breakups, Endings

Processing the Pain of Infidelity

This time last year, I was in Paris with the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I...

Written by Amy C · 7 min read >
Processing the Pain of Infidelity - Heart Hackers Club - pain of infidelity - Cheating in a relationship

This time last year, I was in Paris with the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I remember praying, saying thank you to the universe, for the relationship and love I had in my life. I trusted my partner and loved him with every ounce of my heart and soul. He was “the one”, so I thought.

That is, until a week after our trip, a boys night out turned into him making a series of poor and destructive decisions that would ultimately break everything we had into pieces – including my heart. He cheated on me with a previous coworker of mine, and upon coming home at 4AM, lied to me and blamed me for being paranoid.  What happened in the next 48 hours after was a blur of lies, and a painful slow discovery that the person I admired and adored, was not the person I thought I knew.

I have purposely not written about what  happened in my breakup because I felt I needed some time to heal and process the situation before publishing, and because I didn’t want my story to come from a place of spite or revenge.  Also, it has taken me a lot of courage to share this very personal experience with you, because I felt a lot of shame in what happened. As much as I can say I’m a confident and strong woman, you can bet that I doubted my own self-worth, and asked myself what was so wrong with me for the man who supposedly loved me to throw it all away for an hour with someone who “meant nothing” to him? I was embarrassed, hurt and my self-esteem was damaged.


I believe that everyone makes mistakes, and often, it is not the mistakes that defines a person’s character, but what they do afterward. I hoped in my heart, that he would redeem himself. That he would be accountable for his actions, work for my forgiveness and try whatever he could to make things right. I hung on to faith that he would step up to be the man I thought he was. But he didn’t. And maybe that’s the most disappointing part of it all.

At that time, I was living with him, I had lost my job two months prior and had no income. My health deteriorated, I stopped eating, lost over 15 pounds in a matter of weeks. I experienced my first panic attack. Without going into detail, I learned that during that period of depression, my immune system was very weakened, resulting in some serious, potential long-term health issues.  I was in such an ultimate low where I was not rational, nor could I see the end to the suffering, and had extremely destructive thoughts. It felt like everything had fallen down at once.

Regardless of the support from friends and family during such a time, I felt terribly alone. To have your trust breached and your heart so wounded feels like there is a dark cloud of misery that follows you everywhere you go. It’s with you no matter how you try to distract yourself. Even in sleep you cannot escape, as pain haunts you in the form of nightmares. You feel trapped – because there is nothing you can say or do to make it go away.

During this time, I reached out to him for help. In his own pain, he did not know how to handle me. So instead of responding with compassion and care, he’d ignore me, and I felt like an inconvenient bother (and plain crazy). I watched the man that I loved, that I shared deep secrets and sacred moments with, in a blink of an eye, treat me like I was nothing. It was as if one day, I was the world to him, and the next moment, I was irrelevant.

Reflecting a Year Later

I’ve worked very hard to pick myself up, turn my pain into inspiration to be stronger, smarter and wiser. But a year later, I still have moments where sadness, confusion and anger creep up on me and I break down in tears. These tears go way beyond my experience of betrayal – they stem down to the little girl inside, whose deepest insecurity is not being good enough. That little girl who never seemed to be able to get love and approval from her father, comes out and wonders if she will ever be worthy of love from a man.

Perhaps he just wasn’t capable of showing me care the way I expected. Perhaps I was such an emotional wreck at the time that he felt any efforts would be futile. Perhaps he had lost all hope, and cutting me off was the only way he knew how to deal with the situation. Perhaps I just lived in denial during our relationship, and lived in a fantasy I created in my own head. I do not want to paint him as a bad person – sure, he is someone who did something “bad” – but I know deep in my heart, his intention was not to hurt me. What happened came from a very unhealthy place of disconnection, and I have to take accountability for the fact that I attracted him into my life in the first place. After all, you attract people of a similar health level.

Trying to Understand

I do not know what he felt, what he thought or how he handled his pain and shame. I was one of the few people he let in his life, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him either. I’m sure there are some deep-rooted issues of his own which caused him to make the decisions he did.  As much as I am the one who was betrayed, there is a different sort of pain he had to deal with – guilt. I’m not sure what is worse. But it’s likely both are pretty awful to experience.

