Here’s What Cheating Does To A Woman’s Self-Esteem

by Alexandra CraciunMay 24, 2021

While infidelity can affect men, it seems that cheating affects a woman’s self-esteem much more. Sadly, studies show that women tend to be more dissatisfied with their relationships.

That’s because they value their relationships more, being that they generally are more social than men.

Moreover, women with an anxious attachment style are more prone to low self-esteem than women with a secure attachment style.

Insecurity can cloud a person’s judgment. It can make them miss opportunities inside the relationship or outside of it and promotes negativity.

Note: Alexandra is a professional Psychotherapist with specialized knowledge in relationships.

– Worried Lovers

Losing Yourself To Your Partner

Some people can see commitment as losing one’s self.

Being cheated on has a similar effect, especially if you build your life around your partner. In addition, being betrayed can sometimes feel like you’re losing your sense of self.

Infidelity can shatter your entire identity, especially when you identify yourself with your partner or the relationship.

It’s no surprise how hard it is for women to get through the ordeal of having to work out the painful experience.

Rebuilding self-esteem can seem like arduous work if you’re working on repairing the relationship as well. But, unfortunately, that’s why so many women neglect it.

The Actual Truth

Sometimes people would rather make the story about themselves than acknowledge the causes behind the cheating – or even that it was never about them.

Thoughts like “I’m not enough/you’re not enough” tend to be present after an affair. Unfortunately, they don’t do anyone justice, as they only deepen the suffering.

People do not usually cheat because the other person is prettier, smarter, or more fun. Most of the time, the reason goes far beyond that.

How Cheating Triggers A Woman’s Self-Esteem Problems

Comparing yourself to the other person

The most harmful thing that you can do to yourself after a partner has cheated is to compare yourself to the other woman. That’s not going to bring any relief.

Women tend to do this one way or another; they tell themselves that they’re better or worse than the other woman and look for answers there.

All these thoughts are going to hurt in the long run. Comparison often leads to other issues, like anxiety and depression.

Emotional and physical withdrawal

Cheating can negatively affect a woman’s self-esteem, as well as her sexuality.

Often, women lose their attraction to their partner or begin withdrawing from the relationship.

Withdrawal doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re abandoning their partner. They may very well stay together.

But resentment starts to creep in slowly and takes away any good there was before. When that builds up, stonewalling makes its way in as well.

Poor mental health

Women that have gone through this experience can experience PTSD symptoms, as well as depression or anxiety.

Intrusive thoughts about somebody’s transgression are not rare at all. Neither are the flashbacks and nightmares that come with it.

Rumination is a symptom of depression, and engaging in it can make matters even worse.

When asking yourself too many questions and replaying a scenario over and over again in your head, it’s very easy to lose sight of things.

Isolation and shame

Infidelity can bring with it a lot of shame. Unfortunately, that’s why most women don’t dare to talk about it.

Perpetuating shame creates a stigma around infidelity, and doesn’t let others see the person behind it.

The opposite of shame is connection. Telling the story behind it can offer women a sense of belonging.

People expect their partners to give them everything – emotionally or physically. Before, an entire community was responsible for that.

These days, everyone puts their needs only on their partner, and when they deal with something like this, they find themselves alone, not having anyone to turn to.

Their support system is non-existent or unreliable.

General insecurity

Women can experience body image issues, especially if a partner has cheated on them physically. Appearance is one of the first things they think about changing.

It’s easy to fall down that rabbit hole.

This spirals into them becoming less attracted to their partner and withdrawing affection.

The more harmful type of insecurity has to do with how they perceive themselves as a person.

Women can blame themselves for the infidelity, think about their shortcomings, feel like they are not enough for their partner, or even obsess over all their minor flaws.

They feel like they fell short and start a cycle of obsessive thinking about what they might’ve done wrong.

The most frequent questions that women ask themselves are: Why has this happened? What have I done? Does my partner find me boring/ugly? Am I not enough?

