Ending a Relationship After Infidelity

by Nancy Travers,LCSW

Infidelity is an unfortunate occurrence that strikes too many modern relationships. Cheating in any relationship can be devastating for both partners; both the person committing the infidelity and the person betrayed can be strongly affected by the after-effects of breaking the relationship’s trust. Once infidelity occurs, it is up to both partners to decide whether or not to continue in the relationship. To continue, both partners must agree and be willing to work through the tough times ahead, re-building trust and working through the new issues and challenges that will face their relationship. Some couples who are dedicated to working through an infidelity even turn to a counselor to help them work through tough issues and to mediate difficult conversations.

However, if only one partner remains dedicated to the relationship, it is time to end it. Ending a relationship after infidelity can be a difficult task, whether you are the wronged party or the party guilty of infidelity. It is important to take time to consider all of your options and your true feelings. Before you make a decision, allow yourself time to digest what has happened, and the reasons that may have caused this action. Partners who have been wronged need time to adjust to the immediate anger and sense of betrayal before taking action. Partners who committed to infidelity need time to consider the real motive behind their actions.

For those who have decided that parting ways with their partner is the best course of action, the actual break up can be an overwhelming experience. Many people feel out of control and inundated with emotion during break-ups, and this is especially true for those dealing with such a difficult topic. However, there are a few tips that can help anyone work through addressing their partner about ending the relationship.

Be very clear when you talk to your partner: By the time you address your partner, you should have a clear understanding of why you are ending the relationship. On the surface, you may note that the reason is the infidelity; however, sometimes there are deeper, more complex issues that drive one partner to the decision. Share all of these with your partner in the most neutral way possible. Attempt not to spend time blaming your partner; state your reasons, explain your feelings, and be clear about what course of action you want to take. Your partner should have no question about the state of your relationship.

Be honest with yourself: When you begin the break-up, you should be honest about what you want. Do you truly want to end the relationship and never look back? Admit this to yourself, and then your partner. Stay committed to this. Do you feel that there is no chance for you and your partner to reconcile in the future? No reason for you to remain friends? Do not give your partner false hope and yourself false commitment by saying otherwise.

Set up a meeting time: Your meeting time should be made as soon as possible. Once you have made your decision, you do not need to allow yourself time to go back on your feelings. Your partner also does not deserve to wait for a conclusion longer than necessary. Remember that your meeting does not necessarily have to be in person. While many people feel that meeting in person is the only way to conduct a break-up, a phone conversation may be more suitable to your needs. Do what is best for you and your situation, not what the people around you deem “appropriate.”

Be compassionate towards your partner: Whether your partner was the person committing infidelities or the affected person, the end of the relationship could be an emotional time. Ending any relationship is difficult, and this is especially true for individuals who feel that they have no control over the situation. Again, blaming your partner or making cruel remarks to them will not help either of you in the end. In fact, showing compassion may help your partner keep their calm during the discussion.

Don’t take any comments personally: Some people respond to break ups by making cruel statements and being emotionally hurtful. This is an irrational reaction to being emotionally wounded. Try to separate yourself from any comments like this, and recognize that your partner is only acting out. Do not internalize any negative comments.

Give your partner space: After any relationship ends, both partners need space and time to adjust. Do not expect that in a week’s time you’ll both be at a mutual friend’s party, laughing together about the good days. On the same token, do not expect to spend time with them separately immediately after the break-up, or to meet too quickly to exchange possessions. Both of you will need time away from the other to digest the situation, and adjust to your new status and routine.

After the end of a relationship, some people may want or need to visit a counselor. A trained counselor can help either partner work through their feelings after an infidelity has been committed. They can also help one adjust to life after the end of a relationship, work through feelings of inadequacy or guilt, and develop good habits and expectations in their next relationship.


Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 2212 Dupont Dr., Suite I, Irvine, Ca. 92612.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.

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