Feeling betrayed is a dark place that can control your thoughts and behavior. In the process of dealing with the pain, I dehumanized him. I lost compassion and forgot that his actions came from a place of his own darkness. I dismissed that he was trying his best to cope as he knew how. All the great memories, the times we laughed, the special moments, they have become a blur in the bitterness. And that is such a shame, because just because the ending was bad, it doesn’t dilute the incredible moments we once shared – and to look back only to see the bad ending is unfortunate and a disservice to myself.

To this day, I still haven’t figured out if there was one big lesson the universe was trying to teach me. Perhaps it was a series of lessons, from how to choose my future partner, how to recognize red flags, to determining what values I truly stand for. I’ve replayed that day in my head hundreds of times, hoping that maybe if I could understand exactly why everything happened the way it did, that I’d be able to completely move on and feel at peace. But no matter how I analyze it, or how I put the pieces together, it doesn’t make sense. I’ll probably never figure it out, and I hope for the day when I stop caring to.

The ego in me feels frustrated, that twelve months later, I still feel the remnants of that heartbreak. Sometimes it comes in waves so strong that I feel I have made no progress at all. And sometimes I look back and am thankful that all this happened – because I’ve grown so much from the experience. There are ups and downs, and I am proud to say that there are a lot more ups than there are downs now.  And slowly, the hope that real, authentic love does exist is starting to return.

Learning from the Experience

It’d be a lie to say that I don’t miss him. I am reminded of him often – from the food I eat, the places I visit, to some of the jokes that only he and I were in on. And behind the anger, the hurt, the betrayal, there is still love and care that remains. That love will eventually fade, just like the memories will, and one day, so will the pain.

When you feel pain and suffering, it’s hard to see the light or how the experience fits in to the bigger picture of things. Hitting such a low was not an easy feat, however, I feel as if it helped me mature. In the last year, I’ve become very clear on my values and have been attracting new opportunities and people that are aligned with those values. I’m healthier both spiritually and physically than I ever have been in my life, and there’s been a lot of positive momentum in my career and self-growth. I’ve given myself permission to be vulnerable and have allowed myself to process the plethora of emotions and old wounds that were triggered from the event. There’s been some deep childhood stuff that surfaced after being suppressed for over two decades, and ripping off the band-aid has forced me to work through them.

I remember some of the darkest moments I faced after I found out he cheated on me. I felt like I was completely broken and I wanted him to fix me. Now, I realize, I wasn’t broken. I was just bruised. And those bruises, through gentle care, eventually heal. I look back and think about that scared little girl, sobbing as if it was the end of the world, I know now, the world was not ending, rather, it just had to hit a low in order for it to get a lot better. And it did.

If You’ve Been Cheated On

If you are reading this and have experienced or are experiencing something similar, I hope that this article gives you some peace of mind, that what you are feeling is normal. The hurt, anger, denial, thirst for revenge – those are all part of the emotional range that comes with betrayal. Have faith that things will get better and the feeling of suffering will eventually ease. However, keep in mind that if you don’t process the experience, and allow the wound to truly heal, you will only endure the same suffering in some shape or form in the future.

I hope you allow yourself to be vulnerable, break down as you need to, and get real honest with yourself so that you can grow from the experience, and in turn, become a healthier person. Because when you yourself are healthy, you will start attracting healthy people and situations in to your life. A wise friend once told me, “like attracts like”.

These struggles in our lives are opportunities for us to heal old wounds and to grow. They are catalysts that have to be triggered in order for you to overcome them. These experiences may not feel good at the time, but they are not good or bad – they are just a part of the human journey. And you have the choice to deal with them in a healthy way or not. I hope you choose the former, because it only gets better from there. I promise.


Whether you are someone who has recently had a breakup or you’ve experienced past heartache that hasn’t fully healed, Renew can help you rewire the heart so you can move forward in a healthy way, making space for new beginnings and new love.

You owe it to yourself to get more information on Renew, the retreat experience that will leave you empowered and renewed.


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Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

71 Replies to “Processing the Pain of Infidelity”

  1. After months of trying everything to heal..reading counseling talking ..this is the very first time I have read something that made a difference.I can now somewhat be ok with having the emotions I have been feeling.I kept beating myself up for not being *strong* enough to just deal with it..my husband even told me (after I just found out 3 months ago) “just get over it already”! This added to my guilt of having feelings of anger rage mistrust no self worth ect.How does someone just get over betrayal by someone who was their whole world for the last 18 years.The only person on earth who I felt safe and truly loved?! From the bottom of my heart thank you for sharing your painful journey that has allowed me finally to know its ok to hurt and that its all a process of healing.

