Do cheaters suffer? That was the question that came to mind when one heard Hurricane, a track released by Kanye West a few months ago where he alluded to his infidelity during his marriage to reality star Kim Kardashian. It may have been a brave near-confessional statement to make (and he has been begging for reconciliation ever since without much success).
However, many believe that his actions after his split basically answered the age-old query about betrayal – do cheaters feel pain as much as the person whose lives they make miserable? The simple answer to it is yes. And in Kanye’s case, he was genuinely remorseful and was just trying to make amends.
Being cheated on is one of the most degrading acts of betrayal that one can suffer in a committed relationship or marriage. But while sympathy and empathy always lie with the partner who gets betrayed, very few wonder do cheaters suffer as much as their partners.
In most cases, the unfaithful one gets the short end of the stick while society roots for their partner. For instance, compare the response to Kim Kardashian and her new romance with Pete Davidson to the trolling that Kanye has received for his cheating.
The basic fact is that the world hates a cheater but rarely do people consider how cheating affects the cheater.
While an episode of infidelity can prove devastating for couples, there is no doubt that cheaters suffer consequences for their actions, sometimes more severely than their partners. How exactly and why? We decode the reasons behind cheaters’ suffering in consultation with international healer and counselor Tania Kawood.
Do Cheaters Suffer? 8 Ways Infidelity Takes A Bigger Toll On The Culprit
Anisha Beig (name changed), a 40-year-old e-commerce executive had a slip up in her marriage during one of its weaker phases. Things weren’t going great with her husband and that’s when she met a colleague with whom she instantly connected. One thing led to another and soon she was having an affair.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the affair came to light, taking a toll on her marriage. “I wasn’t happy during or even after my extramarital affair ended. Regardless of the circumstances, I knew that what I did was wrong and the worry about how it will impact my family loomed large. I could never give myself completely to either of my relationships,” says Anisha, who is currently single.
The emotions and rollercoaster ride that engulf an extramarital or illicit relationship, often take a massive toll on people indulging in it. The problem with infidelity is that unless a person is a serial cheater, the psychological and social impact can be rather awful on them. Worse, he or she does not get support from family or friends and even if they do, it is never quite whole-hearted. So fairly or unfairly, cheaters do get their karma in some way or the other.
“Do cheaters get their karma given the pain they cause their family? Yes, they do. It’s a fallacy to think that people who stray have it easy. While the reason for entering an affair might be different for each person, it is common for cheaters to feel guilt, shame, anxiety, worry and other negative emotions.
Related Reading: How To Regain Trust After Cheating: 12 Ways According To An Expert
“So for those wondering how do cheaters feel about themselves, it is clear that they are not the most healthy or happy, mentally. Do cheaters suffer as much as their partners to whom they lie? We can’t say in actual terms but the truth is that they have their own crosses to bear. Not many know that cheaters realize what they lost sooner or later and that really impacts their future relationships,” says Tania.
Atul Sanghi (name changed), a businessman, candidly talks about the cheating episode that wrecked his marriage. “I had an affair with a friend but the impact was severe on my marriage as my wife walked out on me. But what was worse was that the relationship for which I fought the entire world also didn’t last long which left me broken. I guess, my eternal query – do cheaters suffer – was answered,” he says.
Atul has had several mini relationships after his divorce but long-lasting love has eluded him. Is it because of the affair? “I think it is. I used to often ask myself, ‘Will Karma get me for cheating?’ When my girlfriend left me, I realized there is perhaps something called karma after all,” he shrugs.
In a nutshell, cheaters do feel the pain, guilt and a whole lot of other emotions and often the betrayal affects them just as deeply. Here are some ways in which infidelity takes a toll on the culprit:
1. It makes you guilty and ashamed
“Cheating guilt is the biggest side effect of infidelity. A man or woman might be happy with his/her lover, but there is no escaping the guilt of letting down their legally wedded spouse or committed partner. This can even affect their self-esteem,” says Tania.
The fact that adultery is not accepted in most cultures and is often looked down upon as the worst kind of pain you can inflict on your partner weighs heavily on the cheater’s mind. Moreover, there is the stress of carrying on an affair on the sly.
