Celeb couples are so often photographed looking flawless and happy, so it can be a big surprise when they break up. This was certainly the case with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, who had been married for 10 years and had three young children when they announced their split in 2015. While no one knows for certain what went on in their relationship, initial reports suggested that Ben was cheating on his wife with their nanny. Now, sources have told People that Ben was involved in an extramarital affair with TV producer Lindsay Shookus (whom he is now dating) starting in 2013. And allegedly, Jennifer confronted Lindsay in 2015 after she found out about the affair.
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Obviously, being cheated on is heartbreaking. But is confronting the “other woman” ever a healthy, productive process? We talked to Dr. Jane Greer, Ph.D., New York-based relationship expert and author of How Could You Do This to Me? Learning to Trust After Betrayal, to get her thoughts.
When asked whether you should ever confront the person your partner cheated with, Greer’s answer was a resounding: “No!” She went on to explain: “The conflict is between you and your partner—not the other woman. If anything, move away from any further contact or communication with that person. The goal is to have no involvement.”
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However, Greer says that rule changes if your partner was involved with a close friend or relative. “Then it becomes necessary to address him or her directly,” she says, because most likely you’ll continue to have contact with that person, whether it’s running into them at a party or family event. Greer suggests having a calm, to-the-point conversation. “Say something like, ‘I feel so betrayed and hurt by what you did. How could you do this to me?'” she suggests. “Address the betrayal and see if they’ll take any responsibility for it, have any remorse or regret, and—most importantly—show any empathy and concern in their apology (if they offer one).” This kind of confrontation “can help you heal and deal with future contact and encounters down the road,” Greer says, while with a stranger, you’ll probably never see them again. “Whether they feel remorse is not important.”
More important than confronting the “other” person in your relationship is working on setting things straight with your partner and figuring out how to move forward—whether that’s together or in the form of a breakup. In order for a couple to recover from infidelity, Greer says, “The most important thing to do is believe your partner is genuinely regretful and sorry for what they did, that they’re committed to rebuilding your trust, and that they’re willing to continue to relate to the pain and hurt they caused you by listening to you when you talk about it, expressing their remorse, apologising when necessary, and demonstrating trustworthy behaviour going forward. “
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health.
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