    1. Thank you for stating “How does someone just get over betrayal by someone who was their whole world…”

      Met in 1974, married 1977, betrayed 1989-2000 sexually, 2000-2016 emotionally, found out 2016. How does someone get over that? I don’t think you ever do. My task to get past it to live the rest of my life–never over it. You get over the flu, never betrayal.

  2. I feel so much better after reading this. I am still going through the emotional turmoil, but I now feel that it’s OK to be vulnerable, to feel alone. Just like the writer I am that broken little girl who feels unwanted and feel like I’m never enough and that I don’t deserve to be happy or feel good about myself. The pain is so real and it’s almost as if I’m slowly being suffocated. I suffered a lot of health problems, weakened immune system the whole nine. I hope one day I can be free from all this pain

  3. I experienced something so similar to this and it wasn’t until I discovered an article on twin flame “runners” that I finally found the understanding i was so desperate for. It won’t be true for everyone but for those that it is. I am confident it will help you make sense of it all x

  4. Thank you for shining a light on the inability to understand how the man who vowed to love honor and cherish us could plunge a knife of infidelity into our souls. I too do not think I will ever understand how a human being could do this to another human being, let alone the woman they swore they ‘love’.
    I too am a year out, but my relationship is 42 years long so I have a lifetime of memories and living to sort through. 27 of these years he was unfaithful to a woman who ostensibly presented herself to me as my friend. 5 years sexually, 22 years emotionally unfaithful. How does one ‘just get over’ that? You don’t. The pain and grief are still sometime unbearable. Dying would definitely been easier and less painful.
    I walk through my days mostly put together, at least from the outside. I have accessed individual therapy, marriage counseling, read books, blogs, articles–prayed, and prayed and prayed. I am still flummoxed by the ability of one human being to inflict such pain on another he claims to ‘love. My girlfriend, who has suffered through her husband’s infidelity, tells me the reason we betrayed wives can not understand our husband’s actions is because we simply do not have the ability to act out in that way–it is not part of our character. Yet ‘experts’ say anyone can cheat–we are all hardwired to cheat given the right circumstances. This ‘fact’ does nothing to lessen the pain.
    Perhaps if my spouse would assume the burden of helping me heal through kindness, compassion and empathy rather than anger and blame–I would be further along this path. I struggle day in and day out. I will not give up. What choice do I have but to proceed and live out my life to the best of my ability?
    Like Summer, I too hope and pray I will someday be free of this life sapping pain.

  5. I stumbled across your blog and am in tears at how connected I feel to every post I open. Thank you for sharing your journey and the truth that sets us free from unhealthy patterns.

  6. I came across this article today because, like most of you, in my despair and hurt I occasionally look on the internet to try and find something that will momentarily ease my pain. And your article (and all your stories) has helped and I am very sorry for all your pain too. I echo just about everything you have all said about how you are feeling. This pain is soooo intense, almost debilitating. At the moment I hardly get any reprieve from it despite all the positive actions and affirmations etc I am trying to do. I found out in June (seven months ago) that my partner of eight years was having an affair (lying and deceiving me – saying he was on golfing weekends with the boys etc etc). I NEVER saw it coming. It totally floored me. Two years ago we had both given up our big, stressful jobs in the city and moved to a beautiful place by the sea with the intention of living the dream. As far as I was concerned we were! But after only a year he started sneaking around seeing this woman (who he has known for thirty years). I was devastated and completely shattered by it. But I moved out on the day I found out, took my dog and two cats and never went back. Through solicitors I signed the house over to him (as I have kept my other house in the city) and I didn’t hear a single word from him (other than a few nasty, angry texts) until two months later when he turned up all tearful and remorseful. I had been so devastated by his actions that to hear him say sorry (well, he kinda said sorry but also tried to deny all sorts of things which I had already found out) that I started to entertain giving him a chance (OK, so now I know I’m a fool!). He said that he would do whatever it took to get me back and he often said how worried he was that my grown up daughter and my family wouldn’t accept him back. But I told him not to worry about that and, despite all my fears, uncertainty, trust issues etc, I took him back! I didn’t move back in though thank goodness. Three months later (at the end of October) I spoke to him and said I felt he was behaving differently and a bit withdrawn and he blurted out that he had made a mistake getting back with me and didn’t want to be with me. It was a double whammy rejection – talk about a knife in the heart! Now, two months later when I had started to try and heal again and get stronger I am told by a number of people in the tiny village that we moved to (and where he still lives, but from where I have moved away from) that he’s seeing a woman from the village who had become a new friend to me when we moved there two years ago. To say that salt has been poured into my wound is an understatement! I cannot ever recall feeling this depth of emotional pain. The horror of it, the humiliation, the utter betrayal. I realise that there is nothing for me to do other than heal myself, do everything I can to get on with my life etc etc (and I am doing all this) but I feel like I have been thrown back to square one with this latest news. I cannot eat and I am finding it hard to sleep. Best diet ever as I have lost exactly one stone since December! It beggars belief that someone I have poured my love and efforts into for eight years can be so callous and so heartless. The one saving grace is that I do NOT want to be back with him – I have truly seen him for who he really is. But I’m still left dealing with the pain. I know time heals so all of us who have posted on here will get better and move on, it’s just the living through it that is so dire!

