How to react to cheating?

Faced with the discovery of infidelity, there are no good reactions: we do what we can. However, there are a few holds to hold on to move forward. Until the eventual reconstruction of the couple. The point with Roanne Barnett, psychoanalyst, and psychotherapist.


I cry a good cry


We just found out our man was unfaithful. Whether he was seen elsewhere once or ten, ten times or a hundred times, the conclusion is (almost) the same: it hurts, very much. “It’s bad news and among the worst,” introduces Roanne Barnett, psychoanalyst, and psychotherapist. So we allow ourselves to crack: we cry, we phone our friends, we slam the door in the rage”. When we are deceived, we can’t deny it, we’re not facing a break-up that we refuse to see, for example. We receive a blow on the head, a real one, impossible to ignore.


So the first step is to let the tears come and to welcome your sadness without trying to go any further. It is not yet time to focus. “Everyone reacts in their way, the most important thing is to wait for calm to return and then act,” advises Roanne Barnett. And as Anne-Sophie, 31, who discovered her husband’s infidelity, testifies: “I cried for three days, non-stop, at a friend’s house. I wanted to blow it all up and go and find this girl my husband was seeing. My friend was holding me back. Now I understand. It was important for me to let go of my anger and sadness before I did anything”.


I drive away from the guilt and shame


Two great feelings come over us when we learn that we have been cheated: guilt and shame. Of course, these are two feelings to be crushed. “In order not to feel guilty, we have to remember that in a couple, there are two of us,” says Roanne Barnett. It sounds silly but both are responsible when infidelity occurs. The other one didn’t go elsewhere because of us. Or not only. We must not forget that he is at fault, that he acted of his own free will. Often, a communication problem remains in the couple, the other has wanted to see elsewhere and has not been able to tell us about it. Maybe yes, our way of being hasn’t helped him communicate with us, but he doesn’t have the effort either.” Then shame, finally, is very common too. Julie, 35, testifies: “When I learned he was cheating on me, I didn’t dare move, talk, run away. I was so ashamed of who I was then…” Shame and isolation is the worst thing you can do to yourself in such an ordeal. You have to surround yourself with those closest to you, you have to dare to ask for support. If everyone who was cheated was ashamed, there wouldn’t be many people in the streets!” jokes Roanne Barnett. At most, we repeat that these are two useless feelings that lead nowhere. Maybe they remain in us, but it doesn’t matter, we do this exercise: as soon as they come to mind, we ask them nicely to go to hell.

I rebuild my self-esteem


If guilt and shame invade us so easily, it is because our self-esteem is not always at its best, but above all, it is weakened in such an ordeal. However, being deceived does not call into question our intrinsic value,” explains Roanne Barnett. Being deceived does not make us a poor girl…” Claire, who has been cheated on, trusts herself and knows what she wants. So much so that in the face of infidelity, she slammed the door, sure of herself: “They don’t do this to me. I don’t accept it But reacting like that is difficult, of course. So our goal is to boost ourselves and our self-esteem. You’re a good person, who didn’t deserve to be betrayed, who certainly has his faults but also a lot of qualities. Claire often repeats to herself: “I am Claire, damn it, and I must be respected!. It is essential, little by little, to come back to oneself, to delicately close one’s envelope, to take refuge in our inner world, the one that reminds us how much of a good girl we are and how much we cannot tolerate infidelity. This does not mean that we will not forgive, but it does mean that we will forgive.


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