1. Face up to the pain
We all have different ways of coping after a break up. Drinking to oblivion hoping you'll forget, sleeping with randoms from Tinder in an attempt to fuck the pain away, but being in denial is never going to get you anywhere.
Hilda says, "The only way to ‘get over’ a break-up or a betrayal, like any other suffering we experience in life is to fully go through it and that means letting ourselves feel and express the pain."
2. Give it time
They don't say "time's a great healer" for nothing. As cringe as it sounds (and totally like something your mum would say to you after a break up), there aren't many wounds our pal time won't heal.
"While weeks and months can dull the pain, it also allows ourselves the space and time to grieve," Hilda says. "The first step in healing from a broken heart is to engage with the pain, recognise it and acknowledge what we've lost. Only by doing that can we hope to truly and honestly move on. In failing to do this, we simply carry our heartbreak like excess baggage to our next relationship. This is why many of us feel like we are constantly rehashing the same relationship patterns, the partner changes but the roles remains the same and so the play continues."
3. Avoid viewing the relationship in retrospect as ‘all good’
No relationships are black and white, they're complicated and murky things. If you want to learn and grow from your past relationships (and heartbreak), it's really important to recognise the good and not so good, Hilda explains.
"Many people whose partner has cheated will initially cling to the belief that ‘everything was wonderful’ before the betrayal, that everything which was formerly perfect has now been ruined. Inevitably what comes out over time is that things weren’t perfect. The client and often their partner too were trying to paper over the cracks in the relationship and now with the affair, things have imploded."
4. Avoid viewing the relationship in retrospect as ‘all bad’
It's the easiest thing in the world to go hell for leather, telling anyone who'll listen that your cheating ex is a lying scumbag who's worth less than the mouldy chewing gum on your shoe. But this isn't a healthy way to move on, Hilda says, and the reason why we do it is partly due to denial.
"It stems from a reluctance to want to feel their pain and hoping that they can convince themselves that they never really loved their cheating partner anyway.
However, the heart only ‘feels’, it cannot understand nor be taken in by these words we try and deceive ourselves with. Also, by trying to convince ourselves that our ex and the relationship was awful anyway, we are merely undermining ourselves and our life choices. If we truly believe we were in an ‘all bad’ relationship with an ‘all bad’ partner, what does that say about our ability to make choices that are good for us?"
5. Don't make sweeping statements (like 'all men cheat')
Thinking you're not alone in your pain can be truly comforting, especially believing what has happened to you, happens to everyone. That's not the case though, Hilda explains.
"Just because you’ve been cheated on once it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. It takes time to learn to trust again that’s for sure. But the reality is most men don’t cheat. A huge body of research into infidelity indicates that a similar proportion of women and men cheat in relationships."
6. Don't spend too long in 'victim mode'
Having a bloody good bitch and moan with another person who's been cheated on can feel really great at first, but it's not a good idea Hilda says.
"It can be tempting to find yourself drawn to women who have been hurt in a similar way. It’s perfectly natural. However, to spend too long in victim mode isn’t healthy. Many people can become defined by what’s happened to them – what’s been done to them – and this is not conducive to growth or moving on."
7. Get yourself a good therapist or mentor ASAP
There's no shame in seeking professional help if you find yourself locked in a cycle of rehashing the relationship and reliving the hurt of it all, months on.
8. Don’t blame yourself
Naturally, we like to blame ourselves for what we see as 'failures' in relationships. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself, Hilda says.
"Perhaps you feel that the reason your partner had an affair was that you weren’t there, you got distracted, you no longer made an effort for them. It’s important to remember that a relationship is ‘co-created’. If things had gotten stale before the affair, then that’s down to both of you. Self blame is never productive."
9. But do take responsibility
Taking responsibility can be productive if you want to move on. Hilda explains:
"When I work with couples who are on the point of breaking up after one of them has cheated, it's important to look at where they both failed to invest in the relationship. This is delicate work as the person who has been betrayed feels that the other is the one who has done the ultimate wrong. Interestingly, once the person who had the affair truly and fully ‘owns’ their wrongdoing in a heartfelt way, it can lead to a softening on the other side and sometimes even an admission of regret for certain aspects of their own behaviour.
"This can be hugely healing. No matter what the circumstances are around a break up, if we are to grow and learn from the relationship and break up, we need to look at our own part in it. This shouldn’t turn into self blame though. Relationships are tough for most of us, so approach this self enquiry gently with a desire to learn rather than to self blame."
10. Channel your energy
Chances are, now you're not spending most of your time with your (now) ex, you've got a lot more space to explore your own shit. You do you, Hilda says.
"It's possible to harness the hurt and the pain into something positive. Use the time you might suddenly have at your disposal to allow yourself to do the things you'd refrained from during it. You'll suddenly felt liberated to start shining the light on yourself, especially if you've been playing a supporting role to your partner for a long time.
"Be determined to use the immense energy and emotion passing through you to find momentum and drive to push your own goals forward. While the sadness can be very present, the months after a break up can trigger possibly the most productive and inspiring time in your life."
Via: Cosmopolitan UK