Discover why being cheated on makes us feel unsafe and what we can do to feel secure again. Betrayal trauma is a real and painful experience, and we may become controlling to cope with the fear and insecurity it creates.
After infidelity, however, controlling everything and everyone around us, especially our wayward partner, doesn't create safety. Taking on the exhausting role of an expert manager won't ensure we won't get hurt again. Instead, we discover our safety by prioritizing healing and setting healthy boundaries through self-care. In this post, learn how to feel safe after being cheated on.
“All we want from our partner is to feel safe after being cheated on. Yet their unfaithfulness and betrayal cause our world to stop feeling safe. All of a sudden, our place in this world, past, present, and future, seems unknown, unstable, and unsafe!"
After Being Cheated On We Feel Unsafe!
Discovering our partner cheated can throw us into the constant upheaval of feeling unsafe. We don't know if we are up or if we are down. Our ability to believe what is true or false gets impacted, and we question everything. After discovering we got cheated on, we are desperate to feel safe again.
Feeling safe comes through being connected; infidelity is disconnecting!
In reality, being cheated on is very destabilizing. Therefore, it is often the most frightening experience to endure. Sadly, the wounds it inflicts on its victims are all too common. Why? Because humans are hard-wired to connect. Therefore a break in that connection, or even an intent to break that connection with our significant other, strikes terror akin to the threat of death in us. That is why we don't feel safe after being cheated on.
As a result, this lack of feeling safe creates a visceral terror in us. We feel it surge through our bodies. Primal and instinctive parts of ourselves threaten to engulf us and sometimes even take over. Subsequently, we become desperate to return to safety, to a world where we know what is happening. That drive to feel safe again can take the form of controlling our world and those around us.
Each time we are triggered or more unfaithfulness is exposed, we get thrown back into that unsafe, painful place. While we may sometimes show a composed exterior, inside, we are a flailing, frightened wreck. Undeniably, betrayal trauma is real, excruciating, and takes much time and effort to heal. We wonder if we will ever feel safe again after being cheated on.
We want to feel in control after being cheated on to combat not feeling safe.
Looking for stability again becomes necessary for our recovery from betrayal trauma. After being deceived and cheated on, building our sense of feeling safe again takes considerable time and effort. Yet ultimately, the responsibility to create that safety in our lives sits on our shoulders. While unfair, it becomes our responsibility to build this feeling safe in our lives again.
We can't give someone else the job to keep us safe or to make us feel safe. And we can't expect our broken partners to provide that safety either. THEY must heal all their broken and unsafe parts before they can be safe for us. Giving away control over our lives leaves us open to being hurt again. Without a doubt, as betrayed wives, we need control over our lives. Feeling in control of ourselves is necessary to combat the insecurity and lack of safety that cheating causes us.
Being in control consumes us.
Intellectually we know that we are responsible for ourselves, and our partners are responsible for themselves. But their actions profoundly hurt us, creating deep insecurity and pain. Therefore we want to control them and their actions to manage our pain. The truth is that many betrayed wives try to do this for a season. We point out what our cheating husbands can and can't do and check up on them constantly. Sadly, this keeping vigil over them threatens to consume our minds and doesn't support our healing.
Does Controlling Our Wayward Partner Create Safety?
Trying to control our wayward partner is a normal reaction to getting cheated on, and we want assurance that they will not hurt us in this way again. When they cheated, we lost our ability to trust them to support us and keep our relationship safe. Our innocence and naivety over how we see our partner and the world have forever been taken from us.
After being cheated on we can wrongly put the focus on our partner to help us feel safe.
As betrayed wives, we often feel compelled to tell our unfaithful partners how to make us feel safe, how to fix the relationship, and how they can heal from the dysfunctions that caused them to cheat. Often, we can get so caught up in wanting them to heal that we don't take the time or effort to help ourselves heal.
Healing the betrayal trauma created by being cheated on should be our priority at this awful time. Yet mostly, our need to feel safe overrides our thoughts and actions. So often, we feel compelled to fix everything in the relationship and our partner to stop the unique pain infidelity creates.
Telling them what to do or not do, doesn't make us feel safe because we take responsibility for them and their actions. There is no safety in attempting to control our world through another. Yet somehow, we rationalize that we will feel safe if we are managing our partner and controlling what they do.
Control creates a false sense of feeling safe.
