When one partner goes outside of the relationship for emotional or physical needs, the other partner may end the relationship, or forgive and stay in it, but either way, extra-marital affairs have major, negative effects that can be felt for some time.
Damage to Self Esteem:
The person who has been cheated on will suffer a blow to his or her self esteem. They may have the usual thoughts of, “Was I not enough?” or “If I hadn’t let myself go this would not have happened.” Just as children tend to blame themselves for their parents’ divorce, many victims of an affair respond to an affair by blaming themselves. The decision to cheat was not yours, and although their have been problems in the relationship, you did not make the decision to have an affair. Chances are it had much more to do with a deficiency in your partner than in you.
Lack of Trust:
The victim of an affair will find it difficult to trust. He or she may doubt their judgment of others. Even if this relationship ends, and another begins, the baggage of infidelity can follow. It is important to deal with your trust issues, even if it means getting professional help to do so. You and your future partner will be grateful in the long run that you dealt with the negative consequences of the affair.
Sense of Instability:
You may feel your world has turned upside down. The things in your life that gave you a sense of security have been shattered. It is normal to feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you. It is important to find that sense of stability inside yourself. Look at your survival skills from the past and realize you can cope with this, too.
Roller Coaster of Emotions:
One minute you may feel like crying, the next screaming. You may blame him today, blame her tomorrow, and blame yourself at the same time. It is common when facing infidelity to feel a myriad of emotions. Realize this is normal. Feel what you are feeling and work through it. Don’t stuff your feelings. Seek outside help if you need someone to talk to about how you are feeling or if you are feeling overwhelmed.
The Ripple Effect:
Extra-marital affairs can cause a ripple effect in your life. You may find yourself looking differently at your job, your friends, your life choices. This can be either positive or negative, but most victims of an affair say that it brought on changes in all other areas of their lives. It’s important that you not make changes to major areas of your life while in the midst of the emotional turmoil that accompanies an affair.
There are many reasons for cheating, usually it is done without much thought or consideration of the effects it can have on the other person. However, the effects can be devastating and take a long time to get over and work through. It is important that you address these effects, and find ways to work through them. Build a support network of family and friends, your clergy, professional counselors, or anyone else you can trust to help you overcome these effects and move on to a better future.