What Does Being Cheated On Feel Like?

Infidelity can be a devastating experience that leaves one feeling unsafe and unable to cope. If you're currently struggling with the pain and trauma of being cheated on, know that you are not alone. I understand the feeling of being on a cliff-face and the overwhelming sense of vulnerability that comes with it. Discovering infidelity is difficult, but it's important to remember that healing is possible. Together, we can navigate this difficult journey and become stronger on the other side. 

I want to talk about a time in my life when I didn't feel safe, and perhaps you can identify. It was a time when I was walking on a cliff-face. Being cheated on feels like walking on a cliff-face too. Suppose you were anything like me when the reality that your partner was cheating on you was exposed. In that case, you may also have felt completely unsafe and unable to cope with the pain. And each day became an ordeal to survive just like walking on a cliff face.

Many beautiful beach walks on my little island take us up and over the cliffs. I love looking at the ocean, especially from the cliff-top lookouts, I find it healing. Although, getting too close to the edge frightens and destabilizes me, so I always stay on the path and hold the rail while I take the view. I am a rule keeper and value my safety.

How do we survive infidelity?

Until we experienced infidelities sting, we really had no idea how much agony it causes, how unsafe we feel, and how long it takes to recover from it.

At first, infidelity left me inconsolable. The agony floored me and I became desperate to find pain relief. However, nothing worked to take the pain away, and as the days turned into weeks, it seemed new and even more painful truths were coming to light. 

I don’t know if this happened to you or not. Still, it seemed my brain initially had been protecting me by drip-feeding the reality of what I had to endure to accept the truth of being cheated on. For about six months, the cascade of agony of my husband's betrayal slowly flooded me through a filter I call disbelief...utter incredulous disbelief. Unfortunately, it didn’t help that the very few with who I shared my plight were just as incredulous. Surely my husband didn't cheat?!?

Sometime after six months after I discovered my husband's infidelity, things started to get very real. I was exhausted and wrung out from being confronted with emotions that swung from one end of the spectrum to the other. All the while, my brain was trying to accept the unacceptable. I was in total fatigue from a lack of sleep, feeling stretched beyond my capacity to survive and defeated in many, many ways. He really had cheated on me.

I couldn't change his infidelity

Yet, the fight in me continued—a pointless battle to change the events that had already occurred, his infidelity. Every time I tried to talk to my partner about the betrayals, I was left feeling more unsafe and traumatized, and I suspect they were too. Their misguided personal pursuit of finding happiness in life with someone else, didn’t include turning their wife into a screaming wreck.

Fast forward to now...the not-so-perfect, much wiser me. How did I get from insane with agony to living again? Or should I say, how did my life journey move away from walking each moment on a precipice, triggered, and ready to fall to my death at any second? Each stumble or trigger felt like a life-threatening event when I was in that place.

And to make matters worse, no one could take me off that ledge I was walking on. I was alone, isolated in my pain and fear, yet unable to leave the cliff-face. And I was vacillating between jumping off to end the pain or paralyzed with fear that I would never survive the pain of my husband's cheating or heal from it.

Yet somehow I survived - it is true, I am alive! But it took deliberate effort and a lot of work to move away from that unstable cliff-face to a place of safety. And it wasn’t always straightforward either.

Sadly, getting caught in rockslides and taken back to the cliff face several times is a frightening reality that most of us have also experienced after infidelity. Why do unfaithful partners think that not telling us the whole truth the first time, under the disguise of not hurting us more, helps? Finding more painful infidelity information takes us back to living on the edge of the cliff-face each time it happens. It only reinforces our compulsion to super sleuth and not trust them.

Rockslides, half- truth and lies, take us backwards

But at the end of the day, getting to a place of safety always fell on my shoulders. I could not rely on someone else, especially my unfaithful partner, whose actions put me out on that dangerous ledge, to do it for me.

Perhaps saying that I crawled back to safety could be an understatement. I stumbled, tripped, fell, scrambled, groped, rolled, retreated backward, and clawed my way back. There was nothing lovely or pretty or close to dignified about my journey. It all came under an umbrella I call self-care. And I am not talking about the pretty spa type of self-care. As I said, it was not some dignified version of self-care. I am talking about the life and death version...the survival mode version.

So what is self-care? Self-care can be defined as the steps you take to meet your physical and emotional needs in the best ways you can do so. Please hear the words in the best ways you can do so! We, as betrayed, did the best we could with what we knew before we discovered the infidelity. Now, while severely wounded, we do the best we can to try to find a way out of the pain, off the cliff-face, and back to feeling safe in this world again.

Healing from infidelity takes one breath at a time

To say that I took it one day at a time to heal from being cheated on would be a gross and, quite frankly, overloading and unreachable expectation. None of us want to stay even one second longer in that place of betrayal pain. No, it was one breath at a time for me. A survival breath. An unconscious breath. A part of me that took over on autopilot breath. Sometimes I would choose to breathe….and at other times I couldn’t even think, so my body just breathed for me.

Breathing is a form of self-care that keeps us alive so we can return to safety after infidelity. It calms us enough so that we can think about our next best step forward away from the cliff-face. Therefore, breathing is a tool to help us find safety and could be renamed survival care. You can survive infidelity. I did it, as have many, many others. But getting from the cliff-face back to stability is a priority. The longer we stay on that cliff-face, the more stress and pain rule our reality.

So how do we transition from the unstable, life-threatening cliff-face to a place of feeling safe again? One way is to turn to those who have survived that journey, ask for their support, and hear about their survival journey.

Get support and heal

If you are on the cliff-face, feeling very alone after experiencing infidelity, please know that you are not alone. Please reach out and ask for support, join the newsletter or leave a message below in the comment below. I know it feels vulnerable and that it takes effort to reach out. But once you find the safety, you will know that the effort was worth the time and energy you put into getting there.

You do the right thing when looking after yourself. Your healing is a priority, and taking the time to build safety into your life sets you up to heal. Keep pressing in and doing the next best thing for yourself. One day you will look back on your experience and know that you grew from it and are a far stronger person. I know that I do.

Reaching out for support and taking steps toward healing is a courageous and important step. By joining our newsletter and booking a free call, you'll have access to a fellow betrayed wife who understands what you're going through and a safe space to share your feelings and gain valuable insight. Investing in yourself and your healing is a priority, and the effort you put in now will pay off in the long run. You will come out of this experience stronger and more resilient. Don't hesitate; take the first step towards healing today.

Much love

You may also find these helpful:

How I Forgave My Husband’s Infidelity
Why Did My Husband Cheat?
How Do I Control My Cheating Partner?
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About the Author

I am a certified life coach and relationship facilitator with a passion for supporting women who have been impacted by infidelity. Drawing on my personal experiences and deep insights, I am dedicated to helping my clients heal from the trauma of betrayal and reclaim their lives.

Through one-on-one coaching, I am committed to providing a safe, supportive space for women to process their emotions and move forward after infidelity. You can find me in my vegetable garden or taking long walks in nature with my dog when I'm not working. Read more about  the betrayed wife's personal infidelity story...