Whether it’s an emotional affair or a physical one, cheating can be devastating to a relationship. But why do people cheat on their partners even if they love them?
This question has been debated for centuries, and the answers could be complex and varied.
According to experts, here are reasons why people cheat on the people they love:
Alicia Hite, M.S., LMFT
Business Coach and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Springs Psychotherapy LLC
It’s not you, it’s me…
We often wonder why seemingly good people do bad things. This question especially applies to relationships.
Someone might feel like they genuinely love their partner (and they very well might) and feel like everything is going smoothly, and then all of a sudden, they are involved with someone else in a context that is not being 100% faithful to their partner.
They have unresolved issues
Typically though, it doesn’t just happen that quickly and for no reason. And often, it truly has nothing to do with the partner that’s being cheated on. Instead, it has everything to do with the partner doing the cheating, which is why love isn’t enough to keep people from making bad choices.
As a therapist, it’s my job to help clients in situations similar to this, figure out what exactly is going on beneath the surface that leads them to make these kinds of choices.
Often, couples may come in together for these types of issues, and then it becomes apparent that it’s not even the actual relationship that needs to be worked on; it’s whatever is going on internally for each person that the real work needs to focus on.
While everyone is different, what usually leads to people cheating on partners they love is unresolved issues that:
- People either have stuffed down and tried to not deal with
- People sometimes have no clue they are there until they are forced to face them after something like this occurs
What might some of those be?
Humans are social creatures, and from the time we are born, our survival in the world depends on our attachment to our primary caregivers.
It’s not just our physical needs that our caregivers help us with. Those early relationships form the blueprint for how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us.
If we have less nurturing experiences as a child with our primary caregivers, we tend to view ourselves, others, and the world around us as untrustworthy, unsafe, scary, etc., and this belief doesn’t just stay in our childhood.
Whether we realize it or not, this narrative follows us into adulthood.
So, if I believe that others aren’t safe or can’t be trusted, that’s going to play a part in my romantic relationships even when I have a partner that I love.
Then before I know it, I might be cheating on my partner because I’m assuming the relationship will end, so why not make it happen already. Or maybe I’m so afraid of actually being close and connected to someone I truly love, so instead, I’m going to cheat to prevent that connection from happening.
If we use a similar example to when we talked about attachment issues, let’s say I didn’t have the best experiences during childhood and feel like I can’t possibly love myself or find value in myself.
So then, I’m constantly seeking that out from other people, experiences, or whatever I can find that makes me feel like I’m good enough.
So then, after the honeymoon stage has worn off with my partner and we’re not telling each other every day how amazing we think the other one is or how infatuated we are, it’s almost like an addict who has been cut off from whatever gives them that fix.
We have to try then and go search for it elsewhere, and oftentimes that it is in new interactions with other people that can lead to cheating.
Unrealistic relationship expectations
We are surrounded by social media posts, tv shows, movies, books, etc., that inundate us with very romantic but also very unrealistic expectations of relationships.
Those sources typically aren’t pointing out that it is very typical to have a period of infatuation and lust at the beginning of the relationship. And it is very normal for that to fade over time.
That fading is not a bad thing, though. That is how we begin to move into other more stable and continuous phases of our relationship with our partner.
It’s also very normal in healthy relationships to have conflict, tough times, or just get on each other’s nerves.
If we don’t know that these things are normal, though, and we instead just want to go back to that first stage, we might start to stray as it can be easy to get to that place pretty quickly with a new person.
They are not living authentically
Living genuinely means knowing what your wants, needs, and values are and living in a way that honors those things.
If we have not learned how to identify those things for ourselves and live in a way that honors those, this can be pretty problematic for our relationships.
This might look like not feeling your wants and needs are being met in your relationship. Instead of being honest with yourself and your partner about that, you think it would be easier to keep the peace in your current relationship and instead get your wants and needs met with someone else.
Or maybe you know deep down that you don’t want to be with your partner anymore, but you struggle with people-pleasing, so instead, you stay in the relationship and also begin to start a relationship with someone else.
Another way that living inauthentically can show up is maybe monogamy is actually not a value of yours or a way that you feel is best for you to live.
