Listen Up: Brittany Snow Shared How She Healed After Being Publicly Cheated On

written by EMMA GINSBERG
Brittany Snow"
Brittany Snow
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Yes, Lemonade and Before He Cheats unequivocally slap, but being able to relate to the feelings of betrayal weaved within them is not ideal. Cheating is the kind of thing that can seem genuinely unimaginable when you completely trust and love your significant other. Yet, from dramatic celebrity breakups to high school relationships to IRL adult marriages, infidelity still happens. In an episode of Call Her Daddy, Brittany Snow shared her experience of her ex-husband Tyler Stanaland, a star on Selling the O.C., potentially having an illicit relationship with one of his co-stars while they were still together. Though the details may still be blurry, Snow made it clear on the podcast that she felt cheated on and betrayed by her ex-husband. Her story and perspective resonated with thousands of listeners who had been through something similar.

Whether you’ve been cheated on yourself, have a friend who is going through infidelity in their relationship, or simply chronically fear being cheated on in your relationship, we all interact with the concept of infidelity differently. Having a toolbox for processing it is something that we can all benefit from, and if we’ve learned anything from Brittany Snow’s story, it’s that it is possible to come back stronger after being cheated on.

With that in mind, we spoke to two social workers about how breakups after infidelity can impact our mental health and well-being and why grieving loss after cheating is especially challenging. Although heartbreaking, there are some powerful lessons weaved throughout Brittany Snow’s story that we can all learn from, and we’re sharing them all, plus more of our thoughts on the matter ahead.

Overcoming infidelity requires trusting yourself and knowing your worth

On Call Her Daddy, Snow emphasized how she was hurt and disappointed but not necessarily surprised by Stanaland’s cheating. “I had instincts, and because I was in love, I didn’t trust them,” she said. Out of her entire interview, this is the line that exemplifies the fear we all, to some extent, hold in our relationships about infidelity: What if I’m so blinded by love, I can’t see what’s happening right in front of my face? Or worse, did I know it was happening and just ignored it because I didn’t want to face it?

This lack of trust in ourselves is one of the most common challenges individuals face after being cheated on, according to Brooke Sprowl, LCSW. Trusting yourself again after experiencing these thoughts and feelings is a process, but thankfully, Sprowl says it is possible. Giving yourself grace and not placing blame on yourself for not catching the infidelity sooner or for not ending the relationship earlier is key to overcoming them.

In addition to feelings of mistrust, “It’s common to see questions about self-worth, desirability, and adequacy arise, alongside intense feelings of betrayal, loss, and self-doubt,” says Sprowl. You might find yourself questioning why you weren’t enough for your partner to remain loyal and monogamous or if there were things you could have done better to prevent it from happening to you. In these instances, you have to remember that someone else’s actions are not a measure of your self-worth. “It’s beneficial to work on self-esteem and self-trust, reminding oneself that the actions of another person are not a reflection of your worth or desirability,” Sprowl said.

As you move forward in your relationship with yourself and your relationships with others, be kind and forgiving to yourself, especially if you’re struggling with intense feelings of doubt. Practice affirmations, hold yourself accountable, and ramp up the self-care. The more you see that you can rely on yourself and remember that you are enough as is, the further you will inch along in the healing process.

Someone else’s actions are not a measure of your self-worth.

Comparison will not serve your healing process

When you have been cheated on, comparison can creep in. Snow highlighted in her interview that it’s common to become obsessed with the other person with whom your partner cheated. You’ll wonder how you measure up to that person in your partner’s mind. As she highlighted when she said that her ex-husband’s actions have “taken up so much real estate” in her head, the biggest challenge after infidelity tends to be coping with this inner dialogue. What makes them better than me? What made my partner more interested in their intimacy than mine?

The comparison and obsessive thinking that being cheated on can spurn—whether this shows up as thinking about your partner, the other person, or spiraling thoughts of self-doubt—can be so difficult to shake, and they may even make other relationships harder. According to Madison McCullough, LCSW, “It is quite common for people to carry insecure thoughts and feelings into new relationships, which often shows up as hypervigilance or a reading into any potential signs or signals that one’s partner could cheat or is cheating,” McCullough said.

