Couples Academy

How Long Does The Pain of Infidelity Last?

Can You Have PTSD Over a Partner Cheating?

Knowing your loved one has done something terrible is going to cause pain, unlike anything you ever experienced. You will feel bereft because the relationship you had is over. You will feel like you have been punched in the gut and left dizzy from the impact. Talking about the affair is another kind of pain, especially when the words come straight from your partner’s mouth. Although you may still love them after the affair, the way you feel about your partner and marriage is not going to be the same.

Know that the pain you are feeling right now is normal. You’re not alone. The pain may seem so deep and scarring that you believe it will never go away. But it can and will. How long does the pain of infidelity last? Let’s find out.


The Infidelity Recovery Timeline

Right now, learning that it takes an average of 2 to 5 years to get over the pain of infidelity may seem impossible. How could you ever get over such a betrayal? Yes, recovering from such a blow is going to take a long time, but there are actions, such as therapy, that can facilitate recovery and save your marriage. Keep in mind that, if you decide to work together to save the marriage, there are going to be a lot of ups and downs.

However, there is a general timeline for recovery that looks a little like this:

  • Stage 1: Discovery – the time between 0 to 6 weeks after learning about the affair
  • Stage 2: Reaction – about 6 months after the affair
  • Stage 3: Release – 9 to 12 months after the affair
  • Stage 4: Recommitment – 12 to 18 months


Let’s look at these stages in detail.

  • Discovery – 0-6 Weeks: During the first few weeks after infidelity, there is a period characterized by emotional chaos. Those who have been betrayed are going to feel a whirlwind of emotions, including anger, frustration, resentment, depression, sadness, and more. Some people even develop PTSD-like symptoms from the trauma of the betrayal. It is important that the unfaithful partner opens up and provides details about the affair. Getting past the first stage of recovery entails closure. Otherwise, you won’t be able to move forward. Once the affair is in the open and discussed at length, the hurt spouse may begin to understand why the affair happened. From there, recovery can begin.
  • Reaction – 6 Months: The reaction stage is where grieving occurs. You grieve because your old marriage is gone. Now, you must build a new one. The unfaithful spouse must work towards atoning for their mistakes, and the betrayed spouse must feel that they are loved. You must both develop a sense of empathy towards the situation, as well as stronger communication.
  • Release – 9 to 12 Months: Having discovered issues within the marriage that lead to infidelity, you may begin to sense that you can forgive your partner for their transgressions. By this point, you know the “why,” and you are hopefully both working towards healing the hurt.
  • Recommitment – 12 to 18 Months: At this point, you have made the conscious decision to recommit to a life together. You realize that the affair was not a defining point in your relationship, only the start of something new. Instead of caving to adversity, you have risen above it together. Now, there is a new significance to your marriage.

Again, these numbers are purely hypothetical. Depending on the steps you take forward from that day of discovery, the time it takes to recover will change. There may be other factors, too, that affect how long the pain of infidelity lasts. This may not be the first time your spouse cheated on you, for instance. Maybe there are children to think about, or perhaps the affair was long-term.

The Infidelity Recovery Timeline


Actions That Lessen The Pain Of Infidelity

Since the first few months are the most brutal, it is important to invest in self-care. This includes reaching out to a therapist about the pain you are feeling. Furthermore, as a couple, you should go to sessions with an infidelity therapist, because they can guide you down the path toward recovery. Without a therapist, you may never get beyond the first stage.

Alongside communicating about your feelings and working towards forgiveness, therapy helps you work through your lowest periods. You will have a safe place to discuss everything you are feeling.


Getting Over The Pain Of Infidelity

It takes around 2 to 5 years for the pain of infidelity to fade. Recovering from infidelity and strengthening your marriage takes patience and dedication from both of you. You must work together as partners. While the road towards recovery is more like navigating a shaky Jenga tower at times, having a therapist by your side can truly make a difference.

Looking for help with infidelity recovery? Couples Academy offers online services with marriage counselors and infidelity therapists to help you through the roughest patches of your marriage. Contact Couples Academy today to learn more about our services.