Finding out that you have been cheated on is one of the worst pains you could experience in a relationship. What makes infidelity so devastating? No matter how good you think of yourself prior to being cheated on, you end up questioning your self-worth when all is said and done. More salt is rubbed in when you start to ask yourself, “What did I do wrong?” Should the relationship end, you might find yourself wary of anyone else who tries to enter your life. That raises the question: Does infidelity affect self-esteem? And if so, how can you repair it?
Does Infidelity Affect Self-Esteem?
When someone cheats on you, you are being lied to and used. That is the real issue at hand here. Your partner has gone behind your back. Later on, this could induce bouts of anxiety that affect future relationships. Furthermore, science has found that the trauma caused by infidelity can lead to a bunch of risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, self-harm, and binge eating. Anxiety also causes physical symptoms, such as migraines, nausea, and stomachaches.
All of this begins to compound. You start seeing yourself as someone who possibly deserved to be cheated on. Plus, you start to blame yourself for their actions. Too often, those who cheat feel undervalued or insecure in their relationships, leading them to go off and be unfaithful. In turn, those who were cheated on start to feel the same way.
Cheating does not only hurt, it causes you to second guess yourself and everything you do. You compare yourself to others. Perhaps you become withdrawn from friends and family. Your mental health dwindles.
In short, yes, infidelity affects self-esteem.
How To Repair Self-Esteem After An Affair
There is probably a negative swirl of emotions in your head and heart right now. You may be wondering why you were not attractive enough, smart enough, or interesting enough to keep your partner from straying. In order to begin healing from infidelity and repairing your self-esteem, one of the most important things to remember is that their betrayal is not a reflection of your self-worth. It is a reflection of theirs.
There are many reasons someone cheats and betrays your love and trust. Sometimes, it is caused by their own insecurities. Others stem from problems within the relationship, be it unhealthy boundaries, trauma, mental illness, or something else.
What is important is moving forward.
Here are some tips to get you started with repairing your self-esteem:
Consider Trying Therapy
No issue is too small or too great for you to not go to therapy. Whatever the issue, sitting down with a registered therapist and discussing it can do wonders for your mental and emotional health. Many couples therapists, including those at Couples Academy, welcome individuals to talk through the pain and hurt they experienced due to a loved one’s betrayal. Together with a therapist, you can start to work through the trauma. Learn new coping methods, gain communication skills, and practice setting up healthy boundaries.
If you and your partner or spouse are still together after they cheated on you, couples therapy sessions can also provide you some closure. Plus, if the issues that lead to infidelity are resolved, you can both build a stronger, healthier relationship together.
Spend Time With Supportive People
Aside from visiting a therapist, consider removing yourself from a poor situation and seek out those who would lift you up. In the aftermath of an affair, you may feel insecure about yourself and others. However, there are always those in your life who are positive, no matter how dark the day is. Seek them out. Talk to them about what happened, if you want. Commit to spending time with your loyal friends so you can remember how good it feels to be valued for being your authentic self.
Reconnect With Your Spirituality
Spirituality is not just religion; it is how you seek something beyond yourself. Tapping into your spiritual side, whether by attending a religious service, reciting mantras, praying, heading to a yoga class, or practicing self-care in your own way can be a tremendous help. Why does spirituality help? Because it reconnects you with your personal values—with who you are at your core.
Open Up To Self-Expression
Embracing you after an affair can be life-altering. Self-expression can help you re-establish yourself when you feel lost. Most people have their own definition of self-expression. Some will take to writing, art, music, or dance, while others might decide to travel the world or return to college. Whatever outlet you select, make use of it. Use your creative outlet or adventure to boost your confidence.
Exercise And Eat Well
As mentioned earlier, research has found that there is a connection between poor self-esteem and the risky behaviors humans develop. The instant your self-worth takes a blow, you may find yourself reaching for a tub of your favorite ice cream. As good as comfort food sounds right now, there are healthier ways to work through the pain.
Make sure you are eating well, as good nutrition will help you power through the hurt. Feeling well will help you feel better about who you are. Plus, when you are exercising, eating right, and staying hydrated, you will feel less depressed and anxious.
Infidelity Cannot Hold You Back
Does infidelity affect self-esteem? That is a big yes. Infidelity makes you reconsider your self-worth and value in relationships. However, the negative things you feel about yourself are all lies. Your worth is more than your partner’s poor decision and unfaithfulness. If you are having trouble rebuilding self-esteem after an affair, consider meeting with the team at Couples Academy. Our compassionate therapists will support you throughout the recovery process and help you feel stronger and more confident in all that you do. Get in touch with Couples Academy today to learn more about our marriage counseling and therapy programs.