Let me begin by saying that typically infidelity is not the problem.
Infidelity is most often a symptom of a much larger issue within a relationship. For our purposes, we are going to define infidelity as a romantically involved person connecting with someone else – physically, emotionally, or both – like they would with their significant other.
Any and all relationships are at risk for infidelity. One or both people could look away from their significant other for many reasons. These can include grief due to loss of a friend, co-worker, or family member; fertility issues; a child leaving for college; loss or gain of a new job; or validation of personal attractiveness from others. The list goes on and on.
So, what exactly is the cost of infidelity? The most obvious one is the possible loss of the relationship. But that’s just one outcome. What about the costs when people choose to stay together and work through it? What does a relationship look like after it “survives” this emotional and/or physical betrayal of infidelity?
You were probably pretty open with one another before the affair – neither of you felt the need to “check-up” on each other. You may have even shared an email account. Now, complete and total transparency is mandatory in your relationship.
Social Media and Technology
Before infidelity put a strain on your relationship, you each may have had your own Facebook and Instagram accounts, texting apps, Words with Friends, apps for hiding photographs, and so on! Now you’ll likely have joint accounts for most platforms, and the transgressor will no longer have access to communication apps to use on his or her own.
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Before the affair, both if you probably had your own hobbies and interests, places you hung out at, and stores you frequented. Now the transgressor may have to stay home, or find new places and interests that have been vetted by their significant other.
If you’re lucky, you both probably had friends that you’ve formed incredibly close relationships with – you may have even thought of some of them as siblings. But, post infidelity, the trust in your relationship is gone. And the betrayed person may view the friends of his or her partner as threats.
The betrayed person may put in a lot of energy into trying to track the activities and whereabouts of their significant other. But because the trust in the relationship is broken, he or she may demand the transgressor always remains in touch – either by phone, text, or email. Furthermore, the betrayed person may resort to checking the transgressor’s email or social media accounts, scanning his or her computer and phone histories, or interrogating any and all of their partner’s contacts that are not related to them by blood.
Infidelity can build resentment in the betrayed person for the obvious reasons, but it can also happen on the part of the transgressor. If the guilty party is never allowed to redeem itself, resentment can grow in both partners.
Feelings of Inadequacy
Confusion, low self-esteem, and feeling self-conscious are common reactions to infidelity on the part of the betrayed. This can cause them to act distant and depressed, fueling feelings of inadequacy in the transgressor as well.
The pain of the betrayal lives on inside the betrayed for a very long time. Reminders can come in different forms: a smile that’s a little too friendly, chit chat with attractive persons, harmless compliments mistaken for flirtation, etc.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Seeking help from a licensed Talkspace professional can help you get your relationship back on track.
Infidelity does not have to mean the end of your relationship, or that the consequences of infidelity have to last forever.
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Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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