Finding out that your partner has cheated on you can turn your whole world upside down. What you believed to be a loving, harmonious relationship can be taken away within seconds because the one person you trusted with all your heart has broken it into a million pieces with their unfaithful actions.
Added to this, there is double the pain if the person your partner cheated on you with is someone you know or are related to. Whether it’s a close friend, family member, nanny or neighbor, it can leave you feeling doubly let down.
Statistics show that over 50% of adults who had an affair, chose to be unfaithful with someone the couple knew like a close friend. Around 29% of affair partners were someone both individuals knew like a neighbor or colleague and the remainder were random acquaintances or off chance meetings.
Even though these stats highlight how common it is for a person to cheat on their partner with someone they both know, of course it doesn’t make the situation less painful for the person who was cheated on. It leads to double betrayal and a lot of people who have found out that their partner is cheating on them with someone they know, may feel doubly hurt and total embarrassment for not sensing something was happening before.
Knowing that two people close to you have been sneaking around behind your back can make you question everything. Everything you believed in has been shattered and you are left questioning what you did wrong.
How did I miss this?
How did I let it happen?
Is he/she more attractive than me?
Did I push them together?
Have they been laughing at me behind my back?
They’ve made such a fool of me, did they enjoy this?
How could they be so cruel to crush my heart and life like this?
It is so natural for a person who has been cheated on to have so many thoughts running through their mind – you might not be able to switch off thinking about all the times you left your husband alone with the person they cheated with, especially if it is a family member, nanny or close friend. Going through these obsessive thoughts of your partner with someone else is natural because you seek answers. We all want to know why something bad has happened so you can prevent it happening again, but the reality is there are a multitude of reasons why a person has an affair relationship and, in most cases, it is nothing to do with the partner who has been cheated on.
According to sex therapist Esther Perel, “someone who is happy [in their relationship] might cheat because they’re in the process of discovering (or rediscovering) who they really are, perhaps because they feel as though they’ve lost a part of themselves.” (2018).
In the past year I have worked with 25 couples around the world where a partner has cheated with someone who is loved and trusted by the couple.
In Dubai it is the norm to have a maid or nanny to help run the house and look after the children. Majority of the maids or nannies live in the family home which means they become members of the family and are highly trusted. Sadly, a lot of maids come from poorer countries and so they seek freedom by doing whatever they think will grant them this sense of freedom, especially making a move to seduce the man of the house. Not all maids do this of course, however I think it is worth mentioning as I do get several couples come to me where an affair with a maid has happened or where the maid is flirting and looking after the man in the house and ignoring the wife.
It can be very difficult to rebuild trust after cheating with a maid or an affair with a nanny in the home. It is difficult to know when unfaithful behaviour is happening at home if all parties live in the same house. However, in one month I had one women who forgot something for work and walked in on them making out on the sofa and another lady I recently worked with, Victoria caught her husband in the act whilst coming out of the maid’s bedroom. Startled she asked him what are you doing in there and he confessed. She was mortified as she would have never assumed this would ever happen between the man she loved, trusted and had been married to for 14 years and the woman she confided in, supported to build a home back in her home country and someone that she trusted with her children. Victoria was doubly hurt, confused and it felt like she had been stabbed several times over her chest and stomach. The double betrayal made her question herself, she felt naïve, too trusting and stupid to be so kind to someone that was coming on to her husband. Other women have come to me suspicious, where just get a sense or feeling that something isn’t right, that something is off. It may not be an affair but they can feel left out in their own home and often decide to change the live in help.
Double betrayal can also occur even closer to home. I worked with a couple where the wife Sandra’s sister cheated with her husband. Not only did Sandra feel broken – it also impacted the extended family as the parents struggled to believe the affair had happened at first, as they were so distraught. This left Sandra feeling alone and let down by everyone around her. She felt like she had no one to turn to and she wasn’t sure who she should be angry with, she was angry with them all and sadly with herself until I helped her change that.
I facilitated a 3 day breakthrough session with Sandra where we worked on regaining her trust and rebuilding a new life without pain and the constant anxiety of being broken again.
There is an unwritten expectation that your loved ones will protect you so when they break that trust it can be so difficult to trust again. This extends to close friends too. However, my breakthrough sessions have great success in facilitating the healing process. I firmly believe it is never a bad thing to trust others, to see the good in people and it certainly is not a reflection on the person betrayed. Cheating is always a choice by the cheater.
In the US, UK, and Australia, I’ve had cases where a close friend of the couple tries it on the wife or husband at a BBQ or family party. It is easy for people to develop relationships with close friends as you see them regularly at social events or group holidays where everyone spends a lot of time together.
I worked with Ben, whose single friend was overly friendly with his wife and initially he didn’t think anything of it. In fact, he thought it was good of his friend to look out for his wife, until he saw inappropriate photos and messages being exchanged between the two. After reading through all the messages and emails between his friend and his wife, he found out that they had been having an affair on and off for two years whilst they would go to their holiday home with their group of friends.
Ben immediately wanted to get rid of their holiday home as it was now tainted with bad memories. This had repercussions on their other friends as Ben wanted to distance himself from everyone and this meant breaking up their children’s connections with their friend’s children too.
