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Reasons Emotional Cheating Can Feel Worse Than Physical Infidelity

Updated on November 23, 2015

Emotional Infidelity: Worse Than Physically Cheating?

Many women have admitted that they would prefer their man to have a one night stand with a woman, than actually have feelings for her. This is understandable for many reasons: firstly, if a man has sex with another woman, he will often come back to his partner and beg for forgiveness and, although the betrayal here is higher physically, the woman he is with will often comfort herself with the fact that "the one night stand meant nothing to him", she is his partner and that is the more important factor. There is less chance of being dumped, and therefore more emotional security. A small portion of women actually say they enjoy their man crawling back to them after a one night stand as it is an ego boost: "I am clearly better than her and he doesn't want to lose me".

However, when a man actually admits to his partner (or vice versa), that he/she actually has feelings for someone else the emotional betrayal is much, much worse. For the person being betrayed, they may feel that they aren’t good enough for their partner anymore and may spend weeks or even months reflecting on whether they’re sexy enough, good enough in bed, physically appealing, young enough, too big, too small… Everything comes crashing in around them and they lose self-confidence and security. It seems to be a natural response to go into a mode where we try and self-improve if we get dumped, and emotional betrayal puts us into this as well. In fact, usually it is considered worse to have a partner announce his/her feelings for another person than actually be dumped. Some women will agree that it almost feels the same as being dumped as when you are put in this situation, it seems inevitable that you will end up being left for this other person, or you will be driven apart from your relationship because of the situation.

Evolution Has Wired Men And Women Differently

To many people, it is the thought of THEIR partner romancing and laughing and being happy with someone who was once you. It feels like you have been replaced and this not only makes you feel inadequate, but also used, betrayed and possibly like you’ll never be able to trust someone of the opposite sex again. Emotional infidelity is terrible for so many reasons, and going through it is one of the most difficult things to do. Unfortunately, it is quite common, and this is because humans are such sociable creatures: meeting attractive people of the opposite sex is unavoidable whether you’re with a partner or not and with this comes feelings – however small. Sometimes these feelings are squashed down, or just go away by themselves, but it is a natural reaction to begin feeling emotional attachments to more attractive people, as this is our genetic make-up: to breed with attractive people.

Using this “evolutionary theory”, we can see that losing a partner is, essentially, losing a mate. This means that we feel we have to start rebuilding a whole new relationship with someone else once emotional infidelity has occurred. This is an extremely difficult process, especially when the dear green eyed monster starts raising its ugly head. If your partner and you decide to give it another go, it may mean that you are constantly suspicious and worried that the same painful process will repeat itself.

As humans, and especially as women, we have this curse of a tendency to over-think things and react very badly to losing a partner, especially if we lose a partner to another woman. Personally, I believe that this sets off a kind of natural instinct, that was much stronger many hundreds of years ago, which is where we feel that we’ve lost a “mate” to competition, which then, in turn, makes us feel depressed and like we aren’t good enough and not attractive enough for anyone.

Coping With A Relationship In Crisis

Fortunately, in the 21st century there are plenty of coping strategies should this sort of thing ever happen to you (hopefully it won’t). One of these strategies is taking time to realize your good points, as well as acknowledging the bad (age doesn’t count as a flaw – it is a natural process), and that nobody is perfect. Well over 56% of men who leave their wives, girlfriends and partners for another woman actually come back begging for forgiveness within the first year of being separated. The problem is, is that it is very easy to have an argument with your spouse (which is healthy providing it isn’t violent), and then automatically start believing that another very attractive person would be a better partner because they seem flawless. Quite often if people leave their partners for this reason they will have their new relationship break down within 3 MONTHS, because suddenly the reality that their new partner actually has issues comes crashing in and they leave, often then returning, or at least trying to come back, to their previous partner.

Emotional infidelity is potentially far worse than physically cheating because of the harm it does to the innocent individual's self confidence and general happiness and well-being.

