The Main After-effects and Consequences of Infidelity

Infidelity can deeply affect the victim, his or her vision of themselves, their satisfaction with life, and the way he or she relates to others. Well talk to you about the main consequences of cheating here.
The Main After-effects and Consequences of Infidelity
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 17 May, 2023

We all assume that in monogamous relationships there’s an agreement – tacit or explicit – of exclusivity. We know that trust is basic in a couple and that by committing ourselves to a sentimental partner, we accept to care for and protect his or her feelings. For this reason, it’s evident that deception can generate a deep pain in the other. But how far do the consequences of infidelity go?

This is something that we don’t seem to consider seriously enough; unfortunately, infidelity is a much more present reality than we think. About 30% of the population admits to having been unfaithful to their partner, and with the advent of new technologies, this trend may be on the rise. This indicates that millions of people face the important psychological consequences of this type of betrayal.

The serious consequences of infidelity

Infidelity not only impacts the life of the person who is cheated on, but also that of the children, and it can have long-term consequences.

Determining what constitutes infidelity and what doesn’t isn’t always straightforward. In fact, it depends largely on the values, expectations, and beliefs of each person and each couple. For some, cheating is only present if sex is had with a person other than the partner; for others, emotional intimacy or the exchange of messages over the Internet already represents cheating.

In any case, feeling that the partner has betrayed the trust that had been placed in him or her triggers a series of painful processes at the psychological level. These not only affect the couple’s immediacy of the short term, but can last over time. Among the main consequences are the following:

Self-devaluation and loss of self-esteem

One of the first reactions that appear in those who have been victims of infidelity is the questioning of oneself: What did I do wrong for this to happen, am I not enough, what has my partner lacked with me, why is the other person better?…

All these questions directly attack one’s own values and deeply damage self-esteem. The person begins to devalue themselves and to feel inferior and inadequate, and this can have repercussions in all areas of their life.

We think you may find this article interesting, too: The 7 Types of Infidelity that You Should Know About

Guilt and shame

Although one would expect the cheater to experience shame and guilt, in reality, the person who is cheated on also often experiences large doses of these emotions. In some ways, he or she may feel that what has happened is a personal failure, that it is his or her responsibility, and that if people around him or her were to find out, he or she would be the one who would be ridiculed.

This can lead to isolation, hiding, and repression of emotions. The person may not allow himself or herself to express his or her displeasure or disappointment in order to avoid criticism and judgment from others. Thus, experiencing it in silence and denying themselves emotional venting only increases the discomfort.

A loss of trust

One of the most obvious consequences of infidelity is the loss of trust. That mutual security that was so hard to build collapses completely before the deception and the victim is plunged into uncertainty.

Everything you thought you knew and knew about your partner and the relationship must now be reviewed from another perspective, and all the certainties and truths that made the relationship solid become irrelevant.

This can lead many people to decide to end the relationship for good, because they are not able (or willing) to place their faith in the person who betrayed them again. Even in those cases in which they decide to continue and try to repair the damage, the lack of trust becomes a huge burden that isn’t always overcome.

In addition, it’s worth mentioning that this distrust can be extrapolated to future relationships. The emotional impact caused by the deception can lead the victim to become suspicious and distrustful and to show disbelief in future relationships. Thus, the long-term repercussions can be severe.

Anger, resentment, and bitterness

¿Se debe contar una infidelidad?
Infidelity can generate all kinds of reactions, such as anger and even depression.

Anger and rage are very present emotions when infidelity is discovered. Especially at the beginning, they can completely overwhelm the victim. If not managed properly, they can become entrenched and limit the person’s future. Carrying the weight of hatred and resentment keeps the victim from recovery and the pursuit of happiness; it hinders healing and can prevent the creation of new bonds.

If you continue with your partner after the cheating, resentment and bitterness can take their toll on your day-to-day life by restricting expressions of affection, constructive communication, and sexuality. This only widens the already existing gap between the two and increases dissatisfaction with the bond.

Anxiety and depression

Finally, among the consequences of infidelity are various psychological disorders. Victims of betrayal often experience high levels of anxiety due to the uncertainty in which they are plunged and may develop a depressive state that may even lead to suicidal ideation. In some cases, the emotional impact of infidelity is so great that it can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder.

Like this article? You may also like reading: How to Know if A Person With a Partner Likes You

The consequences of infidelity don’t just impact the victim

It’s clear that the person who has been cheated on is the one who suffers the most from the consequences of infidelity, but he or she isn’t the only one. The cheater may also feel a great deal of guilt, shame, and remorse, and suffer enormously from the deterioration of the bond and the damage caused. But, beyond this, it’s worth mentioning that even the children of the couple may be affected by what has happened.

Children may perceive the change in their parents, resent their lack of attention and availability, and also feel betrayed and deceived by the infidelity. This can lead them to become unfaithful in turn or, conversely, to become distrustful and highly intolerant in their own adult relationships.

Ultimately, infidelity impacts many lives and its repercussions can be long-lasting. Therefore, if your relationship is unsatisfactory, if you feel personal shortcomings or lack of respect for your partner, it’s best to seek professional help. In any case, having the courage to come clean and leave the relationship if it’s no longer what you want will always be much more mature and emotionally responsible than betraying your partner’s trust.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Jauregui, I. (31 de 05 de 2022). El fenómeno de la Infidelidad: Trauma y estrés postraumático. Obtenido de epsys:
  • Hernández, J., Bartolo, M. Á., González, K. G. & Hernández, E. E. (2018). Redes sociales, sexualidad 2.0 e infidelidad 2.0. Revista Cognosis. ISSN 2588-05783(3), 1-10.
  • Gándara, M. (2011). Sentido de vida en mujeres víctimas de infidelidad (Doctoral dissertation, Tesis de pregrado). Universidad Rafael Landívar, Guatemala.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.