As with the victim, the person accused of having an affair can experience intense emotions that can be just as damaging. The individual may feel intense guilt, shame, and even paranoia. This is due to the fear of being discovered and the knowledge that cheating is wrong. This can lead to further mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It can also affect physical health as stress takes its toll. More seriously, it can cause suicidal thoughts within the individual (Clearview Treatment Center). The risk of high blood pressure may be higher when a partner is having an affair. In turn, it also increases the chance of heart-attack mostly in men and it is important to speak with a doctor if these symptoms are present (Kilborn).
While perfect relationships do not exist, it is a normal occurrence in any relationship to have disagreements and even argue with one another at times. Although conflict is normal, it is important to remember that relationships require effort and care from both partners to be successful. An act of betrayal such as an affair, has a similar effect on the victim as an act of physical violence would (Snipes). Physical violence in relationships can often be found without infidelity, but when the two are paired together, it can be an indication of a cheater's fear of being caught, or an excuse to end the relationship (Utley 426-445). These types of betrayals often have the potential to become dangerous and violent for the victim. Studies reveal that these intense feelings can lead to aggressive behavior toward one's spouse, which is the leading cause of homicide in the United States (Leeker 68-91). Many known causes of physical aggression include anger, stress, jealousy, self-defense, attention, retaliation, and a way of communicating when the couple lack the verbal ability to do so (Leisring 1437-1454). The unfaithful partners may also worry about the potential consequences of their actions, such as divorce or loss of respect.
Many times cheaters may feel that they do not deserve to be trusted after the actions that have caused the other partner so much pain. As a result, the individuals may become distant from their partner in order to make it easier to hide the affair or may become overly attentive to the other partner as a way of trying to make up for their actions. This can perpetuate the cycle of secrecy and deceit. Research has found that people are more likely to cheat if they have cheated in the past, and two to four times more likely to be cheated on if the individual has been cheated on before (Fultonberg). The secrecy can also create a sense of alienation, as the person is unable to share and process their feelings with anyone.
In cases where a partner discovers that the other has had an affair, the unfaithful partner often becomes angry and physically aggressive towards their victim for confronting them about it. It is important to understand, however, that the affair is not the fault of the victim, and it is usually caused by an underlying issue that is unresolved within the person who makes the decision to cheat (Creager). It is never acceptable to act out with physical aggression or violence when angry. Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their relationships. It is important to take responsibility and address the root causes of anger and aggression.
Taking responsibility and attempting to understand and resolve the issues underlying anger is essential to creating a healthy relationship. Patience is needed when repairing the broken trust cheating causes to couples. There are other potential consequences that can have an effect on both partners and the relationship, and the partners become faced with a decision whether or not to continue the relationship or end it. Ultimately, it is up to the individuals in the relationship to decide how to move forward. With dedication and effort, it is possible to rebuild the trust that has been broken and create a stronger relationship.