Double betrayals can involve multiple losses and adds to the shame and pain of dealing with an affair. This type of betrayal is difficult to process because it means dealing with double the hurt, double the confusion and double the grief. In most cases, you lose connection with one or two people you were so close with and loved. In other circumstances where a partner cheats with someone outside of your family and friend’s circle makes it easier to never have to see the affair partner ever again, however, when it’s a close friend or family member it adds another level of guilt in no longer having them in your life or trying to move forward.
Having over ten years of experience working as a marriage counselor in Dubai and around the world, I have helped numerous couples heal after an affair. Here are my top three techniques that have great outcomes after a partner has cheated with a friend, family member or husband cheated with nanny / maid.
Tip 1 – The “What if” Reframing Process
Something I hear time and time again is people asking the “what if” questions.
Can you relate to this –
What if they cheat again?
What if I never forgive them or forget?
What if I never want to have sex with them again?
What if I cannot get the images out of my head?
What if once a cheater always a cheater?
What if I forgive and they think they can get away with it?
What if they don’t really want to be with me?
What if they think of them when having sex with me?
What if they compare my body and looks to them?
What if I didn’t find out – would they carry on for years?
What if I’m second choice?
What if I never can trust again?
What if I can’t look at them the same way?
What if I will never get over this?
What if I deserve this?
What if they are only with me for the children?
What if they don’t really want me but feel guilty?
What if they are with me for financial reasons only?
What if they don’t love me?
What if they are lying?
What if I cannot tell what is the truth or not?
It is so natural for the mind to go through all of these “what if” scenarios to try and make sense of the whole situation. This “what if” process can be dangerous if we allow it to take over our minds. All these questions come from a place of fear of going through the double betrayal and pain again, however, by reframing the questions into a more positive light we can turn them into one of our greatest assets.
For example if you decide to stay with your romantic parther –
What if this is what we needed to bring us together?
What if faced with the reality of losing me, everything shifts for the better?
What if I give them a chance and it’s perfect?
What if we are able to learn from this lesson together?
What if we have no idea how it will work but it could be the best thing that’s ever happened in our life?
What if we grow to love each other more and recreate a new relationship?
What if this leads us to get relationship and communication coaching and we both feel happier?
What if they realised how much they love me and me them and we create an exciting future together?
Or if you decide to leave –
What if I have the best life being single and focusing on my needs?
What if this was the wake up call I needed to turn my life around?
What if my children thrive having more one to one time with each parent?
What if I use this to recreate a new life for myself, reivent myself with purpose and passion?
What if I go on to meet the love of my life?
What if the change is the best thing that has ever happened to me?
This is a technique I teach in the holistic life therapist training as I have had great success with clients who book sessions with me for counselling in Dubai and online.
Tip 2 – Hypnotherapy To Shift Anxieties
As explored earlier, cheating can lead to severe anxiety because of the double betrayal and break in trust. One of the most successful tools I use with clients is hypnotherapy which I also do on the last day of the 3 day breakthrough session.
I have a comprehensive audio package which includes life-time access to three life changing programs.
Hypnotherapy is a great tool to help you with the reframing process with the use of guided visualization to see situations that cause anxiety in a different way to reduce the fear and increase self-confidence. Feeling more at peace and with the right affirmations, you can develop healthier responses to difficult situations like affairs.
A meta-analysis of over 15 studies found that hypnotherapy was highly successful in controlling anxiety for a range of highly stressful situations. In fact, over 50% of the participants in all studies reported reduced stress and anxiety levels following hypnotherapy sessions, compared to the control groups who did not use hypnotherapy as a healing tool. (Choosingtherapy.com, 2021).
Tip 3 – Love and Be Patient With Yourself
Finding out two people you trusted have broken your heart can leave you feeling resentful and angry; however, it is so important to try and remain in control of your emotions. By losing control of your emotions can cause further pain and sadness to an already difficult situation.
If need be, you can take time away from your partner and the affair partner to process what you are going through without making any decisions. Often, we do not allow ourselves to process our emotions which can lead to a buildup of anger and resentment that shows up in different ways like sickness or dis-ease in the body.
Being patient with yourself and taking time out gives you the opportunity to start reframing the “what if” questions and turn the situation into one that serves a purpose to you and helps you evolve from it.
Going through double betrayal can have such a deep impact on your ability to trust again and in a lot of cases where a partner has cheated with someone close, it is understandable to feel ashamed or lack self-confidence. Therefore, it is so important to focus on loving yourself and being gentle with yourself. It is not your fault and as I mentioned earlier, there are countless external reasons for an affair to happen which have no link to who you are as a person.
Remind yourself that it is easy to get caught up in mixing up what is the truth and what is your assumption or perception of the affair. For example, you may think the affair happened because your partner is no longer attracted to you, when in reality you are more than enough, and it is the affair partner that sees themselves as second place or a choice. You matter!
Taking the right steps to reduce your anxiety and fears and rebuilding your ability to trust can help you heal and learn to love yourself again.
If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts and anxiety fueled by insecurities, and you want to break free, I facilitate a 3-day Breakthrough Program that has helped so many others in your position. To find out more email me on email@example.com or visit www.nicolabeer.com to book a free 20 minute introduction call where we can discuss your path to healing in more detail.