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Whether it happened once or many times, being on the wrong end of infidelity is an agonizing experience.
It not only impacts your relationship but also causes you to doubt yourself, your judgment, and even your self-worth.
Sadly, this kind of trauma is one that stays with you long after the relationship is over.
Being cheated on is not something you can simply brush off and move on from. If you don’t deal with the emotional baggage you carry around because of that experience, it has the potential to tarnish any future relationship you may have.
Infidelity has already taken so much from you. Don’t let it destroy your chance at happiness in future relationships, too.
If you know that your fear of being cheated on is already affecting your relationship, keep reading to find out how to get over it and move on.
Why Are You Afraid Of Being Cheated On?
Obviously, if you’ve been with someone who has cheated on you before, you’ll fear that it’ll happen again.
But there are other reasons people develop paranoia about infidelity. Some of those reasons include:
You have trust issues.
When you struggle to trust someone, you assume the other person is lying, cheating, or trying to go behind your back.
This could result from past experiences with infidelity in a romantic relationship or an inability to trust others due to betrayals by close relations, like family members or friends.
Trust issues don’t arise necessarily because the other person has given you a reason not to trust them. You’d have difficulty trusting the motives and question the intentions of anyone in their position. It’s not about them, it’s about you.
Some signs of trust issues include:
- You spy and snoop on people, particularly romantic partners.
- You expect others to let you down like you have been let down in the past.
- You sabotage situations (and relationships!) to reinforce your beliefs.
- You overthink everything – and it’s always negative thinking.
- You don’t believe you deserve happiness.
- You keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself rather than let others in.
- You feel lonely and isolated.
- You struggle to form and maintain healthy, long-lasting relationships.
- You struggle to forgive, forget, and move on after a betrayal of trust has occurred.
- You home in on other people’s flaws, their weaknesses, or the mistakes they make rather than focusing on their positive qualities.
If you struggle to rely on or believe your partner, you may have trust issues you need to work on. Because without trust, it is difficult, if not impossible, to have a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
You have low self-confidence.
Is your self-confidence so low that you don’t believe you deserve to be loved? Or maybe you think your partner is out of your league?
Do you take feedback poorly? Or feel you’re inconveniencing or burdening others when you ask for help?
What you think about yourself, how you see yourself, or whether you even like yourself, impacts your relationships tremendously.
Your sense of self-worth informs how you treat others and how you allow other people to treat you. Self-confidence determines what you think you deserve, what you will accept, whether you’ll settle, and if you will ever work up the nerve to talk to your ideal partner.
Low self-confidence can even push you to cheat on your partner. A person with low self-confidence cheats because they’re trying to sabotage an otherwise happy relationship or inflate their ego with successful sexual pursuits.
When low self-esteem doesn’t show up in obvious ways, it can be a little difficult to identify. Below are some ways low self-confidence can manifest in your relationship:
- You’re always apologizing. You apologize every time you make a noise, bump into something, say something, or for no reason at all.
- You’re a people pleaser.
- You ask for permission for everything despite not needing it.
- You enable destructive behavior to keep or please your partner.
- You’re codependent: You depend too much on your partner or feel unable to live without them.
- You maintain emotional distance from your partner.
- You lie constantly: Because you don’t like yourself, you make up stories to make yourself seem more like the person you prefer to be or who you think your partner wants you to be.
- You overspend on gifts and dates to the point where it’s hard for you to meet your other financial obligations (such as rent or bills).
- You’re afraid to make decisions because you don’t trust your own judgment or because you think your partner won’t like the decision you made.
- You don’t set boundaries. Not healthy ones anyway.
- You avoid conflict.
- You let your partner or relationship define you.
- You’ve let go of your own interests.
- You’ve given up on your dreams to help your partner achieve theirs.
- You obsess over your appearance.
- You don’t go anywhere without your partner
When you don’t love yourself, it’s hard for you to imagine anyone else loving you. Not loving yourself also limits how well you can love your partner.
In 2019, a study of 96 heterosexual, romantic partners by Angela M. Neal and Edward P. Lemay revealed participants projected their sexual and romantic desires for other people onto their partners.
