How To Heal From Infidelity & Betrayal

June 29, 2021

“Some of the biggest pain around infidelity is how we allow it to make us feel about ourselves. And we usually end up feeling things like our own sense of unworthiness rise to the surface, and we make it about us as though we’re inadequate or not enough. We agonize over what the other person had that we don’t. And we focus on this deep sense of lack within ourselves that we can experience.

This episode has been a long time coming. In nearly 300 episodes I’ve never actually touched on recovering from infidelity, even though supporting people through recovering from infidelity is one of the areas I specialize in.  So this is a big one, and a very important one coming at you today.

We’re going to talk all about:

  • What infidelity actually means and how it can vary with each person
  • Going to go through some of the various and specific steps that I both recommend and that I have done myself, and that I work with clients around in order to navigate and move through dealing with infidelity
  • Some of the really crucial components that will determine how you look at the world on the other side of infidelity
  • Re-writing your story to create a deeper sense of meaning and purpose from it
  • Deciding whether to stay or go 
  • And much more

Are you ready? Get listening right away by clicking play, or if you’re more in the mood to read today, keep scrolling for the full transcription of today’s episode. Let’s do this!


Look for references from today’s episodes?  Find them all here:

EPISODE 117 | The 9 Year Affair: Lessons in Infidelity

Esther Perel | The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity 

EPISODE 273 | Victim Mindset, Radical Responsibility, & Unpacking Our Own Biases In Relationships 

EPISODE 197 | Working Through Collective Grief

EPISODE 248 | Grief, Love & Why One Cannot Exist Without The Other

EPISODE 260 | How To Recover and Let Go From Loss

EPISODE 270 | Cultivating a Deep Sense of Self Worth


IG: @emilygoughcoach

Emily Gough Coaching

Room to Grow Podcast

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Hey, there, welcome back to the Room To Grow podcast, Emily here. This episode has been a long time coming. We’re gonna be talking about how to recover from infidelity and betrayal. And what’s interesting is that this is one of the things that people come to me for the most, by far. And I’m not laughing because that part’s funny. I’m laughing because all of a sudden, it occurred to me one day, I think my assistant and I were having a conversation. And I was like, I’ve never done a podcast episode on that. Almost 300 episodes deep. I have never done a podcast episode on how to recover from infidelity or betrayal. And I’m a little bit shocked that it had not actually occurred to me until now. So it’s been a long time coming. But here we are, you know, we’re all on our own journey we get there when we get there. So this one is really dedicated to anyone who is in pain right now. Because I feel for you, I feel for you. For anyone who isn’t aware of my story, I ended a nine year relationship. I feel like a broken record sometimes, you know, bringing that up. But it’s relevant in this case, for sure, because if you need to know how I know how to move through infidelity, Episode 117 will explain that I have certainly experienced infidelity. So really, I am shocked that I haven’t done an episode on this yet. But there are a few different things that we’re going to go through here, one of the things that we’re going to go through is around what infidelity actually means, then we’re going to go through some of the various steps that I both recommend that I have done myself, and that I work with clients around in order to move through it, and some of the really crucial components that will determine how you look at the world on the other side of this. And that’s a really important part that I talk to clients about a lot. And it’s a portion of the puzzle that I don’t hear enough people talking about, because it’s sort of like treating an acute illness versus a chronic one. And it’s almost like triage to me, sometimes when someone has gone through an infidelity or betrayal, because the way that I view it is there’s a sort of a period of time where people can go one direction or the other. And that’s not to say that, you know, even if, even if it takes you years to get there, you can still switch paths, you always can, you can always change and shift and grow and evolve at any time. But to me, there’s a very sensitive period of time. And how long that period is, can vary from one human to another. But there’s sort of a sensitive period of time where people can harden and set. And what I mean by that is that when people are in really deep pain, if they don’t have the support, and if they don’t have the tools at their disposal to figure out how to navigate it. It’s very easy to become bitter. And that’s what I mean by hardening and setting. And that’s when the walls go up. You know, we close ourselves off. And we never allow ourselves to open up to the possibilities of love and real joy and expansion and like all of those things we contract in other words in that period of time.

