Discovering your partner has cheated is a shocking and emotionally devastating event that can turn your entire world upside down and bring on intense feelings of anger, betrayal, rejection, and abandonment, among others. It is normal to want to get back at your partner by having a sexual fling of your own. However, know this – revenge affairs might hurt you more than they will hurt your spouse. A revenge affair can damage your own emotional well-being.
The goal of most revenge affairs or flings is to even the score with your partner, to do something that victimizes and hurts him or her just as their actions victimized and hurt you, to make them understand how you feel, and to teach them a lesson.
However, the outcome of a revenge affair is often the opposite of that which you intended.
Here are some harsh truths about revenge affairs:
1. You won’t even the score.
Your partner’s affair broke the trust and ruptured the bond between you. Your affair won’t have the same impact as you can’t break something that is already broken.
2. You are unlikely to make your partner feel victimized.
In fact, you may make him/her feel justified in having their affair to begin with. In addition, he/she may use your actions as an excuse to continue their extra-marital/relationship romance.
3. The revenge affair won’t cause him/her to “get” how you feel.
Instead of feeling guilty for betraying and hurting you, your revenge affair might provide your partner the perfect excuse to dismiss your feelings entirely and minimize the consequences of their own actions.
4. The lesson they learn from your revenge affair might be different than you think.
A revenge affair might teach them that you have a vindictive streak and were capable of doing the same to them.
Another issue with revenge affairs: they could sabotage your own recovery. By having a revenge affair, you’re using anger as a shield from dealing with the emotional pain you feel. Unless you deal with your pain, you won’t be able to heal.
I understand why you would believe making your partner feel worse will make you feel better. It won’t. Trust me. Instead, you will feel just as betrayed, hurt, and outraged afterward. Acting out and doing to them what they did to you is impulsive, immature, and unwise, and may leave you feeling significant guilt, resentment and and regret.
I also encourage you to think about the impact on the person you’re using for the revenge affair. He/she is a real person with their own needs and feelings, who might feel used and manipulated by you. This is not a time for you to risk further emotional complications—you have enough to deal with in your own relationship.
Trust that there is a reason you haven’t cheated before. My hunch says it is because you are ethical, loyal, and strong values that have kept you from doing so. By compromising those things, you will feel shame that will decrease your self worth, self esteem and emotional well-being.
I encourage anyone considering a revenge affair to get curious about your motivation. And as my mom always used to say to me – two wrongs don’t make a right. Think long and hard about why you want to do it. Make sure it points you in a direction you really want to go. Don’t complicate your existing problems. Try to let your plans go. It’s not necessary. Instead, focus on caring for yourself. Get the healthy support you need to move forward. Just because he was a cheater, does that mean you want to be one too? I don’t think so.
Wendy Sterling is a divorce expert and a Divorce Recovery Specialist, a certified life coach, writer, author and speaker who founded of The Divorce Rehab™. Wendy helps divorced women remember who they are and what they are capable of by ending their pity party, mourning their marriage and MOVING FORWARD with dignity to see how much better life is afterwards. A graduate of UCLA and The Co-Active Training Institute, Wendy is also a divorced single mom who has transformed her own life from Corporate America employee to entrepreneur. To connect with Wendy you can email her at email@example.com, or visit her website at wendysterling.net.
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I think when the first spouse cheats it’s just as bad for them and the marriage as when the betrayed spouse cheats. Betrayed spouse probably already knows their wanting to leave the marriage, but what’s the hurry, that costs money. So when the betrayed spouse cheats it’s a choice that harms trust, just like when the cheating spouse choose to cheat and harm the marriage.