  7. I can relate so much to this experience. I remember crying so hard I thought my heart was going to stop and I should be in a hospital. I loved him SO much and trusted him completely. He seemed to love me too, but I guess he never did.

    It hurt so bad because he meant so much to me. I thought in the very least, that he cared about me enough never to hurt me that way. Especially knowing it had happened to me many times in the past.

    He didn’t even seem phased. I think he likely enjoyed having a loving devoted gf while dating others on the side.

    I think you give your ex too much credit. They KNEW how we felt about them, that we would never do that to them, that we trusted them, that it was never a “mistake” and didn’t care enough.

    I also cannot even enjoy the good memories. Because they all feel fake. They’re all tainted with what I thought was a loving amazing relationship that never existed. I feel like a fool. Prancing around like deer with little hearts in my eyes. I prayed just as you did, thanking God from the bottom of my heart for finally sending me such a wonderful man and promising to always treat him like the gift he was.

    He cheated on me around Valentines Day. The day that makes so depressed. Even more so now. Took another woman out he met on a dating app, had sex with her. Lied to me about his love and faithfulness for months after. Even when I had a lump “down there”, which thankfully, after getting tested later, was not an STD. Even then, he didn’t care enough. Not about my heart or my body.

    He even told me “I don’t know if I love you, or if I ever did.”

    I cannot imagine how I will ever recover from this. How I will ever trust or be open that way again. I don’t even want to have sex ever again because even men who claim to love you have to problems putting your health at risk for a good time.

    I don’t hate him anymore. That’s good. It’s been 8 months and I still cry over how hurt I am that he would do that to me. I still have nightmares of him and his new girlfriends.

    I doubt they feel all this guilt you describe. Those are words. The reason we are left so hurt is because we were so invested, because we loved deeply and gave our all. In order to cheat, they did not. They are not suffering. It was fun for them. They enjoyed it. I’m sure they regret that their actions just-so-happen to have hurt us deeply. At the end of the day, that risk wasn’t higher than the reward of screwing around.

    I’m glad you’re doing better. I’m not. I didn’t need this. The only lesson is to never trust or open up that way. I wish I never met him. I would have been better off.

  8. Reading this helped a lot. It’s somehow comforting to know I’m not alone in experiencing this, but it still cuts so deeply because they intentionally chose to hurt you.

    Not even sure he’s been unfaithful, there’s been a lot of lying and shadiness that can’t be overlooked.

    I was in this relationship for six years. We’ve been through a lot. We did distance for a bit and we’ve had our fights—but always came out stronger than ever. Unfortunately, things started to unravel last month—in a way that may be irreversible and unsalvageable.

    Things had been going great in our relationship. Toward the end of 2019 were the best weeks and months of our time together. All of a sudden a bomb dropped—I found pictures of him on social media with a younger female colleague. They were taken at a race they did together.

