ending an affairCheaters can have a rough time getting over their affair partners.

Recently we have blogged about infidelity as an addiction, and many of the comments and emails that we have received mention how hard it is for a cheater to not only leave their affair partner after ending an affair, but also to get over them sufficiently enough to move on to save the marriage.

Anytime that we lose a love, whether we are the one who leaves, or we are left by another, there is pain that often leaves lasting wounds. 

Just as the victim of a marital affair deals with the triggers that jump start painful memories from their spouse’s affair, so too does the cheating spouse feel the emotional pains after they have ended the affair whenever thoughts of their affair partner surface due to certain triggers.

These emotional pains can make it very difficult for the cheating spouse to stay away and completely give up their affair partner.  That is why they tend to have a hard time breaking things off completely – or if there is any contact at all, the affair can start up again.

Daniel Amen, M.D., author of “The Brain in Love,” states that there are actual physical changes in the brain that reflect this grief.  Amen offers a few tips on how to survive the loss of a love:

Stay healthy. Avoid the typical reactions to grief such as isolating yourself, eating and drinking too much or wallowing in your sorrow. Instead, exercise more and spend time with your spouse (if possible) and family or friends.

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Do not idealize the other person. By focusing on a person’s good qualities, the pain will increase.  It impairs the grieving process and makes one hurt more.  Amen suggests taking time to write out the bad times and your ex’s bad points and focus on them to help soothe the pain.

Cry, then hide the pictures. Allow yourself to feel the pain initially after the affair.  Crying is a wonderful release.  Yes, men, even for you.  After a good cry, eliminate all the triggers that will constantly remind you of the other person.  Get rid of the pictures, gifts and letters.  Additionally, you should wipe any possible triggers from your computer like emails, Facebook, etc.

After doing these things it is imperative to try to rebuild the passion in your relationship with your spouse.  Passion isn’t necessarily all about sex either.  Wikipedia defines passion as an “emotion applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something.”   You had passion for your spouse at some point in your relationship.  Work like hell to get it back.

Surviving infidelity and rebuilding the passion in your marriage after ending an affair can take time and hard work, and there will be many bumps along the road.  But you can’t even get on that road if you can’t get the affair partner out of your brain and get past the grief.  If you are the victim of an affair you can choose to remain angry and combative during this stage, or you can be supportive and helpful.

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Processing the Five Stages of Grief after Infidelity
Tips for managing each stage as well as important Do’s and Don’ts for each

Processing and moving through the stages of grief is a vital part of surviving and healing the trauma of infidelity. So vital in fact, that we’ve created a program that deals exclusively with this subject to help you effectively deal with the stages of grief after an affair.


    21 replies to "After Ending An Affair: Get Past the Grief"

    • Jeffrey Murrah


      Excellent topic! When an affair ends, a relationship dies. In some cases, more than one relationship dies. With the death of a relationship, there is grief and mourning. Even in the recovery community, the support groups often talk of the grieving over the loss of the booze. Not that the booze was good for them, it played the role of a friend. Loosing a friend is never enjoyable. Likewise loosing a relationship is painful. You loose part of yourself as the relationship dies. With the end of the relationship comes the end of the hopes, dreams, fantasies, and optimism that originally came with the relationship.

      It also takes time to grieve. Although many people try to hurry the grief, it must be given time. It allows for a ‘recalibration’ of emotions, attention and heart. Trying to rush the grieving brings problems as well.

      Yes, the affair must end. Yes, it takes time to get over it. That does not mean that you need to say your good-byes to the person. It is better to ‘just end it’. Dragging out an ending makes for a slow painful process. Just let it die. Grieving is saying goodbye to the lover in your head. That takes time. You have to re-program the thinking and responses.

    • ruth

      Reading this only made me feel worse to think my h has to go through this when its his fault and he is married to me! When he was in the middle of his affair and I didnt know it he told me he loved me like a sister and I should find someone who should love me like a husband. I know what those words me but Doug do you think you can explain why he said that to me not only once but twice? Was I so blind that I didn’t see the real reason he said that. And now I am again his soulmate so he claims. What am I really??? He wont talk about it so I cant ask him unless I want to get in a heated argument which I dont. He will say move on already.

      • Doug

        Ruth, That’s a tough one. Perhaps while in the throes of the affair he was “rewriting” his feelings for you and rationalizing the reasons for his affair. He also could have been comparing his illusionary feelings for the OW with his feelings for you at the time. After the affair he now realizes that you are indeed his soulmate.

    • blueskyabove

      First I would like to say that I am not “the victim” of an affair. My husband who chose to fall into that dark pit might or might not consider himself as “the victim” of an affair, but, again, that would be his choice. I am not responsible for how he decides to feel. I will say, though, that I am really tired of the so-called experts assuming things about me. Hence, my decision to take offense at the statement “you can choose to “remain” angry and combative, etc.” Now, that makes me angry. It is automatically assumed that I was angry and combative when in reality it was my husband, the one having the affair, that was angry and combative. And why was that? Because he wanted to drag me down to his level. He wanted me to sink as low as he felt, and I wouldn’t go there. For several years I had been reading and immersing myself in books that dealt with growing as an individual, raising my level of awareness, and becoming a better person, not better than anyone else, but better than I was before. I KNEW I had a choice. I KNEW I didn’t have to just react.

