Getting cheated on is like seeing the path of destruction left after a wildfire. Wherever you look, there is something still smoldering and burning. There is still smoke congesting the air, and you can’t breathe. Exactly how does a cheating spouse affect your mental health, though? Turns out, science has confirmed what many people already know through experience: that being cheated on has a severe impact on your mental health and wellness. Affairs can even cause “emotional and psychological distress.”
But what are those effects? How is your mental health impacted, and what can you do to heal? You’ll find out in this article.
How Does A Partner’s Infidelity Affect Your Mental Health?
Being cheated on creates a reaction—one that is unique to everyone. Since people have different backgrounds, experiences, and perceptions, infidelity affects everyone differently. Some people may have better coping skills than others, too. For many people, being cheated on in a relationship or marriage is extremely distressing and traumatic. They may develop PTSD-like symptoms and paranoia, causing them to lose sleep and to ruminate constantly about the affair.
Others may become angry and lash out at family and friends. Not only do they become depressed and anxious, they may start to lose faith in themselves and the relationship. This can also lead to impulsive behavior, such as turning to illegal substances or sex to cope. Eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa or binge eating, may also start. For those who had recovered from such disorders or addictions, such a traumatic experience may cause them to relapse.
Infidelity is a direct breach of trust. The person you chose to be intimate with, to love unconditionally, has betrayed you so deeply that you feel physical and mental pain. If you have any past issues with abandonment, getting cheated on is going to make the experience much worse.
To summarize how infidelity impacts your mental health:
- Lack of self-esteem
- Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms
- Depression and anxiety
- Self-harm and other maladaptive coping behaviors
How To Heal After A Partner Cheats
You’re not alone in your emotions. Betrayal from the one person you should be able to trust unconditionally is indescribably painful. But you don’t have to handle the trauma caused by your partner cheating on you alone. The trauma may make you feel like you can’t go to someone else and talk to them about what you are feeling, but the trauma is deceptive.
Don’t trust your trauma to steer you in the right direction. In order to restore your mental health and walk towards a more fulfilling future, you are going to need help.
Healing from the trauma of infidelity means you have to establish the one thing you probably don’t want right now: a relationship. Finding a trustworthy therapist or counselor can help you work through the pain in a safe environment. Having a therapist on your side is especially important if you already suffer from a mental health issue, such as depression.
Remember, therapy is not so much about the treatment as it is the journey. Developing a working relationship with your therapist and feeling open to conversation is incredibly important. Your therapist can assist with processing the trauma and learning from it. In the end, you will walk away from the affair stronger than ever before.
Can Your Relationship Survive After An Affair?
After your emotions have been in upheaval, you might think that your relationship or marriage is over. However, while the infidelity comes as a shock, you can work together to save your marriage. Recovering from an affair often includes going through the 5 stages of grief and working through periods of atonement and the reestablishment of trust.
Working together with a therapist will help you both come to terms with the reason why the affair occurred. Often, infidelity stems from someone who is suffering in silence. Feeling lonely and neglected can drive people to do unthinkable or irrational things. Humans need connection, after all.
Therapy also helps you both reconfigure your relationship and teaches you how to communicate with one another better. Instead of feeling tempted to seek solace in someone else, you will be able to work as a team. Through therapy, both of you will heal, rebuild respect, and eventually find forgiveness.
Cheating causes mental distress and may lead to self-blame, self-harm, and depression and anxiety in everyone involved. These effects can take years to heal; if left unaddressed, such trauma can impact a person for the rest of their life. Fortunately, through therapy, individuals and couples can work through the trauma caused by cheating and come out stronger than before.
Couples Academy can help you and your partner rebuild your relationship after infidelity. Learn how to overcome the pain and reestablish trust. If you have questions about couples counseling or would like to know more about our services, give us a call.