It doesn’t matter whether you are dating or if you have been married for years. We all know that being cheated on is the ultimate betrayal. When you find out the truth the pain can be unbearable. But not many of us focus on how being cheated on changes us.
Unfortunately, the majority of us know what it is like to be cheated on. To protect ourselves, we focus on the immediate consequences of what cheating means for us.
Our defense mechanism kicks in. We shield ourselves from the pain of infidelity any way we can. When a partner cheats it can feel like our world has ended. In our minds, we may have thought that everything was good in the relationship.
But now the truth has come out, it might mean the end of a relationship or the loss of our way of life. It has implications for children. It could signify a dramatic decrease in our lifestyle. At the very least, it will change the way we view our loved one.
But when it comes to infidelity, we rarely look at the long-term significance being cheated on has on us. How does being cheated on affecting us in future relationships? Does it change the way we view potential love interests? If we decide to stay with the cheating partner, how does cheating affect how we feel about them?
If your partner cheated on you might want answers to these questions. You may have been struggling to come to terms with your feelings. You have been cheated on, and you don’t know what to expect. You don't know if the way you are feeling is common?
You may feel like you want your husband to come back, Perhaps you want to give him a second chance?
I assure you, your feelings are valid and to be expected.
- 1 How Being Cheated On Changes You
- 1.1 1. You find it difficult to trust people
- 1.2 2. You don’t trust yourself anymore
- 1.3 3. You can’t believe the things people say anymore
- 1.4 4. You close yourself off to possible relationships
- 1.5 5. You feel worthless
- 1.6 6. You become jealous and controlling in new relationships
- 1.7 7. You look for problems so that you end the relationship first
- 1.8 8. You might start obsessing over the details
- 1.9 9. Everyone is a potential threat to your relationship
- 1.10 10. You become a people-pleaser
- 1.11 11. You only have casual relationships from now on
- 1.12 12. You become overly sensitive to similar scenarios
- 1.13 13. You get wise to spotting the players
- 2 What Can I Do If I Have Been Cheated On?
- 3 FAQs
- 4 To Conclude
How Being Cheated On Changes You
1. You find it difficult to trust people
Survey couples and ask them to name the most important attribute in relationships many will answer ‘trust’. So when there’s a lack of trust, or it is broken, it is understandably difficult to deal with.
Putting your trust into one person and having it trashed by cheating on you, can feel as if nothing makes sense anymore. The rules have been broken, and you don’t know where you stand in the universe.
2. You don’t trust yourself anymore
You used to think you were a pretty good judge of character. You relied on your gut instinct to steer you in the right direction. Now you have no idea what to trust.
All your instincts told you this was the guy (or girl) for you. You would have married this person in an instant. Now, thanks to your cheating ex, you don’t know whether you’ll ever trust your judgement again.
3. You can’t believe the things people say anymore
Being cheated on not only affects relationships with significant others but everyone else around you. That approval from your boss regarding a report you delivered now has you wondering. An innocent compliment about dinner makes you think again.
It’s all to do with the things the cheater said to you. You look back over the promises your ex made. Vows they took in front of their family and closest friends. To love you ‘until death do us part'. How can you believe anything anyone says anymore?
4. You close yourself off to possible relationships
We want to protect ourselves after a relationship has ended over infidelity. So we shun possible love interests and close ourselves off to the possibility of love.
But not everyone is a cheater. Are you going to cheat on your next partner? Just because your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend did the dirty on you, doesn’t mean you now have a target on your back that says ‘loser’.
5. You feel worthless
Why did your ex cheat on you? It must be because you were not enough for them. There must have been something missing in the relationship. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gone looking elsewhere.
Well, I have news for you. It might have felt like your fault, but it wasn’t. Cheaters just want to have their cake and eat it. You don’t feel worthless. You should feel your partner is not worthy of you.
6. You become jealous and controlling in new relationships
We all have baggage from old relationships that we take with us when we form new ones. But thinking that your new partner is going to cheat on you because the old did is silly.
However, a lot of people who have been cheated on go on to become possessive and controlling. They get jealous and want to know everything their partner is doing. They are so worried they’ll get cheated on again they’ll do anything in their power to stop it.
7. You look for problems so that you end the relationship first
You didn’t spot the signs in your last relationship, and this led to you being cheated on. You won’t let this happen again so now you start looking for the signs. This is how being cheated on changes you.
You’ll pick out little clues from last time and watch like a hawk. Is your partner working late at the office? Is he being cautious with his phone? Has he gone off sex? You’ll end the relationship.
8. You might start obsessing over the details
Human beings like to think that ‘things happen for a reason’. So, if we didn’t see it coming, we’ll retroactively search for that reason. Psychologists call this ‘rumination’. It is a tendency to obsessively go over the causes of negative experiences.
