Infidelity can cause problems in any relationship. The effects of such betrayal can be long-term and devastating.
Infidelity can have long-term effects on the quality of your relationship.
Infidelity can include sexual or emotional affairs with someone outside of the relationship agreement between you and your partner. Perhaps you have cheated on your partner and are surprised by the consequences of that decision, or you have been cheated on and are having trouble getting past it.
You may be wondering if you can move on after an affair, or how that could affect you, your relationship, and your mental health.
Infidelity pain is usually inevitable and can be emotionally devastating. If you feel like you are grieving, you are very well able to do so, and that is fine. Human loss comes in various forms and no one has the right to dismiss your grief.
But take courage, you can heal. If you both want to, you can come to terms with the affair. However, there must be a willingness on the part of both parties to do the work necessary for recovery.
For the person who cheated, you may feel like you are on your way to healing, but keep in mind that your partner may be grieving and triggered longer than you are comfortable with. It helps to sit with their pain, communicate openly, and occasionally pay attention to their emotional wellbeing.
What happens mentally after an affair
Dr. Dennis Ortman those who discovered a partner’s affair. Ortman names this trauma response as Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) in his 2009 book.
You may experience symptoms that are compatible with post-traumatic stress. Instead of a shock to your system, as in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), discovering the fraud can be a mental shock to the system you have built as a couple.
Ortman adds that stages of recovery from infidelity are not dissimilar to the 5 stages of grief.
Research shows that in addition to stress, infidelity can also lead to increased anxiety and depression.
If you have been betrayed, it can take a long time to heal. It can lead to chronic anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, and distrust of others for a long time after the event.
How does cheating affect the brain?
Love, in that it is a factory for releasing dopamine and inducing euphoria, can be addicting to your brain. So the rejection caused by infidelity can cause multiple changes in the brain pathways, similar to withdrawal from a substance use disorder. Rejection can have short- and long-term consequences for your brain chemistry.
Being in love produces more oxytocin and dopamine in our brain, and infidelity can disrupt the pathways that cause these chemicals to be released in our brains.
When your child finds out that you have cheated
If your child finds out you have cheated, it can have many repercussions:
- Your child can take your side and trust your partner more than you do.
- You can experience feelings of confusion, fear, abandonment, and isolation, similar to the partner who has been betrayed.
- One study also suggests that children with a parent who has had an affair may have trust issues with future romantic partners.
- Your child may develop negative perceptions of loyalty.
- A 2017 study looked at how children mimick infidelity exemplified in childhood relationships between adults.
Can infidelity cause mental illness?
Infidelity can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic relationship breakdown stress that were not previously present before an affair. Some common symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, and obsessions about the event.
You can also experience overexcitation and react to any perceived threat to yourself or your relationship. As a result, you can have disruptive sleeping and eating habits.
What does research say about how cheating affects a man?
No matter who you are, infidelity can still affect you.
A study examining gender differences in response to infidelity found that women are more likely to be troubled by emotional matters and men are more likely to be troubled by physical matters.
This difference in responses to emotional and sexual infidelity is compounded by a large study of infidelity of approximately 64,000 participants that produced similar results.
This study also looked at the effects of cheating on gays, lesbians and bisexuals. There was no significant gender difference in the level of infidelity anger among LGB + individuals.
Infidelity can have lasting effects on the couple’s partners and children. Grief, changes in the brain, future behavior and mental illnesses such as anxiety, chronic stress and depression can all result.
Some families have been able to overcome their infidelity with time and therapy. To proceed, it requires active work from both partners to work on the cause of the infidelity. It isn’t for every couple to work through, but those who are ready can heal.