Four Ways Cheating Affects Your Mental Health

Matt Lillywhite

You tell yourself that everything is going to be alright.

Friends & family try to comfort you by saying that “there’s plenty more fish in the sea.” But deep down, you know that everything isn’t going to be okay, and you have no idea how to deal with the pain of a broken heart.

You thought that you’d be in a relationship with them for the rest of your life. So when they spoke of raising a family together & living in the suburbs of your favorite city, you wanted to believe every single word they said.

Unfortunately, that dream has now shattered into tiny pieces as the relationship ceases to exist. Because no matter how hard you try to tell yourself that “it’s probably for the best,” you can’t help but feel unsure how to proceed with the rest of your life.

Over the years, I’ve found myself in the same position as you many times. But despite infidelity playing havoc on my mind, I’ve managed to learn several strategies that help to ease the horrific pain of a broken heart.

So below are several ways that cheating affects your mental health, accompanied by some strategies to help you overcome the heartbreak caused by infidelity.

Each one of these techniques helped me to stop looking back at the past, so I could move forward with creating a better future. I’m sure they will do the same for you, too.

You’ll Feel Depressed Every Day.

When you break up with someone that you hoped to be with for the rest of your life, it’s easy to feel like you won’t fall in love again. After all, the person who once made you incredibly happy suddenly started being unfaithful & committed infidelity.

The unfortunate truth is that there is no universal solution for instantly getting over a breakup. So the only way to feel better is by hanging out with friends & doing things you enjoy to take your mind off your ex-partner (even if it’s just for a few hours).

Over time, you’ll notice that it becomes easier to move on from the past as you’re focused on creating a better future. So let go of external circumstances, and focus solely on anything that’s within your control. In the words of Marcus Aurelius:

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

You’ll Have Anxiety About The Future.

If someone has cheated on you in the past, it’s easy to feel like it’ll happen again. So naturally, you’re regularly kept awake at night by the prospect of what a relationship may look like in the future.

You’re scared that people will leave you, feel unhappy in your presence, or anything else that may discourage you from getting to know someone. But I’ve learned that the only way to eliminate your fear is by accepting the past and not letting it define who you are in the present moment. The Roman philosopher, Seneca, said it best:

Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”

I’m empathetic to the fact that you feel hurt by the actions of your previous partner. But when you begin letting go of the past, you’ll notice that negative thoughts about the future are no longer holding you back from creating the relationship you deserve.

You’ll Want To Try Risky Behavior.

Research from the University of Nevada shows that people who are cheated on have a higher probability of engaging in risky behavior such as consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs. Quoting the article published by The Independent:

“Women who have been cheated on might be more likely to have poorer mental health and engage in unhealthy, risky behavior because their self-perceptions have been damaged.”

When we experience a distressing event, it’s natural to find something comforting to ease the pain. For example, when my partner cheated on me last year, I developed an unhealthy habit of watching Netflix all day while eating junk food.

Although it’s normal to feel hurt after infidelity, it’s important to remember that you can’t let one relationship define you. So whenever you feel angry or upset about the past, take a moment to evaluate your emotional state, so you don’t do anything impulsive that makes your mental health worse.

You’ll Keep Trying To Change Yourself.

When someone cheats on you, it’s common to feel like you’re not good enough & need to change to have any hope of finding a relationship in the future. For example, you might change your hairstyle, go to bars more frequently, and anything else that may supposedly improve your chances of finding love.

But the truth is that you’re never going to be happy in a relationship until you can first become happy with yourself. As Viktor Frankl once said: “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”

I’ve learned that trying to change yourself to make other people happy will often result in your own unhappiness. So a better solution is to focus on accepting things as they are so you can stop caring about external circumstances that cannot be changed. In the words of Epictetus:

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.”

So every day, ask yourself: “What actions can I take right now to stop letting the past define my future?”

That’s all you need to do.

Photo by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash

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