Has the quality of your relationship crumbled after an affair? Infidelity is one of the worst challenges a couple can face. You may have had a one-night stand with a coworker and have been met with serious consequences, or maybe you are the betrayed partner who is unable to move past the shock and trauma. What are the long-term effects of infidelity on you, your partner, and your relationship?
Keep reading to find out.
The Long-Term Effects Of Infidelity
When an affair happens, it doesn’t end with separating from the outside person. For the wayward partner, there may be a sense of guilt and remorse for your actions. You understand that what you did was wrong, but you may also be confused. For those who have been betrayed, the revelation is akin to a bomb going off and leaving shrapnel everywhere. Infidelity causes pain that the unfaithful partner may not expect.
There will be grief, and the betrayed spouse may even get triggered in the future by certain memories or sights.
For many individuals, internalizing the affair and blaming oneself for what happened is likely. You may blame yourself for your husband having an emotional affair with his coworker. You think, “It was my shortcomings and inability to please him that caused this to happen.”
No relationship is perfect and without its faults and challenges. However, there is no justification for infidelity. A betrayal committed by your partner is their fault alone.
Internalizing the betrayal often impacts your self-esteem and self-efficacy. You start to question your worth in the relationship. This can place even more distance between you and your partner or strain future relationships.
Lack Of Trust In Future Relationships
If you have been cheated on in the past, those wounds may never heal. The pain of infidelity takes a very long time to heal and often requires therapy. If someone begins to associate the pain of infidelity with relationships or romantic connections, this may make it impossible to connect with people on a deeper level in the future. This is also seen in children with a parent who had an affair.
Many people may avoid relationships altogether to avoid the pain caused by infidelity.
Trapped In The Past
Once your partner has engaged in extramarital relationships, there is always the moment of discovery trapped inside your head and heart. Every time they don’t pick up the phone or answer your text message, you start to wonder if they are dallying with someone else. Paranoia rules your days.
Unfortunately, remaining stuck in the past can make forgiving your partner for infidelity impossible. Instead of forgiving their actions, you refuse to move on, and the anger may develop into hatred and disgust. Not only will this strain your relationship, but it will also begin to affect others, including your children.
Increased Depression And Anxiety
It has been discovered that many people develop trauma after learning about their partner’s infidelity. In 2009, Dr. Dennis Ortman called this kind of response Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD); the symptoms are nearly identical to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The mental shock also brings about feelings of deep depression and anxiety that connect with the paranoia of being betrayed a second or third time.
There are unique changes to the brain that happens when someone perceives they have been rejected by the person they love. Research has found the stress, depression, and anxiety connected with PISD is similar to a state of withdrawal.
Depression and anxiety aren’t felt only by the betrayed partner either. If you cheated, especially long-term, you may still have feelings for the other person. The negative consequences of your actions have crashed down around you, and now you feel relentless guilt, depression, and loss.
Once you have been betrayed, the intentions of everyone who speaks to you come into question. “Did they ever love me? Was it all a lie?” Even if you and your partner commit to healing after the affair, you may continue to question them every step of the way. This is because infidelity impacts self-confidence and fuels distrust between two people. Compound distrust with depression, and you have a recipe for continuous uncertainty.
Research has found that women, in particular, tend to ruminate about the affair. In other words, they have a tendency to repeatedly think about the factors, causes, and consequences of a negative experience. This kind of obsessive thinking about what went wrong in the relationship is linked to a reduced likelihood of salvaging the relationship.
Affairs, regardless of how long they last, can have devastating consequences and effects on a relationship or marriage. This is especially true for those who have been betrayed. Mental, emotional, and physical impacts are felt by everyone involved, including children.
If you are struggling with the aftermath of infidelity, Couples Academy can help. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team of therapists and counselors can show you the path toward recovery. Overcome the pain and build a stronger marriage together with Couples Academy. Get in touch with us today to learn more.