Choosing to be in a relationship means that you are making a sincere commitment to your loved one. But there’s no denying that regardless of your endless love for your partner/spouse, betrayal is unjustifiable. Being cheated by your spouse is one of the most distressful and unbearable situations. Infidelity (or being unfaithful) will shake your confidence in all spheres of your relationship. It will destroy the picture-perfect view of the future you had imagined with your partner. You will feel like being hit by tons of brick. You will feel broken like everything is falling apart. After finding your partner to be unfaithful, you would be in a state of shock. Many questions arise in your mind like My love was not enough for him? Am I to blame for this? I didn’t ever understand what he wanted? Am I such a fool? Am I less attractive to him? A cluster of questions start revolving around your head immediately, and you feel like crying to death. You devoted yourself fully in love with him but caught him red-handed, and now you are standing alone justifying your emotions. Even if you consider to forgive him, still you have a doubt feeling in yourself. You would start questioning yourself. Will he cheat again? What if he would? Is he worth it? Should I be able to trust him again? Shall we share the same bonding ever?
The Emotional impact of Cheating/Infidelity on uninvolved partner
Cheating can have a profound effect on the uninvolved partner. It is expected to affect the mental health of the faithful partner adversely. In the case of a married relationship, its adverse effects even extend up to children. Studies have shown that cheating has a severe negative impact on physical and mental health of a person. It may generate the experiences of:
- Low self-esteem and self-confidence
- Loss of appetite
- Anxiety and increased distress
- Shaming or self-blaming
- Poor work performance
- Gastrointestinal problems
- PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Memory loss
The depressed individual is likely to indulge in high-risk behaviors. They include self-harming activities or excessive use of drugs and alcohol, over-eating, over-exercising, undereating. All these behavioral patterns lead to deterioration of mental and physical health. Whatever might be the circumstances, infidelity can spell trouble for a relationship and will generate trust-issues in future.
The Emotional impact of Cheating/Infidelity on the Cheater
The aftermath of cheating is complicated to deal with, for the uninvolved partner and the cheater himself too. The feelings of helplessness and hopelessness may trap them. The severity of guilt feeling might overtake them. It is generally expected that the longer the affair, the more severe would be the impact on both cheater and the faithful partner alike.
Why does it happen?
A successful, stable relationship is expected to be the one where both partners feel satisfied and secure with each other. However, studies have shown that married men are expected to engage in the extramarital affair when they are not satisfied sexually, and women are expected to engage in such affairs if they are unsatisfied emotionally. Also, adultery (infidelity in a married relationship) might not be the reason for lack of satisfaction. Instead, it may be due to personal unhappiness or for some ego or confidence boost. Although infidelity might happen for multiple reasons, some of the common causes could be:
- Sexual dissatisfaction
- Low self-esteem
- Inferiority/superiority complex
- Avoidance of solving relationship problems
- Sex addiction
- Emotional dissatisfaction
- Difference in mentality or thought processes
- Forced married relationship (arranged marriage)
Other contributing factors could be:
- Individuals who had a high higher number of prior sexual relationships and exhibiting sexually broad-minded/ permissive attitude are more likely to indulge in cheating/infidelity.
- The escalation of dating apps and sex chat rooms has increased the rate of cybersex (romantic/sexual communication maintained via online) and hence provide an increased opportunity to the individuals to engage in the acts of infidelity.
- Another possible reason could be the workplace issues as spouses spend more time with their co-workers than with each other. As one study suggests that those spouses are likely to have divorce due to infidelity who work with a large fraction of opposite sex co-workers.
How to handle it:
Finding your partner/spouse to be unfaithful can be so devastating. For the time being, negative emotions will pour uncontrollably, and you won’t be able to accept it. Take a deep breath and try to handle them the following possible ways:
1. Acceptance of feelings
Pain, depression, shock and agitation, all of these are natural reactions to infidelity. Sometimes, the confused state of mind will blur your imaginations. You will start questioning yourself, What was my fault? Why did he betray me? Am I a bad person? I want to forgive him but how can I trust him? Will he cheat again? You will feel like being on an emotional rollercoaster ride in that duration. But all you have to do is give yourself some time to accept whatever happened.
You may experience a lot of physical and mental pressure like sleep problems, nausea, diarrhea, low appetite, and mood. Once you feel like the shock effects are reduced, try to focus more on your well-being. Eat good, feel good, have fun, go for a walk.
3. Seek relationship counseling
You were depressed for a while, but the spouse wants to make up to you and ask for a second chance. Still, the question of “Will he cheat again?” constantly hits you back, and you don’t know what to do. The best advice to overcome this confusion is through professional couple therapist/counselor. An experienced therapist can help communicate the issues better between both of you and process the feelings of you both. The qualified therapist will avoid biased judgment and hence provides better insight. You both may end up saving your marriage. In the end, you won’t regret that you didn’t try your best.
4. Try to forgive
Finding your partner unfaithful can induce the feeling of revenge, but ultimately, it won’t work best for you. Whether he wants to do reconciliation or not, forgiveness is the best way to reclaim your mental health. To get over the feelings of anger, guilt, hatred and all the negative emotions that affect you badly, you need to forgive to heal. Forgiveness will not only open up to a healthier relationship among your spouse but also diminishes negative emotions and causes better well-being.
Infidelity can be the most challenging hardship faced by marriage. But, infidelity doesn’t always mean that it’s the end. Rather than relying on your confusion state of “Will he cheat again?”, Try to be more practical about yourself, about your children. Like, will you be able to pay for your bills and essentials, custody arrangement problems,living arrangements,impact on you emotionally etc.? Sometimes, being understanding is more important than being right. You can forgive your partner and understand the causes of adversities in your relationship and find solutions. It might work well for you both as understanding is the key to a successful relationship. As you work through the aftermath of the situation, you will become more clear about how far can you go. Whether you can trust him again or still baffled in the mystery of “Will he cheat again?”
Every situation of infidelity is different and not always resolvable but where emotions are involved things can be difficult it is important to decide what you want and take the necessary steps to move forward.If you want to take further advice from expert therapists and want to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner by resolving your conflicts, click on the link below.