Why Does Being Cheated On Hurt So Much. How To Help Yourself Deal With the Aftermath Of An Affair
Whether your partner had a one-night stand, saw prostitutes, was busy online sexting multiple people or developed a longer-term emotional connection. It hurts. The pain, resentment, worry over the future and anger can be too much to bare. At the beginning stages you may have hundreds of questions constantly racing through your mind. Like:
“What did I do wrong?”
“How could they do this to me?”
“How could they do this to our family?”
“How did I miss the signs?”
“Why did they do this to me?”
“How could they be so selfish and two-faced?”
“Were they and are they comparing my body and theirs?”
“Are they comparing us sexually?”
“Do they want to leave and are here because it’s easy?”
“Do they really want me or are they
“Did they bring their affair partner into my home?” etc.
Now, while I can’t answer any of those burning questions you may have as every situation is totally unique and normally I take one or both in the couple through my individual breakthrough process for clarity and being able to release the past, I can shed some light on why it hurts so much and what you can do to process or deal with the aftermath of an affair.
Why does cheating hurt so much?
Simply put – our biological set up is heavily reliant on connection with others. From the moment we are born, we can’t do anything for ourselves. In fact the human race would not survive without love and connection. We are programmed to establish a bond with our primary caregivers – which for most people is their mother in order to get our needs met.
Many people with or without a secure attachment in childhood, go on to seek a secure attachment in adulthood. When the person you have put all your trust in has betrayed you, it is so understandable why the pain of this person cheating can feel unbearable. In fact, professor and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab Director Matthew Liberman wrote this statement in his book – “When human beings experience threats or damage to their social bonds, the brain responds in much the same way it responds to physical pain.”
The only difference is – physical wounds can heal quicker as they are only superficial, for example a cut to the knee can close within weeks, a broken arm or wrist takes 6 to 8 weeks, however the emotional and mental pain following an affair can last for years and can influence how you engage in other relationships moving forward. As well as how you see yourself which is often the thing I see that shatters a person the most.
Many of the men and women who do my individual 3 day breakthrough session have lost their confidence, no longer know who they are, what they want and often feel stuck. They see themselves as unattractive, not good enough, not interesting enough, not successful enough and find as a result they can over time feel a lack purpose. I believe having worked with countless men and women who have been cheated on and hundreds of couples to repair their marriage after an affair that one of the most damaging affects of the affair is the betrayed persons self-esteem. It can create insomnia, anxiety, depression due to the harsh way the person sees themselves.
There’s also the element of comparison. Naturally, people who have been cheated on start to negatively compare themselves to the affair partner or pictures and images of the other person they have seen.
“Are they better looking than me?”
“Is she/her better at sex than me?”
“Do they dress better?” etc.
“Am I boring?”
All these questions are a way of trying to make sense of why your partner has cheated and this adds to the pain because you start to feel inadequate, unattractive, boring in bed etc. You may start to imagine the one you love with another person who you start to think makes them happier than you did. You tell yourself the affair partner was better because “Why else would they cheat right?” This is a super painful consequence of being cheated on because while you already feel broken about your partner breaking your trust, you shift your focus on to what the affair partner may potentially offer your husband/wife, that you feel you couldn’t.
As a result of making comparisons between yourself and the affair partner, you might start to develop traits that you don’t like. Some clients I have worked with who have been cheated on, turn into people they don’t like because they are either becoming clingy, obsessed with their partner, or they become angry quickly and are full of resentment towards their partner. They may become more argumentative and reactive to situations they may not have been bothered about before the infidelity.
When low self-esteem is at rock bottom, some people also start to criticize their body and make drastic changes like starving themselves, plastic surgery and other extremes without properly thinking things through. In order for a person to regain their happiness, the negative thoughts and emotions must be cleared to help a person move forward.