You can also manage to find ways to go the other direction. Where, yes, you need to grieve you, you need to move through your process, all of which we’re going to be talking about today. But you can use it to fuel your expansion. And you can see it as something that grows you, you can create a deeper sense of meaning and purpose from it. And when you go that route, it also helps you to actually move past it and overcome it. So that it doesn’t eat you alive from the inside out. Because infidelity and betrayal is so incredibly painful. It is so incredibly painful. And we are going to look at this from a few different aspects here. But if you are someone who is moving through this, I really hope that you listen to the different steps here so that you can seek support, I am one of those options. But there are many options out there, I do work with people often who have gone through betrayal or infidelity from both sides, by the way. So I also have worked with people who are on the other side of infidelity, where they were maybe the ones cheating, however one wishes to define that. I’ve worked with people on that side as well, because this is a judgment free zone. And I fully understand the many, many reasons why cheating happens. So I work with people on both sides, because both sides are very complex and layered. And there is pain on both sides, I assure you, for anyone who has only been on the side of having the infidelity or betrayal inflicted upon you, I promise you there is just as much or more pain on the other side. It’s just really hard to see it when you’re in it. So I work with people from both sides of the equation here. And I love working with both. Because I think that these circumstances can come up. Because sometimes just life just happens, sometimes life just happens. And we have to learn to adapt and roll with the punches a little bit. And when these things happen, we can’t control them, we can only control how we react to them, and how we move through them and hopefully beyond them, and pass them and use them to help us grow into better humans, whatever that looks like. So we’re going to go through a few different aspects of this. But I just really wanted to underscore the fact that there is pain on both sides. And that if you are someone who is going through infidelity or betrayal from either side, I would really encourage you to seek support, if you can, maybe it’s just from a friend, if you can, hopefully, from a mental health professional, or a coach, you know, somebody like me who’s a coach, there’s so many different options out there. But I would encourage you to seek support, because this is not something that we’re meant to move through alone. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit more as well. But there are all kinds of forms of betrayal that don’t necessarily involve anything to do with stepping outside of a relationship sexually too, and that can include betraying ourselves in which the relationship with our partner often ends up suffering as a direct result as well. Even if it feels in the moment, like we’re doing something to help it, we can end up betraying ourselves, even though we’re telling ourselves when we are betraying ourselves that we’re doing it for the good of the relationship. Well, it’s not for the good of the relationship if you’re betraying yourself, because ultimately, that will end up causing resentment and a whole host of other issues. So that’s a problem in and of itself. But I also just really wanted to mention the fact that when we talk about betrayal, the first thing that people’s minds can jump to is either an emotional or sexual affair. But there can be betrayals in all different forms. It can be incredibly small, so small that you wouldn’t think that they would be a big issue until they add up over time, and then they become a problem. So infidelity, like emotional or, you know, physical sexual infidelity is only actually one form of betrayal. But ultimately, the very essence of betrayal typically is secrecy. When there’s secrecy, and we find out things that have been hidden away from us, we feel like total fools. There’s so much shame wrapped up in it.

