Those in LGBTQ+ relationships already face many struggles in their relationship just to be together. They have to fight for the right to marry, adopt children, be accepted by their family, or just order a wedding cake. Those living in less accepting areas can feel like they have to hide their relationship in public or at work and can even feel discouraged from seeking out relationship therapy. When there has been an emotional or sexual affair added to these struggles, it can be difficult to know how to start repairing.
The effects of infidelity
When an affair happens, it breaks the trust in the relationship and causes a lot of pain and hurt. To heal from this, there has to be repair of the hurt and a long process of rebuilding trust. Drs. John and Julie Gottman note that affairs can cause PTSD in the hurt partner. Triggers can include the way they discovered the affair; certain places, people, or things; sex and intimacy; phone notifications, and more. If PTSD is present, recognize it as part of the healing process.
The healing from betrayal
Here are some general tips on what helps couples heal the hurt from a betrayal:
- Break things off with any affair partners and cut ties before trying to fix things with your partner.
- Be honest moving forward. A big part of repair is to rebuild trust. If there is no honesty in the relationship, that will never happen.
- The betrayer should take full responsibility for their actions. This needs to happen before you can move on to working on any problems that were present before the affair.
- Take turns really listening to how each partner feels and attune to their feelings.
- If things get heated and you feel flooded, take a time-out to self-soothe before continuing the conversation.
- Turn towards your partner instead of turning away.
- Accept influence from each other.
- Things were likely not working well in the old relationship. So, build new and healthy communication and habits with each other.
- Make sure the people surrounding you are supportive of your relationship in general. Your partner needs to feel comfortable with you sharing outside of your relationship.
- Don’t talk about your relationship on social media. This can cause other hurt and betrayal.
Of course, one of the most helpful things you can do is seek out therapy with a Gottman-trained therapist. They can help you heal and build a new chapter of your relationship. The Gottman Method focuses on using the Sound Relationship House Theory that includes the nine components found in healthy relationships. The Gottman Institute completed several research studies on same-sex relationships. They commit to assuring that LGBTQ+ couples have resources to strengthen their relationships.
Most research that focuses on infidelity and relationships centers on heterosexual couples, based on the volunteers participating in the study. The Gottman Institute is currently conducting research on affair recovery and would love to have LBGTQ+ representation. If you identify as LGBTQ+ and have experienced an affair in your relationship, learn more about the study here.