Self-destructive behaviors

Revenge affairs, drinking excessively, and one-night stands are just a couple of ways women deal with negative emotions.

Another popular one is obsessively looking up information about the other woman.

Unfortunately, all these behaviors lead to a path of self-destruction. So the best thing to do is cut any compulsive behavior from its roots once it shows up.

6 Ways To Fix A Woman’s Self-esteem After Being Cheated On

A quick overview:

  1. Understand that the affair is not about you.
  2. Grieve. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling.
  3. Journaling
  4. Rediscover yourself.
  5. Practice self-care
  6. Build a community

1. Understand that the affair is not about you.

You are NOT to blame for your partner’s infidelity. Once you accept this, beautiful things will happen.

Typically, a partner cheats because they want to discover something about themselves, because they want to build a new self or because they want to explore something within themselves.

Infidelity is about the one that cheated, not about the one being cheated on.

2. Grieve. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling.

Negative emotions are like learning to swim.

If you feel like you’re sinking and want to rise to the surface, you must first let yourself be taken down. If you flutter your hands and feet chaotically, you will sink; that’s swimming 101.

Now compare that with negative emotions. Whenever you feel sad, anxious, ashamed, or guilty, you have to let your emotions take you to the bottom first.

That’s the only way to rise back to the surface. If you don’t do that, you’ll just drown, because you can’t fight the waves.

This analogy encompasses the acceptance you need to be able to move forward so wonderfully. The only way is through.

Accepting whatever it is that you’re feeling after such a painful experience is the path that will ultimately lead to you regaining your self-esteem and life back.

3. Journaling

Psychologists emphasize the benefits of therapeutic writing. That is, writing for the sole purpose of relieving negative thoughts and healing.

This also helps you put your thoughts in order and allows you to express yourself freely.
Writing can take many forms.

You can write a letter to express your anger about the affair. You can write what you feel about the experience, write what you notice around you, and practice mindfulness.

4. Rediscover yourself.

Remember who you are outside of your affair. Think about who you were before the relationship, even if it was a long time ago.

This is especially important for people who tend to base their whole identity around their partner.

Rediscovering yourself can mean taking on a new hobby, meeting up with friends and family members, or attending events.

A relationship is just ONE part of someone’s life. There’s also a life outside of your relationship. So don’t put your eggs in one basket.

Write a list of your values and interests, and give them a try.

5. Practice self-care

Self-care is not only about eating good food, taking long showers, and buying nice things.

Taking care of yourself also involves connecting with other people and finding meaning in the hard times.

Give meaning to the betrayal. I know how this may sound vague, as meaning is not something you can put a finger on.

To put it simply, challenge your perspective by seeing what good can come of this.

Maybe this is just what you needed to learn to take better emotional care of yourself, help you connect with others, find out more about yourself or even solidify your relationship.

6. Build a community

Meet up with family members, reconnect with old friends or join support groups (if you have any in your area.)

Let yourself have more people around you. Don’t put all your expectations and trust just in one person.

You know how they say “It takes a village”.

Final Thoughts

An affair is not the worst thing that can happen in a relationship. But the first thing that women have to do is see themselves in a more gentle light.

Therapy can help women uncover unhelpful thought patterns that are affecting their view of themselves. A lot of times, the woman’s low self-esteem might have been there even before the cheating.

And it’s no surprise. Society often encourages us to compare ourselves with other people.

Everything around us is cluttered with ingrained messages about what is lovable or worthy and what is unlovable or despicable.

Sometimes it feels like we’re all just trying to sell ourselves and window shop. No wonder they say self-love is a rebellious act.

Loving oneself goes beyond the obvious, rules, and societal norms.

It essentially means loving yourself despite your flaws or shortcomings, while also noticing the good in you.

Related:

Can Marriage Survive Infidelity? (Infographic)
How To Get Over Insecurities After Being Cheated On
I’m Not Attracted To My Husband After He Cheated, What Should I Do?
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