Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Healing from Infidelity: Going it alone

It's those positive changes made by the person who is working on their personal recovery that challenge their mate's perspective and begin to create new hope that things could be different.

The easiest–and cheapest–way to start on this journey is to take our free First Steps Bootcamp. It's an online guide with 100+ pages of content and a full-length video of a mentor couple who was in as big of a mess as it can get. You'll take a big sigh of relief when you have a clear plan and learn that you're neither crazy nor alone in this journey, whichever side of the infidelity you find yourself on.

Standing Up For Yourself

Several years ago my daughter had to go it alone. It wasn't infidelity, but it was very scary for her--and her parents, I might add.

A random set of circumstances created the need. Her class had been left with no adult supervision. Another student decided to take that opportunity to play a form of music that she found offensive.

"Would you please turn that off or use your head set?" She asked nicely.

He ignored her.

"Please turn it off," she asked again.

The boy simply looked at her, ignoring the request.

At that point she got up and started for the door intending to find the teacher.

The boy responded by getting up and blocking the doorway saying,
"You're not going anywhere."

"Let me out of here" she demanded.

The boy just stood there, doorway blocked. What happened next shocked everyone.

With one swift move she kicked him in the groin and as he doubled over she walked right by him to the principal's office.

To the other students it looked a bit like David and Goliath. My daughter is about 5 feet tall, weighing in at about 90 pounds while the boy was over 6 feet.

What disturbed me about the situation, though, wasn't the boy's behavior.
It was the lack of support from other students.

Why did she have to go it alone? Why didn't others support her?


Going solo in recovery from infidelity happens all too often, but the difficulties of that journey aren't just caused by one's mate choosing not to cooperate. Often, what is just as painful is the lack of support from others who they thought would be there for them.

"Did I miss something?"
"Am I to blame?"
"Did I do something wrong?"

These questions are, often, thoughts running through people's minds.

The lack of support makes going it alone in healing from infidelity even more challenging. How does one cope and move forward into health when no one seems to be supportive?

Infidelity can polarize people like no other life event can. Everyone seems to have predetermined opinions as to how he or she would respond and how others should respond when they discover infidelity in marriage. If your decisions don't match their preconceived notions, their disappointment can leave you feeling completely on your own when it comes to working on the relationship and healing from infidelity--whether you are the betrayed or the unfaithful spouse.

Tragically, those caught in this dilemma find recovery even more challenging due to isolation and disapproval from their former support system. As we've discussed in previous articles, the social shame a person deals with after the discovery of infidelity is another paralyzing force to be wrestled with.

Refusing To Get Help

Going it alone also occurs when either the betrayed or unfaithful spouse is unwilling to get help or address the problems created by the infidelity.

If someone's best choices have brought them to a place they never intended to be, why would they think that continuing with the same beliefs and behaviors will now somehow get them out of there?

Regardless of the reasons, it's not uncommon for one spouse in the marriage to refuse help, leaving the other mate alone in their attempts to save the marriage.

In that circumstance can one person really make a difference? Is it possible to create change if you are the only one doing the work?

Changing Destructive Patterns:
Someone Has To Be The Healthy Person

The answer is an emphatic yes!

In fact, in most cases, changes made by just one of the partners are what brings about marital change.

Marriages don't change bilaterally; they change unilaterally.

It takes both husband and wife covertly colluding to continue the same relational patterns to keep the marriage the same. If only one person changes the relational dance, the other partner has no choice but to adapt in response to that change.

For example, if one partner withdraws and stops engaging their mate, they effectively change the dance of the marriage. If one partner chooses to adopt healthier response patterns or to eliminate destructive response patterns, the marital dance has to change. The person going solo in recovery from infidelity isn't powerless; rather, they're the only one willing to make a difference.

Going it alone isn't about trying to control or manipulate one's mate into change. It's about taking responsibility for their own behavior and choosing to alter their own response patterns to ones which promote health.