The study showed that the more attracted participants were to another person, the angrier and more antagonistic they behaved towards their partner concerning suspicions that their partner was attracted to someone else.
Is it possible that you’re suspecting your partner of cheating because you secretly harbor thoughts of doing so yourself? Maybe you’re not yet considering cheating, but are you attracted to someone else in a way that makes you feel guilty?
If any of these scenarios are true, it’s likely you’re projecting your behavior onto your partner.
Projection is a low-level coping skill. Because you are cheating, thinking about cheating, have cheated in the past, or have inappropriate feelings for someone else, you are creating a reality where your partner is doing the same to justify your hurtful behavior.
You have an anxious attachment style.
Have you ever been described as being needy or clingy? Do you always want to be close to your partner? You may have an anxious attachment style.
If you grew up with parents or caregivers who were inconsistent or unresponsive to your needs, you may have developed this attachment style. With this attachment style, you may have a hard time feeling secure in relationships, can be prone to jealousy or other insecurities concerning relationships, or struggle with being alone or single.
Anxious Attachment Style can show up as:
- a crippling difficulty when it comes to trusting others
- a poor sense of self-worth
- concerns that your partner will leave you
- an overdependence on your partner
- a need for constant reassurance that people care about you
- heightened sensitivity to your partner’s actions and moods
- highly emotional, impulsive, erratic, and moody behavior
Your attachment style may be the reason you’re so prone to suspect your partner of committing infidelity in your relationship.
10 Ways To Get Over The Fear Of Being Cheated On
Loving someone and being loved are some of life’s greatest gifts. As human beings, we crave the connection of being fully accepted as we truly are and being able to provide the same for someone else.
Being afraid that our partner will cheat on us severely limits our ability to enjoy the best part of being with someone else.
Below are some tips to help you conquer this fear that’s robbing you of a healthy relationship.
1. Work on your low self-esteem.
When it comes to improving your relationship, much of the work lies in improving yourself. You need to be your best self in order to have a healthy relationship with another person. A healthy, long-lasting relationship cannot happen where one or both parties are, for want of a better word, ‘broken.’
One of the best things you can do for your relationship is to work on yourself and learn how to love yourself. It is only when you love and value yourself that you can do that for someone else. If you can’t accept yourself, faults and all, how can you truly accept someone else?
To improve your self-esteem, try some of the following tips:
Identify your strengths and work on them.
What are you good at? Because you have low self-esteem, it might be hard to identify your strengths. Instead, identify what you do naturally.
Do you tinker with appliances around the house and fix them? Or are you passionate about organizing your life, office, or home?
Do more of that. Do what comes easily to you.
Swap out negative self-talk.
First, you need to track your negative self-talk. For some of us, our inner critic has been yapping in our ears for so long that we don’t recognize it as harmful.
Track the negative self-criticisms and swap them with positive affirmations. For example, if you think “I’m such a failure, I can’t do anything right,” immediately respond with “I am doing my best and will persevere until I succeed.”
Write out your good qualities.
Make a list of qualities you have that are meaningful in the specific context. For example, if you didn’t get a promotion at work, write out the qualities that make you a valuable employee, such as your strong work ethic or expertise, or ability to work in a team.
Choose one item on your list and write a brief essay (one to two paragraphs) about why the quality is valuable and likely to be appreciated by other people in the future.
Focus on what you can change.
Don’t get hung up on things that you can’t change about yourself. Rather, identify what is within your control and see what you can do about it.
Write one thing that you’re not happy with and come up with three ways you can change it.
Being the best YOU you can be is the best thing you could possibly do for your relationship. Work on loving yourself the way you love your partner.
2. Find someone who values your worth.
Sometimes our insecurities stem from our toxic relationships. If you seem to get into such toxic situations on a regular basis, it’s possible you need to completely overhaul your entire dating process.
Do you choose partners with glaring red flags that you ignore because you’re “in love” or think you can “fix” them? Are you dating people who value you or make you feel as if they’re doing you a favor?
