A long time ago, he made a mistake that hurt you deeply. Your relationship was rocked by infidelity, but you put in the work to talk things through, forgive him, and move on. So then why is it that, after all this time, you’re still not the same? Could it be that his infidelity cut you deeper than you realize? The truth is that long term infidelity effects can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your relationship, even after you’ve tried to put it behind you. After all, talking something out isn’t the same as truly making peace with it.
In today’s article we’re going to take a look at some of the ways that being cheated on changes you, the effects this has on your relationship, and how to truly get over an affair. The fact is that there may still be some work left to be done towards repairing your relationship. While uncomfortable in the short term, I want to show you that it’s worth the time and effort! By being honest with yourself and examining how being cheated on effected you in the long-term, you’re investing in a healthier and happier relationship down the line.
Long Term Infidelity Effects
I’d like to start with the story of one of my clients, let’s call her Rosa, who came to me several months ago about problems she was having in her marriage. These issues didn’t seem related to infidelity: she simply felt increasingly distant and uncomfortable around her husband of 7 years, Jack.
Rosa described how difficult it was to speak with him, not because he wasn’t willing to listen, but because the words simply wouldn’t come out of her mouth. She felt extreme anxiety when he spent time with his friends, and couldn’t wait for him to come home. However, when they were together, there seemed to be an invisible wall between them. It was as if she was somehow uninterested in their marriage, and scared to death of losing it, at the same time.
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The seemingly unprovoked onset of these problems pointed to something further back in their past that was eroding the foundations of their marriage. Sure enough, after a bit of digging, I learned that Jack had been unfaithful 5 years ago. Rosa explained that, at the time, they talked things through and that she had forgiven him. After all, it was a stupid drunk mistake, and Jack seemed genuinely committed to making things right.
However, the more we talked about it, the more I could sense genuine pain still in Rosa’s voice. It became clear that she was still feeling the long term effects of being cheated on, and that she hadn’t truly let it go. Although she had buried it, Jack’s infidelity had dug itself out of its grave to wreak havoc on their relationship.
Working with Rosa, and eventually Jack in couples sessions, was undeniably difficult. Jack was blindsided that his cheating was still causing so much damage, while Rosa found it extremely difficult to open up about how he had made her feel. The trust central to their relationship had been broken and never recovered, so their marriage had been quietly deteriorating for years.
In the end, they did manage to pull through and are still together as I write this. However, I wanted to share Rosa’s story to show you that, left unaddressed, the long term effects of infidelity can spiral out of control and cause serious harm. That’s why it’s worth knowing how to spot these signs, so you can take steps towards actual healing.
What to Look Out For After an Affair
So, with all of that being said, let’s take a look at how being cheated on can change you. You may find that some of these signs aren’t applicable to you, whereas others are, and that’s completely natural! Keep in mind that every relationship and every situation is unique, meaning that the way this affects you may affect someone else completely differently.
Still, throughout my years as a love and relationship expert here at Happily Committed, I’ve seen plenty of relationships still showing scars from past infidelity, and I think the following three categories cover most of them. Let’s take a look.
Slowly Falling Out of Love After Infidelity
Imagine if your home was struck by an earthquake, and severely damaged. You’re going to have to rebuild everything: the walls, rooms, and broken windows. However, if you neglect to reinforce the weakened foundation, all of that work is for nothing! Once that’s weakened, it’ll start to buckle under the weight of the house, and things will break apart all over again.
After an affair, your relationship is a lot like a house after an earthquake. Your dynamic will take a long time to rebuild, but you have to go straight to re-enforcing the foundations if you want things to last. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself falling out of love after infidelity.
This happens to plenty of people: they put being cheated on behind them, only to find that their attraction and connection to their partner simply fades away over time. If you really want to avoid this, remember that the foundation elements of a marriage are respect, commitment, trust, and communication. Measure the health of these pillars, and focus your efforts on improving the ones that seem weakest.
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This is, of course, easier said than done. Like I mentioned before, every relationship is unique, and knowing how to undo the damage in your particular situation isn’t always easy. Remember, you can always reach out to me or any of the other coaches here at Happily Committed by simply clicking here. We can help you pinpoint exactly where to focus your efforts, and by doing so, reaffirm your love and commitment to your partner.
