When the Worst Has Happened: Rebuilding Trust After an Affair


Discovering that your partner has had an affair can be an earth-shattering experience, shaking the very foundation of your relationship. It's a painful and challenging situation, but it's important to remember that healing is possible. I get it. In your mind, something like this has always been one of those dealbreakers. I'll be honest; some couples don't make it after something like this, but in reality, that is the exception. There is rarely an easy road in front of you, whichever way you lean. As a couples therapist, I understand the complexity of emotions and difficulty moving forward. In this blog post, we will explore some constructive steps to help you and your partner navigate the tumultuous aftermath of an affair and rebuild trust in your relationship.

Allow Yourself to Feel:

The initial shock of discovering infidelity can trigger a range of emotions, from anger and betrayal to sadness and confusion. Those are all normal, of course. Giving yourself the time and space to process these feelings is crucial. Suppressing emotions can hinder the healing process, so acknowledge and express what you're going through, whether by journaling, talking to a friend, or seeking professional support. Additionally, if the relationship will survive, it is important not to plant additional seeds of resentment. What you're feeling in the moment will eventually pass. That isn't to say that it will ever be ok to cheat, but the raw emotions in the beginning DO fade.

Communicate Openly:

Effective communication is vital during this challenging time. Create a safe space where both partners can express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Honest and open conversations are essential to understanding each other's perspectives, motivations, and the factors that led to the affair. The most common questions that people want answered are "Why did this happen," "How did this happen," and "How can I be sure it will never happen again because I'm not sure I can survive it." A skilled couples therapist can facilitate these discussions, helping to navigate the emotional terrain and fostering a deeper understanding. This next point may sting a bit, but bear with me. Most affairs happen for a reason. I don't want you to hear that it was your fault. It wasn't. One of the most common reasons affairs happen is that some need went unmet. That could be because it wasn't communicated, or it just didn't get understood. In all relationships, multiple people play a role.

Seek Professional Help:

Infidelity is a complex issue that requires professional guidance. A couples therapist who specializes in these issues can provide a neutral and supportive environment to help both partners explore the root causes of the affair, address underlying issues, and develop effective communication strategies. With the guidance of a trained professional, couples can work together to rebuild trust and move towards a healthier, more resilient relationship. I tell all my clients that friends and family are notorious for giving bad advice when it comes to affairs. They mean well and want to look out for you but can't see it through your eyes. "Once a cheater, always a cheater" sounds good on a bumper sticker, but it isn't true. By all means, use your support system to talk through what you're experiencing, but the decisions need to be yours, not theirs. 

Establish Boundaries:

Rebuilding trust involves establishing clear boundaries to prevent future transgressions. Both partners need to participate actively in creating and respecting these boundaries. New boundaries may involve renegotiating expectations, setting guidelines for communication, and rebuilding a sense of safety within the relationship. Some betrayed partners will insist on things like no-contact (or overseeing interactions if no-contact is not an option), tracking apps, or daily reports of interactions. In many cases, the betrayed partner will want to witness or perhaps orchestrate the termination of the outside relationship. These things may seem unreasonable, but they usually don't last very long, and they demonstrate openness and create safety.

Focus on Self-Care:

During emotional turmoil, it's easy to neglect self-care. However, taking care of your emotional, physical, and mental well-being is crucial during this challenging period. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether spending time with loved ones, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in hobbies.

Rebuilding Trust Takes Time:

Rebuilding trust is a gradual process that requires patience and commitment from both partners. Understand that healing takes time, and progress may come in small steps. Celebrate the victories, no matter how small, and acknowledge the effort each of you puts into rebuilding your relationship.


Discovering an affair is undoubtedly one of the most difficult challenges a couple can face. However, with dedication, open communication, and professional guidance, it is possible to rebuild trust and create a stronger relationship. Remember, seeking the help of a couples therapist is not a sign of weakness but a proactive step towards healing and growth.

If you find yourself in the throes of recovering from a betrayal such as infidelity. You don't have to face it alone. I'm here and this is what I do. Please call me or click below to schedule a free consultation. If you aren't sure what you want to do, or if you are even curious if it's possible to come back from this, let's talk about it. You deserve to feel confident in whatever decision you make.