How to Stop Overthinking After Being Cheated On?
So your partner cheated on you, and now you can’t help but overthink everything, especially relationships. It’s understandable; many of us have been in the same boat. Being cheated on is never fun. It shakes the foundation of your beliefs in relationships and humans in general.
It starts with rage, turns into sadness, and finally, when you think you’re over it, you can’t help but overthink things as you go on a date or step into a new relationship.
Does that describe your situation? If yes, you’re not alone. According to a YouGov survey, one in five Americans says their partner has cheated.
Thankfully, there are ways you can stop overthinking after being cheated on and let go of the anxiety. You can come out of this stronger and better!
Is It Normal to Overthink After Being Cheated On? Why Does It Happen?
Overthinking after being cheated on is normal because it happens to many of us. More importantly, it results from the trauma you’ve just experienced. So in many situations, it’s beyond the control of the person. They can’t help but jump to conclusions, even over little things.
Being cheated on impacts your ability to trust people, especially in romantic relationships. This often leads to overthinking. For instance, if your new partner is going on a work trip, you start thinking they’re seeing someone else and cheating on you.
The overthinking essentially springs from the fear of being cheated on. Additionally, the trauma of someone breaking your trust can develop into fear.
Whether you’ve parted ways with the cheating partner or chosen to stay with him/her, overthinking and anxiety about relationships can set in and may not go away on its own. It may be worse if you remain in a relationship with someone who cheated on you. However, you can also overthink in a new casual or more serious relationship.
While anyone can begin to overthink after being cheated on by their partner, people with certain mental disorders like anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder (BPD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are more likely to overthink and get anxious after being cheated on. Overthinking and worrying are common symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Mental Effects of Being Cheated On
Infidelity is a traumatic experience; like any other trauma, the impact can come in stages. It’s natural to feel betrayed, angry, and sad after discovering your partner has not been faithful to you.
Even if you immediately call it quits and remove the cheating partner from your life, the impact of infidelity continues. While some effects, like sadness or anger, may dissipate as you move on, some effects are long-lasting.
Long-Term Effects of Being Cheated On
According to a recent research study on married couples surviving infidelity, the psychological impact of being cheated on can manifest into long-term mental and emotional harm. The long-term mental effects of infidelity include:
- PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from infidelity can have various symptoms, including overthinking. It can be triggered by similar events or situations you experienced when you were cheated on.
- Anxiety Disorder: Various anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, may result from trauma caused by infidelity. Long-lasting stress from this life-changing event can become an anxiety disorder, impacting other aspects of life.
- Depression: A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that negative life events like infidelity are likely to cause Major Depressive Episodes (MDE) in women.
- OCD: The fear of being cheated on can become relationship OCD in the long run. It’s a type of OCD where you can’t help but obsess over being cheated on in the future. It can make it difficult to attain and maintain a healthy relationship.
- Low Self-Esteem: Trauma, in general, is linked with low self-esteem. Being cheated on may impact your sense of self-worth and confidence. This is even more likely to be the case if you’re also a victim of gaslighting (your partner blamed you for their behavior).
Early intervention can prevent these long-term impacts of infidelity on mental health.
How Do I Stop Overthinking After Being Cheated On?
Infidelity is a strong blow to your expectations and values. It may be an incredibly hard phase of your life. But it’s a phase you can traverse easily and come out safe and sound. With some self-care, support from family and friends, and even therapy.
Here are 10 ways you can stop overthinking after your partner has cheated on you:
1. Give Yourself Time to Process and Heal
You need time to process any traumatic event; being cheated on is no different. Give yourself ample time to process the event and heal from its blows.
If you put yourself out there for dating or a relationship without processing all your feelings, you won’t be completely out of it. You’re much more likely to overthink entering a new relationship immediately after being cheated on.
So it’s best to take a step back, feel all those emotions, and only seek companionship when you’re ready.
3. Surround Yourself with People You Love and Trust
You’ll overthink things when you’re at your worst. Also, imagining elaborate scenarios and jumping to conclusions is easy when you’re by yourself. One effective way to avoid overthinking is to surround yourself with good people. This could be a family member or a friend.
When your mind starts to spiral, call that person who is always there for you. Better yet, go see them and do something with them. It doesn’t have to be a distraction. You can talk about what you’re thinking and feeling.
A person who cares for you can help you overcome anxiousness and be the voice of reason.