Communication Problems After Being Cheated On
Part of the damage caused by infidelity may be that you’re unwilling to really, truly open up to your partner about how you’re feeling. This is natural! It happens because infidelity is a breach of trust, and without it, it’s hard to lay your bare feelings on the table. Communication requires a certain amount of vulnerability, which may be a tall order when you’re recovering from being severely hurt by the person you trusted the most.
If you’re serious about putting infidelity in marriage behind you, you’re going to have to find a way to restart the communication in your relationship. This is going to take time, and you can’t expect it to go back to the way it was overnight. At the same time, it does require a bit of effort and discomfort: you can’t simply wait for things to revert to the way they were.
Finding this balance takes a lot of patience, effort, and experimentation. I’d recommend turning to your support network outside of your marriage to talk about your feelings as well. If you’re unable to really open up with your partner, you still have an obligation to get your feelings out! This serves two purposes: the first is to help you work through a lot of your emotions, instead of simply burying them. Second, it gives you a way to gauge the health of your communication with your partner. If you’re able to say things to a friend that you’re unable to say at home, you still have work left to do.
Post Infidelity Stress Disorder
Post Infidelity Stress Disorder is heightened anxiety, paranoia, and mistrust that lingers long after an affair. This is an almost physical sensation. Panic attacks at the thought of your partner cheating, worrying to the point of feeling sick when you’re not in the same place, and compulsive behaviors like checking your partner’s phone or social media are all signs of this problem. I’ve even had clients cancel their own vacations simply due to the fear of leaving their partners alone.
If this sounds familiar, I hate to break it to you, but it’s only going to get worse. The people I’ve worked with who were suffering from these psychological effects of infidelity often saw their relationships fall apart, and experienced serious difficulties trying to date afterwards. There’s no way around it: you need to talk to someone about this. Like any anxiety disorder, there is a wealth of resources towards easing the symptoms and regaining control over your mind.
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Admitting that this is an unsustainable problem is often the biggest hurdle people have to jump. Once they do, it becomes a lot easier to find ways out of it.
Should Couples Stay Together After Infidelity?
At this stage, the problems facing your relationship may feel extremely daunting. I don’t want you to worry – the fact is that you and your relationship can recover from an affair. Consistent effort towards rebuilding your dynamic takes effort, time, and commitment. But if you’ve decided that you’d like to put the past behind you, then this process will leave your relationship stronger than it’s ever been.
However, don’t force it, and don’t expect it to be quick. The reality is that trust takes years to build, and only a moment to break. If you want to move towards a healthy future, you should accept that trust comes through the accumulation of little things. Pay attention to how your partner treats you today, tomorrow, next week, and next year. If you feel respected, loved, and supported, then you’re on the right track.
Finally, I really want to recommend checking out our course in how to overcome infidelity. In it, you’ll find a comprehensive guide for both the long term and the short term steps you can take to recover from the harm that’s been caused. It is possible to move past this thoroughly and permanently!
So, with that being said, let’s review some of the most common long term effects of being cheated on:
If you’re slowly falling out of love after an affair, you need to take drastic action to reaffirm the foundation your relationship is built on. These core pillars are respect, commitment, trust, and communication. It’s hard to control how much you love someone directly, but by focusing your efforts on these other areas, you can bring the spark back into your relationship.
Communication problems after being cheated on are really insidious, because often people only notice them when it’s too late. It’s normal to pull back after being hurt, but if you never come back out of your shell, your relationship will suffer. Reach out to trusted friends and family to vent your feelings, and make an effort to open up to your partner once you feel like they’re making a genuine effort to regain your trust.
Post infidelity stress disorder is real, and affects plenty of people. Left unaddressed, it can spiral into some seriously self-destructive behavior. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can live with this: help is available, and effective!
As this article comes to a close, I want to remind you that no problem in your romantic life is insurmountable. I’m happy you’re here, reading these articles, because it shows that you’re willing to put the work in to have the love life you deserve! I know you’ll succeed.
I wish you all the best.
Your coach when you’re curious about long term infidelity effects,