Comparing yourself to others or even comparing a new partner to the one who cheated on you isn’t abnormal, but it’s not productive. It can hinder your self-esteem and seriously slow down your healing process and ability to happily move on in the future. These feelings can take quite a bit of pain, patience, and work to overcome. But we’re happy to hear that after being able to recognize these feelings in herself, Snow is in a place to slowly start dating again, which she revealed in the episode.

Grieving a breakup after infidelity takes patience

As Snow’s story illustrates, it’s not like there are only two kinds of breakups. (That is, breakups involving infidelity and breakups not involving infidelity.) There are lots of blurred lines about what an individual counts as having their trust broken. With that said, there is something about grieving a breakup after being cheated on that is uniquely painful. According to Sprowl and McCullough, this is because you are grieving not just the time you shared with your partner but also your trust in yourself and others, your understanding of reality, and your mental image of the person you were dating.

On Call Her Daddy, Snow highlighted how disorienting it was to find out that her ex was cheating on her. First, she emphasized how confused she felt from one moment to the next, one when she went from loving and trusting him completely and another when she was so upset and heartbroken. Second, she noted that it was only after being cheated on that she started to see Stanaland as a real, flawed person instead of the mental picture that she had built up around him and their relationship. Both of these emotional challenges are unique to the experience of being cheated on. They can make the healing process after a breakup like Snow’s much slower than in other situations.

For those who are going through the emotional aftermath of infidelity, Sprowl has one key piece of advice: Give yourself time. “This type of grief is often accompanied by intense feelings of anger, confusion, and isolation, making the healing process more intricate and, at times, more prolonged as you restore your sense of trust in others and also in yourself,” she said. If you are going through a similar situation yourself, you need to allow yourself time to adjust to your new reality. Work through feelings of anger and sadness, learn how to trust yourself again, and learn how to trust others again. That healing process is not something that can happen overnight. Grieving this loss is going to be different from the get-go, so spare yourself from feeling impatient about your grief.

Do what you need to do to grieve your relationship, from screaming into your pillow to leaning on your friends, and then to try to take that next step forward.

Finding the bright side will make you stronger

The most poignant, nuanced part of Snow’s interview on Call Her Daddy came when she discussed the fact that she didn’t regret her relationship with Stanaland at all in spite of the way it ended. “I don’t have the anger that people wanted me to have,” she said. “I don’t regret anything that happened because I loved that time that we had together.” Snow recognized that although it was painful and terrible, she knew that the reason why Stanalad betrayed her trust was because he was unhappy in the relationship. That was, in some ways, a gift.

Like all forms of grief, grieving a breakup after infidelity will have to come with an acknowledgment of the bad times and the good. Healing from these situations means balancing betrayal and gratitude, which can be incredibly difficult but is ultimately worthwhile. “Cultivating gratitude for the relationship does not negate the validity of the hurt, but rather, it’s a recognition of the relationship’s multifaceted impact on one’s life and growth,” Sprowl said.

Holding the feelings of pain and anger toward a relationship that ended in infidelity alongside feelings of gratitude is a sign that you have reached a new level of emotional strength in the aftermath. That is, a level of strength that allows you to understand two seemingly contradictory truths at the same time. As McCullough highlights, “We do ourselves a disservice when we erase the complexities of our experiences.” The experience of being cheated on is no different.

Final thoughts

It’s unlikely that when most of us experience infidelity, it will be paired with a media frenzy, reality television show recordings, and an episode of Call Her Daddy. But we can still learn from the approach that Brittany Snow has taken regarding her divorce from Tyler Stanaland. Being cheated on will come with rattled self-trust and trust in others, a prolonged grieving process, and a balancing act of anger and gratitude. All of these are exemplified in Snow’s experience.

This interview is a reminder to do what you need to do to grieve your relationship, from screaming into your pillow to leaning on your friends and then trying to take that next step forward. So blast your I-just-got-cheated-on playlist for as long as you need. On the other side, you’ll be able to look back on the experience with a recognition of both the pain and the good times.