Effects of an Affair

What are the damaging effects of long term affairs? Let me count the ways

Affairs take a major toll on a person. Whether or not you like to hear this, it is true that affairs are a form of emotional abuse. In my opinion, the worst abuse of all.

Affairs wreak havoc on a soul. It has been said that losing a child is the only thing that hurts more than the betrayal of infidelity. Although I have never lost a child, thank GOODNESS, I would have to say that this is true, in my opinion.

I’m sure many of these things apply to those whose spouses had shorter term affairs too. For those who learn that their spouse has been cheating for YEARS, these feelings are pretty common I imagine.

The betrayed spouse/partner loses sense of reality after a long term affair

You have no idea what is real anymore. This was absolutely crushing to me in the aftermath of my husband’s affair. I had been lied to and gaslighted so much and so often, when I thought everything about my life and my spouse was “real”. It turns out that nothing I thought was real, really was.

I thought my husband had my back and would always be there to protect me. That reality flew out the window, which left me feeling numb and empty. The man I married, the love of my life, not only didn’t protect my heart, he actively hurt it. He crushed it. This is just one example of lost reality. If you’ve experienced infidelity, and I assume you have since you are here, you probably know this feeling all too well. It leaves a person feeling helpless because they don’t know what else in life might just be “fake” as well.

You don’t know your own history

Because you weren’t there. Your whole life, you’ve known your own history. You’ve been there, you’ve lived it. When you’ve been betrayed, you really don’t know everything that has happened in your life during the time you were being cheated on. long.


Here’s the thing: Your partner/husband/wife (I’m going to just say “he” and “husband” for simplicity) knows of your history, because he was in a position to see all sides. HE knows what went on behind closed doors during his affair. He knows the different places that he and the other woman slept together. Where they went and what they did? Yep – he is the one and only (besides her) who knows this information. Also known to him is what you were doing at this point in time (besides being clueless). I am only able to “know” what he tells me. It is extremely frustrating to know that someone else holds the key to the information that could potentially clear your head and let you know as much about your past as he does.

Another fun effect of infidelity: You carry a cloud of doubt above your head

This cloud of uncertainty can linger for years. Or maybe even forever. Even if you have reconciled for the most part, there is always a cloud. It might be big and full of fear, or it might be small, deflated and barely there. But either way, it is there. Explaining it is a little difficult, but if you’ve lived through infidelity as the betrayed spouse, you may know what I am talking about.

The cloud can add anxiety to an otherwise happy, non-eventful day. It walks alongside of you, so there is rarely relief. As the years go on, maybe it will lessen, or maybe the cloud will even float away. In my experience, however, this cloud won’t leave (and I am 6 years post DDay). The best way to describe it is a slight “nagging” feeling. Just enough to remind you that anything could happen at any time, and you could be blindsided again.

Your views on love and marriage are changed

I used to believe that love and marriage were sacred things. That belief changed immediately after D-Day. I started asking myself, “why on earth would anyone get married? What is the point when he is going to cheat anyway?”. My marriage was forever tainted after the infidelity in my relationship. You have to mourn the loss of your old marriage before you can start a new marriage with your partner. It is the sad truth…all of the things that seemed good in the relationship, you will now question. How good were those times really? Are you the only one who those times seemed so special?

Those happy couples everywhere…poor things

I remember whenever I went out and I would see couples everywhere. Those who seemed so “in love” made me cringe. Not out of jealousy, but out of pity. I just knew that one of them would cheat on the other one. The whole “committed relationship” just seemed preposterous to me. I kid you not, this happened EVERY time I was out and about. Naturally, I would then have to turn my head, as the tears welled up in my eyes, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I felt sorry for these couples (and still feel this way to some extent, but it doesn’t bring about the intense emotions anymore). I don’t feel the overwhelming need to scream from the mountaintops, warning them: “DON’T DO IT, DON’T GET MARRIED, IT’S NOT WORTH IT! HE WILL CHEAT ON YOU!” has diminished as well. No, I don’t feel like that any longer. However, I still don’t know that I believe in marriage. I think just living together or continuing to date “exclusively” might be a good option if you want to be with someone forever. Keep yourself free to leave at any given time. If your “sweetheart” turns out to be a cheater, you have no ties and can proudly walk out the door without having to deal with legalities.

You have a new and unwanted motto in life

Your new motto is, “Trust, but verify”. Such wise words, and very necessary in the aftermath of infidelity. This is especially true if you experienced gaslighting like I did, on a regular basis. It is no easy task turning off the “spidey senses” after such a deep betrayal and after being lied to time and time again. You’ve possibly dealt with trickle truth (one of the cruelest things a wayward spouse can do to someone trying to heal). So yeah, if you can trust blindly after what has happened to you, more power to you! For most of us, however, we desperately want to believe that everything they say is true. How exactly are we supposed to know, when they have such a history of not being honest? Just…how?

This is where the “verify” part comes in. So let’s say it appears that they are and have been telling the truth after D-Day. Awesome! Now, let’s just confirm that it’s truth that they speak. Once we verify enough times, I do think that the true trusting part can come into play.


I have experienced thousands of other ways that the infidelity & betrayal really affected me and my life, but I think the above ways are the top common effects that infidelity has on the betrayed spouse.

How has infidelity impacted you? What undesirable effects do you/did you suffer from?

What things are at the top of your list? Please share in the comments below. I imagine SO many of us will agree with your comment.

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