Why do people cheat?
While there shouldn’t be any EXCUSES for why people cheat, there are certainly REASONS for why they do!
As a therapist who works with many couples experiencing infidelity I believe emotional cravings and lack of emotional connection to be the most common reason and a leading cause of affairs. As one disconnects emotionally from their partner, they start making a connection with someone else. The disconnection might be a result of feeling unappreciated, lonely, angry, and not well-understood by their partner. Emotional affairs are most commonly justified as “looking for a friend”, or “looking for someone to talk to”. Emotional affairs are very common and often difficult to recover from due to the level of intimacy, ties, secrets, and conversations one has shared with their lover.
Sexual dissatisfaction and disconnection is another reason. Sex may not be as often as one wishes, it may not be as exciting and pleasing as one likes it to be, or climax is not being reached. Individuals who cheat due to the “dullness” of their current sex life tend to compare their present-day sex to their just-starting-out sex, when it was exciting and as some call it the “honeymoon” phase. Because they miss the high of sex with their partner, they look for it elsewhere. Seeking sex outside of the relationship is a “quick fix” and makes one feel powerful, intoxicated, and satisfied. Different sex fantasies and scenarios that one desires can also lead to infidelity; one may not feel open and accepted enough to speak about the “dirty” and playful ideas that they have because of their fear of being judged, mocked, or turned down.
One might be in a happy relationship but still cheat. The environment puts individuals at risk for infidelity. Some situations are more tempting than others; spending time in settings with many attractive people can make cheating more likely to happen. Also the nature of a person’s employment is related to infidelity, individuals whose work involves touching other people, having personal discussions, or a great deal of one-on-one time are more likely to have an affair.
Dissimilarities and lack of understanding of them such as personality, education level, and finances can lead to infidelity. Research has found those who have less conscientious and less agreeable personalities are more likely than people high on these traits to commit infidelity. Very religious people and those with a conservative political orientation are less likely than others to commit infidelity because they have more rigid values.
** Please check out my previous article called “An affair not to remember” to read about ways to recover from infidelity.
Omarzu, J., Miller, A. N., Schultz, C., & Timmerman, A. (2012). Motivations and emotional consequences related to engaging in extramarital relationships. International Journal Of Sexual Health, 24(2), 154-162. doi:10.1080/19317611.2012.662207
Tulane, S., Skogrand, L., & DeFrain, J. (2011). Couples in great marriages who considered divorcing. Marriage & Family Review, 47(5), 289-310. doi:10.1080/01494929.2011.594215
Tannaz Moein M.S, LPC-I
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