When it comes to cheating of the sexual and or emotional variety. Ideally, we need to define what infidelity means to you and your partner. And by ideally, I mean, it’s preferable to have this conversation as early in the relationship as possible before any infidelity ever takes place. I’ve had this conversation with clients before as well, because it’s all relative, it is all relative. I actually looked up the Merriam Webster definition of infidelity before I recorded this, and it defines infidelity as, “The act or fact of having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone other than one’s husband, wife or partner. And or an unfaithfulness to a moral obligation, meaning disloyalty”. I thought that was really helpful because that disloyalty part, that hits like that hits, and maybe that’s just me, because loyalty is something that I value so highly in other humans, as well as within myself. But I think based on the number of conversations I’ve had with people, we don’t always realize how important loyalty is to us until we don’t have it. And then it’s a punch in the fucking face. You’re like, Wait, what? I thought that I had that loyalty, I thought that it was assumed. Never assume anything. Because when it comes to these types of conversations around defining what infidelity means to us, there’s a lot of room for interpretation here. So don’t assume that you and your partner both define cheating the same way. This is a necessary conversation. And there are also differences between how men and versus women define cheating. So men tend to be more bothered by the physical act of sex with someone else more. And women tend to be more bothered by the emotional bond and connection that can be established with another person. But obviously, both, but you know, both physical and emotional, can bother both sides, but one tends to bother more than the other. And a central component of a healthy relationship is boundaries. But how do you know what the boundaries are? If you haven’t even had the conversation to establish how you feel? Right? Some people I know consider cheating if their partners go to a strip club to watch women take their clothes off. Others have zero issue with that, you might consider various forms of texting and engagement on social media a form of infidelity. Somebody else might not. What about because this is the thing, the internet especially has opened up all kinds of other parameters, where we didn’t even have to define infidelity or portrayals before because it didn’t exist. So now the Internet has opened up this whole other can of worms, we have to have these conversations around defining what infidelity means to each individual. So there could be things like video chats, and pornography. And there’s so many different avenues that we could talk about here. What does cheating mean to you? You have to get clear on that for yourself. And you need to have that conversation with your partner, either current or future. So before you get into a relationship, or as you’re getting into a relationship with somebody new, have that conversation, and yes, it might be uncomfortable, but you need to establish where each of you stand, and how each of you define infidelity. Define your parameters and explore what infidelity means to each of you individually and as a couple. And this doesn’t have to be quite as scary of a conversation as you think. It can feel heavy, right? Of course, that’s very natural. This can be a heavy topic. But it’s just a conversation. It’s communication. It’s communication and action, which is beautiful, because we all want to learn better communication skills. So this is a really fantastic way to have more communication around a really important topic. Now, if infidelity does occur, whether you’ve had that conversation with your partner or not, the biggest question that comes up first is do I stay or do I go? And Esther Perel, I will reference her in the show notes, she’s brilliant. She’s a world renowned therapist. And she has a couple different books. One of them that’s