Being cheated on doesn’t just smother you in pain and despair. It makes you question your very identity and the foundation of your beliefs. With your world shattered into tiny pieces, being engulfed into darkness, you might wonder how being cheated on changes you. Most importantly, how do you recover?
What are your choices when getting cheated on?
How do you deal with the devastation that follows after you have corroborated your partner’s transgressions?
It’s not about suspicions of guilt from a flirty text or a rumor you heard from a friend. This is when you have absolute proof or a confession that yourpartner cheated on you.
The first thing you need to do is connect to your emotions without reacting.
Clearly, that’s easier said than done. You might be imagining destroying your spouse’s car or cutting up the “other” woman or man into a hundred pieces with a kitchen knife. Nonetheless, acting on those fantasies is a terrible idea with long-lasting consequences on you.
The initial shock of finding out you’re getting cheated on will take days, maybe even weeks. In a sense, you’re experiencing the first stage of Elizabeth Kubler’s stages of grief.
Regardless, it’s important not to make any rash decisions during this time because you won’t be in control, your emotions will be doing all the deciding. Besides, how being cheated on changes you and how you view yourself and the environment you live in.
Give yourself time before you and your partner discuss options. That doesn’t stop you from managing the immediate shock and sleeping in separate bedrooms of course. Nevertheless, divorce or breakup isn’t always the final decision.
In some cases, couples discover that the betrayal was a symptom of bigger problems. They finally agree to work through them together and actually end up stronger on the other side.
Usually, you do this with a therapist and it can take time. Nevertheless, it is possible to recover if you both wish to fight for the relationship.
It’s worth noting that how being cheated on changes you by also giving you more compassion. We all make mistakes and you don’t know what you’ll want to do later down the road when you discover forgiveness.
Remember that forgiveness doesn’t condone bad behavior. It releases you from anger and revenge.
Before you can truly embrace how infidelity changes you, you might be reviewing your choices:
Discuss the issue, forgive (eventually), and move on
Amicably separate with conditions
Permanently breakup or divorce
Ignore each other and withdraw into depression
Breakdown and suffer PTSD
Do something illegal
Clearly, not all those choices will feel like they’re under your control. Nevertheless, how being cheated on changes you because you have a choice with how you respond to the trauma.
Recover and move on from being cheated on
The long term effects of being cheated on range from anxiety to depression and even a form of PTSD. That’s not to say you can’t recover but it does take effort and patience.
First, acknowledge your emotions and observe your inner critic. It’s easy to let anger or hate overwhelm you. Instead, challenge your inner critic to see other viewpoints. The more you broaden your views, the more clearly you’ll see the way forward.
Then there’s the matter of how being cheated on affects future relationships. Sadly, some people find it difficult to ever trust again. Nevertheless, you can make a point of reaching out to trusted friends or even professional help.
With professional help, you’ll learn your habits and how to look out for warning signs of potential cheaters. As thisreview of personality factors on infidelity shows, some traits, such as extraversion and agreeableness, combined with the right environment could increase the chances of cheating.
Although, don’t fall into the trap of blaming everyone else. How being cheated on changes you such that you can also look at yourself and what role you play in the dynamic.
Again, a therapist can guide you through this. Together you will learn how to develop a healthy attachment style in relationships with future partners.
15 ways on how being cheated on changes you
When considering how infidelity changes you, you can look at both external and external factors. Clearly, your relationship will change, one way or another, but so will you.
How being cheated on changes you in your own unique way. Nevertheless, these 15 points are the most common challenges you might face.
1. Feelings of grief
One of the major effects of being cheated on is that you find yourself grieving who you once were. Whichever way you look at it, there is a before and after ‘you’.
Only you can truly define how being cheated on changes you though. To give you an example, some women feel that they lose a piece of their innocence.
Others find that they see their reality with fresh eyes. The old world with clear roles and perfect lives is gone. So, who is the new you in this new perspective of unknowns?
As a therapist explains in her article onself-grieving, the process is a critical part of healing. It’s a way of facing the pain with self-compassion so that you can embrace the new you and eventually move forward.
2. Existential dread
Being cheated on changes you at your very core. Suddenly, the one person you trust the most betrays you. As a consequence, you no longer know what to believe and nothing seems certain anymore.
As you chase an ethereal certainty, you might start feeling that there is no meaning in life. You’ll also start noticing just how empty you feel.
The danger is that you could end up in a vicious circle of comparing yourself to others on social media, leading to depression.
3. Loss of trust
It’s important to note that men and women aren’t that different when considering how being cheated on changes you as a man. Both of us lose trust in ourselves, in relationships and life in general.
Part of discovering the new ‘you’ is also learning how to trust again. So, don’t give up on friends and family as they can still show you the good in people.
It almost goes without saying that your inner belief in yourself will be shattered. In essence, infidelity makes you doubt yourself with questions such as “what did I do wrong”.
The guilt might turn into shame especially if you feel you didn’t commit enough time to the relationship. Whilst nothing forgives infidelity, it helps to remember that we are all human and we all cause harm to others at some point either knowingly or unknowingly.
Part of rebuilding your self-esteem is to be kind to yourself about how you approach life. As you connect to your humanness, you might find it easier to extend compassion to your partner.
5. New perspectives
When wondering how being cheated on changes you, ask yourself what your beliefs are on relationships.
The impact of how being cheated on changes you depends on your response. So, you can either fall into despair and the victim loop. Alternatively, you can embrace life’s challenges and use them to get to know yourself more deeply.
Being cheated on changes you such that you reassess how you relate to life. Expectations only lead to suffering but the wiser approach is to see and accept people for who they are.
Perhaps your partner has self-esteem or sexual drive issues? This isn’t about excusing infidelity but about finding a way to move forward. Harboring anger and resentment only causes you mental distress without achieving anything good for your well-being.