      He did not like himself. He hadn’t liked what he had been doing for several weeks before I discovered his affair. He had started to realize that every time he felt like crap for the way he was treating me, the only way he knew to ease the pain, was to contact his affair partner, his cohort in crime. She would tell him “it’s OK to love more than one person at a time.” or “You have a good reason to do what your doing.” and he always bought it because it made him feel less terrible about himself…at least temporarily…but it always resurfaced. He honestly thought he could gradually get rid of her on his own. He now realizes that was pretty naive on his part. You cannot control another individual. She had an agenda. She had hopes and dreams that he allowed to progress because he never once told her that he had no intention of divorcing me. It was easier to respond to an “I love you” text message from her than be honest with her. He was a coward and ultimately he became totally unrecognizable to me. Frankly, I believe they both deserved each other at the time.

      Another thing I’m tired of hearing from the experts is that our spouses are in dispair over the loss of their affair partner. My husband did not grieve the loss of his affair partner. He grieved the loss of his integrity. He has come a long, long way since his affair.

      • Doug

        blueskyabove, Thanks for commenting and sharing. Certainly not every situation is the same when it comes to how a victim reacts to his/her spouse’s affair, as well as how the cheating spouse reacts to the loss of his affair partner. Obviously your situation is different and we appreciate hearing your view points.

      • Doug

        blueskyabove, I agree that the betrayed spouse contacts the affair partner to ease the pain and guilt. I remember one day I had to leave early to visit my mom who was in the hospital recovering from surgery and the car wouldn’t start when I walked in Doug was texting Tanya. He led me to believe that he was checking up on our son but I knew better. He accused me of not trusting him, acting crazy, etc. I left very upset. He called her immediately. I couldn’t figure out why he would do that after acting so righteous and innocent. For me that would have been the last thing I would have done because I would have felt terrible. Now I believe that is why they continued being drawn to their affair partner, they would ease their guilt, justify their actions, make them feel better. When they are away from them the reality sets in, they are feeling the way a conscious, caring person should feel and they hated that feeling of pain and guilt.

        I also believe that when the affair is revealed the betrayed spouse is angry. Angry at themselves, at us and at the OP for the mess they have created. Anger will mask all the other emotions they should be feeling. When someone feels angry they feel they have control. It took Doug a long time to get over his anger and see the situation for what it really was. Linda

      • Tricia

        well said.

    • Brian

      Hello, I am new to this site, unfortunately I guess. I appreciate you having this site as it has helped me some already. My wife and her friend had a relationship where they felt they could talk to each other about problems at home, at work, and wherever I guess; there was no physical as I think I caught it way early and didn’t allow it to get that far. I have a question about this topic. My wife has deleted all contact info for the OP, including phone contact, facebook friend, email, etc. But, we were friends with he and his wife prior to and she hasn’t deleted the info for his wife. She said she didn’t have any issues with her; why would she delete her? Well I think this is a sign that she may think we could get back to being friends as couples again at some point. I really don’t see that happening. Am I off base?

    • mightbeatranny

      its insulting to call people who’s spouses have had affairs “survivors”. survivors make it OUT of a situation. staying in the marriage means you CHOOSE the cheater, not your self respect.

      and ^^ there is no hidden meaning! listen to their words!

    • jeannie

      Why won’t cheaters be honest after it’s out? My spouse can’t seem to be 110% cleansed and without honesty there is no trust.

    • Slurpus

      I love how women don’t even remotely deal with the actual problem. You want to stop affairs? Then take some pride in how you look. How you act. Some of you women who put on 10 pounds a decade and then expect a man to be happy with you is ridiculous. And using the time old fake excuse of having kids sucks too. So does the excuse “hormones.” I have news for you women. Men can add a lot of weight eating like pigs and they also have hormones. After 38 years, I’m actually a little lighter than I was when I met the wife to be. Take some pride in how you look. You sure did when you got your guy to the alter. Then it was all downhill. You coasted. And, don’t even think you can make me or other men feel guilty for even bringing this up. How dare he!!! You want to pack on the pounds, hide behind natural beauty by painting on the make-up, keep the same hair style you’ve had from the beginning, become non-responsive under the sheets, etc. and there’s going to be affairs. Tough. Live with that unpopular but highly accurate fact. Happy and satisfied men don’t need to look to other women in order to find happiness. But, somehow you forget that part of it. Yeah.

      • Sadie

        As a woman, I agree. Learn to love yourself so that you can be a good partner to your spouse. Exercise, eat right, face stress head on and take time each day for yourself.

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