When a long-term partner cheats on you it can be devastating, but it is possible to move on in time. Here, experts and Guardian readers explain how best to rebuild your life
Sarah and her husband were anchored in a remote harbour – more than a year into their round-the-world sailing voyage, and decades into their relationship – when she read a message on his tablet that made her collapse to the floor of their boat. It was from a man on a gay pornography website. Others like it revealed six years of betrayal by her husband, including a long-term relationship with a married man.
Sarah was one of many Guardian readers who responded to our invitation to share experiences of betrayal. Although every respondent’s circumstances were unique, and they were of different nationalities, backgrounds, ages and sexualities, there was one thing that linked all their experiences: mind-shattering suffering. I could understand why in his Inferno Dante reserved his ninth and deepest circle of hell for those who committed treachery. Avishai Margalit, the philosopher and author of On Betrayal, tells me that whether we are reading Dante or the Bible, Shakespearean tragedy, Greek mythology or Guardian readers’ stories, we can empathise with the pain of someone betrayed. It endures across time and space, culture and history.
I found loads and loads of messages. So many messages to so many women in different countries
The wound would start to heal, then fester a bit more, then heal again. And now there’s just a scar