most relevant here is called The State of Affairs, highly, highly recommended. And she talks about how there used to be shame in leaving the relationship. And now there’s more shame in staying because cultural things have shifted a lot and there’s a lot more stigma. There has always been stigma, but the stigma has shifted sort of from one side to the other. And this is not always a clear answer. There’s, again, I will always say this, there’s so much nuance in life, and especially in relationships, there’s no black and white answer to this, there’s no right or wrong answer to this, whether you stay or whether you go, it is an individual choice, I personally chose to leave my relationship for a number of different reasons. And that was the right choice for me. That does not mean that it’s the right choice for everyone, nor would I ever advise that to be the correct choice for everyone. That is a completely unique decision. And there is no judgment, as far as I’m concerned. On either way, no matter which side of the fence you land on, that is totally up to you, and whatever is best for you. And whether you stay or you go, the answer to that question about, you know, which one should I do, which direction should I go will continue to reveal itself with time, you don’t necessarily need to make a decision immediately. In fact, I would potentially advise against that, although it varies, again, wildly depending on the situation. Sometimes we can make really snap decisions in the heat of the moment that we end up regretting later. And that’s something that I tend to always be conscious of, especially if you have a huge amount of time and energy and love invested with this other person. So don’t feel like you have to make a snap decision right away. Because infidelity can be something that brings you closer together as a couple. It’s not necessarily a theory I would suggest to use to test out. But it’s absolutely a potential possibility. There are all kinds of couples who have grown stronger, basically, that when you ask them, it’s as a direct result of the infidelity. But the only way that they were able to reach that point after the fact was because both parties had to be invested in making it work, and committed to doing the work of healing both individually and together in order to create something beautiful from that fracture. Couples who can heal and build a new relationship with each other post infidelity can have an even more beautiful relationship. Again, there is no right or wrong answer in staying or leaving. And when infidelity occurs, there is often this instinct to want to know every single detail, like what happened, what have you left me out of what don’t I know, we want to know everything because we feel so betrayed. And so let down. So left out and, and pushed aside, we want to know all the details that we missed. And we want to understand why it happened. We want to understand how they could do this to us, how they could do this to the relationship, how they could do this to our family. You know, if you have children with this person, there are so many questions and not nearly enough answers. And what I will tell you is that there will always be more questions than answers. That will always be an uneven scale. No matter how many answers you get, you will always have more questions. And the reason why I say that is because at one point, after finding out about my partner’s infidelity took probably about three months or so afterwards, I hit a point of no longer wanting to know the dirty details. Because ultimately, it will hinder your healing. And it will prevent you from moving forward either for your own sake, or for your sake as a couple. And sometimes what it can do is provide imaginative details, shall we say, that will hurt you more, and might keep you from being able to work things out as a couple if that’s what you and your partner decide that you both want. Because getting the answers to your questions can be the part that we get hung up on, but it’s not going to change what’s already been done.