Moving On

When you find out that your other half has been unfaithful to you, it has an incredibly detrimental effect on your self esteem, confidence and perception of yourself.

The main thing to remember (and this is the one thing that will help you most of all to keep your head above the water), is that a man or woman can have an other half who is everything anyone could ever dream of – funny, kind, caring, intelligent and gorgeous, and still cheat on them.

The individual chooses to be unfaithful for different reasons – some people cannot settle down with just one person, but instead of breaking each relationship off before starting a new one (whether it is an official relationship or purely a sexual one), they choose to keep one girlfriend or boyfriend and “test the water” without him or her knowing. In a way this is for security reasons – lots of individuals find it hard or impossible to be alone and have an unhealthy need to be in a relationship because they aren’t happy alone (a major sign of low self-esteem).

How Long Until I Feel Better?

Because you care about your spouse or partner so much, it becomes natural to protect them – even at your own expense. Usually, the cheater knows this and begins a pattern of disrespectful and petty behaviour which will often lead to arguments or even breaking up. Why? Generally because they need to redirect the guilt that they are feeling and project this onto somebody else, which is why you often hear the guilty spouse saying things like, "I wouldn't have cheated if s/he had more time for me". It is a pathetic and downright cruel thing to not only cheat on your loving partner but then to actually blame them for your despicable actions.

Someone who cheats often needs help which only a qualified professional can give. If you are reading this there are some key points to remember:

  • Your partner cheated because that is who they are - not because of you
  • No relationship can be successful and happy if it started out with sneaking around (picture: "so how did you two meet?" And then uncomfortable silence before; "oh I was married when we met, but my marriage broke down because I am incapable of honesty or being faithful"
  • If someone is going to cheat, there is no way of stopping them
  • A woman or man who is unfaithful needs to sort out their issues before entering into any other relationship
  • If your spouse was actually unhappy with you, s/he would have just spoken to you about it and then eventually split with you - not fallen into someone else's arms.

NEVER feel jealous of the "other" man or woman. Your spouse may be with them now but they are with someone who is a liar and a cheat; and they will suffer the same heartbreak that you are facing right now.

Remember that sometimes good things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.

And once you realise this you will reach the final phase of mourning for your relationship and that is beginning to return to every day, normal life, becoming happy with yourself as an individual and knowing that your ex was a fool to have left or risked a proper relationship for something as shallow as physical attraction – which eventually wears off. In this phase you will come to believe that your ex was simply not the right person for you, and the next step is fully getting over your ex. Although this last one takes a while, depending on your circumstances, it is so much easier than you first think. Find a hobby - something to do and focus on and train yourself to not think about your ex or any aspect of your old life "together", until you feel ready to.

Unfortunately, it IS true what they say: the best healer is time and it will take a few months to completely stop hurting – but if you keep yourself busy and accept that it is just part of the healing process to feel sad and angry, the hurt will be over sooner than you think.

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My Ex Wants Me Back! What Do I Do?

The old expression “a blessing disguised as a curse”, really applies with infidelity: it is incredibly painful to endure any form of infidelity, but ultimately, if your partner cheats on you then you are better off without them – cliche but true.

You may not think they will ever do it again, and everyone’s circumstances are different, but so they DESERVE another chance? Is it worth the risk of it happening AGAIN? Only you can answer these things honestly.

Try writing down EVERYTHING that hurt you, made you feel low or worthless that your partner did or used to do on a regular basis. The reason I say write it down is because sometimes more ends up on those pages in front of you than you would have thought would be possible to put together and when you can see 15 individual points for instance, on a page in front of you which are genuine reasons for you feeling upset in your relationship, you can begin to see someone in a very different light. Try it - it is very much worth it.

A very important step to take if you find your other half on your door-step with flowers in their hand, begging for you to take them back is to talk things over, let them know how hurt you feel and how disgusted you are, and then demand that they cut all contact with you for a week at least while you think things through without them muddying the water. It is vital that if you do consider taking them back you spend at least a month apart, keeping busy with your friends and the people who will never hurt you.


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