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Why do people cheat?

Cheating is an increasingly common issue in relationships today. Infidelity can have serious repercussions, and it can often be a difficult topic to address. But why is cheating becoming more common? And why do people cheat in the first place?

What if there is no right answer?

Every couple is unique, and their circumstances are specific to their relationship. However, today we'll be looking at some of the most common reasons why people cheat.

Understanding a partner's potential motivations can help us to better deal with the emotional aftermath of betrayal, which can sometimes lead to separation and divorce.

I’m struggling with my self-esteem

People cheat for a variety of reasons, but in many cases these boil down to low self- confidence and a lack of self-esteem. Poor self-esteem could arise as a result of an individual's personal issues. However, this can also be exacerbated by a lack of reassurance from a partner.

Man in suit curled up on floor looking upset.

What begins as an attempt to seek external validation can often end with a person cheating on their partner. If a person with low self-esteem finds validation through another person - either sexually or emotionally - they may be tempted to cheat as a way of boosting their own confidence.

I don’t feel loved

Our idea of love differs from person to person. However, an individual is more likely to cheat if they feel neglect or if they have fallen out of love with their spouse or partner.

I’m bored in my relationship

If a relationship has become stagnant, mundane, or routine, a partner may be tempted to look for excitement and novelty elsewhere. This can often lead to an affair.

Whether it's the thrill of the chase, the escape from reality, the worry that their partner may find out, or the adrenaline rush of having a secret, boredom can lead a cheater to pursue a one-night stand or a full-blown affair.

There’s a lack of intimacy in my relationship

Intimacy is an essential part of a healthy relationship, both in terms of sex and emotion. If one partner is not receiving the level of intimacy they need to feel a connection, then they may seek attention from someone else to fulfil their sexual or emotional needs.

I don’t feel committed to my relationship

If a person feels that their romantic partner isn't taking their relationship seriously, they may decide to mirror their partner's lack of investment.

Many people who cheat do so because they don't feel they are in a committed relationship. They find the commitment they require with someone else and look to develop commitment with a new person instead.

Some people will cheat to try to prove a point. This leads us to Revenge Cheating.

I feel like revenge cheating is justifiable

One of the more vindictive reasons that a person might cheat. Perhaps their partner has cheated on them, or they suspect them of cheating. They may view the act of infidelity as a way of balancing out a bad situation and rectifying the balance.

If a person is hurt by their partner - even if the hurt does not involve infidelity - they may seek to inflict harm by cheating.

I feel lust and limerence for someone else

Some people cheat simply because they are driven by their strong desire for another person. Feelings of lust outside of marriage can often be heightened, as the desire is considered forbidden or taboo. In addition to the lust that many are familiar with (which often includes a strong sexual desire), there is also ‘Limerence’.

Limerence is an involuntary state of mind which arises when a person has a romantic attraction to another person, combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have their feelings reciprocated. This can often be emphasised when the unfaithful person feels (subconsciously or consciously) that something is missing in their primary relationship.

This behaviour can often be linked to the previous points related to boredom and lack of intimacy.

A lustful woman seducing an uncertain man

I have unresolved issues from the past

If someone has unresolved issues as a result of family trauma, a previous relationship, or a deep-rooted psychological issue, they may be more prone to cheat.

Seeking expert advice from a coach or therapist can often help these individuals to overcome their urges and change their unhealthy behaviour patterns. Unfortunately, this conversation often happens after the person has cheated, when it's already too late to reverse the damage.

Dealing with infidelity

No matter the reason, cheating is never acceptable, and it has a huge impact on the betrayed party. There's no question that it's wrong, and yet many people still succumb to the urge.

Want to know more? Listen to the After the Affair podcast Episode 21 - Why People Cheat as it expands upon the points outlined above and focuses on elements of our brain chemistry that can influence the decision to cheat. I talk about the conflict between our primitive and logical brain, discussing how understanding the roots of these desires can enable us to overcome them.

By Luke Shillings, Relationship & Infidelity Coach

If you're struggling with any of the issues we've touched on in today's article, let's have a chat. Book a free 30-minute call today and we’ll discuss how you can move forward after your partner has been unfaithful.

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