when your life shatters

Infidelity can involve sexual or emotional affairs with someone outside of a relationship with a partner or spouse. Whether you’ve been cheated on or stepped outside of your relationship with your partner, the consequences and feelings that come with it can be devastating.

The pain you may feel is inevitable, and the effects on your emotional health in the short and long term can take a toll on your emotional well-being. In many respects, you are likely feeling grief from the loss of trust, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of your sense of self.

Like grieving the loss of a loved one, the grief you feel over what has been lost in a relationship is no different.

Trauma may also be a byproduct of infidelity, as the shock to your system can trigger similar effects relating to PTSD.

But like any physical pain you may experience, you can also heal, and the first step in the healing process is getting help.

the after-effects of an affair

how an affair can impact you

When your partner cheats, the pain you may experience can have profound effect on your mental health, especially if you had no idea about what was happening.

Common experiences from women who have been cheated on include:

  • Blaming yourself: Did I cause him to cheat? What’s wrong with me? What did she offer him that I couldn’t? The list of questions can go on, but the reality is your partner made a decision that was out of your control. What you do now to take care of yourself is all that matters.
  • Grief: Like the shock of suddenly losing a loved one, the relationship you thought you had is gone, at least in the way you once knew it. Whether you try to mend things or move on, things will never be the same, and that feeling of loss is very real.
  • Anxiety: Things can feel unstable and out of balance. If kids are part of the equation, your future as a family may suddenly be on a completely different path. Your partner may not be the person you thought they were. Can things be reconciled? There are many reasons to feel anxious and even experience panic attacks, and how you manage that anxiety can tremendously impact how you move on with your recovery.
  • Low self-esteem: How you feel about yourself may begin to impact how you react. You may find yourself drinking more, eating poorly, or lashing out in retaliation in ways that may surprise you.
  • Mood disorders: The trauma you experience may unmask a pre-existing or cause a mental health issue that may have been masked by being in a committed relationship. Depression, substance abuse, loss of interest in caring for yourself and others, and even suicidal thoughts can occur.

Regardless of your circumstances or how you may feel, it’s how you begin to pick up the pieces and move forward that can make all the difference.

“You can’t do monogamy
90% of the time.”

– Alanis Morissette

the family breakup

protecting the kids

You’re not the only one impacted by a partner’s infidelity. If you have kids, the trauma of a separation and divorce can be even more devastating to them than to you. There can be a generational effect that kids can carry on with them to adulthood, and may include:

  • trouble recognizing, expressing, or managing emotions
  • anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders
  • nightmares
  • physical pain or stomach distress
  • panic attacks
  • difficulty trusting others
  • attachment issues
  • eating disorders
  • substance abuse

Children who experience betrayal may also dissociate or detach from reality to avoid the trauma.

Protect your kids’ mental health as you would protect your own. Seek out therapy from a trained therapist to help kids manage their emotions throughout a breakup and beyond.

getting help after an affair

get into therapy ... fast

In an instant, the realities of infidelity can be overwhelming. Getting support as quickly as possible can help minimize the emotional toll that awaits. That’s not to say things will be easy, but the quicker you can get a handle on things, the better.

  • If there is an attempt at reconciliation, seek couples therapy and therapy for yourself. Group therapy can also prove incredibly beneficial.
  • If you decide separation and space are what you need, therapy can help you focus on what is essential and how to manage your emotions through the process.
  • If you begin experiencing anxiety, depression, substance abuse, lack of sleep, or anything related to a mood disorder, seek psychiatric care as soon as possible.

The bottom line is the discovery of infidelity, or if you’re committing it, will cause pain. How you take care of yourself from the beginning will make all the difference in how you heal.

To learn more about different mental health conditions and their symptoms, visit the mental health definitions page.

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