The word comes from ruminating, where cows repeatedly bring up food to digest over and over again.
Our brain releases the feel-good hormone dopamine when we think about a loved one. When we have broken up with a loved one, we ‘crave’ them, much like an addiction. By obsessively going over these negative thoughts, we are feeding our addiction.
9. Everyone is a potential threat to your relationship
A part of ruminating is to examine the potential threats to your relationship. Perhaps you should have paid more attention to your partner’s pretty secretary, and he wouldn’t have cheated. Or maybe it was a bad idea for your girlfriend to want to take up kickboxing with a hunky trainer.
Suddenly, everyone is a threat to your relationship. Even the postman chatting for a few moments is a sign your partner is up to no good. It is easy to let your thoughts and suspicions run away with you, especially if you are trying to forgive a cheater.
10. You become a people-pleaser
The opposite of becoming a jealous and controlling person is to become a people-pleaser. You try so hard to be the perfect partner that you neglect your own needs.
You always put your partner first, say yes to everything they want and generally don’t think about yourself. You think that if you are the perfect partner, they won’t feel the need to cheat. But remember, it’s not about you.
11. You only have casual relationships from now on
Getting cheated on when you are in a deep and meaningful relationship is crushing. The emotional trauma and grief that ensues can follow you around for years. It is not surprising that you are not willing to open yourself up to this kind of deep relationship now.
You might still crave intimacy and sex, so you have relationships, but you keep them at a safe distance. You stick to one-night stands or purely casual dating from now on. There’s nothing too serious going on.
12. You become overly sensitive to similar scenarios
In the past, your cheating partner would take their phone into another room to conduct their illicit affair in private. Now, you are on high alert for similar patterns of behaviour. Your internal alarm bells ring if you encounter any kind of scenario that reminds you of cheating.
This triggers an overreaction that blows quickly out of control. It starts deep in your unconscious mind. You won’t even know what hit you, but before you know it, you are taking out all the hurt and grievances you felt towards the cheater onto your current spouse.
13. You get wise to spotting the players
You might think that there is nothing good about being cheated on. You are right, of course, apart from one. In a recent survey conducted across 96 countries, women who had been cheated on reported noticing a benefit afterwards.
They became much more adept at spotting men who were more likely to cheat on them in the future. It turns out that being cheated on makes you a shrewder judge of the male character. This is ‘mate choice’. It is how we weigh up the pros and cons of a potential mate.
Some characteristics indicate a high mate value and a low mate value. Women who had experienced cheating could spot low mate value men better than women who hadn’t.
What Can I Do If I Have Been Cheated On?
- Remember, this is not your fault. Being cheated on rarely has anything to do with the actual person. It is always to do with the cheater.
- Don’t let this one experience ruin your self-esteem. You are not the sum of one person’s betrayal. You are worthy of love and adoration from someone who values you.
- Understand that this is a traumatic experience. Allow yourself to feel the devastation of this emotional trauma. Wallow and cry and scream it all out. But then, pick yourself up. This doesn’t define you.
- Don’t change who you are to please others. There’s nothing wrong with you. Be patient. You’ll find someone who appreciates you for who you are.
- Realise that it was in your partners' nature to cheat. That saying ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ is true. They’ll probably keep on cheating.
- You are in control now. You can decide whether this is a first and only warning or the last straw. Taking control over the situation will give you back your power.
You feel as if your whole world has fallen apart beneath your feet. You might feel anxious or depressed; you may even get angry or be confused. You want answers and an explanation. Some people want to know all the details. You wonder why you were not good enough for this person.
It depends on the cheater. Some people are natural players and have no conscience. Others are genuinely sorry and realize they have made a terrible mistake. They may be consumed with guilt and want to rebuild the relationship. Until you know what kind of person you are dealing with, you cannot know.
Understand that it was nothing you did wrong that made your partner cheat on you. It was all to do with their issues, not yours. So, focus on rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence. Spend time with people that love you and don’t shut yourself off to love in the future.
As with all traumatic emotional experiences, the pain of being cheated on will fade after time. The best advice is to not let this experience colour all your future relationships. This was not your fault and not an indication of how love will be for you.
There is a range of reasons why people cheat. Some are purely selfish such as wanting to have a stable home life and extramarital sex on the side. Some people are going through an insecure period in their life and need to prove that they are still attractive. It is rarely about their partner.
It is devastating to be cheated on, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship or your love life. By working through reasons why the cheater betrayed you, it is possible to reconcile if you want to. However, this is your decision. You may feel it better to walk away.
As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.