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Cheaters beware: 4 mental health effects of extramarital affairs

Published on:13 February 2021, 12:30pm IST
Extramarital affairs, or adultery won’t just ruin your social reputation but also harm your mental and emotional health.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Extramarital affairs can weigh heavy on you. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Extramarital affairs are talked about only in hushed tones in our society. Adultery, obviously, is frowned upon. Not many, however, realize that it won’t just have an effect on social reputation but will also impact one mentally and physically. Truth be told, an extramarital affairs can be taxing.

There can be numerous reasons as to why a person would end up cheating on their spouse. According to Dr Rahul Khemani, a renowned psychiatrist at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, adultery has existed since marriage has existed. In addition, he says we need to be aware of the fact that infidelity is not always a symptom of a bad marriage. One cannot necessarily correlate it with marital dysfunction. 

Sometimes, it is insecure attachment, conflict avoidance, prolonged lack of sex, loneliness, and years of monotony and repetitive arguments that can lead to adultery. There are, of course, those who cheat because they can. Affairs can also take the form of self-discovery, ‘could have been’ scenarios, and the search for a new identity facilitated by a lover. 

Extramarital affairs are burdened with secrecy, clandestine elements, and the fear of being discovered. Paradoxically, these factors actually fuel the affairs and make it difficult to get out. As the affair continues for a long time, the person is left to grapple with the consequences of what happens next and whether to come clean or not,” said Dr Khemani 

Here’s how this added emotional burden can wreck your emotional and mental health
1. The guilt factor

One might be happy with their lover but the guilt of hurting their spouse is troubling. This guilt makes them emotionally weaker, bringing a drop in their confidence level and self-esteem. This only causes more stress and mental upheaval.

extramarital affair
Sorry but an extramarital affair can send you on a guilt trip. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
2. The fear of being caught

Fear is never good for your mental health. The fear of getting caught starts feeding on the person engaged in an extramarital affair. They keep thinking about what will happen if they’re caught, how it will affect their family and what society will think of them. This brings mental and emotional instability which makes them all the more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

3. The mental exhaustion

The constant feeling of guilt combined with fear can leave one extremely exhausted. Moreover, undue expectations from a lover can make the case even worse. All these factors combined create stress and mental pressure, adding to the feeling of emotional exhaustion. Plus, being romantically connected with two people at the same time can actually be quite daunting.

4. Damaged self-esteem

Overthinking about the repercussions of an extramarital affair can be extremely damaging to one’s mental health. One might end up seeing themselves as a culprit and take the blame for everything going wrong. This thought process causes a blow to self-esteem.

extramarital affair
Stress and depression are also side-effects of having an extramarital affair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Extramarital affairs often lead to feelings of guilt, shame and utter horror. Leading parallel lives involves tremendous logistical decisions to be made and can lead to fatigue, exhaustion and burnout. The fear of putting one’s marriage on the line, leading to emotional hurt for the spouse and children can cause extreme distress,” concluded Dr Khemani.

There are, however, people who find the idea of adultery exciting and adventurous. Basically, they view it either as a coping mechanism, or as a break from their monotonous routine. Needless to say, the emotional burden often weighs too heavy and can affect anyone’s mental health, no matter what their justification for an extramarital affair is.

It isn’t a wise idea to put your marriage and mental health in jeopardy for a few moments of excitement.

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.