Maybe this realization also really scares you or makes you feel ashamed, so instead, you stay in the relationship while also having other relationships.
Again, humans are complex, so this may not apply to everyone, but it is a good starting point when we’re trying to put answers to the question of why do people cheat on people they love?
It also points to the importance of having some sort of practice, whether that be therapy, coaching, or classes, that encourages:
- A sense of self-reflection
- Addressing any past issues that may have followed you into the present
This is truly the best way to ensure not just the success of your relationships but also that you are living a healthy, happy, and authentic life.
It’s a matter of perspective
That is an interesting question. But I’m not sure that it is an accurate question. As someone who has been cheated on by more than one person, I believe that it is a matter of perspective.
I believe that most people who cheat fall into the category of “I don’t love you,” so they aren’t really cheating from their perspective.
At least, that is what I was told every time as if they were all reading from the same script. Which was followed by, “don’t you love me unconditionally?” The person who is being cheated on is usually the person who is “in love,” not the person who is doing the cheating.
We might ask, “Why do we love people who would cheat on us?” But that would be a different article.
What does it even mean “to cheat“?
People will play semantic word games on twisting the act of cheating to be strictly physical, strictly sexual. And even then, they further limit cheating to specific sex acts. I didn’t cheat, “we only kissed.”
If cheating is only, and specifically, sexual intercourse —to completion— then I don’t want to play any sports with you as anything less than sex is allowed and, by your definition, not considered cheating.
Let’s begin by defining what it really means to cheat. Because if you ask ten different people what it means to cheat, you will likely get ten different answers.
You will discover that when people get overly specific or creative when it comes to defining “cheating” regarding relationships, they attempt to justify their own thoughts or desires. They themselves simply don’t want to be judged as cheaters.
To cheat is to defraud or swindle; to deceive or influence by fraud; to violate rules or regulations.
Cheating is an intentional deception, both active, outright lying, and passive, acts of omission to gain an advantage, influence, or elude the accepted conventions or expectations, whether formal or informal, of a relationship.
Cheating involves betrayal, and the loss of trust.
In other words, cheating isn’t the act itself; it isn’t the physical, emotional, or mental performance. It is the breaking of a contract, explicit or implicit, regardless of how it was done.
Of course, the cheater would have you focus on the specific act so that they can manipulate the situation, gaslight you into believing that what they did wasn’t really wrong—you just misunderstand the situation, you’re just overreacting.
Because if you focused on the fact that they disregarded the rules, betrayed you, and violated your trust, they would have to accept that what they did was malicious.
Who are the people that cheat?
If we better understand who the people cheat, we may better understand why those people cheat.
This is one of the places where there truly is equality between the sexes; as species, humans cheat. It isn’t something that only one group or the other is guilty of or prone to do.
From my own experience, it is entirely women who cheat, as I have only been cheated on by women. Of course, as I only date women, that stands to reason. However, I am not without knowledge of men who cheat, and so I know only too well that cheating isn’t limited to one group or the other.
As I pointed out, cheating isn’t specifically physical, sexual endeavor. Cheating is about not playing by the rules, “the rules don’t apply to me.”
This indeed points to the fact that cheating is a mindset, and our mindsets are a product of our socio-economic background. It is how a person views themselves and how they value or don’t value others.
There are only so many ways we can view ourselves and value others.
How we view ourselves
There are three ways to view ourselves:
- Low self-worth
- High self-worth
- Balanced self-worth
They think they’re not good enough or too much
Low self-worth is typically expressed as feelings of not being worthy or undeserving.
“I’m not good enough.” The measure of “good enough,” for what, and compared to whom, is constantly changing and shifting to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Oppositely, high self-worth is generally expressed as feelings of entitlement or arrogance. “No one deserves this more than me.” It is as if the entire world exists and revolves around that individual.
Low self-worth and high self-worth are the two extremes, leaving balanced self-worth as the moderation of both.
A balanced self-worth is elevated when warranted and reserved when necessary. These people understand that life is more of a give and take but all give or all take.
Although low self-worth and high self-worth are opposites extremes, they have something in common—they both are entirely self-centered. In either case, the focus is strictly and clearly on this one individual.
