How to deal with infidelity

How do you define cheating?
Have you set the expectations in your relationship? OR have you assumed your partner knows the boundaries?

Here are a few areas I encounter as hot topics for discussion in my office:

  • Flirting via text with someone outside of your relationship
  • Watching porn (other men and women have sex) on your own or with someone other than your partner
  • Zoom sex with someone other than your partner
  • Sending sex pic’s with someone other than your partner
  • Engaging in sex with a paid sexual worker
  • Goggling someone shopping sexually who is not your partner
  • Holding a close hug longer than socially acceptable “a romantic cuddle”
  • A mouth kiss with someone other than your partner
  • Having a sneaky romantic lunch/drink with someone other than your partner
  • Changing your personality and body language when you are around someone other than your partner to be romantically noticed
  • And of course, you have had sex, foreplay or any other sexual interaction with someone who is not your partner

If you’ve been cheated on, you might be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. You may feel devastated one moment and angry the next. A broken heart can lead to feelings of shame, doubt, confusion, and anxiety. Understanding and processing your emotions is a healthy way to heal from past hurt. There is not one direct path to follow when recovering from a breakup, some longer than others. Remember that it’s okay to take your time to heal and trust your own process because your feelings are unique to you and your life.

Feel the emotions, grow, and move on. It’s a personal journey of your own. In other words, stop judging yourself. Take the time you need to heal while also allowing yourself to grow and learn from the pain.

As Dr. Rob Weiss explains, “Damaged relationships don’t heal overnight. Moreover, damaged relationships don’t heal simply because one party wants them to.” As hard as it may seem, know that you are in charge of your own process and any closure you may need is entirely your own to give.

Meet the experts

Robert Weiss PhD, LCSW, is a clinical sexologist and the Chief Clinical Officer of Seeking Integrity LLC. He is the author of Out of the Doghouse and Prodependence, and host of the Sex, Love, and Addiction Podcast.

When dealing with the aftermath of infidelity, these six steps can help you cope with what transpired and deal with the emotional roller coaster of betrayal.
1. Work Through Your Feelings
You’ll likely experience different emotions as you process what happened. For instance, it’s common to feel disappointed or betrayed after infidelity, so take a moment to recognize these feelings are normal. “In general, getting over infidelity follows the usual stages of grief: shock/denial; anger/defiance; bargaining; depression, remorse; and acceptance,” explains Weiss. Rather than suppressing your emotions, work through them. Coming to terms with what happened is integral to the healing process.

Maintaining a daily gratitude practice, like keeping a journal, allows one to self-heal over time.

2. Don’t Blame Yourself
It’s all too easy to blame yourself for what happened, but you’re not responsible for your partner’s actions. While some self-reflection can be beneficial to your own personal growth, spiralling into harsh self-criticism and excessive self-blame actually delays the healing process. Rather than finding fault with yourself or obsessing over what might have been, place the blame squarely on the cheater.

3. Don’t Live in the Past
Are you questioning everything about your relationship, replaying conversations in an attempt to discover what went wrong? “There is an initial stage when the betrayed partner wonders what else she or he doesn’t know about,” says Weiss. “It is very difficult to trust anything the cheating partner says or does in this stage.” But obsessing over the past isn’t healthy or productive. Instead of dwelling on hypotheticals, focus on the future rather than negativity, working through all the stages of the healing process and eventually coming to forgive both them and yourself.

4. Think About What You Want
Moving on after infidelity means taking the lead on how you want to live your life. Do you want to break up with your partner or do you want to work on your relationship? Weiss suggests weighing all of the factors: “First of all, has the cheating stopped? Have the lies and secrets stopped? Generally speaking, are there more positive than negatives to the relationship? Is the cheating partner ever going to be able to restore relationship trust? There is no set formula for deciding to stay or go, but these questions can provide clarity.” These are important questions without right or wrong answers.

