How Infidelity Causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

A couple can face many difficulties during their relationship. The stress and demand of raising children, sick/dying parents, those terrible things we said when we were fighting, unmet expectations, but the hardest and most earth shattering is when someone chooses to cheat.

You, the betrayed person, have been emotionally wrecked and completely humiliated. You go into shock when you discover the affair. Why? Because this is a huge trauma, a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Your partner's affair can be so traumatic that you may be experiencing the symptoms that professionals describe at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Similar to others who have had their emotional or physical health and well-being threatened, you become disoriented and confused by what has happened. You question and obsess over every detail. You experience intense and sudden emotional pain and panic attacks brought on by an array of triggers. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:

Repeated intrusive, obsessive thoughts.

Unstable emotional regulation.

Out of body experiences.

Alternating between feeling numb and acting out in retaliation.

Inability to stop scanning for any new details that might cause more distress.

Feeling overwhelmingly powerlessness and broken.

Needing to regain self-worth by assigning blame.

Confusion and disorientation. Shock.

“Ever since I found out about the affair, I can’t stop thinking about what happened. I have repeated nightmares. My faith in trust and love is demolished. The person I believed in most in the world betrayed me without seeming to care. If I’d known something was wrong, maybe I could have stopped it before it got going. I spin between being devastated and being enraged. I can’t seem to find any peace, knowing that there is probably more than I will ever be told. I feel like a goddamn fool, humiliated and broken. How could my partner do this to me?” 

The trauma of their betrayal can also trigger past memories of buried or unresolved emotional damage from the past. When your old pain and baggage pops up during this already confusing time, it can significantly complicate your healing process. "Healing from their affair is already hard enough, now I have to deal with my dad abandoning us when we were kids" kinda deal.

For couples trying to heal and stay together after infidelity: they have to over come two challenges:

  1. They will both need to understand the complexity of healing from an affair combined with the past issues surfacing and work through it.

  2. Both people must commit to their specific roles in healing for however long it takes. This healing process can take years.

For couples not staying together after an affair, the betrayed partner will still have to face and work through the following four issues to become truly free from this pain.

The 4 Most Common Past Issues That Re-Surface

1. History of Past Trauma

When you experience a life-threatening situation earlier in life, you create defenses that allow you to survive those traumas. This is your body trying to protect you. These walls of defense that you have created can either protect you from future pain or can unknowingly draw you in to similar situations.

If you come from a painful past filled with loss or harm your reaction to their cheating may be much more severe and more persistent. This will make your recovery much more difficult.

2. Emotional and Physical Resilience

You can be born with it or learn it through the years; your resilience will help you overcome this trauma. Sorry, you still have to grieve this tremendous loss and move through the pain, but those of you with a strong sense of resilience will be able to endure this pain without extending the heartbreak timeline. (Finally, a bit of good news in this article...)

If you pair your own resilience with some amazing friends and support your strength will continue to grow. Here's why. When you discover your partner is cheating, you start to doubt your own worth. Big Time! "If only I was sexier, he wouldn't have cheated," "If I would have planned more date nights, she would have been faithful." We doubt ourselves, our choices and who we are to our core. You need a small, committed team of people who know and love you to speak truth to you when you forget.

Sadly, the most common excuse cheaters give is that their needs were not being met. I could go on and on about this BS, but that's not what we are discussing today. Stay focused, Melissa. :) Let's just say that these accusations only increase your pain.

 3. Double Betrayal: When the Infidelity Is With a Known Party

You have been utterly humiliated and feel like you're in the pit of despair. To make this so much worse the other woman/man is a close friend or trusted family member. What the hell? Seriously! (This happened to me more than once, it's really freakin hard to overcome, but you can. I promise.)

So, now there are two people who you loved willing to betray you? Who can you trust? Not only that, but there are likely others who knew about the affair and never spoke up. This damages even more relationships!

4. How Long the Infidelity Has Been Going On

The one-time affair that is quickly confessed, followed with unwavering remorse, has the best chance of being able to repair a relationship. If the cheating never happens again.

On the other hand, what if they were cheating for weeks, months or years? This is so much worse. Not that the one-time affair is any easier, but with any length of time you now realize how much you have been lied to and manipulated so they could keep their affair going. You can go down that rabbit hole of, "so when I was at the hospital with my dad and you said you had to work late, were you really with her?" kinda situations. You question your memories, your history, your whole life. Not sure if you should stay or go? Read this article to give you some more insight.                                                  

Do you struggle with any of these issues?

✔️Terrifying Anxiety

✔️Uncontrollable Fear

✔️Racing and Obsessive Thoughts

✔️Painful Flashbacks

✔️Unhealthy Boundaries

✔️Utter Loneliness 

✔️Lack of Healing

✔️PTSD from their Affair

✔️Crippling Depression

✔️Seemingly Never-Ending Grief

Don't worry, you DO have the strength to heal from this!

Our recommendation? Find meaningful guidance, community with others going through the same trauma, and healing!

We know how hard it is to heal after being cheated on and believe that no one deserves to live a broken life. 

With After the Affair you receive access to:

  • An affair recovery video session once a week for 8 weeks, guiding you through the healing process required after their affair.

  • Watch sessions around your schedule and as often as you would like.

  • Weekly healing exercises to guide you through your pain

  • You receive unlimited access to our amazing support group on Facebook

  • Begin your path towards healing and becoming stronger, braver and more whole than ever before!

Click here to start healing, because no one deserves to live life broken --->