Getting over feeling worthless after the affair

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You can’t help comparing yourself to the ‘other’, even if you’ve never seen her. In some way, you think, he must see her as ‘better’ than you.

Being abandoned is one of the scariest and most hurtful of experiences. Children and even puppies fear it, because, for them, it’s a matter of life and death. Even as an adult, our fear of being left, of being seen as less important to our loved one than they are to us, still triggers those primal survival instincts.

Words alone are cold comfort, as you know. Your friends can rave about your attractive features, your fashion sense or radiant personality, but, deep inside, all you care about is the return of your spouse’s adoration. So what, then, can you do to get back on your feet and start feeling good about yourself again?

One thing to remember is that the affair indicates something wrong in the relationship (not with you per se), and sometimes, the ‘other’ is attractive simply because they are a fresh experience without the baggage that years of married life can accrue. That being the case, it might be worth taking a hard, honest look at just how your relationship was working at the time the affair began. Had the children been taking up all your time so you lost touch with the romance? Have work pressures or disappointments between you caused one of you to withdraw sexually?

Maybe there’s an old argument that has ‘scabbed over’ but never truly healed? Usually there is some underlying cause. If you both feel the relationship is worth saving, it’s probably time to start exploring these issues, and clear the air.

Even if that’s not the case and chances of reconciliation are slim, you still need to heal from the damage your cheating spouse has caused. Some people have a stronger self-image than others even under the best of circumstances. The point is, don’t let someone outside of yourself, even your spouse, determine your self-worth for you.

Surround yourself with people who like and appreciate you and (importantly) around whom you feel great. Get out among friends or explore a new hobby — maybe some interest you’ve had for years but never followed through with. Whether that turns out to be quilting, gardening, writing, building birdhouses or crafting duck decoys, learn it and practice it with a passion. Learning doesn’t just feel good, it’s healthy for us, and keeps us young. Not only will you meet new people and learn new skills, your entire demeanor and outlook on life may improve so much that you’ll find yourself in a romance again before you know it. It might even be with your estranged spouse.