Why Can’t I Ever Forget? Understanding PTSD And Sexual Betrayal

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One of the most devastating things that can happen in a relationship is sexual betrayal. Whether it’s infidelity through cheating or something else like porn addiction, the impacts of these actions can have a profound and long-lasting effect on both of you.

Today we wanted to take a moment to understand how sexual betrayal can create trauma in a relationship. We want to go over why it happens, what the effects are, and how you can get through it. We’re not going to say that it’s easy, but it’s possible.

What is Sexual Betrayal?

Before we can go into how it can devastate a relationship, it’s imperative to understand that sexual betrayal can come in a variety of forms. For many people, this can manifest itself in other ways that go beyond cheating with another person. Sexual betrayal can include-

  • Porn watching and addiction
  • Visiting strip clubs
  • Sexting

In each of these cases, your partner may not be physically getting intimate with someone, but the impacts of their behavior can be just as impactful. What usually makes it worse is the fact that you likely have no idea it’s happening until it’s too late.

For many couples, sexual betrayal can feel like a bomb going off. Once you find out about your partner’s indiscretions, it can shock you to your core, which is why it has such a profound effect on both your relationship and your personal well-being.

How Sexual Betrayal Creates Feelings of PTSD

In most cases, the experience of discovering your partner’s sexual activities can have a lingering effect on you. Unfortunately, this can lead to long-term trauma in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

At first, you may wonder if such behavior can be so profound, but when you look at the symptoms of PTSD, it becomes apparent that it can. When you experience sexual betrayal, it can lead to-

  • Repeated Intrusive Thoughts – Is it me? Did I cause this? What if it happens again?
  • Out of Body Experiences – experiencing events as if you are a spectator, not a participant.
  • Feelings of Powerlessness – there’s nothing I can do to change this or its effects on me.
  • Unstable Emotions – an inability to control your feelings from one moment to the next
  • Scanning for New Triggers – being hyper-aware of activity that may lead to further betrayal, which can lead to paranoia.
  • Assigning Blame to Regain Self-Worth – blaming everyone else, not just your partner.
  • Confusion and Disorientation – what is happening to me? Why can’t I get it out of my mind? Am I going crazy?

Overall, these thoughts and emotions are all present in both PTSD cases and in couples who have experienced sexual betrayal. Thus, if you hope to move on past this trauma, you have to understand what’s driving it and what you can do to alleviate the pain.

Other Factors That Can Complicate the Healing Process

While the initial shock and devastation of discovering your partner’s sexual indiscretions can be more than enough to trigger PTSD, there may be some other factors in play that can make the situation even worse. While it’s imperative to remember that you can come back from this, you may struggle more if you experience one of these situations.

Past Sexual Trauma

If you’ve been cheated on before, then these events can bring up the past and further complicate your emotions. Other trauma such as sexual abuse can also play a part, as the feelings stirred up by these events can make things a lot worse.

Duration of Betrayal

Finding out about your partner watching porn behind your back is one thing, but discovering that he’s been doing it for years can make the impact far more profound. You begin to question the very foundation of your relationship – if it’s been going on for this long, what does that mean for us and how we feel about each other? All of our time together has been tainted by this revelation.

Moving Forward: a Difficult Path Ahead

In the moment, it can feel like you’re never going to get over what happened. Especially if you relive the events in your mind and think about the implications of the betrayal on your relationship, it can seem like it’s consuming your whole life.

However, it will get easier to manage over time, and you will learn to accept what happened and move on. Some methods you can use to make this process smoother can include-

Understanding the Why

Part of the reason why sexual betrayal can be so devastating is that you don’t know why it happened. Thus, even though you may think that you don’t want to know the answer, confronting your partner about his motivations will help you get closure. Without this crucial step, the question will gnaw at you and make your recovery take longer.

Forgiving Your Partner

In the moment, forgiveness may seem like the last thing on your mind. However, if you are going to move past this event, you have to learn to let go of your anger and frustration and forgive the person who hurt you. Holding onto a grudge can be poisonous, so it’s much better to release your negativity. Even if your relationship is irrevocably damaged, forgiveness should still be one of your goals.

Close Support

Dealing with sexual betrayal on your own can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so much better to have a support network of family and friends to help you through this challenging ordeal. Knowing that there are those who love and care for you can help alleviate the sting of the betrayal and enable you to move on.