Attempts at changing one's mate have little, if any, effectiveness in improving marriage.

However, the person going it alone can certainly explore how to grow into the person they want to be and how to alter their responses to promote health, regardless of their mate's behavior. Those positive changes made by the person who is working on their personal recovery challenge their mate's perspective and begin to create new hope that things could be different.

Without the proof of change, why would the disengaged party have hope?

At the very least, those who choose health and choose to address their personal issues grow as a result of what's happened.

My mate is never my problem,
but my mate always reveals the problem in me.

If, at the very least, the person going it alone will use the crisis of the infidelity as a catalyst for change, then personal transformation will occur, and they will develop a deeper capacity for love and compassion.

Alone or Together?

If you're one of those who's having to go it alone, I applaud you for even reading this far. The road you're traveling is difficult indeed, yet I believe the personal benefits you'll reap in healing from infidelity will pay dividends for the remainder of your life regardless of what happens to your marriage.

We want to help you find the support you need in this recovery journey. In our online courses, you can link arms with others who are on the same path toward healing and find encouragement, resources, and hope! Click here to learn more.

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This is so affirming and SO

This is so affirming and SO helpful for me today. Sometimes I feel like giving up and shutting down even with my own recovery, as the betrayed spouse. I get discouraged at my husband's lack of recovery, but if I keep consistent with the changes I have made, perhaps he will eventually adapt.

Going it alone

I have been going it alone for four years now. My husband refused to take responsibility for his acting and still continues to blame me and finally filled for divorce a year and a half ago. I started on my recovery journey about a month after discovery. My husband has acknowledged how much I’ve changed since then, but still has refused to acknowledge and get help for himself. And still continues the same destructive behaviors he had always had. I have finally had to accept that I am finally healthy and I must love my life apart from the man that I still love very much. I would not wish this journey on anybody, but I also know that I would not be who I am today had I not gone on this journey. Affair Recovery has been instrumental in getting to this place and I thank you.

Going it alone

I was going it alone for quite awhile without insisting on full disclosure & the empathy I needed for healing from my wife's infidelity. Then the internal pressure built up to the point that it became unbearable. So I undertook a very deliberate path in going into counseling myself (since she had no interest in it), journaling, & insisting on conversations with her, no matter how painful they might be. It's not been easy. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I do see daylight through the trees.

Thank you thank you thank you

Thank you thank you thank you! This is just what I needed to hear today. I am a little over a week until my first DDay anniversary. I still expect and see change from my husband but this is so incredibly encouraging for those times when it doesn’t seem like enough, which is so often bc I always want more more more! In our previous marriage I now realize I had a codependency issue where I felt like if I was going to change anything we had to do it together. Or he at least had to take the lead and do it first. And when he wouldn’t come alongside me I so easily crumbled and gave up and became so defeated. It’s so true that it takes 2 people colluding to continue those old patterns but only ONE strong person to change it. That’s what we’re doing everyday, Betrayed. slowly changing the steps of the dance so that they’ll have to change too if they want to keep up. We don’t have to settle for less than or what they’re willing to do. No matter what the situation is - every one of us has to go it alone for so much of this journey. Stay strong. Choose who YOU want to be and go be it! They’ll catch up if they’re worth it.

This is just what I needed

This is just what I needed today, thank you. I have lost so much in this journey of recovery, including my old self, and am just so, so tired. This article is so affirming though, and provides the hope and encouragement I need to keep going with the work I am doing to make myself into something new and better. I want that for me and my marriage. Again, thank you!

Great article which really

Great article which really encouraged me. I recently noticed myself doing old unhealthy communication methods with my husband whom I'm separated from due to his ongoing affair. I woke up to slipping into these old patterns and quickly decided that my husband has already rejected me, so now is a good time to change my unhealthy patterns even if it means he rejects me coz it can't get much worse than it is. I like so freed and encouraged making the changes.

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