They value themselves and others wrongly
Likewise, there are three ways in which we can value others:
- Low value
- High value
- Balanced value
A low value would place others beneath us, while a high value would place others above us. Of course, a balanced value of others would adjust from low to high as required, based on the individual and the situation you find yourself in.
Again though, we are valuing others from our own perspective. That is, we are comparing them to us.
“Are they worth more or less than me?” Which would make the value of others a reflection of the value for yourself, which is still self-centered.
So why do people cheat?
It boosts their self-worth
You may believe that cheaters fall into the category of high self-worth and low value. You would be mistaken.
People with low self-esteem and people with high self-esteem tend to do the same things, just for different reasons. Both of these are decidedly self-centered perspectives.
For the low self-worth individuals, it is a sense of confirmation. One way of boosting one’s self-esteem, or measuring self-worth, is by allowing themselves to be pursued effectively, showing that they are desirable.
Alternately, being able to lure someone away from someone else is a way to prove to yourself and others that you are worthy of a relationship. You are so beguiling as to be able to lure someone away from another.
“If I can take this away from you, I must be really worthwhile. If I can get just one more person to like me, to pay attention to me, I’ll finally feel whole.”
It gives them a sense of entitlement
For the high self-worth individuals, it is a sense of entitlement. Their needs, wants, and desires are more important than others. They deserve to have as many adoring fans as possible.
And yet just like the low self-esteem individual, being able to lure someone away from someone else is a way to prove to yourself and others that you are better than your perceived opponent. Again, you are so beguiling as to be able to lure someone away from another.
“I can have as many as I want, and having all of them means that I win.”
There are only a handful of different reasons for cheating, and they all revolve around the cheater and not the cheated on. In the end, it isn’t a deep dark mystery as to why people cheat—it is one of self-worth.
But the story doesn’t end there, simply knowing why people cheat isn’t enough.
Who’s to blame for the cheating?
One woman told me that it was her husband’s fault that she cheated on him because he trusted her to meet with her ex-boyfriend.
The ones who cheated on me blamed me for not making them happy or not doing enough; the lists were long. Of course, they took no responsibility for their part in our relationships, and it was entirely me and me alone.
In other words, they were entirely self-centered. It was all about them:
- What they wanted
- What they felt they deserved
- How underappreciated they felt
Never considering me— what I wanted, how I felt, or how underappreciated I felt.
To be clear, cheating is not the answer to any question. It is not the solution to any problem. If anything, it raises more questions and creates even more problems.
Only a cheater would have you believe that it is your fault that they did what they did—a clear case of victim-blaming and shaming.
No one held a gun to their head and made them cheat; no one forced them into it; they did that all by themselves. They could have done things differently, such as simply ending the relationship before they were off to the next.
“‘Tis well to be merry and wise,
‘Tis well to be honest and true;
‘Tis well to be off with the old love,
Before you are on with the new.”
– Charles Maturin
Robin Graine, JD, CDFA
Court Certified Divorce Mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Graine Mediation
It’s because of boredom
Though this might sound like a lame excuse for something as shattering as cheating on your partner, this is often the simple reason—boredom.
Boredom is the emotion that underlies the cheater who says they slept with someone other than their partner because they:
- “Want to feel alive again.”
- “Need excitement in their life.”
- “Want to feel young.”
Sex is exhilarating. There is no doubt about it. But sex with a new person is rarely boring. Even the anticipation is exciting (and is often even better than the actual act). It is like a drug.
If you have no idea what went wrong and why your partner cheated, you might just be dealing with someone immature enough to ruin a loving marriage or relationship because things got a little dull, and the mundanity of life got the best of them.
Because love is not always what they are after— they want lust
Many people love their partners, but they don’t lust after them. People that have a strong desire for lusty, wild sex in their life usually don’t find that with their long-term partner.
They need to go outside of the marriage or partnership for that. Long-term relationships have many great benefits, but doing it the first time or the thrill of sneaking around is not on that list.
How can these partners engage in such dirty behavior while their partner sits home alone? They justify their cheating by telling themselves that the lusty sexual liaison didn’t mean anything.
It might be true. Perhaps those rendezvous might not mean anything to the cheater. But it always means a lot to the partner who finds out about that transgression and breaks their heart.