Yes, they are absolutely questions that need to be answered. Particularly if you plan on even attempting to repair the fracture as a couple to stay together, then that changes things a little bit right? You may need even more answers than somebody who decides to leave but innately we also want all of the answers and the simple reality is that you probably are not ever going to get all of the answers. Or even if you do, they will not necessarily be answers that you want or like. So at some point, you have to make the decision to accept what you don’t know and to move forward without having those answers. And that’s really hard. And that’s part of the closure piece. I’m going to reference a couple different episodes that I’ve done around closure. It’s also a very common question that I get, and closure, we so often look to other people for closure, and we look to the person who hurt us to give us closure. And even if that other person gives us every single answer we want, even if it’s every single answer we want to hear, that will not provide closure, if you are not prepared to receive what’s being given to you. And if you are not prepared to give yourself the gift of that closure, if you aren’t open to it from within, you will never get it, you can continue to seek outside of yourself looking for it, it will not appear, you have to create the closure for yourself. I’ve talked about this on some of those episodes around closure that following the ending of my relationship. I asked lots of questions. Initially, I even got all of the apologies and the remorse and everything else that you know we sometimes daydream about when someone has harmed us. We’re like, Oh, you know, like if, if they just said this to me. And if we have this conversation, they apologize, and they beg for my forgiveness, everything would be better. It doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t make it better. Because when I was receiving that from the other party, I wasn’t prepared to receive it. I wasn’t prepared to accept it. And I had to move through my own process before I was ready to gain closure. And I had to give that closure to myself, he could not give that to me. And that’s the same advice that I’m giving to you as well is that if you want closure, which ultimately I would encourage you to create, at some point, not not in a rush, you know, not tomorrow, but I would encourage you to work towards closure for your own sake. You have to create it from within. And it comes with a lot of acceptance, it comes with a lot of forgiveness, particularly of ourselves, it comes with letting go in ways that we didn’t think we would be able to let go. There’s a lot involved with this. This is why I kind of recommend working with someone, because the only reason why I was able to move through it was because of the support that I had from a variety of different angles. I’m gonna list some steps here. Once you’ve kind of gone through these initial phases, right? I’m going to list some steps, these are not necessarily in order. And the reason why I really want to stress that is because you might find yourself veering wildly between one step to another and back again, from one day to the next. And you might feel like you totally have your shit together and you’re good to go. And then the next day, it’s like you’ve taken 20 steps backwards, and you’re wondering how the hell you ended up back at square one, or worse. And you’re like, wait, I thought I made all this progress, what the hell’s going on, I want to assure you that that is normal. That is part of the process as not fun as it can be. That is still part of the process. So you may swing from one side of the spectrum to the other, from one day to the next. Sometimes especially in the first sort of initial period. That’s still normal. That’s still normal. Okay. So one of the steps is that in order to recover from infidelity and betrayal is that you need to feel what you need to feel, this is not fun. This is not fun. There’s not a lot of this is fun to you. There’s not a lot of this, it’s like a jolly good time. But we have to feel the hurts and the grief and the pain. And we have to go within and we have to spend time in solitude, we have to spend time in silence in solitude, sometimes even if it’s for short periods. I know that that is not quite as possible if you have young kids or anything like that. But I’ve been talking to people a lot more about this lately, that you have to carve a little, even just a little bit of space for silence. Because when people go through infidelity and betrayal one of the things that they struggle with, I struggled with the most was being so angry with myself for not listening to my intuition. And then it’s about retraining yourself to listen to your intuition to actually tune into it. That’s all well and good. But if you’re surrounded by noise 24/7, which most of us are, you’re never going to be able to hear the answers come through. So you have to create some space for solitude. Now, when you’re in the depths of pain, we can also take this too far and we can completely isolate ourselves, which I can also be guilty of sometimes. I’ve gotten a lot better about this in the last couple years, but my tendency, again, I’ve gotten better. But my tendency, especially when I was initially going through the infidelity and betrayal was to literally shut everyone out, I would turn off my phone, and I wouldn’t speak to people for several days. And I don’t really recommend that. Sometimes, yes, you need the space, great. Make sure that everyone who knows you and who loves you and cares about you knows that you’re Okay, first of all, or you will give people panic attacks. I say this from experience, okay. Some solitude is necessary just also don’t go to the other extreme and, like, shut everyone out. Because that’s not healthy either. And connection is part of what will help you heal. So take that one with, you know, with not two extremes, just take it in a reasonable manner. But we have to expect this feeling side of things to take time. This will take time. And if we try to skip this stuff, if we try to skip the feeling stuff, I promise you that all of these things, all of this hurt, all this pain that you’re experiencing that you were trying to shove down and to avoid, will come back and bite you in the ass 100 times over, it will come back it will show up in other areas, it will manifest in different ways, it will find a way to bubble out of you. And sometimes at the worst possible moments. And in ways that you wouldn’t even have expected if you don’t allow yourself to just feel. So as painful as it is to feel now, it is a lot less painful to feel now than it is to try to push it away to feel it all later. Okay. So we have to feel and give ourselves grace with this and allow ourselves the mental and emotional and physical space to heal. 

