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 isnotbeing 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 loveisn’tenough 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 onbeneaththe surface that leads them to make these kinds of choices.
Often, couples may come in together for these types of issues, and then it becomesapparentthat it’s not even the actual relationship that needs to be worked on; it’s whatever is going oninternallyfor 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 ourattachmentto 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 haveless 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, thisnarrativefollows us into adulthood.
So, if I believe that others aren’t safe or can’t be trusted, that’s going toplaya 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 topreventthat 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’mgood 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 beencut offfrom whatever gives them that fix.
We have to try then and go search for it elsewhere, and oftentimes thatit 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 typicallyaren’tpointing 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 tofadeover time.
Related: How Social Media Affects Relationships
That fading is not a bad thing, though. That is how webeginto move into other more stable and continuous phases of our relationship with our partner.
It’s also very normal inhealthy relationshipsto 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 thatfirst stage, we might start tostrayas it can be easy to get to that place pretty quickly with anew person.
They are not living authentically
Living genuinely meansknowingwhat your wants, needs, and values are andlivingin a way that honors those things.
Related: What Are Core Values and How Do They Control My Life?
If we havenotlearned how to identify those things for ourselves and live in a way that honors those, this can be prettyproblematicfor 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 withpeople-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 maybemonogamy is actually not a value of yoursor a way that you feel is best for you to live.
Maybe this realization also reallyscaresyou or makes you feelashamed, so instead, you stay in the relationship while also having other relationships.
Again, humans arecomplex, 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 ofself-reflection
- Addressing any past issuesthat 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 ofperspective.
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 ontwistingthe 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, cheatingisn’tthe act itself; itisn’tthe physical, emotional, or mental performance. It is thebreakingof a contract, explicit or implicit, regardless of how it was done.
Related: Warning Signs Your Partner Could Be Cheating
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 theydisregardedthe rules, betrayed you, and violated your trust, they would have to accept that what they did wasmalicious.
Who are the people that cheat?
If we better understand who the people cheat, we may better understandwhythose 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 amnotwithout knowledge of men who cheat, and so I know only too well that cheatingisn’tlimited to one group or the other.
As I pointed out, cheating isn’t specifically physical, sexual endeavor. Cheating is aboutnotplaying by the rules,“the rules don’t apply to me.”
This indeed points to the fact that cheating is amindset, and our mindsets are aproductof 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-worthis typically expressed as feelings ofnotbeing worthy orundeserving.
“I’m not good enough.”The measure of“good enough,”for what, and compared to whom, is constantly changing and shifting to make it aself-fulfillingprophecy.
Oppositely,high self-worthis generally expressed as feelings of entitlement or arrogance.“No one deserves this more than me.”It is as if the entire worldexistsandrevolvesaround that individual.
Low self-worth and high self-worth are the twoextremes, leaving balanced self-worth as the moderation of both.
Abalanced self-worthis elevated when warranted and reserved when necessary. These people understand that life is more of agive and takebutall 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
Alow valuewould place othersbeneathus, while ahigh valuewould place others above us. Of course, abalanced valueof others wouldadjustfrom 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 areflectionof the value for yourself, which isstill 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 decidedlyself-centeredperspectives.
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 aredesirable.
Alternately, being able toluresomeone away from someone else is a way to prove to yourself and others that you are worthy of a relationship. You are sobeguilingas to be able to lure someone away from another.
“If I can take this away from you, I must be reallyworthwhile. 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 asmanyadoring 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 arebetterthan 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 ahandfulof different reasons for cheating, and they all revolve around the cheater andnotthe 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 toblamefor 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 tooknoresponsibility 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 isnotthe solution to any problem. If anything, itraisesmore 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 ofvictim-blamingandshaming.
No oneheld 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 thingsdifferently, such as simplyendingthe 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 isoftenthe 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 israrelyboring. 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 someoneimmatureenough to ruin a loving marriage or relationship because things got a littledull, and themundanityof life got the best of them.
Because love is not always what they are after— they want lust
Many people love their partners, but theydon’tlust after them. People that have astrongdesire for lusty, wild sex in their life usually don’t find that with their long-term partner.
They need to gooutsideof the marriage or partnership for that. Long-term relationships have many great benefits, but doing it thefirst timeor thethrillof sneaking around isnoton 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 liaisondidn’tmean anything.
It might be true. Perhaps those rendezvous mightnotmean 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, andwhat 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 adeepemotional connection with a third party, that can bedangerous.
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 doesnothave a deep emotional connection with their partner, that relationship isat riskof 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 totraumatic 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 mentalabuseandneglectplay a role in how we are able to conceptualize what we deserve.
