Relationship Expert and Professional Matchmaker, Rachel MacLynn, offers advice on how to restore the faith in love after an affair.
An affair is a brutal end to any relationship and the scars left behind can stay etched on someone’s heart forever.
The ability to trust love again is one of the biggest challenges that victims of an affair have to face when they start a new relationship.
In today’s world trust is much higher on the relationship agenda because the ‘availability’ of an extramarital affair is much higher. Social media, business travel and the fact that society is more tolerant of sexual behaviour means couples are more exposed to temptation. These factors make it even harder for someone who has been hurt, to trust again.
Rachel MacLynn Chartered Psychologist, relationship expert and founder of Vida Consultancy, an exclusive matchmaking service for single people, comments: “When I meet my clients and talk about their criteria for a life partner, trust and honesty are the two words I hear most. Some clients who have been hurt in a previous relationship will talk openly about their past experiences without any bitterness and you can see they are ready to trust again, whilst others are still trying to learn the skill and let go of what happened in their past.
“Learning to trust again does not happen overnight. The saying ‘time is the greatest healer’ is one of the most truthful statements. The timeline for healing varies from person to person. When someone has been victim to an affair in the past, it doesn’t make him or her invincible to it happening again but it will make them stronger and better equipped in dealing with the unexpected.
“With one confession someone’s dream, life plan and exciting future, as they knew it, is completely destroyed and it takes time to grieve for all of that.
“For many people who have unexpectedly had to select ‘single’ on their Facebook profile, the idea of dating, as well as trusting again, terrifies them. Some people that I work with haven’t been single for several years and are completely consumed with fear about looking for love. It’s my job to find someone who can take away that fear and fill it with excitement that puts butterflies in someone’s tummy!”
For those who have fallen casualty to an affair, Rachel has five trust commandments that will help put the faith back into love:
- Give yourself time: Don’t discount how much you’ve learned and grown as a result of the painful moments you’ve been through. You’re now a wiser and ultimately stronger person than you were before you experienced this difficult time. And that means that you now have more to contribute to a new relationship, and that you can be an even better partner to the right person.
- Go slow: Take your time and offer yourself slowly, watching for how the person responds. Show a few smaller parts of yourself in the beginning; then, if this new person responds in a way that makes you feel safe, try offering a bit more. Over time, if you continue to feel that you’re being respected as you make yourself increasingly vulnerable, you can begin to open up more and more, showing the larger and deeper parts of who you are.
- Be Honest: Communicate about your fears and concerns. It can be very healthy to openly discuss your reluctance to make yourself vulnerable again. It can also create a sense of connectedness between two people, which can of course lead to more trust and caring. You might even find that the person you are sharing your experiences with has a similar story.
- Don’t tarnish everyone with the same brush: Not everyone is the same and remember that your new partner isn’t your old one. Don’t treat him as the person that hurt you, remember he hasn’t done anything wrong!
- Trust yourself: In many cases, the fear of trusting another person is more about your own fear of not being able to handle a betrayal. But you know you can. You know you will be able to cope with a broken heart and trusting yourself to be able to cope will make it much easier for you to learn to trust again.
Rachel continues, “It’s important to be ready to date again, to be ready to trust again and as hard as this sounds, to be ready to hurt again. Remember it isn’t just affairs that hurt. Being afraid to date, after a long time out of the game, is natural and proactively looking for love often means logging on to dating websites, which can work for some, but often makes it easy to approach dating in the wrong way.
“Vida works with high achievers who are attractive, fun and intelligent but simply do not have the time to search for a long-term partner themselves. Rather than making people trawl through profiles and spend hours messaging, we make introductions to people we have met, vetted and profiled. As psychologists we also make judgments based on compatibility and offer date coaching, giving clients the best possible chance at finding love.”
Rachel is a relationship expert, chartered psychologist and professional matchmaker