Why Has Cheating Made Me More Insecure?

By: Katie Lersch:  In hindsight, many people come to believe that they cheated to boost their confidence or self esteem in some way.  Sometimes, they have  a revenge affair after they have been hurt in some way.  Other times, there is no revenge involved, but the person who cheated was suffering from low confidence or self esteem.  Sometimes, they do not even realize this until after the affair is over.  But in hindsight, they realize that the affair was an attempt to feel young and attractive again.  However, many are surprised to learn that the affair actually had the opposite effect.   They actually feel more insecure and unsure of themselves after having the affair than before it.  You might hear someone say: “I am extremely ashamed that I cheated on my spouse.   But I can’t claim to not know why I did it.  I did it because I could not resist when a younger, handsome man paid attention to me.  I was so used to being invisible because of being a wife and mother.  My children and husband always looked past me.  I felt like a ghost.  I felt old, fat, and ugly.   So when one of the workers at our home flirted with me, I just got carried away and the next thing I knew, we were in an affair.  I have never cheated on anyone before.  I am generally very loyal.  And I felt bad when I was carrying it out.  But I was also so hungry for someone to notice and appreciate me.   Things went well for a short time, but then I started to imagine the guy noticing other women that we passed.  And I wondered if he was just with me because of the gifts I gave him and the stuff I paid for.  I started to ask myself what a young and handsome man would want with someone like me.  So I broke it off.  The other guy didn’t even try to talk me out of it, which made me feel worse.  I did not tell my husband.  I don’t see the point.  Our marriage is the same.  But if anything, I’m actually more insecure than before.  I always worry that my husband will find out and leave me.  Or I worry that he will leave me because the kids are getting older and I am not needed anymore.  Why did the affair make me worse?  At least someone wanted me at some point.”

It made you worse because it was driven by personal insecurity.  No other person or relationship is going to fix personal insecurity because it must be fixed by the person experiencing it – which is you.  Sometimes when you do something that you know is wrong, this just reinforces the insecurity, like the affair did in your case.  Some people will have a string of affairs to try and mask or fix this.  Give yourself credit for recognizing what is happening before serial infidelity.   Since you know that this is all stemming from insecurity, the most efficient way to fix the issue would be to build yourself up.  Yes, you can and should ask your family for more appreciation and recognition.  However, at the end of the day, our self confidence must come from within ourselves.  So that is where I would start.  I understand where you are because I had dirt low self esteem after my spouse cheated.  So I took inventory about the things that bothered me (not my spouse, family or friends.)  And then I improved myself so that I liked who I was.  I went back to school, enlarged my circle of friends, and addressed a few issues about my appearance that I wanted to change.  I did not do a huge overhaul by any means.  No one would look at me and notice much difference, frankly.  But I felt different.  And I proved to myself that I cared enough about me to get healthy inside and out.  I have never cheated on anyone.  But during the period after my husband’s affair, I was often mean, sarcastic, and just miserable.  And part of this was that I felt horrible about myself.  Since the self-work, I am not as prone to this type of behavior.  That is why I think that working on your self esteem might give you some protection from risky behaviors like cheating.  But even better, it would make you happier and give a certain peace that you just don’t have now.  It’s very easy to blame our situation for our lack of self esteem.  We’ll tell ourselves that our family, friends, or boss treats us unfairly.  But the truth is, it all starts with how we treat ourselves and how we allow others to treat us.  When we think highly enough of ourselves, we are less likely to tolerate poor treatment.  And when we get it, we can shrug it off much more easily because we know that we don’t deserve it.

You can’t change the past.  But you don’t want to repeat the same behavior.  So take this opportunity to really address the problem so that you don’t repeat the same behavior.  If it helps, there’s more about my recovering my self esteem on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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