An affair can be devastating for most people; there’s the pain and agony brought on by that sense of betrayal and one’s mind can be filled with a billion questions and starting with, “Why?” Even if the relationship isn’t thrown away when the affair is uncovered, what remains is rife with difficulties, including a lack of trust and feelings of inadequacy and impotency, making staying together a very hard thing to do.
Can one survive an affair? It is possible if you can find a way to look at things logically instead of emotionally and beginning with the often painful task of finding out why the affair happened in the first place. See, we all get into relationships and with the thought that any cheating isn’t ever supposed to happen but also hiding in the back of our minds is that latent fear of infidelity crashing the party and, for most, ruining all of our dreams. We think that there should never be a reason for an affair and that there can never be an excuse for such things… right up to the point where you see the reality of it all, that there’s always a reason, excusable or not.
In my opinion, on of the first rules of being in a relationship is, “If you don’t take care of your man/woman, someone else can and will.” So, the first step to surviving and recovering from an affair is to find out how, why, when, and where this failed. It’s not about assigning blame so much as it is uncovering the root cause of the situation and, no, it’s not going to feel good to dig through everything to get to the root cause and then effect repairs so that (a) this doesn’t happen again and (b) your life together can continue to move forward. If you let your emotions run things, well, you’re fucked – there’s no other way to put it; the emotional shit storm will “force” you to end a relationship and one that, up until this critical moment, was a good relationship. Your emotions will get you to believe that things are beyond salvage and, well, folks, your emotions aren’t telling you the truth; they won’t allow you to hear or accept the truth and as painful as it can be, if you want to save things, you have to hear the truth and accept it – and then work together to effect the changes that are necessary if you don’t want to – or even can’t – throw your relationship away.
If you’re the one who got cheated on, here’s an important thing to keep in mind: Just because you don’t think the “cheater” had a reason for cheating that makes sense doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason and one that makes sense to them. If you’re the one who cheated, well, you know good and damned well why you did and you’d better find a way to put that reason on the table and, no, lying about that reason isn’t going to serve anyone’s purpose because resolving this will never happen if the awful truth doesn’t come out. Neither of you can adopt the position that this cannot be remedied and, yes, we are all led to believe that it cannot ever be fixed.
And, yes, when the reasons are revealed, if you don’t believe that shit just happens, well, change your mind about that one – because it does just happen. Yeah, we look at this as someone being weak-minded and unable to resist temptation… but this can happen to the most strong-willed of us, too. Yes, even when shit happens, there’s a conscious decision to allow things to proceed but if you can wrap your head around how chemistry works and the power of it (and most people can’t), you can better understand how shit can happen to anyone and at any time. Sure, if it never happens, you can say that you’ve dodged the bullet and this is always good… but just don’t ever fool yourself into believing that it can’t ever happen.
I’m guessing, at this point, that you can see that the key to surviving an affair is communication and at a level a lot of people are just incapable of reaching and, at least in my opinion, it’s because either their emotions are totally in control of things or they just never learned how to communicate at all. It’s hard to tell the truth when it comes to this and one can debate which is the worst thing – a bunch of lies or the truth, which can be as “simple” as one person’s failure to do the things they promised to do with and for their partner. No one wants to hear the truth about themselves in this; we know that we’re only human and, as such, imperfect and prone to making mistakes but if/when you hear that your partner cheated on you because of something you didn’t do, yep, that’s totally fucked up and, better, makes it very hard to accept the responsibility for that failure – it’s easier to lay all of the blame on the person who cheated than it is to accept any responsibility for their actions or inactions if that’s the case.
All of this is such a hard thing to do, it’s no wonder that more people will choose to break up rather than do all the things that can be done to fix whatever was broken. You can survive an affair… if you really want to survive it… because here’s another truth that is hard to accept: If you cheated/got cheated on, something failed in the relationship… but if you cannot fix it – if you don’t want to fix it – that’s an even bigger failure, wouldn’t you agree? No? Well of course you might not see this as a failure but if you look at it intelligently and without any emotional input, yeah, you could have fixed things but you didn’t… and that is a fail all day long. What’s that you say? A relationship cannot survive without trust and once it’s broken, there’s little and/or nothing that can be done about it? If you believe this – and a lot of people do – you’re not right. Yes, love and trust do play very nicely with each other but you can love someone without blindly trusting them; you will think it impossible but, no, it isn’t, not really… but the pain of it all will always tell you that it’s impossible.
Now, if both people can sit down and talk all of this out – but they just can’t agree on how to repair whatever got broken (which can also be seen as a failure, by the way), then this, in my opinion, is the real problem. It’s not that someone cheated – it’s what happens afterward and in order for things to be repaired, you must effect change… and change, at the personal level (which is necessary) is so very hard to do. If you are unwilling to do whatever it takes to take care of your man/woman, um, why are you even in a relationship in the first place? And if you fear any situations where infidelity might rear its ugly head, why aren’t you doing all that you can to make sure it doesn’t show up? Why aren’t the two of you talking about the state of the relationship, what’s working and what’s not working so that the things that need tweaking gets tweaked? I’ve said that if you have a list of things in your head that you’re not gonna do and not even for love, then surviving an affair isn’t going to be in your future and more so if you cannot or will not change.