It’s time to take a step back, put a pause on your dating life, and reassess your selection process.
First, figure out what you want from a partner. This requires a great deal of self-reflection because you need to know what qualities are most important to you.
Do you want someone who is a great listener? Or someone who supports you and cheers you on in your career/business? Is it someone who showers you with compliments or one who believes actions are more important?
The second step is quite simple. Go out and look for the person you’ve described. Don’t rely solely on your emotions. Experience has shown that your feelings aren’t exactly good at picking a suitable partner. Take your time before choosing to commit.
Also, be on the lookout for red flags that you usually ignore. Are they frequently late for your dates or do they show up on time? Do they stick to their promises or are they always coming up with excuses to break them? How do they treat people around them?
The answers to these questions will give you a good idea of how you can expect to be treated. Because if they can’t respect your time, keep their word, or treat others well or respectfully, it’s highly doubtful that they’ll do so with you.
Be deliberate about the people you date and find someone who values your worth.
3. Date someone you can trust.
Do you trust your partner? As in deep down inside, do you trust them with your heart?
It’s ok to say no. What’s not ok is staying with someone you don’t trust.
Maybe you have an unrealistic fear of being cheated on. Or, perhaps your partner is actually engaging in suspicious behavior and gaslighting you into thinking you are the problem?
It’s possible that the problem is not that you are afraid your partner will cheat. The problem might actually be that you don’t trust them to stay faithful to you.
If you’ve looked at your relationship objectively and know that the missing piece is trust, it’s time for you to find someone you can trust.
A healthy relationship is based on trust. If mutual trust is missing from your relationship, what do you have? Love cannot survive in such an environment.
And if you don’t trust your partner not to cheat on you, how can you trust them with anything else?
4. Understand your boundaries
What are your boundaries? No matter how close you are to someone, you must still have some boundaries in place between the two of you.
Boundaries let the other person know how you will accept to be treated. They teach people what you are willing to put up with.
If you don’t set boundaries in your relationship, you can’t expect the other person to know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Perhaps a boundary for you is that the type of words used in communication must always be respectful and consider the feelings of both parties. So when you and your partner get into an argument, they know they can’t hurtle abusive words at you in the heat of the moment.
When boundaries are set in a relationship, both parties know what to do and what not to do. If you don’t set them in advance, you leave room for resentment to build up.
Using the example above, perhaps you’ve never communicated to your partner that abusive communication is not acceptable to you. After all, why should you? As adults, people should know that it’s not acceptable to spout off the first words that come to your head, right?
Unfortunately, there are some people who feel words are just words and they don’t mean anything. So, they have no problem dropping f-bombs or telling you that you’re stupid or accusing you of acting like a b*tch.
Because you never set any boundaries around communication, you don’t understand why they’re talking to you in such an offensive manner and they don’t understand why you’re nitpicking at their word choice instead of listening to the message.
It’s important to set boundaries in any relationship, not just romantic ones. Boundaries can help your relationship be stronger because both parties understand the no-go areas.
Communication is an important tool in any relationship, possibly the most important tool of all.
However, we often fear saying something to offend or upset the other party. But if your relationship is healthy and will go the distance, you can’t be afraid to express yourself to your partner.
If what you said or how you said it destroys your relationship, perhaps it wasn’t as strong as you thought it was. Or maybe you need to learn how to communicate better. Either way, good communication skills are essential.
One of the best ways you can overcome the paranoia of being cheated on by your partner is to communicate your fears of this to them. Be open, vulnerable even, and talk about what you’re afraid of. Explain to them how you’ve been hurt in the past and how some of their actions remind you of that wound.
A good partner will reaffirm their feelings for you. Some might even commit to working with you to help you overcome your insecurities or paranoia.
Do you know how some wounds need to be exposed to air in order to heal? That’s what talking about your fears does – it airs it out and helps you heal. Otherwise, the paranoia will continue to feed itself and grow until it destroys your relationship entirely.
6. Stop snooping.
Have you ever noticed that when you suspect someone of doing something and snoop through their things to find information to support or refute it, you usually find information to support it?
