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Sex + Relationships

Gaining Your Strength Back After an Unfaithful Relationship

Being the victim of an unfaithful relationship can be tremendously painful. Not only have you spent most of your time with this person but you have given them your heart and vulnerability. Recovering from your partner’s cheating is a battle because not only do you not know how to move on, but you also have to deal with gaining your individual strength back. 

If you’re reading this and have experienced infidelity in a romantic relationship before, then I’m sure you’ll relate to my story as well. I was in a four-year relationship throughout high school. During that time, my boyfriend grew to be my best friend, my safe space, and the “love of my life.” However, there was also a girl best friend in his life, who he always insisted was nothing more and that I overthought their friendship too much. Long story short, he ended up going on a couples vacation with the girl to Cancun and admitting to me in the middle of my senior prom that he “loved” her. I think the most challenging part of that whole relationship was not the fact that he cheated on me, it was the fact that he made me believe it was all in my head. A lot of partners when caught cheating will use the method of “gaslighting”, which means to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” Nevertheless gaslighting is not a one-time thing for its victims, its effects can stay with a victim for life. Long-term effects can include “anxiety and depression to increased self-doubt and PTSD.” After finding out about his infidelity I lost all control of myself. When I went to return his belongings, he looked at me and didn’t even say a word, and at that moment, I knew he didn’t love me anymore. I left his house so emotional and filled with rage that my erotic driving almost hit two bikers and cause me to get into several accidents. I had to pull over to the side of the road and have my mother and friends remove me from the car because at that moment I thought life wasn’t worth living. But I’ve learned that moving on from an unfaithful partner is surprisingly the easy part of recovery. You may think that you cannot survive without this person but all you need is yourself to get through life. It took a while for me, and to be honest, I am still very much hurt from that relationship, but I am in such a better place now. I got myself into the gym and am now aiming to be a personal trainer, I spend more time with my family and take mental health breaks when I need them. Even though being without them could seem world-ending at the moment… the most challenging part is becoming strong and independent again. There are so many different ways to find yourself after being heartbroken, you just have to take that first step to start searching for them. 

Here are some ways to regain your strength:

  1. Focus on you, and only you

Time to get yourself back! Being the victim of cheating can lower your self-esteem a great deal therefore try some new (or old) activities that put a smile back on your face! Take care of your health and pamper yourself! 

  1. Forgive your partner at your own pace

There is no set time when you’re supposed to forgive your partner but holding in animosity towards them can severely affect your mental health. Now when I say “forgive” I am not necessarily talking about telling your partner to their face that you forgive them. I am more referring to forgiving them in your mind and moving on from them without any pent-up anger. 

  1. Keep yourself busy

Sometimes distraction is the key to moving on. Keep yourself physically busy so your mind has no other choice than to stay occupied as well. 

If you are going through a situation like this at the moment and/or have experienced the side effects of infidelity, I promise that the pain of that heartbreak does go away. It just takes focusing on yourself to realize that you are stronger and worth way more than you were ever made to feel. 

Citations:

Stiefvater, S. (2022, March 10). 7 long-term effects of gaslighting (& how to recover). PureWow. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.purewow.com/wellness/long-term-effects-of-gaslighting
MediLexicon International. (n.d.). What is gaslighting? examples and how to respond. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gaslighting#:~:text=Gaslighting%20is%20a%20form%20of,memories%2C%20or%20perception%20of%20reality.

Julianne is a sophmore and majoring in Speech and Hearing Science at UB. Some of her favorite hobbies include weightlifting, listening to music, and eating. She owns a guniea pig who is her other half and loves comedy movies.