One of the conversations that I have with people most regularly is that there’s no timeline on this either. You feel how you will feel and you will feel how you feel for however long you need to feel it. And all of it is welcome here. And there’s no timeline on this. And I wish I could give you a more precise answer. But it’s not going to look exactly the same for any two people. I would love to be able to tell you like you know, don’t worry. It’s just you know, if you can just suffer through this for like 60 days, you’re good to go. I would love to be able to give you that answer. It’s just not realistic. It might take you only 60 days, great. It might take longer than that. It might take you a year, it might take you two years. It truly I mean, I feel like I’m the bearer of bad news here. But it will be worse if you try to not feel it. And I’m not saying that you will not ever experience joy in that timeframe, there will be moments and you will start to remember how to smile again. You’ll start to remember how to bring life back into you. And I’m going to remind you of this, feeling even when it’s feeling pain, and the emotions that we don’t really love feeling is still very much an indication of your aliveness, of life itself. Sure we like the other emotions better, like being happy and joyful and all those things. We don’t love the darkness. But the darkness is still a necessary part of moving through life in general, especially moving through these types of experiences. 

Some of the biggest pain around infidelity is how we allow it to make us feel about ourselves. And we usually end up feeling things like our own sense of unworthiness rise to the surface, and we make it about us as though we’re inadequate or not enough. We agonize over what the other person had that we don’t. And we focus on this deep sense of lack within ourselves that we can experience. So ask yourself what stories have you written that infidelity has now changed or even shattered for you? What beliefs is infidelity making you question? How has it shifted your view on relationships and intimacy? In some cases, has it shifted your view on members of an entire gender? I’m speaking in binary terms here to make a point. But just for example, all men are scum or all women cheat, right? Like, is it shifting that for you? pay attention to these types of stories. And this is important, because this is one of those times where you can harden and set and contract, or you can start to recognize your stories for what they really are, which is often lies. And we can use that to expand instead. It’s why I’m bringing this up. And there’s an actually relevant episode here is Episode 273. All about the victim mindset and taking radical responsibility and unpacking our own biases in relationships. This is a big one, this is a really, really big one. So I definitely recommend checking that one out. Anything I referenced, here will be listed in the show notes. But ask yourself, what has changed within you? Is there something in you that feels broken somehow? And are you just noticing that now, or was that there all along, and you just weren’t paying attention to it, or you were purposely ignoring it. 

And then there’s the whole grieving process. So I’ve talked about grief in a few different episodes, there’s one about collective grief. There’s also Episode 248, about grief, love, and why one cannot exist without the other. And Episode 260 is about how to let go and recover from loss. Again, all these will be referenced. But we have to grieve what we’re losing, when it comes to infidelity and betrayal. And that applies whether you decide to stay in the relationship, or whether you decide to end it and grieving, previous more innocent versions of yourself, and the loss of that former version of you. You know, it’s funny after Episode 117, where I talked about the nine year affair, I said in it, that, and I mean this today as well that a part of me died with that relationship. When I ended it, that version of me no longer exists. She’s gone. And when my mom heard the episode, when I aired it, she actually reached out to me and said, how sad that made her feel, that she felt like a piece of my innocence had been lost, never to return. And I understand and I understood that perspective. But also I’m like, okay, but what about all of the other really amazing things that can come out of this? Right? Just because endings are more potent. Sometimes we make a big deal about endings, endings can be much more dramatic than beginnings, because sometimes we don’t actually realize that we’re at the beginning of something. And the ending is usually very clear. Whereas the beginning, sometimes it’s not until we look back, we’re like, oh, that was the beginning of something new. But when you’re in it, you don’t even necessarily see it. So endings can be so much harder for that reason, and because it involves us having to let go. And that’s something that we usually struggle with as humans. But we’re also grieving the death of that version of the relationship. Again, even if you stay in it, that version of that original version of the relationship is gone. Esther Perel talks about that, as well, that if you’re going to rebuild a relationship after infidelity, you are now entering basically a brand new relationship with that person, if you are going to have it actually be successful, and to work. you’re grieving the trust that has been lost both of the other person and within yourself. Sometimes you’re grieving the future that you thought would be. You’re grieving what might have been. You’re grieving the potential that you saw within yourself within the context of that relationship, as it once was. You’re potentially grieving the loss of the other person if the relationship ends, too. Like there’s, there’s three separate entities to grieve anytime we’re talking about grief in relationships, and you end up grieving the version of yourself that you were with that person, you’re grieving the relationship itself, and you’re grieving the loss of the other person. And again, I still mean all of these things, even if you decide to stay in that relationship, and to create and build something new with that person, because you’re still grieving the old versions of you, the old version of your partner and the old version of your relationship with that person. If you do leave the relationship, you’re still grieving all three of those entities as well. So the grief here is still very palpable, and there’s so many different layers to it. 

