33 minutes | Nov 28, 2019

Defining Love Again After a Betrayal with Michelle Mays

Michelle Mays is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Relational Recovery with offices both in Leesburg, VA, and Washington, DC., where she and her team deliver treatment to addicts and betrayed partners. Today’s topic covers how couples can overcome betrayal after infidelity and why it’s perfectly normal to have an attachment ambivalence pattern towards the person who has hurt you. Michelle dives in on some of the challenges couples face as they build the trust back up again and underlines why the hurt partner needs a support group to help them through this chaotic time in their life. 



[3:35] If a partner cheats on you, how do you define love after that? 

[8:00] Dealing with cheating is difficult because it presents itself as a unique type of trauma. You begin to experience an ‘I love you today’ and ‘I hate you tomorrow’ attitude. 

[9:35] Our brains give us two contradicting messages at the same time. One is to repair the damage so you can find safety again in your partner and the other is to run away. 

[16:55] Things might seem like everything is back on track in therapy, but it takes time for the hurt partner to not be reminded by the pain. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. 

[19:15] Love becomes a big question mark after infidelity. It is not a given. 

[20:25] If you’re going to cheat, tell your partner first. Do it in real-time, not after the fact. 

[23:20] Michelle explains the benefits of getting the betrayed partner into a support group. 

[29:20] The partner recovering from betrayal is left with a massive hole for which they can get their support. You need a safe base in this chaotic time in your life. 



The Porn Panic: Is Porn a ‘Public Health Crisis’?

Sex and Relationship Healing


Sex Addiction 101 

Seeking Integrity

Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men 

Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency

Partner Hope 

Center for Relational Recovery 


Dr. Barbara Steffens



  • “The person you usually turn to for safety is now the person that has hurt you.”
  • “People who have been cheated on experience attachment ambivalence. The word ambivalence means to feel two opposing things at exactly the same time.”
  • “It starts to feel like when I’m in a safe space, I get hurt. Betrayal really takes the safety out of that.”
  • “Cheat all you want, but ask your partner first. It’s the lying, it’s the disconnection in the relationship. This will kill a relationship.”
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