When it comes to infidelity in a relationship, the person who was betrayed isn’t the only victim. The pain of infidelity hurts both parties in the relationship. Most people feel that the person who was cheated on feels the most pain. However, that isn't always true. Everyone close to the couple feels saddened by the betrayal. This includes their kids, families and close friends. Often overlooked, cheating hurts the cheater too. You're probably wondering how that is even possible. The partner who cheated did so willingly and knew what the consequences would be. How could they be hurt?
The reality is this: Infidelity in a committed relationship hurts the cheater too. The effects are profound. Their actions hurt their partner first and foremost, but it also hurts them. Their marriages and all of their other important relationships have been affected, and in some cases ruined. Sure, cheating feels thrilling at the beginning, but infidelity ultimately has a negative impact on the cheater. It’s not uncommon to see cheaters feeling ashamed, guilty, depressed, anxious, regretful, self-loathing, confused, and embarrassed. All of these feelings make them contemplate how their selfish actions have negatively impacted the people around them. They feel guilty and embarrassed that they cheated on their partner. They keep asking themselves why they cheated on their spouse in the first place. When they think about the actions and experience the negativity associated with their actions, they feel the judgement and ridicule that comes with those actions.
For the cheater, their emotions will become an emotional roller coaster. During infidelity, the cheater is living two separate lives. In one life they enjoy the addictive ecstasy of love, while in the other life they feel the self-loathing and shame that comes with betraying their partner. Living these two lives puts a lot of stress on themselves and on their relationships. While their partners may not know what is going on initially, they will find out that sooner or later. Once the partner discovers the infidelity, the cheater will begin living with the consequences of their betrayal.
The betrayed partner continues lashing out at the cheater both directly and indirectly. The cheater will continue to bear the brunt of their partner’s anger and distrust, and if this keeps on happening, it can become abusive. This can become incredibly stressful for the cheating partner. Some cheaters will say it’s their partner who forced them to cheat and they will deny any accountability. On the other hand, some cheaters take full responsibility of the cheating, accept the punishment and continue loathing themselves for the rest of their lives. Besides their partners, other people in the cheater’s life will also continue to look down on them for what they did. Everyone from parents, friends and co-workers will now have an unfavorable opinion of the person who cheated.
The bottom line is this: When someone is unfaithful to their partner, it is easy to write that person off as a cheater and feel no empathy for them. However, we all make mistakes. It is important to recognize that even for the partner who cheated, there will be pain and shame after infidelity.