6 Cruel Ways His Cheating Affects You (That Nobody Talks About)

You get cheated on and you're left with so many questions you'll never get closure on.

Last updated on Mar 14, 2024

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You find out your partner is cheating on you. You picture him or her laughing, kissing, and making love to someone else on a blanket in the country or in a fancy hotel. Your partner then comes home, lies to your face, deceives you, and makes you feel guilty about even thinking such a thing could ever happen. You feel rage, shock, devastation, obsession. These are just a few of the gut-wrenching, but entirely normal reactions to cheating in a relationship.


From personal experience, and from helping other women recover from divorce, I know that surviving infidelity lasts much longer than anyone wants to admit. All the while, friends and family say "Just get over it!" or "Move on already!" So, not only must you face and deal with the hurt of betrayal, but you feel like a "wuss" for not being able to move on fast enough to satisfy those around you.

Those of us who know the heartbreak of a partner’s betrayal are usually left to suffer on our own, pretending we're okay. No one fully understands the depth of the pain or realizes how many scars we carry long after the affair. When your partner admits to cheating in a relationship, you feel not only those immediate kicks in the gut but long-term emotional distress as well. Often, an overwhelming lump of despair starts in your chest every morning and takes over everything in your life. Many people wonder if they'll survive it, or if they even want to.


RELATED: 10 Reasons You Should Divorce Your Cheating Spouse

Here are 6 cruel ways his cheating affects you, that no one ever talks about:

1. Your most intimate relationship is now the topic of public chatter

The intimacy that was just between the two of you is now being talked about casually among friends, family, and acquaintances. You feel naked, exposed, and humiliated. It feels as if everyone is evaluating you for flaws that likely "caused" the trouble in your relationship.

2. You feel like you can't let your guard down

When your partner betrays you, he or she makes a life-changing decision with no input from you. You think, "If the person I love most cheats on me, how can I trust anyone?" According to Dr. Omar Minwella, the betrayed person sometimes experiences PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Symptoms including trauma-induced panic attacks and triggering events demand constant vigilance.



RELATED: Cheated On? Science Says It's Probably Going To Happen Again


3. You feel pressure to measure up to some vague, undefined ideal

When your partner has an affair, you often feel like you're not "enough" — not fun enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fit enough, or whatever. You start obsessing about bettering yourself, so you won’t be hurt or betrayed again. It’s an exhausting, stressful, insecure way to live. By constantly trying to prove yourself, you become an actor in your own life instead of freely being exactly who you are.



4. Your partner’s infidelity makes you the odd person out

Your partner and his or her lover know everything they shared between them. You know only what you’ve discovered or what they decided to tell you. If your marriage survives, there will always be secret information only the two of them share. If you divorce, your partner and the lover feel better than ever about life, while you're left picking up the pieces alone.

RELATED: What It Means When Your Partner Cheats On You, According To Research


5. Infidelity disrupts your sense of your past

According to psychiatrist Anna Fels, infidelity undermines the truth of your personal history. It corrupts your life story. You now question memories. You constantly review the past trying to piece together what you thought was happening with what was taking place. You beat yourself up for being so naive, and you become bitter about others who knew the truth but didn’t tell you.  

6. Your partner violated your body by denying you agency

If your partner is intimate with someone else (without your knowledge) and then is intimate with you, not only was your health put at risk (because of STDs), but your partner also robbed you of your agency — your ability to choose for yourself the terms in which you do and do not engage in intimate activity. After all, would you have been with your partner if you'd known he or she just slept with someone else? Your partner broke your shared sacred trust of oneness and fidelity, and that is the most damaging violation of all, and often one of the hardest aspects of surviving infidelity.

Infidelity causes a loss of self-esteem and changes how we see the world. No matter how long it takes or how complicated healing is, know that you can seek help and connect with others who truly understand what you're going through. Recovering from a blow this severe takes personal commitment. You must decide to heal and then rise into a future that includes everything you desire and deserve. The tools and support to help you do this are out there.


RELATED: If You Notice These 10 Things About A Man (And Your Relationship), He May Be Cheating On You

Suzy Brown is an author, mentor, teacher, divorce coach, and the founder of Midlife Divorce Recovery.