The one who was betrayed isn’t the only victim of cheating.
The betrayal of infidelity hurts. The cheater’s actions hurt the spouse who was betrayed, their children, their families, close friends, and even their community.
But these aren’t the only people infidelity hurts. Cheating hurts the cheater too.
You’re probably wondering how cheating could possibly hurt the one doing the betraying because they’re the one who is apparently doing what they want without caring how it impacts anyone else.
How cheating affects the cheater is profound. Her/his actions hurt them, their marriages, and all their other important relationships.
Despite the initial thrill of an affair, cheating can negatively affect the cheater emotionally. It’s common for them to feel anxiety, guilt, shame, worry, regret, confusion, embarrassment, and self-loathing when they contemplate how their actions impact those they love and why they cheated in the first place.
When he/she thinks about and experiences how their actions impact them they feel the sting and anguish of their poor judgment.
All of these thoughts swirling through their heads and the rollercoaster of their emotions can lead cheaters to live two completely different lives while the affair continues. One where they feel the addictive ecstasy of love and one where they feel hatred.
Of course, living these two polar-opposite lives puts extreme stress not only on themselves but on their marriage too. Her/his spouse may not have all the facts, but chances are good that they can tell there’s something going on.
And when the spouse does discover the truth, they will feel pain to their core as they rightfully wonder what part of the relationship with their wayward spouse was real and what part was a lie.
As the betrayed spouse struggles to figure this out, they will lash out at the cheater both directly and indirectly as they come to terms with the betrayal. The cheater will feel the brunt of their anger and distrust which may become abusive.
Being on the receiving end of the pain their spouse is suffering because of the cheating can easily become too much for the straying spouse. At one extreme, he/she may deny their responsibility for causing the pain and blame their spouse for forcing them to cheat. At the other extreme, they may feel they deserve the punishment, accept it as just, and live out the rest of their lives as a mere shadow of their true selves.
Then again, their spouse isn’t the only person in their lives who will judge them. There are plenty of others in the cheater’s life who will look down upon him/her for their actions – in-laws, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers and even their children.
How cheating affects the cheater is complicated and painful.
If you’re considering betraying your spouse, my hope is this information has given you pause.
If you’ve already begun an affair, my hope is this information will give you the courage to begin thinking about the cost of your affair.
In either case, your marriage is in trouble and it’s time for you to get clear about what you’re willing to do to change your marriage for the better or to take the necessary steps to end it.
No matter how you look at it, the bottom line is cheating affects the cheater and all the important people in her/his life.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of affairs and miserable marriages. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.