But you have to do all of these things first before you can even start to think about the next step, which is to take responsibility for yourself. And I need to be clear, this does not mean taking on the actions of others, or shaming or blaming yourself, it means taking an honest look at evaluating how you have shown up in a relationship. Because it’s really easy to fall into the victim role here, especially because the person who was cheated on is the one that society deems to be the victim. And it’s not hard to get sympathy. I can say that from experience, and there have been, and still are sometimes. Somebody asked me about my story just a couple of weeks ago, and I gave them like the one sentence version, because I don’t know them very well. And their immediate response was how sorry they were. And my response to that was immediate, I’m not, I’m not sorry. Like it has shaped me into who I am today. I’m grateful for it. That did not necessarily happen. You know that this is the second after I found out about everything that had been going on at the time. But that has certainly come with time that I’m incredibly grateful for the experience. And I’m not sorry, it happened to me at all. And I recognize that not everyone feels that way. But you have to be strong enough to make the conscious decision to decide how you want to show up in the world. And playing the victim might feel good temporarily, but it’s disempowering. And it will not serve you in the long term because it will end up making you feel like shit, it will keep you from moving on because moving on would mean having to relinquish your role as victim. And we can get so wrapped up in our own stories that we don’t even realize how much we’ve allowed them to imprison us and hold us hostage. And it keeps you from making any improvements or recognizing your own patterns, too. And this is an incredibly problematic area, because it means that then you’ll likely repeat the same patterns over and over and over again, until you learn to step out of the victim mindset. You can kind of wait again like sir to pass here. You can either take the victim role and be like boohoo woe was me, or you can say, hey, this thing happened in my life, I can’t change it. But I can use it to grow from taking these challenges and to become a better human, not in spite of them. But because of them. Sometimes in spite of them as well. But more more to the point you can take it and grow from these experiences because of them. This shit is hard. Like I’m not denying this shit is hard. I’m throwing a lot at you right now. And depending on what stage you’re in, this might feel very harsh. This may feel incredibly harsh, and that’s not the intention. But if you’re in a very fragile space right now, maybe bookmark this, put it to one side, and come back and listen to it in a few weeks. If you’re still not ready, wait another few weeks, and then come back to it again. Because this means having to take a hard look in the mirror at our own bullshit. And asking yourself things like, what went wrong in the relationship? Was your intuition talking to you? And you were ignoring it? And why were you ignoring it? That was a tough one for me. Were we fully compatible? How were our boundaries? How was our communication? looking at things like vulnerability and emotional availability? Was I shutting down? Or was I truly open? Was I blaming the other person for being emotionally unavailable? When I actually wasn’t very emotionally available myself? Where was I holding back? These are all things we have to think about. What were your patterns? Are you the common denominator, if you notice a pattern that has repeated itself over and over again, in several different relationships because that’s ultimately what a pattern is, right? It’s something that repeats over and over again. So are you the common denominator in that pattern? If you are, then that’s something to pay attention to, because even though it’s painful, right now, if you can use these things to your advantage, it’s going to set you up for some really incredible, new beautiful relationships and connections in the future. If you don’t take the time and effort and put yourself through all of these things now, you’ll just continue to repeat the patterns over and over. So we have to find ways to use this to grow us and this is how we can use it to channel our own growth. But we have to take responsibility. And I fully credit that with one of the only reasons why I was able to move on the way that I did. And interestingly, a year after that relationship ended, I think, almost like, to the day, I straight up asked my therapist to tell me if she thought that there was anything, I hadn’t yet taken responsibility for, that I had missed. And because I wanted her to point out any little possible thing to me, that might have been one of my blind spots, and she and I had already been talking for months about where I could take responsibility and everything else, but it was sort of like a hail mary. Okay, is, you know, I feel like I’m ready to move on. But is there anything that I have missed like, and she’s, she and I have known each other for quite some time. So she knows that I want the directly tough love approach most of the time. And so she was very honest with me, because I was determined to make sure that I pulled every possible lesson I could out of there. So something else to consider, at this point, at this juncture, and again, you may be veering wildly back and forth from one stage of these things to another. And that’s totally normal. But asking yourself, what’s your path forward? And that’s a conversation to have both as a couple and a conversation to have with yourself too, you have to really figure out what you want. Whether you’re going to stay or whether you’re going to decide to end things. And I also want to point out here, that the decision you make right now, it doesn’t have to be permanent. It doesn’t have to be the one that you choose forever. But healing and growing for your own sake first, and also for the sake of either the new relationship you’re creating with the same partner, or the next relationship you move into is powerful. It’s really, really powerful. And it’s going to set you up in just incredible ways. And something that I feel like maybe isn’t talked about quite as often is, when you’re kind of deep in the thick of this, I always encourage people to create things to look forward to. So even if that’s just some little thing on the calendar, like a zoom date with a friend, or going for a walk with somebody, whatever you want to do, sometimes I would schedule like a playdate with my friends dogs, their field kinds of things, you can put on the calendar, maybe it’s a weekend away, or a trip or something. But it doesn’t have to be something more extravagant, it can be something really simple, but just having something to look forward to, will help you to move through this process. And to do that regularly. You know, maybe go for dinner with somebody, you know, there’s all kinds of things that you could do here. And creating a deeper sense of meaning and purpose from the experience. Because it’s not about “everything happens for a reason”. Instead, it’s about the meaning that you choose to create from your circumstances. It’s essentially a rewriting of your story. And that is what can change everything. I already mentioned, you know earlier, the whole part about acknowledging the stories that you’re telling yourself, and the stories that you are making the infidelity mean about you as a human. And that is also involved with this rewriting of the story that we’ve created.