In these types of cases, the goal of the cheater is to keep it secret, and what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
They need a deeper emotional connection
Just because you love your partner does not mean that you have a deep emotional connection to that partner.
Sometimes you love your partner because you have a shared past, raised children together, and shared life. However, that does not mean that your current partner is anything close to a soulmate.
If a partnered person develops a deep emotional connection with a third party, that can be dangerous.
If there is any sexual energy between those two people, cheating is a very common result. Those two people did not start out looking for an affair, but that is the result.
If a person does not have a deep emotional connection with their partner, that relationship is at risk of being destroyed or heartbreakingly interrupted by an affair.
People need to feel emotionally connected, and for whatever reason, our emotions seem to be connected to our loins.
It can be a form of self-sabotage
Sometimes, physical discomfort is linked to traumatic experiences, which get in the way of a person’s present, peaceful, happy situation. This can include the feelings of being in love.
Childhood experiences of emotional, physical, and mental abuse and neglect play a role in how we are able to conceptualize what we deserve.
This interpretation of what we believe also translates to physical data; this means our bodies store information that helps us make decisions based on what we think we need to be safe.
Regarding cheating, there may be a physical repulsion when someone is in a good and healthy relationship in which they are in love.
At some point, if someone is a survivor of unresolved trauma, it makes sense that cheating may be a result of the body’s attempt to protect itself from the discomfort of being okay and of being loved.
The rejection of love is a way to protect itself from the physical discomfort of not understanding how to receive that type of affection. This is where you may hear things that people do, such as cheating, referred to as “self-sabotage.”
Trauma experiences can be powerful enough to convince us that we must remain unloved or stay in the chaos. Hence, no matter how unhealthy it is, we give in to the mere notion that “love is not deserved.”
They have unhealthy attachment styles
I have also treated several people who have varying ideas about relationships. This is where I think it is essential to discuss attachment styles.
Attachment styles are based on personal values. Attachment theory helps us understand how and why we show up in relationships based on what we learned from observing the people who raised us.
- Someone who is anxiously attached usually sacrifices their own needs for their partner for fear of being alone.
- The main one is that self-preservation takes precedence over love, sometimes.
- Another attachment style, fearful/avoidant, is shaped by someone’s continuous experience of being promised something, like going to a ball game with their father but being let down. This person wants to be in a relationship, however, finds ways to anticipate the letdown and perhaps cheats so that they have more control over how the relationship ends.
The latter example is obviously an unhealthy way to manage emotions if they are getting too close to someone, like being in love.
However, like many other things, if unhealthy patterns are not interrupted, the cycle continues and sometimes becomes even more intense.
They do not trust themselves to be able to advocate for their needs
Trust in self is crucial. I have discussed cheating with partners on both ends of a relationship. I find that the cheater sometimes does not trust themselves.
They do not trust themselves to be able to advocate for their needs, and therefore they step out of the relationship.
Instead of having discussions about perhaps wanting to open the relationship or discuss grievances, etc., the cheater decides to take matters into their own hands by finding something to control.
Cheating is partly about control, not necessarily of the other person.
Addressing this issue of handling trauma responses is one way to address cheating. Another option is to explore the possibility that participating in ethical non-monogamy is the route to satisfy their needs and protect/be fair to the other.
Jason A Polk, LCSW, LAC
Relationship Counselor, Coach, and Owner, Colorado Relationship Recovery
They forget their “no”
The most basic reason why someone would cheat is that it feels good. The attention and excitement feel nice and can be invigorating.
As a couples therapist, I often see couples in my office who love each other and are recovering from an affair.
What is evident in the affair’s aftermath is the pain that it has created. The hurt partner’s life has been turned upside down, and they grapple with the question, “How could you do this to me?”
Related: How to Deal with Emotional Pain
They may also obsess about the affair and seek answers that only lead to more anxiety and questions.
Thus, hurt partners can end up in an agonizing place. Their reality is unsettled, and the place they go to for support — the relationship — is now mired in distrust.
If you were to ask someone, would you wish such pain on the person you love, chances are they would say no. And such feelings don’t go away overnight. So, the involved partner now has the difficult job of building back trust, which takes accountability, empathy, and patience, to name a few.
