It’s bad enough when a spouse cheats on their partner one time.
Imagine how devastating it is to learn that your partner, the person in whom you had complete trust and to whom you pledged your love in front of God, friends and family, is a repeat philanderer?
Only people who have been in such a hurtful situation can understand the deep and damaging pain this can cause.
Upon discovering that their spouse is a chronic cheater, the betrayed partner’s emotions, indeed their universe, is turned completely upside down. Some common reactions to this trauma include:
A sense of unrealness, this can’t be true
Your brain slows everything down so that you are able to take it all in slowly, trying to minimize the horror of what your partner has done.
Questioning how you perceive the world
If your closest friend, lover and confidante are capable of hiding this second life and all their cheating ways, how can you believe that anything you see is the real deal? You begin to distrust your own sense of reality.
Everything that happened before was just a lie
It can’t be possible that the philandering spouse once loved, admired, and cherished you. You tell yourself that all that was just an illusion because your partner was also capable of such lying and deception.
You doubt your own sense of self-worth
If only you had been sexier, more attentive, more available, more loving, more….whatever the other women possessed that seduced your husband.
You tell yourself if you had just been more perfect, he would never have strayed. Yet often a cheater’s reasons for cheating have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with his personality traits.
You become self-critical
You ask yourself how you could have been so blind as to not have seen what was going on behind your back. Especially if your spouse was cheating with someone in your circle of friends.
You doubt everything your spouse has ever told you
You ask yourself if he was capable of covering this up, what else was he covering up? You may even become your own detective, going through his phone, emails, pockets, and online activities.
And the most important question you are asking yourself
You find yourself oscillating between deciding should you stay or should you go?
Who is likely to be a repeat philanderer?
Here are some common traits that repeat cheaters share
- His past behavior is a good indication of future behavior. A partner who has cheated before is likely to cheat again.
- They think society’s rules don’t apply to them, i.e., they are sociopathic narcissists. They view the world as a competitive marketplace, one where they must be on top or they will be beaten by the other guy. They feel a sense of entitlement.
- Addiction plays a role in their life. This could be alcohol, drugs, gaming, or gambling.
- Will not own his actions. He cheats? That’s his partner’s fault. He may blame you for not keeping up your attractiveness, or not wanting sex each time he does, or not being completely at his disposal when he wants.
If you do remain with the serial cheater, here are some points to think about. Spouses who stay in these situations report:
- Having obsessive thoughts centred about what your partner has done or is currently doing. You replay loops in your mind; perhaps scenes of what you’ve discovered, or imagine scenes of what you will discover if you dig deep enough.
- You become paranoid and you constantly look for signs of his infidelity. You go through his phone records, his email, his wallet…anything that might prove what you already suspect.
- Constant anxiety if you can’t track down your spouse. He doesn’t answer his phone. He is late coming home. He must certainly be with the other woman.
- Your sleep patterns are disturbed. Either you can’t fall asleep or you can’t stay asleep. Your mind is a constant hamster running on a wheel. You cannot turn off the thoughts of what he did or calm your mind enough to allow you to relax into sleep mode.
- Your eating patterns are disturbed. You may lose your appetite. Or experience an increase in appetite. Food may not interest you in the least, or you may dive into the junk food, especially sweets, which will give you an endorphin, “feel-good” rush (before making you crash and feel even more horrible).
- An inability to concentrate, which affects your work.
- Shame and embarrassment especially when you tell what happened to your circle of friends.
- Anger and rage.
- A pervasive sense of loss of stability and trust.
A decision needs to be made
If you do decide to stay with a serial cheater, you will need help.
Let’s not talk about couples’ counseling, because truly this situation is way past that.
You need to focus on yourself and your needs if you wish to remain with this partner. Please contact a marriage counselor to help you get the professional support required to sort out how you are going to remain in this situation and still have a fulfilling, happy life.
Should you leave? Listen to your gut. If the pain of staying with this person outweighs the joy you have with them, tune into that because it is telling you something important. Only you know what is right for you.
Using a licensed therapist as a sounding board as you work your way towards a decision will be the best move you can make in this situation. Good luck!