Regardless of what others say, your greatest concern should be yourself. For instance, if your partner’s actions are a deal-breaker for you, break up with your partner. On the flip side, you may feel hurt and betrayed by your partner but still want them in your life. “Betrayed partners should understand that it is normal to continue to love and care for someone, even after a betrayal,” says Weiss. “Both parties have to want to rebuild trust and intimate connection. The good news is that after an infidelity, if both parties do their work in the process of healing, relationships can end up being stronger than ever—deeper vulnerability, deeper intimacy, and more rather than less support of one another.”

Or, then again, you may also not be sure what you want. That’s okay. The decision is yours alone to make. Regardless of your decision, try to ensure that it’s being made from a place of healthy authenticity or “prodependence” rather than codependence.

5. Take Care of Yourself
When you’re dealing with something as life-changing as infidelity, this type of news can take a toll on you emotionally as well as physically. For instance, you may want to shut out the outside world and not see or talk to anyone. You may notice that you have difficulty concentrating at work or even find it hard to get the energy or desire to take care of yourself. But it’s imperative when faced with hardship and disappointment that you practice self-love and self-care during these difficult moments in your life.

“I am a big fan of gratitude lists, exercise, journaling, and of course therapy and support groups for people in the same or similar situations,” says Weiss.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you want to get over being cheated on, don’t be afraid to lean on those around you for support. Being cheated on by your partner can make you feel isolated and alone. However, it would be best if you weren’t afraid to reach out to friends and family after this has happened and surround yourself with people who care about you and your well-being. “Betrayed partners need support for the trauma they’ve experienced, and that support should not (and really cannot) come from their cheating partner,” explains Weiss. “There is nothing worse than sitting alone after a betrayal with absolutely no one to tur If you need to talk about your relationship and gain positive relationship strategies, please have no hesitation to book an appointment with DIPAC and Associates. 

What to do if you or a loved one lack empathy

Empathy involves the ability to understand what other people are experiencing. It plays an essential role in building social connections and promotes prosocial behaviours. However, not everyone experiences empathy for others in every situation, which can have a variety of individual and societal consequences.

What can you do if you or a loved one lack empathy? First, it’s important to understand what a lack of empathy might look like and then explore some ways to encourage this important emotional skill.

Signs of a lack of empathy

A lack of empathy isn’t always easy to detect, but there are a few signs that can help you determine if you or a loved one might not be empathetic:

  • Being extremely critical of other people
  • Blaming the victim
  • Not forgiving people for making mistakes
  • Feeling like other people are too sensitive
  • Not listening to other people’s perspectives or opinions
  • An inability to cope with emotional situations
  • Lack of patience for other people’s emotional reactions
  • Reacting with impatience or anger when frustrated with other people
  • Feeling baffled by other people’s feelings
  • Believing that negative things won’t happen to you
  • Not thinking about or understanding how your behaviours affects other people

Empathy isn’t an all-or-nothing quality. Think of it as a continuum. Some people are naturally more empathetic, while others are less so. Other factors, including situational variables, can affect how much empathy people feel at any given time.

Factors that can impact how much empathy people feel for others include how well they know the other person, whether they like the individual, what they blame for the other person’s situation, past experiences, and expectations.

How empathetic are you?

Ask yourself the following questions to determine how empathetic you are:

  • Do you have a hard time picking up on the emotions of people around you?
  • Is it hard to imagine how you would feel if you were in someone else’s situation?
  • Are you indifferent when you see other people experiencing hardships?
  • Do you stop listening to other people if you don’t agree with them?
  • Do you avoid helping people who are upset, hurt, or at a disadvantage?

If you answered yes to most of the above questions, there’s a strong chance that you struggle to feel empathy for others. While this can be problematic, there are things you can do to become more empathetic.

Causes

The exact causes of a lack of empathy aren’t entirely understood, but it is believed that a number of factors likely play a role. Empathy is believed to be largely influenced by genetics and socialidation.

Genetics play a part in the heritable aspects of personality and temperament. So some people are born with tendencies that make them more empathetic to others. However, experiences throughout life also play an important role. Parents, teachers, peers, society, and culture affect how people feel about kindness, empathy, compassion, and helping behaviours.