Sadly, being controlling can create a false sense of safety. This false sense of security based on controlling our partners puts us at risk of being cheated on again because they don't learn to control themselves. Managing our partners' healing doesn't create safety, instead we feel more insecure and stressed.
As we discussed in another post, learning, healing, and growing from their own mistakes sit solely on our partners' shoulders. Their responsibility to heal is not ours to control or dictate. We will feel safer remaining in a relationship with our partners when we see them take regular and consistent healing steps for themselves. But if we have to tell them how to heal, we intuitively know that they do not own their recovery work and therefore are not safe for us.
Controlling our partners is a vicious cycle we can get caught in, and it keeps us trapped, going over and over and over the same ground with them. Being safe is a human need, therefore, we need to create safety in our lives. But it doesn't come through controlling our partner.
Our Boundaries Create Safety.
Feeling safe is our responsibility.
We must own that being safe is our responsibility, not our partners or ex-partners. Becoming safe for ourselves is an essential first step to feeling safe again after being cheated on. I know it doesn't seem easy, but we can learn to keep ourselves safe without relying on another to do it for us.
Set clear personal boundaries.
The second step is setting personal boundaries that our partners or ex-partners must never cross. We are in control of creating these personal boundaries. Therefore, we must know what they are and clearly share them with our partners.
If my partner crosses my personal boundaries, we will not remain in a relationship. These are my baseline safety requirements and are non-negotiable. They cover things like no physical or verbal abuse, no sexual encounters outside of our relationship, etc. My partner knows my personal boundaries and has agreed to them. If they cross these boundaries, they lose the privilege of having a relationship with me. The consequences of crossing the personal boundaries I set to keep me safe are mine to enforce. I am responsible for keeping myself safe and doing what is necessary to feel safe because I choose not to have my safety compromised again.
Agree on the relational boundaries.
Thirdly, we need to set relational boundaries. You and your partner must negotiate and develop your relationship boundaries together. You both must agree to them if they are, in fact, relational boundaries. The mutual agreement prevents one of you from acting boundaryless and controlling. Boundaries are vital whether we remain married or not, especially if we have children and need to stay in contact.
Mutual autonomy creates safety.
Another essential boundary that brings safety is mutual autonomy. We can make a request of our partners, but we cannot control them or punish them, especially if they don't oblige with our recommendation. My partner has the right to say no. Their past mistakes do not give me the freedom to manipulate or control them. Being controlling is unsafe for the relationship, our partners, and us. It risks putting our feelings at the mercy of what our partners do or don't do and, therefore, places our feeling safe outside our control.
“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.” — Prentis Hemphill
My feeling safe should not rely on my partner's actions because I am more than our relationship. Therefore, it is my responsibility to create safety in my life. I began feeling safe when I learned proper self-care and how to apply it daily. When I embraced self-care, I went from feeling like an unsafe victim to a secure victor who felt in control of her life.
Healing Creates Safety.
To heal, we need to take the focus off our partner, or what we think our partner should do, and focus on ourselves. By doing this, we create a healthy environment to heal ourselves. My energy is better spent on self-care, mindfulness, and other healing activities as I grieve the many losses infidelity caused.
Putting our resources into our recovery and learning to accept what has happened stops us from remaining a victim of being cheated on. It breaks the need to control our partners after they cheat and helps us feel safe and in control of our life.
Self-care helps us feel safe after being cheated on.
The more I invested in myself, the more I created trust in myself and my ability to know that I am recovering. My self investment supported me to feel safe again. It grew my confidence in my healing process and belief that I would eventually be OK. Ultimately, healing creates and expands our feeling of safety and calm assurance to inhabit our place in this world.
Please check out my free coaching call option if you want more information about finding your safety. Together we can explore practical ways to find your sense of equilibrium and security for yourself while you heal. Spending time with safe people, especially other women who have recovered from their trauma after being cheated on, will significantly support you.
I highly recommend the 18-week Self Care After Infidelity coaching course to help you through the painful healing journey from being cheated on. The self-care course has helped many women find healing after infidelity and is a highly recommended way of keeping the focus on you and your recovery.
Healing takes far longer than we expect, so give yourself the support you need to feel safe and allow baby steps. Healing the trauma of getting cheated on isn’t a leaps-and-bounds journey. It takes time and compassion to heal betrayal pain. I know because I have been there.
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