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Infidelity is a devastating experience for any person to go through and can feel absolutely overwhelming to one’s nervous system. This is a natural reaction to betrayal by someone you love and trust. Infidelity trauma can cause a person to feel an intense level of fear, discomfort, panic, and depression. It affects a person on many different levels.

If you’ve recently experienced infidelity, know that you are not alone and that you can heal through it with awareness, compassion, and support. Read on to discover the psychological impact of infidelity trauma.

The psychological signs of  infidelity trauma 

When infidelity occurs it can trigger a state of fear in the body due to a sudden change in relationships or loss of trust. This activates the sympathetic branch of our autonomic nervous system, makes us want to take action and do something but we feel hopeless. Too much of that and we can be triggered into a fight-or-flight response. And if our efforts to fix things and regulate ourselves feel hopeless (which they often do in such a circumstance) we may fall into depression (dorsal state.)
 
Infidelity/betrayal trauma causes an intense emotional reaction that can make one feel overwhelmed and out of control. You may experience symptoms such as:
 
  • Nightmares 
  • Panic or fear
  • Hypervigilance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Poor concentration and focus
  • Paranoia and mistrust of your partner
  • Flashbacks of the information you know about the betrayal
  • Nightmares
  • Need to control things
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme sadness, hopelessness
  • Physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, stomach aches, etc. 
This reaction not only puts your body into a heightened state physically but also triggers psychological distress such as fear and anger. When the threat passes, the body should return to a more relaxed state, however, infidelity trauma can cause the body to remain in these states for longer than normal. 

Types of Infidelity

It’s important to recognize that infidelity takes many different forms, this is due to the dynamic and complex layers of relationships. Read on to discover the different types of infidelity.
 
  1. Sexual Infidelity:  “The act of engaging in sexual relations with someone other than your partner while still being in a committed relationship”.  Sexual infidelity is commonly known as cheating or having an affair,  and is considered a very hurtful infidelity type as it often involves a physical and emotional betrayal.
  2. Emotional infidelity: “The act of forming an emotional bond with someone other than your partner, often leading to feelings of attachment and intimacy”. Emotional infidelity could include having secret conversations or sharing private information with someone else outside the relationship.
  3. Cyber Infidelity: “The act of engaging in online infidelity with someone other than your partner. This includes sending messages, emails, pictures, or having conversations that are sexual in nature”. Cyber infidelity is becoming increasingly popular and includes having intimate conversations with someone online or through social media platforms.
  4. Micro-cheating: “Engaging in small acts of infidelity, such as flirting or exchanging intimate messages with someone other than your partner” Micro-cheating is often unconscious and is not intended to hurt your partner.
No matter the type of infidelity you may experience, it can be a traumatic experience that can lead to long-term psychological distress. It’s important to recognize the signs and types of infidelity in order to start healing from infidelity trauma. Keep in mind, there are other types of infidelity as well. They can range from stepping outside of the discussed/agreed upon rules for the relationship to sex addiction. A couple doesn’t have to be married for it to be considered infidelity. A couple doesn’t even have to be in a monogamous relationship for a betrayal trauma to occur. Simply stated, it’s breaking the agreements made to keep the relationship and connection safe.

 

4 Ways you can start healing from infidelity

Understanding infidelity trauma and its psychological impact is important for those who have experienced infidelity in their relationships. It can help a person to better recognize the signs of infidelity trauma and take steps towards healing from it. Here are four ways to start healing from infidelity trauma:

1) Acknowledge your feelings: Take some time to process your emotions surrounding infidelity, such as anger, sadness, fear, betrayal etc. Allow yourself to feel what you need to without judgement or guilt. Practice becoming the observer of these feelings without getting back into them. Therapy, meditation and mindfulness skills can help you learn how.

2) Seek professional help: Consider talking to a therapist for additional support. It’s hard to heal on your own when your heart is breaking. A professional can provide a safe space to process your feelings and provide practical advice to help heal.

3) Practice self-care: Make sure to make time for yourself and practice activities that bring you joy, this will help reduce stress levels and give you the space you need to heal at your own pace.

4) Rebuild trust in yourself: After infidelity, it’s common to have difficulty trusting others or even yourself. Start building trust back in yourself by reflecting on what values are important to you and how infidelity may have impacted them. 

Infidelity can be a traumatic experience, however, with the right support and coping skills, you can learn to heal from infidelity trauma. Take your time and be kind to yourself as you process your emotions and rebuild trust in yourself. While there are many more suggestions and tools for healing infidelity, I hope these four can be a good start for you.

REFERENCES:

https://allaboutcounseling.com/infidelity-trauma/ 

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