The Painfully Honest Reality You Must Face When You Decide To Cheat

You made a choice, and now you have to deal with the consequences.

Last updated on Mar 20, 2024

Depressed woman ArtistGNDphotography | Canva 

Cheating is common — more so than you might think, and it has never been easier for a married man or woman to hook up outside their marriage. This article might feel uncomfortable for some readers because it closely reflects their own personal reality. While there is much to talk about when it comes to infidelity, I'm only going to focus on one specific area: the emotional impact on the person actually having the affair. We ALL make mistakes.


It's especially painful when a person who believes they're honest, trustworthy, and have integrity makes a mistake that violates their own beliefs. You might say the cheater broke a vow or a promise made to their partner, but this is different. I often see the consequences of affairs in my private coaching practice. Not only do I help piece struggling marriages back together, but I also help restore self-confidence and self-worth in the process. If you're having an affair — or you're thinking about having an affair — here's what you need to know.

The painfully honest reality you face when you decide to cheat

RELATED: 'Why I Cheated' — 5 Brave People Reveal The Real Reason They Strayed


We all have certain beliefs about ourselves, and these beliefs become our personal identities. They form the foundation and cornerstones of who we think we are as individuals and make us feel different, unique, and special. We all deeply desire to remain consistent with how we see ourselves because, if we're not, that shakes the core foundation of our identity. Not surprisingly, the outcomes of having a fragile emotional foundation are NOT pleasant. 



For example: You see yourself as a good person. You believe that you're honest. You believe that you're trustworthy. You believe that you are a person of character and integrity ...Let's say you're cheating yet you still believe you're trustworthy, honest, and have integrity. You superficially cling to this belief, and defend it within — rationalizing anything to yourself in order to keep yourself from this harsh truth: 

You can't act trustworthy in one area of your life, cheat and lie in another, and still call yourself a person of integrity. This creates an internal conflict.

RELATED: 5 Types Of People Most Likely To Cheat, According To Science


As you attempt to suppress and avoid thoughts about this truth, you open the door to very personal pain. You can rationalize your cheating all you want, but part of your mind will recognize the internal conflict. And it won't be fun. So you live the lie, tell yourself that you're still the same person and that none of this has tarnished or lessened you in any way ... at least to YOURSELF. When you add more lies to cover up your deceit, eventually, it all begins to unravel your self-worth — resulting in anger, guilt, sadness, and emptiness. This is the aftermath that I see with my clients.



RELATED: 8 Little Ways To Stop Yourself From Cheating (Even If You Really Want To)

Often you misdirect your anger towards the person whom you cheated on, as a way to deflect being so disappointed and upset with yourself. While you might repeat any number of untruths to yourself, underneath it, you're trying to mask and deal with your own pain. In my experience and observations, until you reconnect with or rebuild who you really are, you won't find much happiness and inner peace. Until you accept what you've done to yourself by cheating and forgive yourself, you won't feel free.


RELATED: 3 Harsh Lessons I've Learned By Cheating 6 Times

Jeff Forte is a marriage therapist and author of The 90-Minute Marriage Miracle. He has over 15 years of experience with some of Wall Street’s top investment firms, including extensive interpersonal conflict resolution experience as a regional team development leader.