And lastly, I highly recommend working with someone and investing in your emotional well being, because it affects everything you do, and it can shift the entire course of your life. That is not an exaggeration. That is not an exaggeration at all. This is an opportunity for growth. No matter whether you leave, or whether you stay, it doesn’t matter. This is an opportunity for growth. And what you choose to do with it is your choice, you get to decide. And whether that means working with a therapist, working with a coach like me, your friends, your family, mentors, the shame of infidelity is a heavyweight to bear. Again, from both sides, whether you are the so-called perpetrator of the infidelity or on the receiving end of the infidelity. And the problem with shame is that it delays healing because we’re simply too ashamed to talk about it. And we were never meant to do life alone to grieve alone or to live completely alone. I don’t mean it’s not okay to live alone. I mean, you know, to live alone, like in total isolation never see humans, okay. That’s what I mean by living alone. We’re built to be held by the collective in tandem with one another in connection and we’re built to have our full range of emotions and feelings witnessed. And this is how I work with people. It’s a judgment free zone, it is individualized attention and care. It’s setting you up for long term happiness and success within yourself, preparing you for the next phase of your life, whatever that looks like, helping you find the strength within yourself that you already possess within you to move through incredibly difficult things. But sometimes we need help uncovering the layers to find that strength. So if you have any questions, if you want to apply to work together, please let me know. All the information is in the show notes. Either whatever app you’re listening to this on or over at You can also send me an email at or shoot me a DM over on Instagram @emilygoughcoach. We can have a chat, we can see if you’re a good fit to work together. Because this is difficult work. This is one of the toughest things you might move through. And there’s so much involved with this, there’s so many things that can come out of this in a really beautiful way, again, no matter what decisions you make on the other side of this. But a lot of this really hinges on what you decide to do with it. And I would really, really encourage you to seek support and to invest in your emotional well being because nothing can replace that. Nothing can replace that. Okay, so let me know how this is for you. Please send this to somebody who needs it. I know I say that but truly it is always just so special to me when I hear that somebody has learned about my podcast because somebody told them about it or sent them an episode or something like that. And one of the best ways that you can support this podcast is to share it, share it on social media, tag me again over @emilygoughcoach over on Instagram. You know, send an email to somebody if you need to, do whatever you need to do, but please share it and please leave a review as well. That would be so helpful. Okay, so let me know how this lands and we’ll be back soon. 

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. It means the absolute world to me and I’m so grateful for any references in the episode and all show notes. Be sure to jump over to and if this episode touched your heart, it would mean so much if you would take a quick second to hit subscribe, write a review and share on social media over someone who really needs to hear today’s message. It makes such a difference to keep this podcast going so I can continue to bring you amazing content and absolutely incredible guests. Be sure to tag me over on Instagram @emilygoughcoach so that I can thank you in real time for listening and connecting with you. We’re back every Tuesday and Thursday with new episodes and I’m looking forward to growing with you.


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