People cheat on people they love because they forget their “No.” They forget the reasons why not to cheat.
Remembering the “no” is being aware of the potential consequences cheating can cause to maintain a limit on our behavior or override the reasons to cheat.
Such consequences could be:
- Causing pain to the person you love
- Undertaking the potentially challenging task of rebuilding trust
- Having to tell your kids you’ve been cheating on mom/dad
- Holding a big secret
- Potentially affecting your professional reputation
- Living in conflict with how you view yourself
- Not reneging on agreements to be faithful
I strongly feel that if people were truly aware of the potential damage an affair could cause to their loved ones, there would be less infidelity.
Lastly, if you’re not getting something you would like, go after that and see if you can negotiate for it in the relationship instead of going outside of it.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Co-founder, The Marriage Restoration Project
It starts with dissatisfaction
Why do people cheat? In your experience, is it excitement? Or is someone missing something in a relationship? What do you see most commonly?
While part of the draw to cheat can be the thrill of romance, it usually starts with dissatisfaction in the relationship.
When the relationship does not feel safe, people check out and get their emotional needs met elsewhere instead of learning how to resolve the problem. It is much more about the emotional need than anything sexual.
Why do people cheat instead of leaving relationships? People will often say, “if you wanted someone else, you should have broken up with me,” but that doesn’t always happen.
They want their needs met
Why do people cheat and stay?
Sometimes people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the comfort of their lifestyle with the emotional attachment of the affair partner. They are not looking to overhaul their life, just to get their needs met. This will explain why people cheat instead of just leaving.
Can a relationship come back from cheating? If so, what are some steps you’d suggest taking?
Relationships can come back from cheating and even be stronger than ever.
The cheater must:
- Be contrite
- Ask for forgiveness
- Resolve not to do it again
- Commit to being transparent
- Show change
Ideally, the couple needs to address the disconnect in their marriage that made it fertile ground for the affair. This is the best way to ensure it does not reoccur. It will take time, but if both parties are committed to staying together, they can heal and have a great marriage.
Related: How to Fix a Broken Relationship
Is cheating inevitable? What can couples do to avoid it?
It is not inevitable. Couples can avoid cheating by:
- Being committed to each other
- Learning how to communicate
- Working through differences
- Stretching to meet each other’s needs
If the relationship is healthy, it is unlikely that cheating will occur unless a predator preys on your spouse.
Dr. Brenda Wade
Clinical Psychologist | Relationship Advisor, Online for Love
When happily ever after isn’t always happy — or at least fulfilling
Oftentimes people do not cheat because they do not want to hurt their partner or end their marriage. The majority of people who cheat have no interest whatsoever in leaving their marriage.
They cheat because they are missing something from their relationship that they are able to find with someone else.
Lack of sexual satisfaction
The number one reason men cheat is due to a lack of sexual satisfaction. They find the marriage is filled with passionate lovemaking in the beginning, but as time goes by, they feel their partner starts to treat sex more like a chore.
When a partner declines sex, it makes men feel insecure, translating to feeling unloved. This lack of attention fades their love over time, and they start to look elsewhere to find love and attention.
They feel lonely and their needs are not met
Women usually cheat because they feel lonely and are not getting their needs met in their relationship. They crave intimacy and want a stronger emotional connection.
Women also like to feel special, sexy, and adored, so if someone is suddenly spending extra time with them and making them feel those things they are not feeling at home, they tend to engage.
Women are also more prone to engage in situation cheating whereby they have had too much to drink, or they act impulsively and regret it later.
Women have reported that they love their partner (here’s that emotional connection again), but they are no longer “in love” with their partner.
Life at home has become boring, and they have fallen into a pattern of not being present in their relationship or have stopped incorporating “playtime” into their marriage. When this happens, they may look outside the marriage to try and bring a spark back into their life.
Can your relationship recover from cheating?
At least 20-40% of marriages end due to cheating. Sometimes couples recover, but you have to put effort into saving your marriage.
Someone’s background and the level of nurturing they received as children also play a role.
Cheating doesn’t come from nowhere. There are fault lines that can be there subconsciously and show up later or earlier, depending on how severe they are.
