It’s been a little while since you discovered your partner’s affair, and, against all the odds it turned out that infidelity wasn’t fatal after all. Who knew? You’ve done all the right things so far – you’ve registered at every infidelity support forum you can find. You’ve read until your eyeballs have desiccated and turned an interesting shade of mauve. You’ve waded through all the conflicting wisdom and have settled on your own understanding of what you’re facing. You’ve even developed your own version of how to navigate the Affair Tough Mudder, and have finally arrived at The Plan:
Check, check, check. It’s all in place. The Plan has been implemented, you’re on course and determined. What could go wrong?
The End Vision
Strategic planning is all well and good – The Plan will set out how you intend to achieve all your goals so that your overall mission is achieved. Check some more boxes! You’ve registered at college, you’ve made new friends, you’ve reclaimed some space in your home as yours, you’ve distanced yourself from your cheater, you’ve signed up to be a Court Jester at the local renaissance faire. You’ve schooled yourself to not ask about their affair, to not follow them around like a forlorn lamb, bleating about how much you love them and what they’re throwing away. You’ve shaved your beard, liberally doused yourself with a new cologne, and started your new entomology class every Tuesday night. You may even have filed. All that box checking is giving you writer’s cramp.
The problem isn’t with The Plan, or your admirable pursuit of checking the boxes in it. The vulnerability in The Plan, the potential for it to be derailed, lies entirely with the strategic objective.
Did you devise The Plan to (yes, more boxes to check):
I know, my point is not a subtle one. If the intent behind The Plan is in some way to do with dreams and/or waning hopes of a future with your cheater, and not entirely and solely about you, and your own goals, life, and individual success, then The Plan has a foundational flaw.
Strategic planning requires the correct identification of an end vision. Checking all the boxes in The Plan is an excellent start, but if your end vision is actually a rosy picture of your cheater, adorned with hearts, joined hands, and glitter, your potential risk of derailment is high.
The Cheater-Irrelevant End Goal
If you devised The Plan because you’ve personally decided to live a life that is not contingent on being with your cheater, you will be immune to the emotional manipulations that could derail you from The Plan.
If The Plan is what you chose for yourself, finding your new groove in singledom (or cheater-irrelevant coupledom) is going to be entirely in your own hands. You can dedicate your strength and determination to set other parts of your life alight with your dreams for yourself. Your focus is on what you want, who you want to be, how you will leave your footprint on life, and you are motivated to keep on rolling towards those goals.
Your cheater is irrelevant to The Plan. If they want a chance to get your fabulousness back into their lives, simply turning up isn’t going to derail you. “Ta-Dah! Here I am! Love me!” isn’t going to be enough for you to drop out to change their car’s transmission fluid, and start ironing their socks. Nope – your goals for yourself were real, you believed in them, and you fully intend to see them through. If you give your cheater another chance, they will only be part of your new life, they won’t become your new life. The Plan is secure, intact, and successful.
The Cheater-Centric End Goal
The other two checkboxes are a problem to The Plan. If you’re only participating in The Plan because your cheater says they’re done, you’re open to manipulations that might swerve you away from your path.
What if your cheater came charging back into your life on their sleek white steed, standard streaming behind them, declaring their renewed love and commitment? Would you swoon, cancel your locust dissection study group, fall gracefully into their arms, and return life to pre-affair normal?
If your end goal is to have your cheater back in your life, is that checkbox in The Plan? And if it is there, is it honestly the only really important checkbox in The Plan for you? Does checking that box make all the other boxes (checked or otherwise), largely redundant?
The Plan should be moving you forward towards a life that is within your own power to achieve without relying on your cheater for happiness. Don’t glance back. Ever. You decided your goals, your dreams, your vision of a life without your cheater … get on that road and keep on trucking – do NOT keep looking back to see what your cheater is doing.
Stop checking their Facebook page. Stop asking the cheater, your friends, family, anyone, for information about what they’re doing. Stop checking their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Stop sending them emails that update them on your life, or ask them about theirs. Don’t pump your kids for information and tidbits. Stop texting. Stop intruding, stop interfering, stop chasing. Stop being available at the mere crook of a finger in your direction.
Looking back over your shoulder at your cheater will screw you up, derail you, and have you meandering all over the place. Keep on moving forward – follow The Plan.
Don’t think you can run backwards either, to keep an eye on where your cheater is – you will veer off the route that you’re running for yourself. If they want to be in your life, let them run and catch up. If your cheater does catch up, THEN you can consider your options with them. Until then, set a pace for yourself that motivates and energizes you, and keep going.
“Forward momentum. That’s my new motto. No regrets. And no going back.”
~ Gayle Forman
A cheater who wants to reconcile with you must first resolve their issues and then they can make a case for themselves, demonstrating why it’s in your interests to again consider them as a partner.
If your cheater does want a post affair life with you, then they’d better do the work and make the running. They have to be marathon ready and run one hell of a personal best to be able to catch up with you, because you’re steadily moving towards your goals. It will take work, and a lot of it, before they can pull ahead a little, and only then should they be in your line of sight.
Sometimes, running solo is more exhilarating, more validating, more satisfying, and way more fun than running with one leg tied to someone else.
Find your groove … find what brings you fulfillment irrespective of your relationship status. At that point, you’ll be on fire.