2. You may have a tendency to cheat again
Most cheaters tend to justify their behavior as a one-off episode triggered by some problems in their marriage. But as they say, “Once a cheater, always a repeater.” There is no guarantee that you won’t repeat the behavior and it becomes difficult for your partner to trust you.
“Many relationships born out of affairs do not last precisely for this reason. In a lot of cases (not all), infidelity arises from the inability to stand by one’s promises or take responsibility for their actions. Their own insecurities and fears play a huge role in determining how do cheaters feel about themselves and how their other relationships shape up,” says Tania.
3. The fear of Karma hits hard
Call it the spiritual effects of cheating but those who indulge in adultery, are often besieged by fear of karma. Do cheaters get their karma? This might be an esoteric question with no proper answers but there is no escaping the burden of negativity and fear.
Cheaters suffer the consequences of their betrayal because the act causes immense pain to their partners. Moreover, their conscience pricks them, especially if the relationship was not a problematic one. So especially those who indulge in an affair even when they believe it to be ethically and morally wrong will find it difficult to live down the repercussions of their actions. For such people, the spiritual effects of cheating might be worse than the legal (should their spouses take the legal route!).
Related Reading: How To End An Affair – Expert Suggests 9-Step Perfect Strategy
4. Your family suffers too
A person’s infidelity takes a toll on not just their partner but the entire family. Especially when there are children involved, an episode of betrayal and the subsequent fights that inevitably arise when the cheating is exposed can scar children.
“It is tempting to wonder, do cheaters suffer more or do their partners? But the fact is that more than the cheater or the spouse, it is the children who suffer the most. The effects of infidelity on children can be long lasting and can alter their entire worldview of relationships,” says Tania. In other words, the suffering of the family is perhaps the answer to do cheaters get their karma.
5. The stress levels increase
When you enter into an illicit relationship knowingly, the initial thrill of the forbidden fruit soon gives way to stress and despair. Having to keep the relationship under wraps, the fear of being caught and the guilt of cheating can take away all the joys of the affair.
A cheater often goes through a whirlpool of emotions where they get a lot of love from their lover and face extreme hatred and anger from their spouse (if they get caught). All of it leads to extremely complicated emotions which will affect other aspects of their life like work and career.
6. The ex-factor never goes away
Do cheaters miss their ex? Outwardly they may say no, but somewhere their ex-partner will always cast a shadow. It is hard to escape the fact that they lied or broke the vows of marriage or the promises of a committed relationship.
What’s more, in most families, even in a dysfunctional marriage, it’s the legally wedded spouse that gets the support of an extended family. Therefore, a cheater not just hurts his or her partner but also the extended family, including siblings and parents.
7. Cheating takes a toll on future relationships
One aspect that has not been talked about much is the impact that cheating makes on a cheater’s future relationships. Try as you may to prove otherwise, it is difficult for anyone to trust a person who has lied and betrayed their partner.
“One of the main reasons why I broke up with my boyfriend was because he would often taunt me about my infidelity during a fight. He had this fear that since I didn’t hesitate to cheat on my husband, I might leave him too,” admits Anisha.
8. You will always be judged
Unfortunately, in the realm of relationships, cheaters do not get an easy pass. Once an act of infidelity becomes public knowledge, you are always judged through that prism, blamed and abused. Do cheaters suffer the same blame as the person they are having an affair with? Often, no, the psychological effects of being the other woman are far more damaging.
The righteous anger is mostly reserved for the unfaithful partner in a relationship. “In many cases, a disgruntled wife or husband blames their straying partner for every problem in the marriage, even those unrelated to the affair. And the latter can’t do much because unfaithfulness is considered a bigger crime than being in a dead relationship,” observes Tania.
An affair can give a heady rush to someone entering it for the first time. The thrill that a cheater feels is very real but the complications that arise thereafter are also equally real. When you cheat, the person who gets hurt the most is often you, for your partner may move on and begin to heal. But the guilt and responsibility for causing the pain are yours alone to deal with. Is it worth it?