Psychological Effects of Cheating

Updated April 17, 2017

Infidelity causes emotional trauma for all involved. The potential results of cheating range from emotional heartbreak to physical pain from stress (such as headaches from crying) to financial strain if there is a separation. It is important to understand that the psychological healing process may be long and arduous, but the stages that you go through are essential to repairing your marriage or relationship.

Lost Connection

Following infidelity, the guilty spouse may feel unworthy of his wife's affection. The faithful spouse may, likewise, feel unworthy because she realises that someone else benefited from the very thing that was supposed to be exclusively hers. Everyday conversation and casual joking and playfulness may be difficult during the recovery period after a spouse has cheated, but these actions are basic necessities that can help to rebuild the road and bridge the connection between the two of you.


Even after the casual conversations have begun again and playfulness has rekindled the connection between spouses, it may take even longer to truly believe that infidelity will not occur again. Things that may not have been of concern before the cheating occurred are suddenly issues that may cause flashbacks of the pain experienced, or fears that the same mistakes could be made again. While this is the heart and mind's way of protecting themselves from experiencing such emotional shock and trauma again, dwelling on the past may actually cause a longer-lasting marital issue than letting it go. Neither you nor your spouse can change the actions that created that disconnect, but the psychological effects that remain can end your marriage if you are not willing to truly put them behind you.


Depression may seem obvious following infidelity, but it is important to keep in mind that many times, all of the people involved in an affair are psychologically affected when it rises to a traumatic ending. Obviously, the faithful spouse is devastated and needs time and support to regain emotional strength after a betrayal. Perhaps less obviously, the unfaithful spouse is also bound to experience a bout of depression. Regret and remorse may truly overwhelm an unfaithful spouse following an affair, even before the cheating is caught. Additionally, the partner with whom the affair occurred may also experience a sense of loss, guilt and regret.

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

Born and raised in western New York, Tonya Cunningham attended Niagara University until 1992 as a pre-law student. Today, Cunningham is a legal assistant and freelance writer looking forward to the completion of her first book.