This interpretation of what webelievealso 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 aphysical repulsionwhen 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’sattemptto 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 ofnotunderstanding 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 bepowerfulenough to convince us that we must remainunlovedor stay in thechaos. 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 havevaryingideas about relationships. This is where I think it is essential to discussattachment 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 isanxiously attachedusually sacrifices their own needs for their partner for fear of being alone.
- The main one is thatself-preservationtakes 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 toanticipatethe letdown and perhaps cheats so that they havemore controlover how the relationship ends.
The latter example is obviously anunhealthyway to manage emotions if they are getting too close to someone, like being in love.
However, like many other things, if unhealthy patterns arenotinterrupted, the cycle continues and sometimes becomes even moreintense.
They do not trust themselves to be able to advocate for their needs
Trust in self iscrucial. 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 toopenthe relationship or discuss grievances, etc.,the cheater decides to take matters into their own handsby 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 toexplorethe 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 itfeels 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 thepainthat it has created. The hurt partner’s life has been turnedupside 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 moreanxietyandquestions.
Thus, hurt partners can end up in anagonizingplace. 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 ofbuilding 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 belessinfidelity.
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 thethrill of romance, it usually starts withdissatisfactionin the relationship.
When the relationship doesnotfeel 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 thecomfortof their lifestyle with the emotional attachment of the affair partner. They are not looking tooverhaultheir life, just to get their needs met. This will explain why people cheat instead of just leaving.
Can a relationshipcome backfrom 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 toaddress the disconnectin their marriage that made it fertile ground for the affair. This is the best way toensureit does not reoccur.It will take time, but if both parties arecommittedto 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 isnotinevitable.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 haveno interestwhatsoever in leaving their marriage.
They cheat because they aremissingsomething 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 feelingunloved.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. Theycrave intimacyand want astrongeremotional 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 moreproneto engage insituation cheatingwhereby they have hadtoo muchto drink, or they actimpulsivelyand 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 theyhave fallen into a pattern of not being presentin their relationship or havestoppedincorporating“playtime”into their marriage. When this happens, they may lookoutsidethe 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 puteffortinto saving your marriage.
Someone’sbackgroundand thelevel of nurturingthey received as children also play a role.
Cheating doesn’t come from nowhere.There arefault linesthat can be theresubconsciouslyand 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 animbalancein the“occipital lobe”of the human brain.
Tens of thousands of EEG mappings integrated with psychosocial histories have shown that the occipital lobe imbalances indicateincomplete 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 regardingsense of selfin 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 isfirmlyestablished.
The parietal lobes are solidified by the time we are 25. Relationships during these two time periods provide thecore frameworkfor all of our future relationships (unless we figure out what is going on and make changes).
Typically ourfamilyrelationships 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 totryto correct this internal discord with outside relationships.
Many of the corrective behaviors areunconsciousdrives 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 thevalidityof 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 theycannotbelieve 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 themdearlyand 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 thedomestic violenceI 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 Ididn’t ownmy 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 wouldneverput 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 battlingdemonswithin and can’t love and trust yourself, it’ll beextremely hardto 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 bein syncandcontent.
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 abigpossibility.
They feel the need to alter their values, preferences, appearance, thoughts, and identity to please their partner because they arenotenough.
They feel rejected, inferior, and highly susceptible, andnobodylikes this feeling. That’s when they reach abottom lowand 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 themselvesfreelywithout being oppressed
- They feel free about their choices
- They behave the way they want
- They can be who theytrulyare with no compromises and no losses
Sometimes, cheating feels like theonlyway to save a relationship or a family from falling apart. The cheating partner would seekpersonal satisfactionfrom 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 feelsentitledto sleep with anyone they want, even if they are in an“exclusive”relationship.
Related: Narcissist Versus Sociopath Versus Psychopath: What’s the Difference?
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 anarcissistic sociopathwho 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, maybeoverpoweredby a weak moment.
I was cheated on once by a man who dideverythinghe 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 wasdamagedfrom sexual and physical abuse.
I also cheated because I didnotknow 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 hadreal 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 leastspeakabout it first, as crazy as that may sound.
I have learned thathonestygoes a long way in a relationship.
Dr. Steve Hruby
Executive Director and Doctor of Chiropractic, Kaizen Progressive Health
Lack of communication
Communication iskeyin 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 communicateopenlyandhonestlywith 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 apast betrayalor simply alack of trustin 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 arutand their relationship has becometoo routine, they may start to look for excitement elsewhere. This is often the case with people who have been in a relationship for alongtime.
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.
Related: Why Do We Get Jealous in Relationships?
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 — shekept it upthroughout — he did not fool around on her, but she kept gettingharsheras 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 hedidn’tcare. 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 aprinciple 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 isneverrandom. 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 toregulatetheir 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 problemsstayingfaithful. 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 feelvulnerableandweak. 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 withnohealthy communication, people may simply seekother meansto 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 lookcoolandacceptedby their peers. Sometimes, it’s thethrillthat comes with hiding anillicitrelationship 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 feelsunfulfilledin their relationship, they may look for that emotional connectionelsewhere.
