Infidelity - How It Impacts Mental Health


Developing long-lasting, solid bonds is one of the core aspects of human nature. Opening ourselves up to others puts us in a position of vulnerability and closeness, helping to establish trust. Investing ourselves in a romantic partner is one of the most deep-rooted bonds of trust; our partners typically become part of our long-term, ambitious goals. Unfortunately, problems are bound to arise in any relationship, and some are conscious choices, such as cheating. Cheating is more than just betrayal - it also has the potential to damage a person's mental health seriously and have long-term consequences for developing bonds in the future.

Feelings Likely To Arise After Infidelity

As a person processes what just happened in their relationship and their next steps moving forward, the following feelings are likely to occur:

  • Bewilderment:

Upon finding out your partner has cheated, it's natural to fall into denial or confusion. Someone may begin doubting whether what happened is real, what went wrong to cause the infidelity, or even having doubts about genuinely knowing one's partner (speculating how and why they would be living a double life). In such a case, communication with the unfaithful partner is critical as it will help clarify the situation and better assess the best course of action moving forward.

  • Devastation:

The feeling of devastation after being cheated on can be all-consuming, where the person cheated on realizes what happened and feels a sense of panic and a flurry of multiple stressful emotions at once. For many people, infidelity is often devoid of future forgiveness as it's regarded as the worst form of deception. A phenomenon known as "analysis paralysis" is often seen during feelings of devastation after infidelity occurs. Not only is a person likely to question their ability to trust in the future after infidelity occurs, but they may also have problems with questioning the authenticity of other relationships in their life.

  • Sorrow

Deep sadness, and even loneliness, are highly likely to be felt after discovering a partner has been unfaithful. It can even feel like a part of one's identity has been lost, especially if years of investments were made into the relationship. In a state of heartbreak, especially for a prolonged time, codependency behaviors can develop, and the person cheated on lacks the perspective to see a future without their former partner and believes they will never experience happiness without them.

  • Resentment, Rage, or Disgust

Along with resentment, rage, and disgust are amongst the quickest reactions to arise from discovering relationship infidelity. The urge to retaliate or "get back" at a former partner is prevalent in response to a wounded sense of self-worth. It's also likely a partner who was cheated on will demand a reasonable explanation of what led to the infidelity, which the secondary partner was, or even demand an apology. When these feelings arise, being mindful of one's thoughts is vital to physical well-being, as it may lead to face-to-face altercations and violence.

Alternatively, feelings of resentment, rage, and disgust may instead be focused inward, where the Preston cheated on experiences these feelings towards themselves. They may blame themselves for not seeing the signs sooner, intuitively suspecting infidelity but being in denial, or even being overly self-critical by blaming themselves for not being a better partner.