Read half one of this two-part article: How Do Affairs Happen?

The revelation of a companion’s affair (sexual or emotional) comes as a shock to the damage companion, even when doubts exist. The loss of belief in a relationship isn’t any totally different from a bodily loss. The closeness of the relationship and the damage companion’s notion of preventability have been recognized as predictors of the grieving course of’s depth and length in a examine on human grief by Bugen. The predictors wouldn’t be totally different within the case of belief loss as nicely.

The course of of grief contains 5 emotional levels to restoration from loss, as per the Kubler-Ross mannequin. This course of isn’t linear, and the damage companion can discover themselves at any stage all through various timelines. The levels of belief loss, making use of the grief mannequin to the aftermath of an affair, can be as follows:


The damage companion struggles to understand what occurred and is usually unaware of the Gottman-Rusbult-Glass betrayal cascade that the betraying companion skilled or is experiencing (Read additional concerning the betraying companion’s struggles within the article, “How Do Affairs Happen?”). The damage companion tends to reduce the ache of the affair initially and goes by the section of “something is amiss, and it will be set right.” There is a robust want to verify with the companion by asking questions in a number of other ways as they really feel that this can’t be taking place.


The damage companion begins to piece collectively the incidents from the previous, and the truth step by step emerges. There is clear anger concerning the betrayal, damage for being let down, and unhappiness about shedding the relationship. The anger might be towards oneself for letting this occur, the companion who did this to them, and the liaison who shouldn’t have crossed the boundaries. But then, there may be additionally the worry that the anger could push away the very particular person they nonetheless love. The worry of shedding the companion ends in suppressing anger, which can erupt abruptly at totally different factors because the entirety of the state of affairs sinks in. There can also be self-doubt about their position within the case, which is overwhelming, given the immense emotional stress already persisting.


The emotions of confusion, ache, anger, and different feelings appear insufferable and threaten the loss of management. It is a helpless state intensified by highly effective feelings and subsequently comes a must regain management. The damage companion tries to reset the previous by exploring totally different paths, akin to “if only I had stopped her that day when I saw her messaging,” “what if the other person had misused the situation and my partner is not at fault,” and many others. There is a battle to heal the ache sooner by offering logical explanations and intellectualizing emotions. The damage companion could strive untimely closure to postpone experiencing painful feelings.


Here one feels the total influence of shedding a trusted relationship. The affair erases every little thing the damage companion believed. While the primary three levels are extra cognitive and solution-oriented, this stage is emotional and experience-oriented. It would possibly contain heaviness and isolation. The damage companion experiences intense feelings of anger, unhappiness, and doubts that may really feel like there is no such thing as a extra working away. Questions could come up like, “does my partner love me at all?” “I should have given more time and attention before,” “What do I do now?” and many others. These questions tackle the issues at a deeper stage, releasing intense feelings. It is a tough section that may really feel foggy. Though despair could really feel like a consolation zone because the internal battle lessens, dwelling right here indefinitely is unhealthy and would want counseling help to maneuver on.


Acceptance comes regarding what occurred and what it means sooner or later. It isn’t an ideal decision and everlasting closure (with feelings and interpersonal realities) however a transformative stage following a major change. The damage companion could begin to have ideas like, “I am aware of what went wrong and can understand the reasons,” “I will be able to forgive and move on,” and many others. At this level, the attitude is extra on the current second and future fairly than the previous. Hope is renewed concerning the restoration of the relationship. This stage feels totally different because the outlook in the direction of a number of elements of life modifications.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Shirley Glass famous that the damage companion usually suffers from a PTSD response following an affair’s discovery. According to Drs. John and Julie Gottman, if the beneath signs persist, then the probabilities are that the damage companion is experiencing PTSD. 

  1. Recurrent recollections and intrusive visualizations: “Deja vu” occasions, days, places, and many others., are likely to set off flashbacks of affair specifics. For instance, recurring dates of when the damage companion had came upon concerning the affair set off reminiscences and associated feelings that may induce flooding (stress) and panic assaults.
  2. Oscillating moods, confusion, irritability, and outbursts: As the damage companion struggles between emotions of betrayal and acceptance, there are durations of emotional numbing adopted by explosions.
  3. Intense feelings of anger, damage, disgrace, grief, and frustration: There are ambivalent fears of anger, guilt, self-doubts, and many others., that may overwhelm the damage companion. Empathetic listening goes a great distance in therapeutic.
  4. Hyper-vigilance and startling: Hurt companions can develop into startled and vigilant about mundane issues like message notifications, cellphone rings, delay in replies, and many others., and could seem to make inconceivable calls for. Compassion and assurance will assist.
  5. Avoidance, detachment, and seclusion: The overwhelming emotions seem difficult, and isolation could seem to be the one choice. The betraying companion usually misunderstands it as distancing and tends to remain away. It could improve the emotions of rejection within the damage companion when what is required is emotional help.
  6. Loss of focus and curiosity: The despair signs of demotivation, loss of curiosity, lack of vitality, irregular sleep, no urge for food, low emotions, and many others., can persist.
  7. Hopelessness concerning the future: As the world, they know, collapses, there could also be hopelessness and helplessness concerning the relationship.

Although not all companions damage by an affair will develop PTSD reactions, many will expertise grief and despair. Hurt companions could develop into obsessive about the affair’s particulars, really feel powerless with their feelings, and wish therapeutic help at such instances. It is essential to notice that these reactions are regular responses and may profit from couple remedy.

Final thought

An affair shakes every little thing that the damage companion believes of their understanding of themselves and the world. Gottman Method Couples Therapy may also help a pair be taught to atone, attune, and connect as they restore new objective and which means collectively.

Has your relationship skilled a sexual or emotional affair? The Gottman Institute is at present searching for {couples} for an worldwide examine on affair restoration. For extra data, please click on here.


Bugen, L. A. (1977). Human grief: A mannequin for prediction and intervention. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 47(2), 196–206.

Glass, S. (2007). NOT “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity. Simon & Schuster.

Gottman, J. (1995). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last. Simon & Schuster.

Gottman, J. M. (2011). The science of belief: Emotional attunement for {couples}.

Gottman, J., & Gottman, J. (2017a). The Natural Principles of Love. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 9(1), 7–26. doi: 10.1111/JFTR.12182

Gottman, J., & Gottman, J. (2017b). Treating Affairs and Trauma. Unpublished manuscript,  Gottman Institute, Seattle, USA.

Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (1986). Assessing the position of emotion in marriage. Behavioral Assessment.

Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (1992). Marital processes predictive of later dissolution: conduct, physiology, and well being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(2), 221–233. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.63.2.221

Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (2002). A Two‐Factor Model for Predicting When a Couple Will Divorce: Exploratory Analyses Using 14‐Year Longitudinal Data*. Family Process, 41(1), 83–96. doi: 10.1111/J.1545-5300.2002.40102000083.X

Hall, C. (2011). Beyond Kubler-Ross: current developments in our understanding of grief and bereavement. InPsych: The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society Ltd, 33(6), 8.

Holland, Okay. (2018, September 25). What You Should Know About the Stages of Grief. Retrieved from

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