After you’ve engaged in infidelity, whether you’ve been caught or not, you need to accept that your actions have harmed not only your partner and your relationship, but you.
If you’re struggling to understand how your actions have harmed you, we suggest that you take a deep and objective look at yourself in the mirror, and that you think about your values and integrity as you do so. But be warned: You might not like what you see. Instead of the bright, shiny, smiling, trustworthy, loving man you’re hoping for, you are likely to see some or all of the following:
- Secrets and Lies: You were not open about your sextracurricular activities. When you were caught in a lie or a secret, you attempted to cover it up with still more lies and secrets. And you seemed to not care how much this upset your significant other.
- Manipulation: You tried to hide your behavior by convincing your significant other to believe all sorts of lame and unlikely excuses. You were incredibly persistent with this. You kept at it until your partner wore down and gave in. You tried to make your partner believe that they were the one with the problem (for example: lack of trust, imagining things).
- Broken Promises: You promised your spouse that you would be faithful and emotionally present in your relationship. And then you cheated and pulled away both physically and emotionally.
- Mood Swings: At times, you were extremely happy and loving in your relationship with your partner. But, because of your cheating, these blissful interludes were broken up by periods of irritability and disconnection. And when your spouse had the temerity to question you about this, you blamed your mood swings on the actions of others or events beyond your control.
- Emotional Detachment: At times, you were more involved with cheating – affairs, porn, prostitutes, sexting, webcams, hookup apps, and the like – than with your spouse and kids. Your emotional detachment from your significant other and your relationship created a lack of intimacy.
- Financial Burdens: Infidelity costs money. Even if you have a job that pays really well, you may find yourself living on the edge financially. You may be late paying bills. You may be ignoring your financial obligations altogether. You may have told your partner blatant lies about your expenditures to conceal your cheating.
- Damaged Reputation: Even if your significant other has not found out about your cheating, others likely know, including bosses, peers, subordinates, friends, neighbors, family members, people at your church, and numerous others. And these individuals will judge you for your behavior. They will think that if you are lying to and cheating on your spouse, you won’t hesitate to lie and cheat elsewhere in your life.
- Loss of Integrity and Self-Esteem: Even if you’ve been lying to yourself (engaging in denial) about the impact of cheating, your soul knows what’s really happening. You are likely to feel deep shame and a loss of self-esteem related to your lack of integrity in your relationship. And eventually this stress will catch up to you, resulting in both physical and emotional damage.
It’s not a pretty picture, is it? And it’s likely not the image you want to see when you take a good look at yourself. But it’s the truth of your life when you engage in infidelity. The good news is that this damage need not continue. If you are willing to take the steps needed to stop cheating, to become honest with yourself and others, and to heal your relationship, you can regain your integrity and move forward into a healthier, happier, more intimately connected relationship and life.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with sex, porn, or substance/sex addiction, help is available. Seeking Integrity offers inpatient treatment for sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts, as well as low-cost online workgroups. At the same time, SexandRelationshipHealing.com offers a variety of free webinars and drop-in discussion groups, podcasts, and more.