Why Being Cheated On Feels Like Abandonment

Did you feel intense fear of abandonment after discovering your husband cheated on you? Maybe you sensed he had withdrawn from you, spiking your anxiety before you knew he had cheated. Living in a state of disconnect from our husbands is frightening and painful. Humans have a deep need to belong and feel connected to others. Therefore, being cheated on feels like abandonment.

Many say that belonging comes from our cave-dwelling ancestors, where safety in numbers means we would be protected. In contrast, isolation means a saber-toothed tiger might eat us! Therefore, being alone can feel frightening and unsafe.

It feels like we could die if our husbands abandon us.

Having someone we can rely on and who is committed to us feels safer than being alone. So whether this need to belong got designed into us or is part of our primitive instinct, belonging is as essential to us as breathing. And when denied, it feels like we could die.

It is essential to acknowledge the vast difference between our needs and wants. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, belonging is conceptualized as a need rather than merely a want. Failure to satisfy our need to belong can cause severe distress and long-term negative consequences. However, when a want or desire remains unmet, it may disappoint us. Still, it is unlikely to lead to severe pain in the short-term or negative consequences in the long term.

While our partners cheated on us, we felt unsafe, unwanted, and rejected. Consequently, being cheated on feels like abandonment. It leaves us isolated and afraid.

Cheating denies our human need for belonging, so we feel abandoned.

My husband turned not just himself but also my children away from me while cheating. It was agony; I felt like I was dying when my entire family rejected me. I have never felt so alone in this world. What was it like for you?

Discovering our partners cheated on us creates such a severe threat of abandonment or rejection that it cuts to our core. Our partners are often surprised by our reactions and even tell us we are wrong to feel so devastated. But their cheating activated our abandonment fear. The thing is, social rejection is so painful that we feel we can't survive it.

Rejection can feel like death to us

Abandonment is one of the most painful states to be in.

After the truth came out about my husband cheating and that he had been lying about me to our children, one may assume that they would return to me. But no, each in their own way, my children have blamed, attacked, or dismissed me due to their pain over their father's actions. Super unfair, but they continued to abandon me because they were hurting. *(Thankfully, my children and I are good now because we have processed our hurt.) 

And while I don't resent them, it was a knife to my heart each time. As a result, I had to learn self-care to stand firm and be the human who was there for myself, regardless of their actions. I realized in hindsight that I could create my safety and that I belonged even when it didn't feel that way at the moment. Also, I realized that I am enough just as I am, regardless of others' actions, especially the actions of those who I love.

I know what it feels like not to belong, and I had to learn what I needed to feel wanted again, even if it was just for myself. That sense of belonging came from learning how to meet my attachment needs. It all started with recognizing my need to do whatever it took to heal rather than making the role of me 'feeling attached or secure' someone else's responsibility.

Only a betrayed wife truly understands the abandonment pain getting cheated on brings.

Self-care taught me to give myself the love and acceptance I craved. I needed to belong, so I created my tribe around me, a tribe of betrayed women. I have found that only other betrayed wives can compassionately understand the abandonment and unique pain of being cheated on. Many of these women have become my sounding boards, cheerleaders, best friends, and place of belonging. So what if belonging to a club of betrayed women wasn't in my life plan? Life took me there! As a result, I found healing from one of the most painful things I have ever experienced; getting cheated on.

Only those who have been cheated on truly understand the pain

Cheating brought abandonment into my life, other betrayed wives brought me a sense of belonging.

Firstly, I had to accept what was. My husband cheated, and I felt abandoned by him. My choice was to admit my need to belong in this world and be willing to open myself to the solutions life brought me. Doing this has opened me to some of the most beautiful people I have ever known. As betrayed wives, we might feel broken, angry at times, or half-healed. But the truth is that we get each other in a way no one else does.

Fulfilling our need to belong takes shape through our shared experiences and talking about what we are walking through together. Finding solace in each other's brokenness—that someone else has walked through our pain and tasted our sorrows meets our need to belong.

We Need To Belong

Sometimes we need others to help us heal our identities and to feel safe enough to pursue our life goals again. We can find meaning and understanding from what other betrayed wives bring into our lives and through sharing our common pain of abandonment.

The Self-care and coaching groups on this site may be scattered worldwide but connect through the pain of betrayal and abandonment. We find our common thread of belonging as we share our pain and comfort and support each other.

If you are considering the Self-care course, please don't let the healing opportunity pass you by. You won't regret spending time with a fellow betrayed wive in this unique coaching course. Find your sense of belonging as you heal, meet your need to belong, and take that strength to build a life you love living. You are worth this; we are all worth this.

Here is what other participants are saying about the self-care coaching course.

"Being able to talk with Kate, a betrayed woman, throughout the course has allowed me a safe space to grieve, a safe place to cry, and to share the joys. Kate offered me hope for myself."

"I highly recommend Kate's courses to any woman who finds herself in this unasked-for "Sisterhood of Betrayed Wives." We can't heal alone. We need support, love, and understanding."

"I am sad that this is the journey I must walk, but I feel that God has provided me with women like Kate to help me and hold me up along the path. Thank you, Kate, for using your own pain to help others heal. God Bless."

"We have been on this healing journey for over 2 years from first discovery and just over a year since his last contact with one of two affair partners. Before I began Kate's courses, I concentrated so much on helping my husband and healing my marriage that I was left out of the healing process."

"Working with Kate brought the focus back to healing ME! It is hard to do self-care when the rug has been pulled out from under you by betrayal, but Kate brought the focus back to me to help me heal. She has honestly been in my shoes and knows the highs and the lows, and she never made me feel rushed to heal; she truly 'gets it'!"

Find your safe place to belong while you heal, a place without shame or judgment, a place of acceptance. Join me online weekly for the next several months to heal and reclaim your life through self-care coaching! 

Much love

Yours on the Journey

You may also find these helpful:

What Does Being Cheated On Feel Like?
Healing From Betrayal Trauma: A Matter of Justice
Navigating Betrayal Shame and Healing from Infidelity in Marriage
  • Yeah think I focus too much on doing what’s right for him and his healing. Worried all the time I’m not forgiving enough or kind enough….

  • This holiday season had been the loneliest of my lifetime, finally, I have to move on with my life. I was alone anyway sad but true, wishing you all healing.

    • Hi Alex,
      I am so sorry that this has been such a lonely time for you. Why not join the newsletter to hear what is happening on this site, and maybe even book a free call to talk about what has happened. We shouldn’t have to go through the pain of betrayal alone. Go here to book a call https://www.thebetrayedwife.com/coaching-sign-up/
      Much love
      The Betrayed Wife

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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...