When a pornography or sex addiction leads a partner to commit physical or emotional infidelity, their spouse may feel adrift in a sea of heartbreak, confusion, and anger. The loss of trust, new-found feelings of betrayal, and the shock of needing to cope with a new reality can be agonizing for a faithful spouse. This pain can even grow to the magnitude of Infidelity PTSD. With patience, love, and communication, healing from the trauma of Infidelity PTSD is possible.
What is Infidelity PTSD?
PTSD after infidelity isn’t uncommon in spouses whose partners have had an affair, whether that cheating is sexually, emotionally, or virtually. About 70% of women who learn their spouse is unfaithful have symptoms that align with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnoses. PTSD is a psychiatric condition that occurs when someone has lived through and must process a traumatic event. Being confronted with marital dishonesty can be just as psychologically damaging as acts of violence. Undiagnosed Infidelity PTSD can lead to long-term suffering and hurt and may disrupt your capability to continue daily functioning. The path back to emotional wellness begins with identifying if you or a loved one are suffering from Infidelity PTSD.
Identifying PTSD from Infidelity
Just like any mental and emotional condition, symptoms vary significantly from person to person. If you are regularly experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you may have Infidelity PTSD.
Common symptoms are:
- Emotional detachment or numbness
- Repeated “intrusive thoughts” that can manifest as flashbacks, nightmares, or nagging, repetitive thoughts
- Consistent anxiety or depression
- Emotional instability, especially with agitation or irritability
- Compulsion to keep learning more information, even if it isn’t in your best interest
- High-sensitivity to people, places, things, sensations, and feelings that remind you of the relationship or affair
The bottom line: if you feel plagued by repeated anger, anxiety, or sadness that interrupts your daily life and keeps you from functioning regularly, you may have PTSD from infidelity. A trusted medical or mental health professional can help confirm a diagnosis. Regardless, amid the pain, know that help, healing, and a return to health are possible.
The Road to Healing
The idea of feeling whole and secure again after an affair may seem like an impossible goal, but with work, love, trust, and open communication, finding healing is possible. Amid trying to navigate new normals and logistics, be sure to take extra care of the spouse burdened with PTSD after infidelity. If that spouse is you, know that while your pain may feel all-consuming, finding happiness again is possible. Surround yourself with those who love you, be patient with yourself, and find a community of professionals and friends who can support you.
LifeStar has over 14 years of experience guiding couples through the process of betrayal and addiction recovery, and we hope we can assist you in your healing journey with our in-person support groups, online classes, and digital resources. We know that with the right resources, community, and guidance, rebuilding marital relationships and recovering from mental trauma is possible.