Even within the dark cloud of infidelity hanging over your relationship, mental illness can cause tensions between you and your partner. Then they go and betray you by sleeping with someone else. You may be tempted to write off their behaviors as a symptom of their mental illness, but can their infidelity be forgiven? There is no easy answer to this question, but we will give you some things about mental health and infidelity to think about.
Do Mental Illnesses Cause Cheating?
While research wavers on mental health and forming connections between certain illnesses and cheating, there are studies that show how certain behaviors lead to infidelity.
As you know, cheating often occurs for four main reasons: Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness, or HALT. These manifest when a relationship has problems, usually ones with communication or a lack of satisfaction. Some relationships go cold the longer two people are together, for instance, one person develops an insatiable hunger for something more.
Imagine what happens when hunger, anger, loneliness, or tiredness is exacerbated by a mental illness.
What Mental Illnesses Cause Cheating?
Someone who struggles with insecure attachments from childhood trauma, for example, may have issues with infidelity, because they fear commitment. Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or ADHD may also struggle to remain faithful due to impulsivity.
Depression, bipolar disorder, and similar mental illnesses can drive people to seek out sex when their partner is unavailable as a means for self-medication. Some people may experience periods of hypersexuality or hypomania while dealing with the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.
Traumatic brain injuries, too, can lead to mental health issues and a lack of short-term memory. Some mental conditions will affect a person’s ability to control themselves, even in situations where they know they should say no. Instant gratification often coincides with impulsivity, which is why people can form an uncontrollable sex addiction.
Why Mentally Ill People Cheat
As much as it may hurt to acknowledge, cheating often occurs in relationships that are not the healthiest. Cheating happens when there is a combination of dysfunctional behaviors, such as lying, substance abuse, delusions or mania, and struggles within a relationship. While cheating isn’t a justifiable coping method, it does become a mechanism for dealing with pain when no other avenues seem available.
And to many mentally unwell people, finding real help may feel utterly impossible. The lack of help can drive people to do seemingly crazy things to the bystander.
Could You Forgive Your Mentally Ill Significant Other For Cheating?
Knowing some of the reasons why those with mental illnesses cheat probably does not make the fact that your partner has betrayed you such away. But if you are here, reading this article, then you are looking for some kind of answer.
Forgiveness is not easy, especially when it comes to infidelity. That said, if your partner came clean and seemed honestly guilty about cheating, then there is hope. You may feel resentment and confusion right now, but try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Consider their struggle with a mental illness and the symptoms involved.
Sometimes, the brain of someone with a mental illness is their worst enemy; they may even believe themselves to be unlovable.
Again, there is no justification for cheating, but if you try to understand the root cause, you may find space in your heart to forgive your partner for their actions.
Visiting a therapist together can jump-start the healing process and many even assist your significant other with their mental health. By speaking with an infidelity therapist, for example, you may unearth the underlying causes of your marital issues. You can then work together to patch up the wounds and build a stronger, more supportive relationship.
When the mentally ill know they are supported, their outlook on life becomes much brighter.
When You Shouldn’t Forgive a Cheating Partner
Despite a significant other’s mental illness, there are some surefire signs that you should not forgive them. Forgiveness first begins when the cheater has told you the truth and seems genuine about their apology. They should understand that they hurt you deeply. If the person does not do this, if they don’t feel any remorse for their actions or do not seem to comprehend why you are upset, then the chances of them cheating on you again are very high.
Have they already cheated on you multiple times? Do they not see the error of their ways? Are they dismissive of your feelings? Then, no, you should not forgive them. Such an individual needs help. Therapy and medication may help them through whatever it is they are experiencing, but you should not be expected to forgive them or stick around if you don’t have to.
A mental illness is no excuse for betraying someone they are supposed to love.
Mental illness is a slippery slope when it comes to cheating, because the individual may truly be unable to control themselves. However, there are certain indicators that you can forgive them and move on, such as their confession and apology. If they want to work on themselves and become better, then there is no reason not to try.
Couples Academy has unique solutions for couples, no matter where you are in your journey together. Whether you are recovering from infidelity or want to strengthen your relationship, Couples Academy gives you the tools to do so. Contact us today to learn more.