Once or twice in our lives, we have all encountered the dire effects of cheating in a relationship. Tell me, how can anyone accept that the person they have loved and nurtured would play with their feelings without thinking twice? To be honest, nobody is unaware of the consequences an incident of infidelity would invite. Nevertheless, people still choose to walk down this brutal path.
“Why does someone cheat after all?” – it makes you wonder. Unhappiness and discontent with the relationship are the major culprits here. At times, even the betrayed person cannot completely discard their role in the story. Miscommunication or indifference from one partner can also push the other toward bringing a third person into the equation.
Although, if cheating is someone’s personality trait, no outside catalysts matter to them whatsoever. Serial cheaters are hardly ever remorseful about their actions. On the contrary, they always go to the extent of justifying cheating, let alone apologizing to their partners.
What constitutes cheating in a monogamous relationship? Surprisingly, this definition can also differ from one couple to another. I have always believed fantasizing about someone else other than your partner is a betrayal of the sanctity of the relationship. Just the other day, I was having a conversation with my friend Emily and she said, “I have him in my life, in my blood and flesh every day. Why would I poke my nose into his fantasies? That’s none of my business.”
So, yes the whole concept of infidelity travels in a gray zone. But, one thing is damn clear to us and it is non-negotiable – cheating is unacceptable. No matter in which form, at what age, or which stage of the relationship it occurs, infidelity can shatter the foundation of a relationship.
To back up our point of view with an expert’s opinion, we had a discussion with psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couples counseling. Read on to know more about the effects of cheating in a relationship.
Does Cheating Affect A Relationship?
To give a short answer, yes, it does. The negative effects of cheating in a relationship manifest as a massive heartbreak and serious trust issues. Perhaps, the intensity of the pain depends on how far your partner went in terms of cheating. Whether it was a case of an emotional affair where they got mentally attached to somebody or sleeping with their ex – either way, reactions of cheating are undeniably strong.
Nandita says, “The initial and long-term effects of cheating in a relationship are quite different from one another. In a committed monogamous relationship, the initial reactions of cheating will be that the other person would feel extremely hurt. This will be translated in the form of sadness, being upset, or extreme anger too.”
“In the long term, such adverse effects of cheating in a relationship will result in more severe self-doubt and anxiety. Not only does it affect the present, but the insecurity after being cheated on affects future relationships too. Because they have experienced a basic betrayal, a person would find it difficult to trust any future partner easily. They will have a hard time figuring out if their partner is being honest and the value of honesty may get lost in the relationship.”
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Believe it or not, cheating casts its ugly effects on the partner at fault as well. If it was an impulsive momentary lapse on their part, the guilty conscience will soar high. They would desperately look for a way to undo what is done. The helplessness may drag them into depression. If the affair went on in secret for quite some time, the guilt doubles if they lied to both parties for a long time.
It often happens that the betrayer gets defensive and tries to accuse their partner of everything that went wrong between them. The blame game worsens the effects of cheating in a relationship. A serial cheater, being completely oblivious to the karmic consequences of cheating, neglects the tragic impact on their partner.
Expert Lists Out 9 Effects Of Cheating In A Relationship
The negative effects of cheating leave three doors open before you. Either the relationship ends after a tragic phase of rage and fury, or the partners stay together with an inevitable physical, emotional, and mental distance between them. The third one is the most challenging and time-consuming. It takes a lot of effort from both sides to get over this unfortunate incident and rebuild the relationship after cheating.
I hear a lot that infidelity is exclusive to monogamous relationships. You are quite mistaken if you think an ethical non-monogamous partnership doesn’t endure the long-term effects of cheating in a relationship. Every couple has their own set of boundaries and crossing any one of them counts as cheating. As simple as that!
Our expert says, “In a non-monogamous relationship, there would still be areas where you trust your partner to hold up their part of the bargain. So even if the couple is romantically or sexually non-monogamous, different types of cheating can occur in subtler forms – like lying about your whereabouts or trying to hide a relationship that you know your partner won’t approve of. The reaction of cheating would be as bad as in a monogamous pair-bond.”
If your relationship is going through any stage of infidelity, understanding the effects of cheating in a relationship might help you deal with the consequences in a better way.
Related Reading: 9 Psychological Effects Of Being The Other Woman
1. Enormous pain wears down the cheated partner
Last Saturday, I went to my cousin’s place to give him a surprise visit on his birthday. But the tables turned and I, instead, was caught off guard seeing him in the middle of a huge fight with his partner. Later, Noah confided in me. That day, he got home early from the office and caught his partner cheating on him in their own house. Although she managed to get the man out before he reached, the wallet on the coffee table was solid proof of her deceit.
In moments like these, you can actually hear your heart breaking into pieces. It’s almost impossible to hold back the tears after someone sees their partner cheating in front of their eyes. You can only imagine how difficult it’s going to be to mend the gap created between the lovers. And, of course, physical intimacy is off the table for a long, long time.
2. The trust factor goes out of the window
It goes without saying the effects of cheating in a relationship drain your faith in love, and in your partner. You cannot believe a single word coming out of their mouth, no matter what explanation they offer. Even if your partner regrets their actions and wants to make amends, you will be skeptical about investing more time and energy into this relationship.
According to Nandita, “It’s not going to be easy to trust your partner after cheating. It is going to take a lot of time. The partner who has cheated will have to put in a lot of effort to see to it that their partner starts to trust them again. A lot of patience, love, and forgiveness is required to put away the past incident and start afresh.”