Comparing yourself to others and using this as a justification for why your partner has cheated is such a damaging thing to do to yourself. Remind yourself of these three key things –
- What others show on social media is often far from the truth. Everyone wants to show their best, filtered and perfected lives,
- The energy you’re using to focus on what others have and you don’t, takes away the time and energy you should be focusing on building on yourself. Take time to create the best, healthiest version of yourself.
- Comparisons deprive you of true happiness and joy for the things that are great in your own life
Another reason why being cheated on hurts so much is because most people enter a relationship under the impression that they are both agreeing to be faithful to one another. Some people even share with their partner that if they cheat, that will be it, the relationship will be over and yet the person still does it. So the confusion and disappointment hurts so much. What can cause further pain is the excuses given for it. It can make the person upset even more if they feel they are being blamed like
“They put on weight” “They aren’t interested in sex” “I have emotional and physical needs”
When a person breaks an agreement, the marriage vows it can feel like a huge kick in the gut and like they are deliberately trying to harm you. This can even happen in open relationships, where other sexual partners are agreed but what they do and when and under what circumstances has been broken.
Finding out your partner has cheated on you can also leave you questioning whether you knew them at all. This person you once thought could never hurt you, has hurt you in a deep way and so you may begin to wonder “what else will I find out about them?”. It can leave you feeling like you have been living a lie because your partner has shown a side to them you never thought possible. How could they cheat is one thing, but the lies can just baffle you. You may ask yourself if you were stupid to have missed the signs. Please again, don’t beat yourself up over this. The self-attacking thoughts will only make the healing process longer.
Many that do my individual breakthrough process after an affair share with me that they feel violated. One lady compared it to being burgled – someone going through your private belongings behind your back an ultimate violation. Her husband brought the lady home while she was away and she felt her house was now dirty.
Some wish they could go back and have taken different actions to prevent the affair? I often share in reply to this, that it’s just wasted energy and time thinking about if they could turn back the clock, none of us can, we just need to focus on the present and future and learning from the past and making the right now a whole lot better in all areas of life.
The most common thing I see that makes the hurt and tiredness more extreme is the detective work and obsession of knowing every thing that can make a person feel crazy. Hours spent on instagram, facebook, trolling through phone records, bank statements, receipts. Mapping out the dates, times, where you were and what was happening during the cheating episodes.
Many feel like they have lost who they are in this obsessed detective phase, as they look into every single date their partner wasn’t with them. Some people I have helped to release the past and move forward have trawled through hours of home CCTV footage to check every thig they can about the days around the cheating. Sadly all the obsessing can snowball into an unhealthy habits, disturbed sleep and robs a person of enjoying the here and now. Making it almost impossible for the person to engage in normal day to day things, until every piece in the puzzle fits. This is where the person who has cheated can help, they can help by giving all information, by telling the truth first time round rather than leaving the partner to work it all out by searching, tracking and playing things over in their head.
As many cheaters refuse to admit the truth until they are presented with concrete evidence. According to research carried out by Health Testing Centers, only 1 in 4 individuals admit to cheating on their partner and 47% of those that did admit to cheating, did so within the first week of the incident.
However, 3 out of 4 individuals will choose not to admit to having an affair or cheating on their partner, which can make it even harder for a person who suspects their partner is cheating. This then pushes the person being cheated on does everything they can to find the evidence which will ultimately break their heart. As I mentioned It is such a painful situation to be in, knowing that your partner is cheating and then having to find the concrete evidence to present your case to the person who you love so much. No one wants to be proven right when it comes to being cheated on and so it is hurtful that the person who is cheating is not admitting to their infidelity and is prolonging the pain their partner is going through.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the first questions a person asks themselves when they have been cheated on is “What did I do wrong?” – taking the ownership off the person who has cheated and projecting it back on themselves. This severely impacts their self-esteem and confidence.
When you blame yourself for someone else’s behaviour, you start to justify their behaviour. You make excuses and then this makes you feel worse about yourself. You become the instigator of the problem, when really you are not responsible for the actions of another person – regardless of how much you love them or how long you have been together.