So, when considering how being cheated on changes you, and once the initial anger has subsided, you might discover a pool of compassion you never knew you had.
Perhaps then you can make peace with the fact that mistakes happen and that we are all human and imperfect.
Stanford psychology professor and director of the Social Neuroscience Laboratory, Dr. Jamil Zaki, briefly talks about how his parents’ divorce changed the way he viewed things in his book The War for Kindness. He explains how he worked at connecting with both parents without shutting down in anger.
You too can choose compassion over anger if you truly want to. Watch Dr. Zaki’s Ted talk on empathy as a starting point.
8. Embrace the new you
What being cheated on does to you, is give you an opportunity to reassert yourself. You might draw up new boundaries in your relationship or reevaluate your values and what’s important to you.
In a sense, how being cheated on changes you by giving you a new lease of life. That’s not to discount all the pain and hard work that needs to come first.
Nevertheless, you’ll find a way to connect with life that’s deeper and more meaningful than ever before.
9. Face your demons
One of the most painful effects of being cheated on is uncovering your dark side. No one wants to meet their shadow but this is one way how being cheated on changes you.
Essentially, betrayal turns your world upside and you suddenly have to reassess yourself. As a therapist explains in herarticle on how to face your demons, the best way, although tough, is to befriend them.
So, get to know the anger, anxiety, helplessness and all the other emotions you’re experiencing. Whether you work with a therapist or journal and talk to friends, the more you get to know those demons, the easier it is to let them go.
Nothing is permanent, even pain.
10. Resilience or victim?
Does getting cheated on change you? In many ways, yes it does but exactly how it does depends on you.
There are many who let the pain of betrayal swallow them up. They become so lost in blaming everyone around them that little to no healing can take place.
Of course, there will be a period of anger but without digging deeper, you’ll never understand exactly where that anger comes from. Is it from a deep fear of abandonment or from the shame of not being perfect for your partner?
Getting to know your inner truths is what builds resilience and eventually, acceptance. If, instead, you choose to accept that life comes with pain, you can step out of your small world and focus on bigger things such as a higher purpose.
11. Renewed defense mechanisms
Do you know what being cheated on does to you and the inner voice within you? We all have an ego that protects us but it’s often over-enthusiastic in how it does that.
So, your inner walls might suddenly grow exponentially taller and thicker. You might find yourself pushing away not just your partner but friends and family.
If you find you’re closing in on yourself in this way, try to take a pause and seek professional help. Rejecting people only alienates you more and just fuels your suffering as you accentuate your aloneness.
In terms of how cheating affects the brain, it’s similar to withdrawal from a potent drug. Just as your body’s stress levels are increasing, so your happy hormones such as oxytocin are decreasing.
Moreover, as thisarticle on complex betrayal from the Center for Relational Recovery explains, being cheated on over-activates your fight-or-flight system which disorientates your ability to regulate emotions and pay attention.
Your body responds with various ailments including tiredness, gastro issues and high blood pressure, among others.
How being cheated on changes you as a man, depending on how you manage your depression and the aftermath of the shock.
Being cheated on affects the whole family. In fact, how being cheated on changes you and potentially your children.
Ultimately, how you respond and behave impacts how your children interpret romantic relationships. Naturally, children have their own ways of responding so some might withdraw and others might act out.
15. Increased erratic behavior
As mentioned, how cheating affects the brain is all down to chemicals. When stress increases, our happy chemicals decrease. For some people that means seeking other ways to top up those chemicals, whether consciously or not.
That doesn’t necessarily mean turning to alcohol or narcotics. It can also mean turning to other addictive outlets such as gambling or fast cars.
Moreover, how being cheated on affects future relationships both positively and negatively. Again the choice is yours.
On the one hand, you could make that risky behavior a habit. Alternatively, you could move on from it, become savvier in how you choose future partners and draw firmer boundaries in future relationships.
The new dynamic after infidelity
How being cheated on changes you in several ways. You essentially go into a high alert and stressed state that impacts your behaviors and mental health.
On one side, people lose trust and close in on themselves. On the other, you have people who embrace the challenge and use it as an opportunity to learn more about themselves and how they relate to people.
So, does being cheated on change you? Yes but in a gradual way. You’ll gain a new perspective on life after being cheated on and you might even build your inner resilience and compassion. Usually, this type of work takes arelationship therapist to help you get past the anger and hurt.
After all, you can’t change the past but you can choose your way forward. There is hope beyond the pain.
Or as Psychologist Victor Frankl quotes, “when we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.
Further information on how being cheated on changes you
In summary, how being cheated on alters your view on life and yourself. Although, we’re all different and we all take different amounts of time to process extreme challenges such as betrayal.
The more you can connect with your emotions and acknowledge them, the smoother the process will be for letting them go.
What is the mind-body impact of being cheated on?
The long term effects of being cheated on alter your mind and body. A betrayal triggers your fight-or-flight system which floods your body with stress chemicals. This is bad for your heart, blood pressure and organs.
Moreover, emotional regulation becomes harder and you can slide into extreme anxiety, mistrust and depression. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to arelationship therapist.
No one deserves the negatives of how being cheated on changes you. Although, don’t forget that every challenge in life also helps us grow and build both our inner and outer resources.
How does being cheated on change your personality?
Naturally, you shouldn’t expect too many radical changes overnight when it comes to how being cheated on changes you. You might simply find some subtle changes in how extroverted or agreeable you feel, among other traits.
So, does being cheated on change you? Yes, but it depends also on how you approach life after being cheated on.
Will you stay stuck in the victim loop forever or will you find ways to overcome your unhealthy behavioral patterns? We all have them. The question now is what will you do with yours and what can betrayal teach you?
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle Read more in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.
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If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.