Understanding the Trauma of Intimate Betrayal

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Being Cheated On Really Hurts!

If you’ve been cheated on and now you feel like you’re going crazy, you’re not alone. When your partner’s infidelity is uncovered, you can’t help but experience that as a powerful form of emotional and psychological trauma. It feels like you’ve been hit by a truck – but emotionally rather than physically. You feel battered, bruised, and broken by the betrayal. If you are invested in your relationship, if you love and believe in your partner, then you are rightfully and understandably devastated. There is no way to avoid that, nor is there a way to avoid the ‘crazy’ that naturally follows. In fact, the rage, tears, fear, pleading, vindictiveness, and emotional instability you’re feeling are an inevitable and expected response to being cheated on.

And this is not your fault. Research shows that betrayed partners, after learning that their significant other has strayed, typically experience stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms characteristic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And yes, PTSD is the same debilitating disorder we see in battle-scarred soldiers. Is it any wonder that you’re experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, depression, mood swings, and an inability to focus on and manage basic tasks of day-to-day life?

The Emotional Rollercoaster

Amazingly, your cheating partner might be pushing blame for the emotional rollercoaster you’re riding onto you. He or she might say things like:

  • If you weren’t so hostile, I would never have cheated.
  • I never know what to expect from you. It makes my life really difficult.
  • Why can’t you just forgive me so we can move on with our lives?

These responses ignore the trauma of betrayal. Your partner’s cheating has injured your ability to trust. You are finding it difficult to believe anything he or she says or does in the moment, and anything he or she has said and done in the past. And every time you find out another new piece of information, you experience the entire betrayal all over again.

Be Kind to Yourself

The emotional rollercoaster you find yourself on after learning about betrayal is miserable. It’s also normal. Try not to judge yourself about what you’re thinking and feeling. Instead, remind yourself:

  • You didn’t cause this.
  • What you are thinking and feeling is a natural response to the trauma of betrayal.

So please stop blaming yourself (and stop letting your cheating partner blame you) for the emotional rollercoaster you’re riding. No matter how excessive and overblown your emotions and actions might seem in the moment, they are perfectly normal reactions to the circumstances in which, through no fault of your own, you now find yourself.

If you or a loved one are struggling with sex or porn addiction, Seeking Integrity can help. Call  (747) 234-HEAL (4325).

If you are a betrayed partner and would like to find support, SexandRelationshipHealing.com offers numerous options, including drop-in discussion groups and webinars, podcasts, blogs, and more. We also offer, through our Seeking Integrity treatment program, an online six-week workgroup for couples impacted by sexual betrayal.