May 19 / Dr. Kevin Skinner

Moving on After an Affair

Infidelity happens in many relationships, but that doesn't mean it's easy to move on after an affair. Whether you've been cheated on or were the one who cheated, healing from an affair takes time and effort from both partners. It will likely  be a long process filled with emotional ups and downs, but it is possible to heal in your relationship. In this blog post, we'll explore some ways to heal and rebuild trust after an affair.

the hurt:

If you have betrayed your partner one of the most helpful things you can do is seek to understand you partner’s pain. You may think that you can acknowledge the pain once and move on. However, healing from sexual betrayal usually takes time and effort. This means you will need to express your emotions honestly and allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner. It's easy to want to sweep things under the rug to move on, but that won't lead to true healing. Take time to validate your partner’s emotions, be willing to listen, and apologize when your partner is suffering.

Seek counseling:

Couples counseling can be a helpful tool for rebuilding trust after an affair. A trained therapist can guide you through the process by helping you assess how the betrayal occurred,, provide guidance and direction, and help you communicate effectively. Your therapist can also help you identify unhealthy patterns in your relationship that contributed to the affair and work on changing them. It can be scary to open up to a stranger about such personal issues, but it can also be liberating.

Set boundaries and stick to them:

After an affair, it's important to set personal and relationship boundaries. These boundaries will act as guideposts as you work to rebuild your relationship. In my book, Rebuild Your Relationship after Sexual Betrayal, I discuss the importance of having your values guide your boundaries. In many cases individuals struggle to identify their personal boundaries and consequently their relationship is at risk. All healthy relationships have boundaries to guide their behaviors.

Some of the common boundaries I have observed include: 1) restrictions on Internet use; 2) stopping all contact with the affair partner; 3) transparency with phone and social media use, and 4) setting up a schedule for check-ins. Whatever boundaries you decide to set, make sure to communicate them clearly and stick to them. This will help your partner rebuild trust in you and ultimately help you move on after an affair.

Focus on Individual Healing:

While your relationship is important, learning to move on after an affair will demand that you do personal work. The betraying partner will need to understand what led them to engage in sexual behaviors outside of the relationship. The betrayed partner will also need to heal. Often they experience traumatic symptoms similar to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Ultimately, healing from an affair will include moving forward and focusing on the future. However, unresolved questions can delay the healing process. For more information on why this happens, I would suggest you watch this on the Zeigarnik Effect. If you haven’t heard of the Zeigarnik Effect, the basic concept is we spend up to 90% of our thinking on unresolved issues.  

Therefore, it's important to acknowledge what happened and address the issues that led to the affair. As you openly discuss the betrayal and the necessary details, you are increasing your chance of healing.

Effort and Desire

As you strive to move on after the affair, you will need to make an effort to prioritize your relationship and create new positive experiences together. Celebrate smile milestones and show each other appreciation. Couples who succeed increasing turn towards each other and their relationship. They put in the effort, which increases their desire for healing.

If you find that your desire for the relationship is waning, do not be afraid to share your concern with your partner. Your honesty will let them know how you are truly feeling. I have observed the couples who heal, increase their capacity to have hard conversations. Are you and your partner willing to have hard conversations? Your success in healing may depend on it.


Moving on after an affair is a difficult but worthwhile journey. It takes open communication, honesty, and willingness from both partners to heal and rebuild trust. Remember to acknowledge the hurt, seek counseling, set boundaries, focus on individual healing, and put in the effort so you can increase your desire for healing. With time and effort, it is possible to create a better relationship. One that is established on principles of honest and truth.


If you would would like to learn more about moving on after an affair, I would invite you to watch the Tedx Talk I gave in 2018.


More about Dr. Kevin Skinner 

Dr. Kevin Skinner is the author of Treating Trauma from Sexual Betrayal and Treating Sexual Addiction: A Compassionate Approach to Recovery. from Sexual Betrayal. In 2023 he published the book, Rebuild Your Relationship after Sexual Betrayal. You can learn more about his work here at