When a partner cheats, the trust and security that comes with marriage is violated and the victims are left feeling betrayed, hurt, and insecure. Betrayal by an intimate partner in a committed relationship can cause immense psychological pain that has long-term repercussions. Knowing the signs and symptoms of how an affair may affect the victims can be the best way to help someone in need get the help they deserve.
Suffering from infidelity can stir up feelings of insecurity and a lack of self-worth that have been brought up from past relationships and experiences (Creager). After an affair, the victim may also feel like they don't know how to be in a trusting relationship, and this leads to a dramatic decline in self-esteem. This is because the victims may feel like they were not good enough for the other person or that they weren't worth enough to be respected.
The victims of betrayal often experience anxiety, rumination, depression, and deal with intrusive thoughts after an affair. Common experiences may also include a sense of betrayal, hurt, shock, and anger that can be difficult to process, particularly if the person is already struggling with mental health issues. This can lead to further emotional distress and potentially worsen the pre-existing mental health issues (Mind). Pre-existing mental health conditions can cause emotional distress to manifest differently in different people. An example would be someone with a borderline personality disorder who may be more prone to angry outbursts and an intense sense of loneliness (Kandola). These intense emotions can cause behavioral changes such as avoiding social activities and isolating oneself from family and friends. These are all signs of depression, which can be triggered by the sudden shock and trauma of discovering a partner’s affair (Nutt). These persistent negative thoughts and feelings can lead to a decline in overall well-being, making it difficult for the victims to function in their day-to-day life. It may also feel like they can't trust anyone and find it difficult to put their faith in their partner again. Infidelity is one of the greatest pains a couple can experience, second only to the pain of losing a child (Lindekugel).
Cheating is far more serious than some may believe. This type of pain can be so great that it can lead to physical ailments, such as headaches, stomach problems, and insomnia. Some victims may even develop suicidal thoughts. The seriousness and importance of reaching out to a healthy support system or seeking help from a professional after being hurt by an affair cannot be overstated and should be considered highly by anyone experiencing these signs or symptoms. In many studies, a common finding is that the victim often develops either insomnia or an eating disorder. Both are serious and can have fatal consequences if not cared for right away. Anorexia is a disorder often used by many individuals as a means to cope. It is similar to an individual who uses illegal drugs to cope. However, this is extremely unhealthy and can also be difficult to overcome (Kilborn).
It is important to remember that even when we experience trauma, it is necessary to take the time to practice self-care. When a person is healthy, it is easier to cope with the other effects of the betrayal. Getting plenty of sleep nightly, staying hydrated, and having a healthy diet is important for anyone to better manage life's challenges and for the overall wellbeing of an individual as a whole. While insomnia and eating disorders may seem to some like no big deal, the complications of the two conditions can have deadly impacts and need to be addressed. Ultimately, it is essential to recognize the effects of infidelity and to reach out for help in order to cope with the trauma and to move forward.