That’s because we’re so emotionally tied to the situation that we misconstrue harmless information into damning evidence.
An innocent text sent to a colleague saying “I miss you” gets blown up into an admission of a torrid affair between the two. Never considering the possibility that the colleague may have been out of the office and your partner simply misses having them around at work.
A simple lunch with a friend that your partner forgot to mention gets turned into a secret date that your partner was hiding from you.
Don’t stop snooping because it’s a huge violation of trust. Don’t stop doing it because you’ll probably find information that will increase your paranoia. Stop snooping because it’s a huge waste of energy.
When you could be working on improving yourself or spending time with your partner, you’re stalking their social media or going through their phone.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Why would they want to stay with someone who does not respect their privacy or trust them? Stop snooping and put your energy to better use.
7. Stop worrying about it.
You may be right. Your partner might be trying to cheat on you. The only thing that’s keeping them from doing so right now is… absolutely nothing.
If they are going to cheat, nothing and no one will stop them from doing so.
Not your hyper vigilance. Nor your suspicions.
In fact, those things might actually drive them to cheat if they weren’t planning on doing it before. They will cheat regardless of what you do or say if they really want to. You can’t control their actions.
So, stop worrying about it.
While this may seem like a pretty pessimistic way of looking at the situation, it releases you to focus on the things in your life or relationship that you can actually control.
Instead of worrying about what they are doing or not doing, focus on being a better you and enjoying the present moment.
8. Hold on to the good you do have.
What is good about your relationship? What do you like about your partner? Why did you choose to commit to them?
If you’ve been obsessing over your fear of them cheating, chances are you’ve been focusing on the negative aspects of your relationship.
You’ve likely forgotten the many things you appreciate about them and concentrated solely on characterizing them as a lying, cheating bastard.
But they can’t be all that bad, otherwise, you wouldn’t be trying so hard to catch them in the act. The thought of them betraying you wouldn’t be so hurtful that you’ve morphed into this person you can barely recognize.
Let go of your suspicions and concentrate on what makes your relationship worth all this stress. Focus on the good you have with your partner.
9. Face the fear.
Let’s play a game. It’s called “And then what?” The purpose of this game is to help you realize and face your fears.
Imagine the worst-case scenario – your partner is cheating. Ask yourself the question “and, then what?”
The answer might be something like “I’ll be hurt.”
Once again you ask “and, then what?”
You might respond with something along the lines of, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to remain in the relationship.”
Then you ask, “and then what if you can’t stay in the relationship?”
Keep playing that game until you get to the actual point of your fear, which could be the fear of abandonment or rejection.
Once you drill down to exactly what you’re afraid of, you’ll know two things:
- what you need to work on
- no matter what happens, you’ll be ok.
Identify your fears, work through them, and conquer them.
10. Know that you’ll be ok.
Bob Marley once said, “you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
This basically means that no matter what life throws your way, you have the strength to handle it.
If your partner is cheating on you, you will be ok.
You are a lot stronger than you realize or give yourself credit for. While being betrayed by a trusted partner is excruciating, it is not more than you can handle.
Embrace the fact that you will bounce back from it and know that you will be ok.
Trust between partners is critical for a healthy relationship. Without it, a relationship becomes toxic quickly.
So, work to resolve your fear of being cheated on otherwise your paranoia will destroy all future relationships.
Love yourself to where you see being cheated on, not as a reflection of your worth (or lack thereof) but a reflection of your partner having different needs.
Give your partner the benefit of doubt that they will treat your heart with the respect it deserves. And if they don’t, respect yourself enough to demand better or walk away.
Above all else, know that whatever happens, you will be ok.
Still not sure how to get over the fear of being cheated on? Talking to someone can really help you to explore why you’re so paranoid about infidelity and to address those fears head on.
A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can provide ample coping mechanisms so that you can begin to reduce the intensity of your fear until it disappears for good.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
You might not think your problems are big enough to warrant professional therapy but please don’t do yourself that disservice. Nothing is insignificant if it is affecting your mental well-being and your relationships.
So seek the help you deserve today. You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
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