Things like this can be discovered (earlier), and with qualified intensive training, relationships can be transcended.
Behavioral Change Expert | Chief Neural Empowerment Officer, Pathwaves
They lack self-love
Everything we say or do boils down to the mechanics of what makes us tick, our nervous systems. The mechanics of why people cheat on people they love most likely comes from an imbalance in the “occipital lobe” of the human brain.
Tens of thousands of EEG mappings integrated with psychosocial histories have shown that the occipital lobe imbalances indicate incomplete self-love.
In order to love someone, a person must first love themselves.
Related: Why Is Self Love Important?
The occipital lobe begins forming its original neural pathways regarding sense of self in the last trimester of the pregnancy. It is basically solidified by the time we are eight years old. At that point, our core sense of self is firmly established.
The parietal lobes are solidified by the time we are 25. Relationships during these two time periods provide the core framework for all of our future relationships (unless we figure out what is going on and make changes).
Typically our family relationships are the primary guide for this, closely followed by our experiences and relationships at school, with friends, in sports, and at work.
Related: Why Is Family Important?
These imbalances, which manifest as a lack of self-love, cause many people to try to correct this internal discord with outside relationships.
Many of the corrective behaviors are unconscious drives for different forms of validation, which often lead people to chat, flirt, or date multiple people.
This lack of self-love can also cause doubt about the validity of love from someone else, which can cause a person to cheat just to prove to themselves that they might be worthy of love.
Or they may want to sabotage their relationship because they cannot believe that they are worthy of the love the relationship brings. Regardless of the manifestation lack of self-love causes, it boils down to the lack of self-love.
Positive Intelligence Coach and Mindfulness Teacher
Underneath cheating is fear
Before I healed my childhood trauma, I was a serial cheater. I cheated on every boyfriend, partner, and fiance I had from the age of 15 onward. At the age of 35, I fully healed myself and realized— it wasn’t about them at all; it was about me.
I loved some of them dearly and was angry at myself for hurting them and sabotaging the relationship.
When I truly understood why I cheated, it made sense:
- I was scared they would abandon me, so I hurt them before they could hurt me.
- I was also terrified of getting too close to anyone, which led to sabotaging the relationship.
Cheating is a trauma response
Another piece of this was the domestic violence I experienced in my early 20’s, which made me scared of men. If I was out at a bar and a good-looking man flirted with me, it was almost as if I couldn’t summon the power to say “no.”
So, I would go home with him and regret it, even as I was doing it. I felt as if I didn’t own my body and didn’t have a right to protect it.
However, after I fully healed from all of this, I would never dream of cheating on anyone, and I never have. I fully love and trust myself and would never put myself or someone else through that pain again.
I’ve found this to be true when it comes to cheating: no matter how much you love someone, if you are battling demons within and can’t love and trust yourself, it’ll be extremely hard to love and trust anyone else.
Dr. Sandra El Hajj
Medical Writer, MyMSTeam
They feel the need to change to be accepted by their partner
Cheating should never be an option, but it happens very often.
When in a relationship, both partners in a couple need to be in sync and content.
Many reasons can push an individual to engage in a side relationship with someone other than their partner. It all begins the moment a person senses the necessity to change themselves to be accepted by their partner, who makes them feel that they are not accepted the way they are.
That’s when cheating becomes a big possibility.
They feel the need to alter their values, preferences, appearance, thoughts, and identity to please their partner because they are not enough.
They feel rejected, inferior, and highly susceptible, and nobody likes this feeling. That’s when they reach a bottom low and start seeking acceptance from another partner who would let them feel free to be whoever they want.
In this new side-fling:
- They can express themselves freely without being oppressed
- They feel free about their choices
- They behave the way they want
- They can be who they truly are with no compromises and no losses
Sometimes, cheating feels like the only way to save a relationship or a family from falling apart. The cheating partner would seek personal satisfaction from the outsider then come back home to a relationship.
Author, “F*ck You, Watch This“
I find the answers below to be acceptable. It all truly depends on the relationship and the unique situation of the people involved.
They don’t genuinely love their partner
If you truly love someone, you don’t cheat on them.