Researchers from the University of Nevada published a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships which looked at the impact infidelity had on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. The results showed that people who had been cheated on showed higher levels of anxiety and paranoia because they had been lied to and this left them feeling extremely vulnerable and on edge in other situations. This is a common thing I see when helping people.
When you are feeling this low about yourself, you will question your self-worth. You might start to think you’re not deserving of good things and in turn, this could make you settle for less. I have had clients where their partner has cheated, and their confidence has been affected so deeply that they blame themselves for their partner straying and stay in their relationship as they feel like they can’t do any better, regardless of how unhappy they are. All this does is force unresolved emotions to bubble up underneath and force their way out in other ways.
According to Dr Michele Barton, who is the Director of Clinical Health at Psychology Life Well – people who have been cheated on tend to experience physical dis-ease, like irritable bowel syndrome, headaches or migraines, loss of appetite or increase in comfort eating, drinking excessively, taking drugs and in some cases even cheating themselves. To avoid this, Dr Barton suggests dealing with the emotions firsthand, rather than hiding from them – which is something I feel so strongly about and exactly what the 3 day breakthrough process does, outlines all of the overwhelming and difficult feelings in day 1, clearing them in day using a special process that helps people to release the emotions and thoughts and day 3 is about creating goals, positive actions and looking forward to the present and future. It’s not magic or new age nonsense by the way, it works exactly how our reticular activating system our RAS in our brain works.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through.
The RAS is the reason you learn a new word and then start hearing it everywhere. It’s why you can tune out a crowd full of talking people, yet immediately snap to attention when someone says your name or something that at least sounds like it.
Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favor without you actively doing anything. Pretty awesome, right?
In the same way, the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs. It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs shape those parameters. If you think you are bad at giving speeches, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions.
Some people suggest that you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts. They call it “setting your intent.” This basically means that if you focus hard on your goals, your RAS will reveal the people, information and opportunities that help you achieve them.
If you care about positivity, for example, you will become more aware of and seek positivity. If you really want a new car and set your intent on getting one, you’ll tune in to the right information that helps you do that.
When you look at it this way, The Law of Attraction doesn’t seem so mystical. Focus on the bad things and hold many negative beliefs as true you will invite negativity into your life. Focus on the good things and believe that good things will happen to you then they will come, because your brain is seeking them out. It’s not magic, it’s your Reticular Activating System influencing the world you see around you.
That is how the breakthrough works. Helps people to clear out the negative thoughts and emotions so they can then focus on believing and attracting good, positive new things to them. Email me, whats app me or book a call through my website if you would like to know more.
So I have talked a lot about why the pain of an affair and cheating hurts so much. Social media checking can make it even harder.
Social media adds fuel to the constant feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Having constant access to someone’s life through social media is a curse for any relationship where infidelity has taken place. Once you find out your partner has cheated you might find yourself trawling through their posts and stories on social media, trying to find their affair partner or see what they have been up to after admitting to cheating. Or you might stalk the people who like their posts and vice versa. It can be very self-destructive to constantly be checking someone’s social media. Especially the affair partners social media, as you are bringing the pain of being cheated on back into your life again and again, making the situation much worse – maybe you feel they are better in some way to you or awful and that can really hurt too, if you see your partner has gone for someone that you see as way different to you.
I created this podcast because I get asked all the time why does being cheated on, hurt so much. I’ve shared many reasons with you and it’s also often because you loved and respected them. It’s hard to accept that a person you love and regard so highly, has shattered the way you see them. They have turned your life upside down, yet you still love them. You can’t just turn your feelings off for someone you love. Love just doesn’t work that way and that can be difficult to process. It is painful to know someone you love has hurt you so bad and yet you can’t let go of them. You may even be angry at yourself for loving them so much.
In the next episode …I will share some tips so stay tuned for that
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