Many people turn themselves into secret agent-style spies when they suspect their partners of infidelity. They hack their spouses' social media accounts, trail their significant others in friends' cars, and surreptitiously monitor email accounts.
Thanks to the recent Ashley Madison user leak, however, you can find out if your S.O. (Significant Other) used the cheat-enabling website with a few clicks of a button. If you discover the worst, how do you cope with the betrayal?
Recognize the Power of Imagination
When you discover that your S.O. used Ashley Madison, your mind probably jumps to assumptions about his or her extramarital activities. You might imagine covert meetings between your partner and various lovers or other painful possibilities.
Remember, however, that you don't know what your S.O.'s profile actually contained. You don't know whether he or she ever connected with another user and you're not yet privy to his or her motivation for signing up. Don't let your imagination run away with you before you can get more facts.
Wait Until You're Calm
Don't call your S.O. at work and demand answers the moment you discover the deception. Instead, wait until you're in a calmer frame of mind. Talk to a trusted confidant or take a long hike to cleanse your thoughts. Meditate, read a book, or pursue another peaceful activity.
Ask for Answers
When you've taken the edge off your anger, sit down with your S.O. and explain what you found. Ask him or her to tell you honestly about the website and how he or she used it. Try not to make threats or wild accusations. If you confront your partner in anger (a threat emotion), you'll misread your S.O.'s response.
Give Yourself Time
Try not to make any life-altering decisions right after you discover your significant other was part of the Ashley Madison hack scandal. Give yourself time to adjust to the news and to process your partner's response. Consider the length of your relationship, the quality of your time together, and your own emotions.
Keep Communication Open
Don't insist on talking about your S.O.'s Ashley Madison usage 24 hours a day. However, you'll need to start several conversations with your partner about infidelity and about your future together. What does he or she want? What do you want? If you intend to stay together, how will you heal?
Make a Decision
Eventually, you'll have to decide whether to give your partner another chance or terminate the relationship. Consult a professional if you don't feel confident in your ability to make this decision on your own. Whether or not you stay should depend on multiple factors, including whether or not your partner has cheated before.
If you no longer trust your partner (and you don't think you can rebuild that trust), it might be best to end the relationship. A marriage or union without trust can't prosper because you won't devote yourself fully to one another.
Coping with infidelity never gets easier. If you discover that your partner used Ashley Madison, give yourself time to grieve and heal. Should you decide to save your relationship, fully commit yourself to the recovery process — for both your sakes.
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