3. Unavoidable fights and heated arguments
Ah! This is probably the ugliest outcome of cheating in a relationship. The betrayed partner carries a huge burden of anger and resentment in their heart. The outbursts keep coming after a point, whether deliberately or not. There is no other way for the partner who cheated than to face the screaming and the crying of their hurt partner, and if things take a nasty turn, the breaking of stuff around the house.
But here’s a fair warning. For heaven’s sake, please don’t let the situation degrade to a state of physical violence. Nothing, I repeat, nothing justifies physical abuse, irrespective of which partner raises their hand first. If you think you are not ready to handle the situation with a sound mind, leave the room. Take a break, calm your nerves, and come back to have an adult conversation.
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4. Low self-esteem and self-blaming
A person who has gone through the negative effects of cheating knows well how it takes a toll on their self-worth. After that soul-crushing confrontation with his partner, Noah (the cousin I mentioned earlier) absolutely broke down, “There must be some reason why she chose this guy over me. Was I not good enough for her? Perhaps he is better in bed. Perhaps he is smarter than me. Maybe I was too busy at work for the last few months. She felt taken for granted.”
You see how the effects of cheating in a relationship creep into your brain? This can happen to anyone who catches their partner red-handed. They would get overly conscious about their looks, their behavior around their partner, and end up blaming themself for chasing their partner away.
5. Being cheated on affects future relationships
Nandita enlightens us on the matter, “There’s no denying that being cheated on affects future relationships. The cheated person goes through a lot of trauma psychologically and that, in turn, leads to a loss of trust even with future partners. They become extremely cautious, checking and double-checking just to be sure if their partner is lying or not. If the same incident repeats quite a few times, then this person may not want to get into a committed relationship again.”
I am sure that many of our readers, who have gone through the turmoil of experiencing cheating, can relate that we hide ourselves in a shell as a reaction of cheating. We learn how to protect our hearts and not make the same mistakes again. Long-term effects of cheating in a relationship lead to dating anxiety. Putting yourself out there again, meeting new people, dreaming about a future with somebody – everything that came so spontaneously earlier seems like a daunting job now.
6. Threats of revenge cheating
Revenge cheating – does that term sound unfamiliar? Let me paint a mental picture for you. Hannah was dealing with immense pain and anxiety after her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend Claire. This rage storming inside her wanted to punish him, to hurt him as much as he hurt her. That’s exactly when the thought of revenge cheating popped into her mind.
It is basically cheating on the cheater to give them a taste of their own medicine. To be honest, the negative effects of cheating like this one would never do any good to anyone. It will only magnify the complications, inviting more dispute. Moreover, the guilt trip that a person suffers after revenge cheating is simply unbearable.
Related Reading: 20 Myths And Facts About Cheating In A Marriage
7. Cheating affects your family life
Say, you are attending a family dinner right after an episode of cheating hit your relationship. Naturally, there will be tension between you and your partner. As subtle as it is, this strenuous situation might become visible to everyone.
Even worse, if anger management is not one of your strong suits, an unpleasant fight could break out right in the middle of the dinner. It will create an awkward bubble among the family members. Perhaps, earlier, the guilty partner was trying to apologize for cheating. Sadly, after tonight, they will have to live with many judgemental stares looking down on them.
8. Waiting for karma to show its game
Do you believe in the philosophy of karma? Then, I am afraid the effects of cheating in a relationship will last a little longer. Because you are going to wait and hold a grudge until you see your partner suffer the karmic consequences of cheating.
My dear friend, how will you ever find your share of peace if you do not let go of someone else’s petty act? You have made a choice to get over the cheating and move on with your own life. Good for you! To execute this mature decision, it’s important to liberate your mind from the toxic past. Why should you waste time on something as intangible as the karmic consequences of cheating? Loosen your clasp when you cannot control it.
Related Reading: Online Affairs Reshaping The Idea Of Fidelity In Modern Marriage
9. Coming out stronger as a couple
If luck favors and the universe smiles upon you, you may overcome the cloudy days after all. This miracle could materialize only when both the partners agree that this relationship means more to them than a short phase of bad choices. We admit it will take a lot of courage and strength to forgive your cheating partner. But with genuine remorse and loving gestures of your partner, you can walk past this together, hand in hand.
When asked if partners can get over the cheating episode, we absolutely agree with Nandita as she says, “It depends on the partners as each relationship is unique. I cannot generalize and say yes or no, but I can definitely say that it is possible that partners come out stronger after an incident of infidelity. It depends on the stage of the relationship, the maturity of the partners, and how strong their bond is. If they both want to work on the relationship honestly, yes it is possible. But it will definitely take a long time.”
With that, we wrap up our discussion on the effects of cheating in a relationship. Hope our insights clear your foggy mind. And if it’s not too late yet, try to save this relationship from the unsolicited consequences of infidelity. There is hardly any problem that can’t be solved with meaningful communication. Give it a whirl.
People cheat in a relationship for a multitude of reasons – lack of love and affection, or sexual dissatisfaction being two of them. Boredom from staying with the same partner, commitment-phobia, and tempting circumstances provoke many people to follow the path of infidelity as well.
Yes, if the cheated partner cannot find a place in their heart to forgive this unethical deed, or the betrayer refuses to take any accountability, the complications may lead to a miserable breakup.
Sometimes, cheating occurs due to an impulsive decision influenced by outside factors. As soon as the person gets back to their reality, they start to internalize the gravity of their action. They will probably take every necessary step to mend the relationship and make things right again. Although, there are very low or almost no chances of character reformation for a serial cheater.