Your partner cheated on you. You discovered the affair. You both have been working on the relationship and trying to heal. However, you have been hurt in one of the most painful ways possible and it is difficult to let your guard down. “What if he or she does it again? Then I will REALLY feel like a fool!”
It makes sense to hold back trust. It makes sense to be protective. However, if that continues for a long time, the problem is that now you are deprived of a close emotional and physical relationship. You cannot fully allow yourself the joy of being loved if you are protecting yourself from being hurt. And we know there are no guarantees. So you know you need to risk but want to take a smart risk. So, when is the right time to let go again? Here are 5 possible signs that let you know it is time to let go, let your guard down and go all the way in.
- Your partner is very interested in understanding the deeper reasons of why he or she betrayed you. Usually, that means that there was a willingness to spend time with a qualified therapist whether in individual or couple therapy (or both).
- As you both discover the underlying reasons for the infidelity, you are able to observe concrete differences in the formerly cheating partner’s behavior. This behavior is a far better alternative to the problem than the affair. For example, if your partner realized he or she did not feel close to you, you notice that he or she initiates meaningful dialogues on a daily basis.
- There is absolutely no contact with any people with whom the infidelity occurred. Any other secretive behaviors (such as hiding money) have ceased.
- You, the betrayed partner, are feeling closer to your partner. Even though you get insecure and suspicious at times, in your calmer moments, you are feeling more at ease.
- You both are having fun with each other. Increasingly, you laugh together and you look forward to being with your partner. Of course, you can tell that your partner wants to spend time with you as well. You can see it in his or her eyes and verbal and nonverbal behavior.
There are no guarantees but the more of the above signs that you notice, the better the risk. Professionally, when I see all 5 signs at least a good part of the time, I encourage the betrayed partner to “go all in.” Of course, it is not an exact science and often when the formerly betrayed partner goes all in, these 5 signs can be enhanced. Often it is a step-by-step, gradual increase of trust that needs to be nourished along by both partners as well as the therapist involved.