And, really, if you think that the person who cheated on you is being selfish, um, if you’re unwilling to change, aren’t you being just as selfish as they are said to be? Survival in this calls for an intellectual pursuit and not so much an emotionally driven one. Yes, everyone’s feelings matter – they have to – but solutions to survival in this call for clarity of thought and without letting your emotions make decisions. You might even feel that this just isn’t possible but it is… if you don’t submerge yourself in all the negative feeling the discovery of an affair will bring to the table. You might even feel that you’re not the one who has to change… and that’s not exactly the truth. Maybe you didn’t do anything “wrong” to precipitate the affair, but you still have to adapt to the situation and, if you can, try to understand why the affair happened and accept that an affair can happen for reasons other than just sex. But if it is – and, most of the time, sex is the end-product of that’s really an emotional thing, like, the cheating partner has reason to believe that you don’t love or care for them as much as you’ve said… or you’re not really doing or saying anything in this regard. And if this is the case, sure, you have to change somethings about yourself if you want and need this relationship to continue.
Relationships fail because of affairs and not totally because the affair happened; they fail because one or both people cannot or will not get on the same page with each other about what which needs to be changed so that the relationship can get back on track and harmoniously so. If you allow the negative feelings to keep running around in your head – and a lot of us do because now we feel that we can never trust or believe our partner, well, which thing would you rather do – keep dwelling on this or focusing your energies toward making things better? Since we believe that a relationship can never be fixed if this happens, we tend not to try to fix it; it’s easier to hold on to the negative feelings than it is to set it aside for the greater good of the relationship. It’s easier to blame the one who cheated, just as it is easier to totally disregard their reasons – and more so if, in their eyes, you’re the reason why they did what they did.
You can be angry and quote all the rhetoric about how and why an affair should never happen and in an attempt to deflect what is really a given about this: If you don’t take care of your man/woman, someone else can and will. If both of you work, from the very beginning, to prevent an affair from happening – and it’s all about effective communication – then the possibility of shit getting fucked up is lessened… but if you don’t work together on this – and this includes being willing and able to do whatever is necessary to preserve the relationship, at some point, the worst case scenario will become a reality. Yes, this is very bad; it hurts like a son-of-a-bitch and that’s putting it mildly… but you both can survive this if both of you are willing and able to work toward the loftier goal of remaining in love with each other and moving forward together.
How do I know it can be done? I did it so, yeah, it can be done. I know that not everyone can do it and, no, I can’t begin to tell you exactly how incredibly difficult it can be to get it done. You have to decide what you’re willing to do for love and, yeah, sometimes, you have to be bold and daring and create your own special box to live in and one that will allow things to get fixed and in whatever way that has to take shape. No, it’s not letting someone get away with something nor is effecting repairs a thing of being weak-minded or any other bullshit you might hear about this because it takes a great measure of strength to want to make things right again so that this never happens again; it takes a lot of strength and courage to continue on if you’re the cheater or they are because putting this behind you is so very hard to do and only the strongest people are able to do this and make it work again.
No, I’m not saying that if you are unwilling to make it work, that makes you some kind of weak-assed individual because it also takes strength to walk away from a relationship that cannot be fixed; I just know that it’s easier to walk away and deem the relationship beyond salvage than it is to work together and fix things so that the relationship can continue. Whatever it was that caused the affair can be fixed… but only if both of you want and need to fix it; if you don’t, well, it is what it is. See, this is the point where you see the truth about relationships and that once it begins, the work required by both people never, ever stops… and most of the time – and in my opinion, if you can communicate with each other openly and honestly about everything so that you both can keep your fingers on the pulse of the relationship, an affair can be avoided… if, always and forever, you are willing to do whatever is necessary to keep it from happening. And, really, don’t you both have the responsibility of making sure it never happens to you?
And that’s the real trick of it, huh? And, yeah, it’s one that most people just can’t figure out. We cannot really accept any failing we may have – we get into a relationship and then, somehow, stop being human and think ourselves to be immune from our human failings and that a promise to always be faithful is proof against human nature and, yeah, shit just happening because it can. The truth is very different; it’s harder to accept and believe and our emotions will almost always override our ability to look at this from an intelligent point of view; our ability to be objectively logical becomes impaired and the root cause – and there is always a root cause – stops being important because, well, we’re slaves to our emotions and that will effectively stop us from keeping our eyes on the bigger prize – to make the relationship continue to work as needed.
Eh, I know most of the people reading this aren’t going to agree and that’s fine – I gots no problem with that because you gotta do what you feel you gotta do. I’m just the guy who’s telling you that if you want to survive this and continue to prosper, it can be done…
If you both want to. I can tell you from personal experience with this that it can be done it wasn’t easy to do by any stretch of the imagination because the changes it took were hard to put into place on both sides of this situation. But if you believe in the power of love, yeah, you can survive it and prosper. It’s not about fault or blame; it’s not about forgetting and/or forgiving; it’s really about really knowing that you’re both human and, as such, imperfect. Here’s the thing: If you know that you are human and, thus, imperfect, how can you expect someone else to be perfect in all things? Aren’t they human as well? There’s a logic behind all of this if you can get past your emotions and see what the real deal is; the sad truth, though, is a lot of us cannot see past our emotions so the the logic escapes us and when it does, we never see what we can do to fix and survive this very human behavior. No, not everyone cheats – that’s proven but once again, it’s not that cheating happens – it’s what you do after and if it does that really matters and, well, we know what most people do, don’t we?
Okay, y’all can start disagreeing with me now if ya want to…