5. Go for a Run When Anxiety Kicks In
Overwhelmed with thoughts about getting cheated on again? Go for a run.
If you’re lucky enough to be near nature, go for a run, breathe fresh air, and absorb the environment around you. Maybe put on your earphones and play some upbeat tunes to boost energy. Not only will the negative thoughts disappear, but you’ll also feel much better (and burn calories).
7. Journal About Your Feelings and Thoughts
Journaling is a great way to improve your mental well-being and process emotions. And for someone who has just been cheated on and is feeling anxious or depressed, it’s the perfect tool to process the feelings.
You write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Writing them down and reading them may give you a better insight into where those feelings originate from. It can help you get to the root of why you’re overthinking, and once you’re there, it’s easy to control your thought process.
9. Communicate Your Concerns
If you’re embarking on a new relationship after being cheated on and overthinking things, it also helps to communicate your concerns or fears. Rather than bottling up your feelings, express them to your new partner.
For instance, talking can help a lot and make you feel better. With open communication and clarity, you can stop thinking the worst and jumping to conclusions.
Here’s how therapy can help:
- Uncovering and discussing triggers for overthinking
- Exploring other possible causes
- Developing coping mechanisms to deal with overthinking
- Working on the self through proven practices
One of the many benefits of therapy in this scenario is that you and your therapist can keep track of your progress as you fix the problem.
2. Accept the Truth and Avoid Blaming Yourself
More often than not, we overthink after being cheated on or breaking up because we’re in denial. And that denial can also turn into self-blame. There may be moments when you might think, ‘Am I the problem?’
It’s vital for you to accept the truth that you’ve been cheated on, and it’s the hard reality indeed. Similarly, it’s imperative to know that it’s not your fault whether or not your partner suggested such a thing.
Everyone is responsible for their actions. If your partner has cheated on you, they are responsible for that action, not you!
4. Meditate When Thoughts Start to Fill Your Mind
One of the best ways to stop overthinking about anything in life is to practice mindfulness and meditation. Create a calming, meditative space for yourself, and try to relax. Observe your surroundings and be in the moment.
You can find resources online to practice meditation. There are mobile applications to help you meditate and find peace. Mindfulness and meditation will stop overthinking at that moment and give you more control over your mind.
Alternatively, you can take on yoga at home or attend a class.
6. Take on a New Hobby
Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time that you like doing? Taking on something new, particularly a creative hobby, can directly impact your mood and prevent you from overthinking about your ex or being cheated on.
Hobbies are a great way to channel all that energy into something positive and focus on yourself. It can be anything you enjoy. What’s even better is finding people to do it with, for example, in a group or class.
Think of this traumatic experience as an opportunity to better yourself, and doing something you love is exactly that!
8. Work on Trust Issues and Give People a Chance
It’s natural not to trust people after being cheated on. This can impact your ability to form or retain relationships, as your mind is clouded with negative thoughts and doubts. But it’s important to understand that not everyone is the same.
So working on trust issues is necessary before they become bigger and uglier. Don’t be afraid to go on that second date or avoid committing to your next relationship, fearing you might get deceived again.
Remind yourself that not everyone’s the same, and there are as many odds for the person not to cheat on you as there are to cheat on you.
10. Seek Therapy and Work on Yourself
Overthinking after getting cheated on or a breakup can be dealt with healthily and effectively in therapy. If you’re a chronic overthinker, you may need therapy to help deal with infidelity even more.
All too often, underlying issues cause anxiety and overthinking after experiencing infidelity. While infidelity is a stressor, it can be just the tip of the iceberg. In other words, you may deal with bigger issues than you realize.
Moreover, therapy is effective in discovering the underlying issues for overthinking and working on yourself to prevent any long-term impact like PTSD or OCD. Similarly, with the help of a therapist, you can learn to trust people again and boost your self-esteem.
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Don’t Give Up on Yourself and Love!
Facing disloyalty in a relationship can make it harder to trust people and overthink situations. But with the right steps, you can divert your thoughts and do something positive. Although, overthinking itself is not a mental disorder, it can take a toll on your mental health.
How to find peace after being cheated on? Take the help of a therapist in overcoming the effects of infidelity, including overthinking. You can opt for online therapy if going into a therapist’s office is not feasible.
Just because you’ve been cheated on doesn’t mean you won’t find true love again. So get back out there when you’re ready, and don’t give up!