Not everyone could continue a relationship when a partner commits infidelity. It takes guts, immense strength and patience even to try and salvage a partnership where trust has been broken. No one expects a partner to cheat, ever. Yet it happens, and we literally couldn't do anything about it, to stop it, to prevent it, and whatnot.
For those who want to give the relationship another go, congratulations. You are one brave and strong woman. If you've decided that perhaps it's too soon to call it quits, let's go through the expectations and process of healing in a relationship post infidelity.
What to expect with sex after a partner has cheated
First, let us be the first one to say that it won't be a smooth journey. You will cry (a lot), there will be doubts and depressing thoughts, and you would feel like you're at the lowest point in your life. After all, how could he do that to you if you both loved each other?
There will be physical, emotional and mental obstacles and tests to overcome if you have decided to give him a second chance. Each one would take time and determination, but not impossible to conquer. We're going to consider how these three come into play when it comes to sex after a partner has cheated in a relationship.
It's important to note that sex plays a vital part in restoring the intimacy and connection of the relationship. It could remind you and your partner that there are a purpose and reason to stay and work things through. Yet, we can't stress this enough: It won't be easy.
You imagine him with her
This is perhaps the most difficult mental hurdle to beat. He might try to woo you with dimmed lights, rose petals scattered all over the room, incense and music – all the works, yet the second things get sexual, your mind starts imagining him with her. "Did he do the same thing to her? For sure they also went for this position. How dare he go down on her."
And just like that, you're no longer in the mood. It's not your fault. For you, the fear of being cheated on, of him getting intimate with another woman became a reality. Harness the inner strength that you have to push down those thoughts.
It's hard to focus with everything on your mind
No matter how much you set yourself to be productive and go through your regular schedule, there will be numerous instances when you get distracted by the past. Thoughts like, "How could he have done that? Will things ever be the same? Would he do it again?" are probably on loop. It will take extra effort to maintain focus.
There's a risk of losing libido completely
Some women lose all her sex drive after finding out their partner cheated. Things as simple as touch would seem like an intrusion of privacy because he has lost your trust. This is completely normal and would take time for you to allow him near you, let alone get intimate.
Or use sex as reaffirmation
Then some respond oppositely and use sex as a reaffirmation of the relationship. It's their way to push the past as far away and move on. It could be a way to convince themselves that the relationship is based on love and that things are making progress for the better.
No sex as a punishment
Sex could also wholly disappear in a relationship after infidelity. The one cheated on would not have any sexual desire for her partner while the guy feels guilty and deems sex as something he doesn't deserve after what he's done. The danger of using sex as punishment, from both angles, is that it might do more harm than restoring the trust and foundation of the relationship.
The sex may feel unsafe
It will take time for you to feel ok with being vulnerable with your partner, and there is no speeding up the process, either. There is nothing wrong with feeling like sex has become something unsafe for you because the damage has been done.
Others might judge
This is another uncontrollable effect after infidelity that you could choose to face head-on or completely brush aside because you're trying to save your relationship, not convince others of whatever they're assuming. It is often believed that when someone cheats, that's the end of the relationship, which is why heads turn, and whispers emerge when partners work it out after one has become unfaithful.
Having to deal with other people's opinions whether said behind your back or to your face could make you feel down and doubtful, and not in the mood for sex or any form of intimacy.
The relationship won't be the same
Once a partner has cheated, the relationship changes and you can't go back to how things were post-affair. Where you are at now is a different kind of relationship, a place where both you and your partner will build from scratch, a new foundation where trust was lost. And this time, you're both doing it with eyes wide open.
Go through the phases of recovery
Now that you're well-aware of the things to expect in a relationship and your sex life after he cheated, let's look at the journey to recovery.
During the crisis phase
This is the most challenging phase where you're emotionally unstable, and everything around you seems like it's crumbling. It is also at this moment where you need to remind yourself to take care of your physical needs. Forget about him for a while and take that extra day off, sleep in and binge-watch Netflix. This period is all about you.
The crisis stage is also the phase where you question the future of your relationship. There is a fork in the road, a dilemma that you will have to address when ready. Things like: Sex or no sex, time alone or together, talk about it now or wait?
Going through the insight phase
This is when you begin to consider the affair as something you had a hand in. Yes, it is his fault, but how did it get to that point? The insight phase looks at the emotional content and context of the affair and goes beyond the details like how many times they slept together or was she better.
Forgiveness also starts during the insight phase because you and your partner are ready to go through this hiccup together. You look at the cracks in the relationship which you are prepared to fix by beginning a whole new relationship, sex included.
Passing the vision phase
The vision phase is like the contract-signing stage of the new relationship you are about to build. There will be a lot of rules, promises, and expectations laid out, and there needs to be honesty and transparency during your conversations.
5 ways to restore sexual intimacy after infidelity
Now for the easier-said-than-done yet straightforward ways to restore sexual intimacy.
1. Don't compare
This is the first and most crucial step to overcome if you want to regain what was lost. If you don't know what she looks like, don't probe. If you do know, don't ponder on the details of them in bed. Get the full story from him once, and that is more than enough. You're after fixing the relationship, not getting stuck on unnecessary information.
2. Be the bigger person and go beyond the feelings
It takes maturity to do this step but watch yourself grow in wisdom and empathy as you make continuous initiatives to be the bigger person and set your feelings of hurt and vengeance aside.
3. Make sex a priority without feeling forced or violated
Choosing to move past the infidelity and creating a new relationship with your partner means you will need to become intimate again. Prioritize sex because you both need to build your foundation on it. Just ensure that it's not being forced or treated like an obligation you need to get done.
4. Discuss sex openly and honestly
Your new relationship will be built on trust; therefore, communication must flow. Talk about anything and everything, without tiptoeing around the topic of sex. It's easy to make the affair a taboo topic but once it's out, deal with it, bury the issue to the ground, and move on. Don't tag your sex life with infidelity but instead, create one on a clean slate.
5. Focus on lovemaking and not sex
The only reason why you forgave your partner after he cheated is that you love him. He stayed because he loves you. Hence, you both should be making love and not merely engaging in sexual activities. Think about how much you two are in love and start from there when getting intimate.
Sex does go on for some even after a case of infidelity. It might have been the action that destroyed your trust in the relationship, but it is also the key to establishing a new one if you chose to stay. Take all the time you need to heal and eventually, you'll realize the fruits of your perseverance.