    Rewind a bit—I know a lot of his colleagues. It’s a small town and we’re kind of in the same field. So I actually knew her before they started working together. I told him months ago when I found out she joined his team, that I didn’t like her. She had some manipulative behavior in a past organization we were in. He swore to me he didn’t find her attractive and it was strictly plutonic. She joined last year and is in a junior position. He told me office gossip that she has all the men (especially senior management) wrapped around her finger. They often drop everything to cater to her needs (getting rid of the small of cigarettes in her office, etc.). She even WhatsApps them with her personal phone. She’s 20 years younger than my boyfriend and is by far much much younger than the male managers in their department. By the way, my boyfriend has kids from a previous marriage, and this colleague is just four years older than his eldest daughter.

    He told me he was with guy friends at that race. He didn’t mention her being there at all. I found out through her public Instagram posts that I came across a month after the event.

    My boyfriend is turning 50 next month, and she’s 30. He doesn’t look like a 50 year old with three kids. He’s always been buff and really into fitness and working out. She’s this perky blonde who lives and breathes fitness and nutrition. Her Instagram is devoted to her body—lots of posts of her working out, half naked, and in the gym. If I had any personal insecurities, they multiplied by the tenfold. Here he is hanging out with someone who has similar interests to him and it happens to be something physical. I was gutted.

    I was angry and hurt that he hid this from me. I don’t know about you, but it’s kinda shady to take trips with other women, especially when you’re already in a relationship.

    I confronted him about this through text. He tried calling twice, but I was so emotional and enraged I didn’t speak to him. I just kept going off on him for days and weeks via text. He didn’t block me. He just kept reading my messages but staying silent.

    Was this just an innocent race together? Was I making things bigger than they were? My mind started to race and is still racing—were they more than friends? Do they hang out more outside of the office? Are they actually seeing each other?

    Fast forward to today—I had lunch with other colleagues who work with him—friends of mine too. They were unaware of the whole story about the race. However, they delivered bad news—apparently he had gone to the office Christmas party with her. I had been to it with him before. It’s a grand event. They were totally confused—they wondered where I was. So, they took some pics. Maybe they didn’t come together, but what hurts is that he told me nothing. It’s the type of event where you bring your significant others, etc. He didn’t invite me. I was just at home while the party was going on. Even though we went together in the past, he did it for me and he never liked such gatherings and would prefer to stay home. But here he is all dressed up with her. I’m not too active on social media, but I went back to her Instagram and found another pic of him with her at the party—a selfie with others. These friends I had lunch with also told me that his secretary (a lady who I also know) wondered if we were still together because she had been seeing a lot of the two of them together. If they are fooling around, would he be so stupid to flaunt this relationship at work and especially to people he knows I know?

    My heart sank. Whatever was left of it, it felt completely shattered.

    I felt humiliated that they told me, and that they had such negative feelings about the whole thing and now about him.

    A part of me wants to believe they really are just good friends—because friends run races together and go to parties together. What HURTS most is his lying… why didn’t he tell me about her being at the race and the Christmas party? Did he just want to protect me because he knew I didn’t like her? But then why didn’t he invite me to this party????

    When you’ve known a person for so long and have entrusted every secret to him, you want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes one event, one instance can but a damper on everything.

    Since I’ve already been in crisis mode for the past few weeks, this revelation just adds salt to my wounds. I’ve said my last words. I’ve decided to block him in every form possible. He knows how much he’s hurt me. All this time, we fought hard to make it work. I loved him. I don’t know if there’s an us anymore, but I know I have to take care of myself. If he really has been two-timing, I can’t ignore that. I can’t sugarcoat things and make excuses for him. I’m a person that demands full loyalty, and I won’t tolerate lying.

    I don’t know how to feel. I do know there’s a lot of sadness and anger and regret.

    Thank you for reading!

  9. All I could say is, I saw it coming and I tried my best to stop the infidelity from getting any worse. I had no choice than to find proof to prove to them I knew exactly what was going on after almost 5 years of then denying it to me. This has destroyed me and my mental health and so much more. That saddest part of this all is that their affair started after I went into complete remission from cancer. Regardless, many years later, we have been trying to fix our marriage but it’s still broken. The pain is so deep in my heart that I can’t let go of the many things he did to me durning the time of his affair. Even though he has apologized, I don’t feel it’s enough for taking so many good years away from me. How do I recover? I’m broken, I’m hurt, I’m still angry because sadly I want what he gave away so freely.

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