Infidelity: The Betrayal of Trust

Infidelity causes a deep wound. Is it possible to ever overcome it?
Infidelity: The Betrayal of Trust
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 07 June, 2022

Emptiness, desperation, anger, frustration, pain, and anguish. These are the mixed feelings you tend to experience when you discover your partner’s been unfaithful. The intensity of your feelings usually relates to the time you’ve been together and how long they’ve been betraying you for. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if you’ve only just started living together, and you discover they’ve been unfaithful, that it hurts any less. However, when you suddenly discover that you’ve spent years with an unfaithful partner, your life is, effectively shattered.

Maybe you’ve dedicated your life to your partner and children and have stopped living. Indeed, if you were born between the 1960s and 1970s you would’ve been educated to make sacrifices and postpone your dreams and personal development goals. Therefore, you probably saw your own personal development in terms of being a wife and mother.

Therefore, if you’ve suddenly discovered, while you’ve been dedicating the best years of your life to your relationship, they’ve been unfaithful, you’ll probably wonder what your future will hold. Furthermore, if your partner leaves, you’ll be left with an open wound and you’ll be grieving for an unknown amount of time. This will depend on the social, family, and personal resources you have at your disposal to help you overcome your betrayal. You may feel you want to call your ex-partner and ask them to come back, yet at the same time want to argue with them. This is perfectly natural. It’s a human reaction.

Betrayal of trust

Couple stressed by infidelity

When you discover your partner’s infidelity, you may decide to stay with them without really understanding or recognizing the damage that’s been caused to your relationship. You might pretend that, with a brief conversation, everything will be resolved. That your partner’s infidelity is just a sign of their selfish and short-sighted vision. This means that you’re only looking at the situation from your own perspective. Furthermore, you won’t really restore your confidence in your partner just because they’ve apologized for their infidelity. After all, they’ve been lying to you and living a double life. Indeed, they’ve had to continually make up fictitious meetings to go and meet their lover.

Recovering after infidelity

Can your relationship recover after such infidelity? It’s difficult but not impossible. The first important step is to acknowledge the damage that’s occurred in your relationship.

You should try and establish what factors contributed to or pushed your partner to betray you. However, it should be noted that there often aren’t extenuating causes for infidelity.

When your partner betrays you, they’re actually deceiving three people. They’re deceiving themselves because it’s impossible to be intimate with another for months or years without feeling something. In addition, they’re deceiving you and their lover. Indeed, normally, if a person accepts a relationship with another knowing that they’re already in a long-term relationship, it’s because they hope the other relationship will disappear.

Human beings aren’t robots. It’s impossible to separate feelings when shared in private repeatedly and for so long.

Your partner shouldn’t assume that you shouldn’t express your mixed feelings and imagine that a ‘clean slate’ means not mentioning the matter. Instead, you both have to face why it happened. Without any excuses.

Confidence is rebuilt with actions, not words. Forgiveness is active, not passive. Flowers and chocolates won’t heal the wound. Nor is a week or a month adequate healing time.

The stages in the life of a couple and infidelity

Couple talking about infidelity

Many people, despite themselves, recognize that, while they still love their partner, their partner no longer loves them. They might hide and silence their discomfort for a while, waiting for the crisis inevitably appears.

As a relationship progresses over time, the couple experiences a fluctuation in their feelings. The beginning of a relationship is the stage of idealization. However, coexistence opens the door to routine, responsibilities, and procreation. These factors shorten the time dedicated to complicity in a couple. Seduction and mystery diminish.

For example, the arrival of the first child divides emotions. There are three people in the relationship now, not two. Furthermore, the newcomer demands attention and care. At this stage, many men feel left out because they’re not actively involved in the first months of their child’s life.

Sexual enjoyment decreases. Consequently, a quiet frustration appears.

They talk, but they don’t communicate with each other. They stop living for themselves and for their partner. Common ground is lost. In fact, many mothers monopolize their baby, instead of sharing the responsibility and enjoyment of the child with their partner. Many abandon their interest in their personal appearance and put their husband aside. Indeed, it’s not by chance that this is a stage in which there’s a higher percentage of marital infidelity.

Far from expressing their discontent, the man takes refuge either in drink or with their friends. They discover a new zeal for life. While in the relationship, feelings of frustration grow along with indifference. On the other hand, the mother lives their life, as an extension of their child’s.

As the years pass

Years later, the children enter adolescence or leave home. The members of the couple remain, as at the beginning, alone. Many fear facing that loneliness with their partner. Why? Because they’ve become a stranger.

Nevertheless, it’s hardly surprising that they don’t feel the same now and that their love is different. Because life changes, it’s dynamic, and what they feel today won’t be the same tomorrow. The stage of the idealization of courtship has been left behind. The relationship no longer fits the fantasy. In fact, it’s immature to expect that stage to continue.

Love also matures. It’s what allows partners to overcome the different crises or ups and downs in their lives, first as a couple and later as a family. Passion gives way to calm, stability, and a quiet kind of love. However, if they haven’t made attempts to maintain seduction and complicity alive in their relationship, they no longer feel alive.

In this context, many women keep silent about their sexual dissatisfaction. The myth persists that women are there to satisfy and not to enjoy sexuality. They give, but don’t ask. How can their partner know what they like if they don’t express it?

This is one of the factors that give rise to female infidelity. Like male betrayal, both partners are responsible. It happens because one doesn’t offer and the other doesn’t ask. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, you should seek professional help.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.