Their needs are not met
Another reason people might cheat is that their needs arenotbeing 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 asignificant rolein 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.
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Inherent Selfishness/Entitlement. Some cheaters, despite loving their partner and enjoying their relationship, feel they deserve more. Rather than seeing their vow of fidelity as a sacrifice made to and for their relationship, they view it as something to be worked around.Why did I cheat on the person I love the most? ›
A constant feeling of not being enough, whether enough for your partner or in life, is a common reason people cheat. No matter what you do or have, it feels never enough, and you constantly strive to find more. Maybe you feel you need another relationship to fill the void or make you feel whole.Do people cheat on people they truly love? ›
Infidelity does not mean that the love is gone or never existed. The reality is that you can love someone and still cheat on them. In fact, many affairs happen in relationships that are otherwise very happy.Which age cheats the most? ›
The survey says that infidelity among men peaked at the age of 50 to 59 (31%). The number decreases as the men age during this period. For women, the highest infidelity rate is from ages 40 to 49 (18%), which declines as they age.What does cheating say about a person? ›
The most important thing to remember is what cheating says about a person. They're insecure, impulsive, selfish, and immature. Sometimes, it's a chronic problem that likely won't ever be fixed, just be sure not to ignore the warning signs.What does psychology say about cheating? ›
"Researchers find that partnerships characterized by dissatisfaction, unfulfilling sex, and high conflict are at higher risk for infidelity," she says. "Also, the more dissimilar partners are—in terms of personality, education level, and other factors—the more likely they are to experience infidelity."Do more attractive people cheat? ›
Less attractive women were more likely to cheat themselves - and also to be cheated on by their husbands. However, the man's attractiveness didn't seem to make a difference to the likelihood of infidelity. Finally, sexual history also played a role.What cheating does to a man? ›
Infidelity can have lasting impacts on partners and children the couple may have. Grief, brain changes, behaviors down the road, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, chronic stress, and depression can result. Some families have been able to move past infidelity with time and therapy.How does a cheater feel? ›
Despite the initial thrill of an affair, cheating can negatively affect the cheater emotionally. It's common for them to feel anxiety, guilt, shame, worry, regret, confusion, embarrassment, and self-loathing when they contemplate how their actions impact those they love and why they cheated in the first place.Can someone still love you after they cheat? ›
Experts say it's possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they're willing to put in the work. “The couple can survive and grow after an affair,” says Coleman. “They have to—otherwise the relationship will never be gratifying.”
In practice, it tends to be uncommon for a relationship to survive instances of cheating. One study found that only about 16 percent of couples who'd experienced unfaithfulness were able to work it out.Can true love survive cheating? ›
Many professionals have seen marriages not only survive infidelity but become better than before. It is true that a marriage can survive an extra-marital affair. But, this will only happen if both partners are willing to acquire and use the skills necessary to make their marriage successful.At what age do most affairs start? ›
04/6Second most common age group
The survey also found out that many people first cheated in the age group of 19 to 29. That is the stage when they are still exploring relationships and their disappointment.
Research in the field of infidelity reveals that there are three distinct personality types correlated with a higher likelihood of cheating: sociopaths, narcissists, and lonely hearts.How common does cheating happen? ›
How common is cheating in relationships?
|men who say they cheat||23%|
|women who say they cheat||12%|
|married people who say they cheat||12%|
Know That You Aren't a Bad Person
"Cheating is a very serious thing. It's a very big deal, and you should take the time to really sift through all of those feelings and reactions you're having," said Gloria. "At the same time, you also need to recognize that this doesn't make you a categorically terrible person.
Another reason why someone might cheat is because they are insecure. "Usually, in this scenario, the partner that wants to cheat is seeking out confirmation of their desirability," Winter told INSIDER. "And they use the reinforcement of a new person to bolster their own self-confidence."
Between one in four to five Americans have an affair in their lifetime. Among men, 68% feel guilty after having an affair. Even if they haven't confessed the affair, most cheating husbands will feel guilty and express that guilt in their behavior.What are the big 5 personality of cheaters? ›
Results of a 2005 study show that there is a significant difference between cheaters and non-cheaters when it comes to the Big Five model of personality traits. Poor self control, selfishness, anger, boredom, and attention-seeking are the most common reasons a person is unfaithful in their relationship.What are 4 consequences of cheating? ›
- being sent to the principal or detention (in K-12 schools)
- a written reprimand on your record (in college)
- a failing grade or zero on the assignment or test.
- a failing grade in the entire course.
- loss of privileges like participation in school sports, and.
