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Post Infidelity Trauma

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This is what Post  Infidelity  Trauma Looks Like

Infidelity causes many of the same symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD and profoundly impacts day-to-day functioning, health and well-being (Coop-Gordon, 2020).

A study by Lonergan et al. (2020), suggests between 30 and 60 percent of betrayed adults experience PTSD, which in many cases requires psychological and/or medication intervention. 

intrusive  thoughts
easily startled
physical distress
self blame
being on "high alert"
avoidance of places, people, connected to betrayal

Even just the suspicion of betrayal has a profound impact on a person's functioning. Suspicion of relationship betrayal is associated with depersonalization, 

sleep disturbance (insomnia, nightmares), hypervigilance 

(Dean 2011; Weigel & Strout, 2021). 

Depersonalization: The state of feeling detached from oneself - some people describe it as an out of body sensation where it becomes difficult to determine what is real.


Hypervigilance: The state of highly elevated alertness where one is constantly perceiving and assessing  for danger real or imagined.

Both traumatic stress reactions have a profound affect on functioning and quality of life.

Infidelity is associated with depression and high risk behaviors  (Cano & O'Leary, 2000).


High risk behaviors include alcohol and/or drug use, eating disorders, retaliatory infidelity and unprotected sex (Field, et al., 2013) .

Infidelity is an Attachment Trauma

The human need for a secure bond continues from the cradle to the grave.  

 A  relationship betrayal  threatens the bond and sends your sense of security into a tailspin. A ruptured attachment bond  can cause a multitude of neurobiological, physical and emotional stress responses.  

Attachment Theory: There is a lasting need for psychological and emotional connectedness between human beings Greenberg & Johnson (1988). Through evolution, survival has relied upon a secure connection with others (Bowlby, 1983).

Holding Hands

Attachment Theory

Holding Hands

Attachment Injury: Dr. Sue Johnson (1988) defines an attachment injury as a specific relational event that violates one partner's trust and damages relational security. 

Attachment Injury

  • The nervous system does not simply respond to traumatic events, but is primed to react to events that mirror a traumatic stressor or experience (Cozalino, 2002).

  • The physiological impact is only a part of this. Trauma is  held by the body (Van der Kolk, 2015). 

The Neurobiology of Trauma


Amygdala- almond shaped grey matter in the brain; controls fight-flight response - emotional activation - emotional memory.

Neuron - nerve cell that send and receives signals from your brain. 

Neurobiology Glossary 

"One minute I am fine, and then some random thing reminds me of what happened, and it's as if no time has passed at all "
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