Jessica’s Story: Jessica and her boyfriend have been together for several years. They have both been divorced before, and she has been embraced by his grown children and their families, as well. They have both a professional and romantic relationship, with many shared friends and colleagues. Over the past few months, it has become undeniably clear that he has been living a double life, spending huge amounts of time, energy and money pursuing sexual encounters online and abroad. Though she has ended the relationship and has received total support from all the family and friends who know the situation, Jessica is still tempted to blame herself. To this day she questions whether it would have happened if she were more attentive, prettier or younger.
The tendency for self-blame may stem from a predisposition to low self-esteem or may arise out of unhealthy relationship dynamics or manipulation by your partner. In the stories above, the three men all strayed for different reasons and were seeking different things. There is no reason at all to believe that the women they betrayed in any way caused the infidelity. There is also no reason to believe that the infidelity would not have occurred if the women looked or acted differently.
Whatever form an affair takes, it represents a violation of trust at the most intimate level. Whether you decide to break up immediately, or stay with him forever, there is healing to be done. The factors that contribute to infidelity may involve individual and couple’s issues, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the one who cheated. It wasn’t caused by—and couldn’t have been prevented by—your size, shape or appearance. If your partner has cheated on you, you’ve already been hurt. Don’t damage yourself further by tearing apart your body image and self-esteem for no reason.
This post originally appeared on YouBeauty.com.
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