a cheater”. This isn’t true. In fact, many relationships recover after an affair. However, if you can’t change your mind about this then trust will be hard to rebuild.
Loved Ones Often Disagree with Your Choice
Once you make a decision, there may be pushback. Your loved ones are supposed to support you. However, they may fail to do so, despite their best intentions.
They may believe you should have handled things differently. You chose to stay, but they think you should have left. Alternatively, you left, but they say that you should have stayed.
They probably mean well. Most likely, they’re just worried about your heart. Unfortunately, they’re undermining you. Their comments, however subtle, can lead you to doubt yourself. There is already a lot of self-doubt after an affair, so you certainly don’t need anymore.
How to Express That You Need to Make Your Own Choice
There are things you can do when your loved ones make these insensitive comments.
Let Them Know How You Feel
You already feel vulnerable after an affair so it may feel risky to challenge a loved one’s statements. However, it’s in your best interest. Let them know that you understand that they mean well, but that their comments are hurting you.
Use “I statements”. For example, you might say, “I feel guilty about staying when you say that. I feel a lot of doubt, and it’s scary for me.”
Ask for What You Need
Don’t just tell them what doesn’t work. Let them know what would help. For example, “it would be so helpful if you could set your own anger aside and just let me vent.”
Choose Your Confidantes Carefully
Some people just might not be the right ones to open up to about this. You may need more time sitting with your own decision before you can let them in. It’s okay to set boundaries with loved ones who make you feel bad about your choice.