Updated: Mar 3
Cheating is a powerful reason to end a relationship. It can be very difficult to come back from such an act because of the trust factor. If you or anyone in this situation attempts to save the relationship, using emotionally focused couples therapy techniques for infidelity can help exponentially.
Imagine a hypothetical situation; A woman that has recently found out her boyfriend cheated on her. He automatically becomes unreliable, and she never trusts a word he says. Now, every conversation and action has the potential to lead to a major argument.
She lost trust in her boyfriend, and now he doesn't know how to make things right. The relationship deteriorates each day, and they are about to break up even though they still love each other.
Here's good news about the dramatic event: Emotionally focused couples therapy techniques for infidelity can help this couple rebuild the loving and caring relationship they once had.
The damaging effects of infidelity
Infidelity causes emotional distress in people, and couple therapy patients often speak in the language of emotional trauma. They have experienced a significant shock that led to losing trust in their partner.
Among the damaging consequences cheating on a partner has, these are some of the most concerning ones:
Deterioration in self-esteem. Infidelity victims may believe they are not worth enough, not attractive enough, or it's their fault their partner cheated on them.
Lack of trust. One is supposed to trust their partner, their closest bond. When this trust is no longer possible, other social relationships may be affected too, as the person no longer knows who to trust.
Uneasiness. The person may begin worrying about where their partner is, what they are doing, and whether the infidelity may happen again or not. These levels of anxiety are damaging to the individual.
Emotionally focused therapy to deal with an unfaithful partner
Emotionally Focused Therapy, also known as EFT, is a short-term therapy that focuses on attachment and bonding styles in adult relationships.
This form of therapy aims to create a safe bond and rebuild the trust the couple either lost or never had in the first place.
It also focuses on emotional intelligence and creating a healthy, safe space for expressing emotions and bonding with the other partner. It helps both parties move in a more positive direction in their romantic and personal life.
Couples therapy techniques to heal an unfaithful betrayal
Therapists can employ several different techniques and methods depending on the couple. The following are three EFT techniques that can help you understand and heal your relationship.
1) Identifying Patterns in Emotional Response
Patterns of response can aggravate and prolong the problem. Each person has a different form of reacting to a situation.
The therapist would help both partners understand each others patterns and how they contribute to their problems. Then, the professional would help create positive emotional responses.
Let's continue with the example provided in the beginning. Let's say that each time the infidelity is brought up, she closes up and refuses to talk things through as a trauma response. On the other hand, he feels guilty and also refuses to speak.
These patterns don't help the problem but rather make it worse. A good EFT couples therapist would help them identify negative behaviors and responses and replace them with positive ones.
2) Letting go of self-protection
It's frequent for people in relationships to protect themselves from negative feelings and emotions. They may avoid deep conversations or certain situations because they will lead to discomfort.
But discomfort is one key aspect of life, and avoiding it only leads to frustration. One must be willing to open up and embrace certain emotions, especially after your partner cheated on you.
EFT therapy helps build a safe space to stop avoiding your emotions and begin embracing what happened and its consequences.
3) Stop projecting the past
Trauma is a response to a shocking event in the past. An EFT therapist helps you identify what went wrong in the past that caused you to now have such strong and adverse reactions.
Maybe a loved one never let you know you were enough, leading to insecurities and fears that make the infidelity even worse.
Eventually, you become aware of what past event is triggering your present emotions, so you can put things into perspective.
In psychology, attachment refers to the emotional bond between a child and their caregiver, whether parents, family members, nannies, etcetera.
When a child feels safe with their caregiver, they are more open to new experiences and socializing with people. On the other hand, if the kid doesn't feel safe with their caregiver, they will assume people are not good or reliable, and they will have more difficulty trusting others.
As we grow up, we develop emotional bonds with other people by having intimate relationships. Our partner is our primary attachment.
If you had a secure attachment style in your childhood, you are more prone to trusting your partner. If you had an insecure attachment style, you may not trust others as easily.
Infidelity can turn your attachment style into an insecure one. You no longer feel safe and at ease with your partner. Instead, you fear they may deceive you again or leave you for another person.
Thankfully, one can rebuild a secure attachment and happy relationship with effort and therapy.
What to seek in an EFT couples therapist
One type of therapist doesn't fit all. You and your partner may feel more comfortable with a person of a specific gender or orientation. Or perhaps you need someone who is more empathetic than the norm.
Keep in mind that if you recognize the signs you need couples therapy, it may take a few tries to find the right therapist that fits in with you and your partner. Everyone has different ways of connecting with others and sometimes you find a great therapist on the first try, and sometimes it takes a few different meetings.
Look for someone who listens to both parties, provides feedback and homework to strengthen your relationship, and never claims to know more about your romance than the two of you.
What If EFT doesn't work?
Sometimes, the relationship is too damaged, or perhaps the partners are too weary to make it work. If this happens, there is no need to punish yourself or think you could have done better.
Sometimes it's best to learn how to let go than hold on to something that hurts. You can give a second opportunity, even a third, but don't provide endless chances if things are not working out.
Hopefully, this post helped you understand what Emotionally Focused Therapy is and the techniques that can benefit your relationship. Good luck!