They are selfish
More often than not, it’s a narcissistic or sociopathic trait that the person feels entitled to sleep with anyone they want, even if they are in an “exclusive” relationship.
This type of love is not a “deep love” it is “superficial love.” The love only interests the cheater as a “show” to the public.
I was married to a narcissistic sociopath who wanted to sling his meat all over the place. Our intimate life suffered because of it. I did not know he was cheating, but I always had suspected it. I only found out after I left him that he actually did cheat—a lot! Ha.
They are caught up in a moment
We are only human, right? Maybe alcohol is involved, and inhibitions are lowered. They could be great, honest people who just make a mistake.
Their love in their relationship, as deep or meaningful as it is, maybe overpowered by a weak moment.
I was cheated on once by a man who did everything he could to keep it a secret because he knew I would leave him. He was so sorry; I genuinely believe, looking back, he never would have done it again. We were also very young.
I was a serial cheater, and I cheated for several reasons.
Because they are co-dependent
I cheated because I was co-dependent. I needed a woman in my life, and because I did not believe in my own worth nor believe I was good enough to get the woman of my dreams, I settled.
Then I would get mad, settle, and start looking for something better to fill the holes that were left void in my current relationship because I had compromised.
Related: How to Break Codependency Habits
They’re damaged and confused
I also chose people who would accept me because I was damaged from sexual and physical abuse.
I also cheated because I did not know my sexual identity. I did not know if I was bisexual, kinky, or what, so I cheated with men while trying to figure out if I was really into guys or was revisiting my own rape experiences.
I had real demons, and the women I cheated on did nothing to deserve it.
My cheating had nothing to do with them other than seeing something good in me and believing they could fix me. My cheating had everything to do with me and my own issues.
I loved the women I cheated on the best I could, but it was nowhere near a healthy love.
I am in an awesome marriage now. We are brutally honest with each other about everything, hence writing a book about all of this (and more) together.
I cannot imagine cheating on her now unless we decided together that we wanted other partners. I do not see that happening, but if the issue ever came up (and it has), we would at least speak about it first, as crazy as that may sound.
I have learned that honesty goes a long way in a relationship.
Dr. Steve Hruby
Executive Director and Doctor of Chiropractic, Kaizen Progressive Health
Lack of communication
Communication is key in any relationship, and when it’s lacking, problems tend to arise. If one or both partners aren’t communicating their needs, it can lead to all sorts of problems, including cheating.
Partners need to communicate openly and honestly with each other to make sure both of their needs are being met.
Lack of trust
Trust is another crucial aspect of any relationship, and when it’s lacking, it can lead to cheating.
If someone doesn’t trust their partner, they may be more likely to look for love and intimacy elsewhere. This can be due to a past betrayal or simply a lack of trust in general.
Trust begets trust, so it can be hard to build if there’s a lack of it, to begin with.
They’re bored with their relationship
Sometimes people cheat because they’re simply bored with their relationship.
If someone feels like they’re in a rut and their relationship has become too routine, they may start to look for excitement elsewhere. This is often the case with people who have been in a relationship for a long time.
Infidelity is one of the most common reasons people cheat on their partners. If someone has been unfaithful in the past, they may be more likely to do it again.
Infidelity can also be a sign of other underlying issues, such as a lack of trust or communication.
It is a belief. We all believe it can happen — who hasn’t watched a soap opera or a nighttime drama or a movie where this happens?
It begins with a judgment
I had an employee who kept telling me he couldn’t go out of town for training as his wife was jealous and believed he would fool around with her if he went out of town.
I said, “I know you, and you wouldn’t do that to your wife and family. Up to you.”
He took a couple of training sessions — she kept it up throughout — he did not fool around on her, but she kept getting harsher as she did not want him to go.
He went out of town on a training session, and this time, he fooled around with her, and he didn’t care. He fell in love with this woman and left his wife.
I asked him why and he told me, “Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I might as well be happy. She kept looking for it, so I gave it to her.”
If you are not loving, then you lose the love you had. It’s a principle of mind.
You get what you give — she imagined and believed he would as her father had done that to her mother, making it happen even though neither one really wanted it to happen.
One of the other has made a judgment about the other, and in the end, it plays out if they don’t change how they think.