There is also some research suggesting that men and women tend to experience and express empathy in different ways. Women generally score higher on measures of empathy.

Some conditions may play a role in a lack of empathy such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Effects Lack of empathy can have a number of effects. Some of these include:

  • Problems with relationships: People who lack empathy are more likely to have problems in their relationships with other people. It can lead to arguments when other people feel that their feelings and needs are not understood. It can also make it more difficult to form bonds and decrease the likelihood that people receive meaningful help.
  • Poor communication: Not being able to understand where other people are coming from can make communication much more difficult. A lack of empathy can also cause people to misinterpret what other people are trying to say, which can ultimately lead to miscommunication, conflict, and damaged relationships.
  • Lack of helping behaviours: When people don’t feel empathy for others, they are less likely to engage in prosocial actions that might help people who need assistance. This can affect people on an individual level, but it can also have more systemic effects when groups, governments, or societies fail to show empathy toward people who need support.

Lack of empathy can also have consequences in healthcare settings. Research suggests that healthcare workers’ empathy declines as a result of medical training.2 This can result in uncompassionate care, worse health outcomes, and poor patient experiences.

A lack of empathy can create a wide variety of problems. It’s also a quality that varies depending on the situation, so even naturally empathetic people may experience a lack of empathy from time to time.

Being aware of situations where you feel emotionally uninvolved and disconnected may help you better consider some of the factors you might be missing. But if a lack of empathy is a deeper, more lasting problem that affects your communication and relationships, consider talking to a therapist.

A mental health professional can help you explore the cause of the problem and learn strategies that may help you better understand and empathize with what other people are going through.

Note: Personality disorders are very rarely treated with mediation unless there is a comorbidly diagnoses. Eg; Depression which is a mood disorder and can require short term medication.

Personality disorders are just that “Personality” which over time with help from a therapist can be changed resulting in a happier more fulfilling view of yourself, your relationship and the world.

Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD on September 26, 2021 If you believe you or a loved one might benefit from therapy, please have no hesitation to book an appointment with DIPAC and Associates.

Five rules for effective communication

Love is not just a feeling. It is an activity that involves skill-building. You can work at cultivating your love for another. You can get better (or worse) at loving someone – this is a choice. It is also possible to measure how well you are doing at loving someone by taking an “Acts of Love” inventory that will help you to determine just how you are doing and focus on improving your personal best weekly.

Conflict in intimate relationships is not only normal, but inevitable and even valuable at times.

Tip: set boundaries for communication when talking about an uncomfortable subject matter

While conflict might make you uneasy, it can also invite you to reflect on your situation from a new perspective. You have a choice. You can act in ways that keep the conflict going. Or, you can turn the conflict into creative tension, which gives birth to new insights and talents. In fact, conflict is growth trying to happen.

If you find yourself working up into anger or crying at the start and end of every sentence, ask yourself, “Where does this emotion come from?” Seek to find reason for your reaction.

8 out of 10 couples tell me communication is their biggest issue, yet they very rarely ask “How can I learn to communicate better?” We are all individuals; we will all communicate differently and words hold different meanings for each of us. Get real! By getting grounded, receptive, and non-judgmental, we enhance our ability to see through our partners lens and experience their’ “emotional life” and perhaps see their world as they do.
We spend about 85 percent of each day communicating, so it’s in our best interests to be good at it. “Do unto others as they would like to be done unto” reframes communication.

So what are the five rules?

  1.       Ask
  2.       Reframe (optional)
  3.       Observe
  4.       Confirm
  5.       Accept responsibility, never blame the recipient

Determine how best your partner will understand the communication: ask how your partner likes to receive information, observe, and/or try different methods and modes. Check-in for understanding.

Tip: Flex your style to meet the needs of the one your love
Communication 101: If you can’t get them on the merry-go-round, get them on the swings!

If you need to talk about your relationship and gain positive relationship strategies, please have no hesitation to book an appointment with DIPAC and Associates.