Can Being Cheated On Physically Impact Your Brain?

For victims of infidelity, a broken heart is an understatement. Being cheated on can take a big, lasting toll on your well-being, physically and mentally. Grief, chronic stress, self-destructive habits, and health issues are usually what happens to a person being cheated. As sexologist Rob Weiss (via Brides) puts it, "Damaged relationships don't heal overnight. Moreover, damaged relationships don't heal simply because one party wants them to." Well, if only there was a way to prove with facts all the havoc that the cheating party inflicted on our lives instead of a simple "You broke my heart!" accusation.

Turns out we can. In fact, Khloé Kardashian has medical receipts that prove how Tristan Thompson's cheating scandal wreaked havoc on her brain, TMZ reports. In a recent episode of Hulu's The Kardashians, Khloé went for a $3,500 brain scan, and the results indicated that she was experiencing an unresolved trauma. Following the scan, Khloé admitted that there were several traumatic incidents that'd happened in her life that caused her emotional anxieties, including a car crash when she was 16, her father's death when she was 19, and when she found out her partner had cheated on her while she was with child. These findings are surprising to many, given how a brain scan can pick on things that are as emotional as trauma. So, can being cheated on really affect our brains? Here are some insights from experts.

Being cheated on can physically impact your brain

Love can produce dopamine and make you feel happy, which is addictive to the brain, according to PsychCentral. Likewise, a feeling of rejection brought on by infidelity can alter brain chemistry in a manner akin to withdrawal in substance use disorders. Our brains release more oxytocin and dopamine when we are happily in love, and infidelity can obstruct the neural connections that lead to this release. Trauma alters both the structure and chemistry of the brain, which might start to have an impact on daily activities. The amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex appear to be the areas of the brain most affected by trauma. The amygdala is the integrative center for emotional behaviors. The hippocampal region plays a major role in consolidating memories. Meanwhile, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for cognitive control functions like thought and reasoning.

And it's possible to pick up a post-traumatic change in the brain. Per trauma therapist Justina M. Floyd (via POPSUGAR), "an MRI can show regions of the brain being atrophied (shrunken) or enlarged, which would indicate unresolved trauma." This is especially true if you live in an environment where your traumatic experience is continuously brought to mind, like the case of Khloé. Trauma can, however, also be cured because our brains can be neuroplastic and change as new events arise, she adds. It might be a long road, but it's possible.

How to recover from cheat-related trauma

In order to move on from being cheated on, you yourself must want to be healed. One way to put your mind in the right perspective, per Ashley Hudson Therapy, is to set realistic expectations. Rather than putting up a strong front, allow emotions to war through you and have a good cry if you want to. Reminders of your past with the cheating party can easily stoke your resentment, so consider stepping away from social media when the pain is still raw. If you choose to end your relationship with the cheating partner, shut off all communication and focus all of your energy on your healing. If you choose to be together with the cheater, you should ensure that there is sufficient remorse on their part.

Being cheated on is typically a lonely experience since we don't want the world to know and critique our vulnerabilities. However, seeking assistance is a crucial step in any healing process, particularly after an affair when we may be tempted to lose our sense of self. You can engage a therapist for professional help or open up to your close friends and family about your experience. "Dealing with an infidelity alone is extremely difficult and can lead to more pain in the future," says family counselor Melissa Divaris Thompson (via Well+Good). Rather than lingering on the past, look ahead to the future and consider the good that is in store for you.