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS
Medical Reviewer, Addiction Resource
Cheating is never random. There is always an underlying cause that fuels it.
People cheat to self-soothe
When a person is under stress, they look at things or activities that they can do to regulate their emotions or “self-soothe.”
There are many self-soothing behaviors that a person can do. Some may turn to substances and alcohol. Some to peers, while others into cheating.
Many people that we see for substance abuse would sometimes report problems staying faithful. Some studies found a link between the two.
People cheat to feel powerful and in control
There may be situations in the person’s life where they feel vulnerable and weak. They may feel so in their own marriages, looking for other ways to feel dominant and in control.
They seek other means to meet their needs
Many people in relationships and marriages are emotionally or sexually dissatisfied. In relationships with no healthy communication, people may simply seek other means to meet those needs instead of talking it out with their partners.
They do it for the thrill and bragging rights
Some people are motivated to cheat because it makes them look cool and accepted by their peers. Sometimes, it’s the thrill that comes with hiding an illicit relationship that fuels cheating.
Physical Therapist and Animal Adoption Advocate, Every Creature Counts
Lack of emotional satisfaction
One of the most common reasons people cheat on their partners is that they’re not getting enough emotional satisfaction from the relationship.
If someone feels unfulfilled in their relationship, they may look for that emotional connection elsewhere.
Their needs are not met
Another reason people might cheat is that their needs are not being met. Everyone has certain needs, such as feeling appreciated, desired, and supported.
It’s not just about intimacy either. Someone may need more adventure, excitement, or freedom than their partner can provide. If someone isn’t getting those needs met at home, it may lead to cheating.
Lack of intimacy
Intimacy plays a significant role in relationships. If someone feels like they’re not getting enough affection from their partner, they may start seeking it out elsewhere. This can be physical or emotional intimacy or a combination of both.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there ever a good reason to cheat on a partner?
No. Infidelity is a betrayal of trust and can cause significant damage to the person being cheated on and the entire relationship.
Even if a relationship has underlying issues or challenges that can contribute to infidelity, cheating is never an appropriate or healthy solution.
It’s important to recognize that there are always alternative ways to address issues in a relationship, such as seeking counseling or therapy, communicating openly and honestly with your partner, and working together to find a solution that honors the commitment and trust in the relationship.
Cheating is a destructive and harmful behavior that should be avoided at all costs to protect the integrity and well-being of the individuals involved and the relationship as a whole.
Can cheating be a form of revenge?
Cheating is never an appropriate or healthy form of revenge in a relationship. Although it may feel satisfying at the moment to “get even” with a partner who has hurt or betrayed you, infidelity ultimately leads to further damage in the relationship.
If you’re feeling hurt or angry in a relationship, it’s important to be open and honest with your partner about your feelings rather than resorting to cheating or other forms of destructive behavior. Counseling or therapy can also help address and work through difficult feelings and conflicts in the relationship.
Is it possible to rebuild trust after infidelity?
Rebuilding trust after infidelity is a difficult and lengthy process that requires both partners to commit to healing and growing the relationship.
This includes being honest and transparent with each other, setting clear boundaries and expectations, and actively working to resolve underlying issues in the relationship.
It’s important to recognize that rebuilding trust takes time and patience. This may require seeking counseling or therapy to work through difficult emotions and past hurts and making an effort to show reliability and consistency in words and actions.
Whether trust can be restored after infidelity ultimately depends on the specific circumstances and the willingness of both partners to put in the hard work and commitment required for healing and growth.
While not easy, restoring trust and intimacy in a relationship is possible after infidelity.
Can cheating ever be forgiven?
Forgiving someone who has cheated on you can be a difficult and complicated process. It’s essential to take the time to process your feelings and evaluate whether or not you feel comfortable continuing the relationship.
Although forgiveness is possible, it’s important to note that it doesn’t mean that you forget or condone the behavior. Forgiveness is a personal decision you should make based on your feelings and needs, not on pressure from others or societal expectations.
If you decide to forgive someone who has cheated on you, it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations for the future.
This may include seeking couples counseling or individual therapy to address underlying issues in the relationship. The decision to forgive and move on should be made with your own emotional well-being and self-respect in mind.
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