Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.
I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing in your relationship. The fact that she has had an affair suggests that there are problems in your relationship that have not been addressed and/or problems in her life that she was trying to avoid. Generally, affairs are not helpful as they typically only serve to complicate matters further. They are generally only a symptom of the problem. They may also be a way to try to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings and facing life problems.
It may be very helpful for your girlfriend to begin individual therapy in order for her to learn to cope in healthier ways and to face her feelings without avoiding them through these types of behaviors. In addition, couples therapy can often be a way to discover whether the relationship is able to be fixed or not. Either way, it will take time for her to earn your trust back as trust is something that can be lost quickly but takes a period of time and trustworthy actions to earn. You may find the book, After the Affair
to be helpful in coping with this.
Rather than focusing on the negative thoughts and images of her, focus on taking care of yourself. Be sure to take care of yourself through healthy eating, exercise, rest and reaching out to supportive people in your life. I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.
Thanks for your answer, it clarified some things but not everything. Perhaps I should tell you a little bit more about the situation.
We have been together for 4 years now. At the moment we live far from each other and have only been able to see each other for about 3 months this year (this is hopefully going to change soon though). When I confronted her she said that she felt "lonely" without me and had to have someone else for comfort. This does of course not justify her actions at all but it might give you more insight into the situation. We are going to have a big and important talk tonight and I really need some advice how to deal with this situation between us. What should I tell her to do in order to make things work out between us? What do we both have to do in this situation? And what do we have to do to in this situation in order for our temporarily distance not to make things even worse?
I feel like I'm blind and in a fog at the moment so I really do need some more advice how to handle this.
Thank you for the additional information. The explanation that she cheated due to being lonely and needing someone else for comfort suggests that she may not be taking much responsibility for these actions. In order for her to be able to avoid cheating in the future, she will need to work on how to be comfortable with herself and be able to comfort herself rather than needing someone else to do this for her. You cannot make her change. However, you could ask her to attend individual therapy to work on this, in part for her to show you that she is motivated to change. I would also wonder if she has a pattern of cheating. Past behaviors tend to predict future behaviors, unless the individual takes responsibility for their actions and works on changing. If she is to earn your trust back, she will need to show you through her actions that she is remorseful, (not just blaming it on the distance), has learned something from this experience, and is trying to change. It could be helpful for you to try not to make any major decisions immediately as you are probably not thinking very clearly right now. Give yourself time before you make decisions about this. Please let me know if I can help further.
Thanks a lot for your answer, I really appreciate your view on this.
She has never cheated before as far as I know so this would be the first time something like this happens. I am still very worried about her future actions though and I will suggest individual therapy when I talk to her.
And when it comes to me not making decisions right now, that might be wise. I have however been constantly thinking about this for a week and I feel like I will never really be able to think straight about this. I am a person who can't dwell for too long; I have to take actions before I destroy my mental health due to thinking and analyzing things like this for too long.
I'd like to thank you for your answers, they really helped me a lot in this difficult situation.