1. How are most affairs discovered? The phone! While there are text message codes that cheating spouses use to avoid getting caught, there is no denying that mobile phones are a danger zone for adulterers.Do people who flirt cheat? ›
Flirting does not always lead to cheating. Flirting is a natural response to feeling attraction, but the outcome is within your control.Are outgoing people more likely to cheat? ›
Highly extroverted people are also more likely to cheat on their partners; not only that, but partners of extroverts are also more likely to cheat. What goes around may, indeed, come around.What are 3 signs your man is cheating? ›
Although infidelity in a relationship is often subjective, there are common signs that point to cheating behaviors in a boyfriend. These may include a change in mood, increased distraction, less importance placed on the relationship, or more time spent on devices, among others.How does being cheated on change you? ›
Being cheated on can not only affect your self-esteem and self-worth; it can also affect the way you treat those around you. Built up anger, bitterness, or hurt can show itself in how you act around the people you encounter.Does a man cheat when he is in love? ›
Becoming aware of your husband's infidelity is a painful experience, but it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your relationship. A man can cheat and still wholeheartedly love his wife. Infidelity can happen even in happy marriages, and it's important to understand that it's not your fault.Do cheaters get jealous? ›
There were no effects of one's own infidelity and that of one's partner on reactive and anxious jealousy, but those who had been unfaithful, as well as those whose partner had been unfaithful, expressed the highest levels of possessive jealousy.How do cheaters act when they get caught? ›
Cheaters often react to an accusation of cheating with denial, showing no guilt signs. This can be a simple 'no' or more of a statement of unwillingness to accept the accusation. Whatever the form, denial is likely to be one of the first responses to allegations of cheating.How do you hurt a cheater's feelings? ›
- Make him jealous with someone else.
- Act like you don't care when you find out.
- Give him the cold shoulder.
- Let him know that he hurt you.
- Leave him for good.
- Give him his stuff back in a box.
- Tell everyone what happened.
- Update your look.
How Many Couples Stay Together After an Affair? In one study, researchers found that with instances of secret infidelity, only about 20% of couples were still married after 5 years. However, for couples who revealed infidelity, that percentage jumped to 57%.
- Find Out Why You're Overthinking. Thinking seriously about why you're overthinking is important. ...
- Lean On Social Support. ...
- Work on Trust Issues. ...
- Practice Mindfulness. ...
- Try a New Environment. ...
- Acceptance. ...
- Work on Yourself. ...
- Positive Self-Talk.
- Remember: you are not to blame. ...
- Accept that things are going to suck for a while. ...
- Put yourself first. ...
- Try to keep your cool. ...
- Don't make decisions out of fear. ...
- Surround yourself with your squad. ...
- Take a mini-break from socials. ...
- Ask for (professional) help if you need it.
The workplace. The workplace is where most affairs begin. It doesn't hurt that we usually dress nicely and are on “good behavior” at work. Plus, having shared passions about projects (or mutual annoyance at a boss or co-worker) provides the perfect breeding ground for an affair.What causes affairs to end? ›
Affairs usually end in one of three ways: divorce and remarriage, divorce and relationship loss, or the recommitment to the relationship that was betrayed. Each of these resolutions to an affair has its own pros and cons.How do affairs start? ›
Affairs usually begin with an attraction to someone you know fairly well, someone you spend time with each week — your friends and co-workers.Do cheaters miss their ex? ›
When do cheaters miss their ex? When they are feeling lonely. Even if she/he cheated and chose her/him, they might miss you when they are alone. They might even think of ways to reach out to you, talk to you, and find out if you are still waiting for them.Should you stay with someone who cheated on you? ›
Experts like Nelson agree the only reason to stay with a cheating spouse is if he or she is deeply and genuinely sorry for the betrayal and willing to work for your forgiveness. This means they show they understand the pain you went through after learning about the affair, Dr.Should I tell my partner I cheated? ›
Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons: Sometimes, people who have cheated confess to their partners only so that they can feel better and ease their guilt. If you find that telling your partner about what you've done will only cause them more harm than good, then this might not be the best way to go.Do affairs turn into love? ›
An affair can become long-lasting love when both parties are in love and are ready to do right by each other. This often happens when the person being cheated with seems to outperform the present partner. You might get confused if you are really in love or not.How often do affairs meet? ›
Interestingly, when it comes to the frequency of contacting, 47 per cent said they are in touch with the person they are cheating with one or two times a day, while 42 per cent contact their spouse once or twice daily also.
Research from the past two decades shows that between 20 and 25 percent of married men cheat and between 10 and 15 percent of married women cheat, according to professor Nicholas Wolfinger.Who cheats more rich or poor? ›
A recent study conducted by MSNBC showed that among men making more than $300,000 a year, 32% reported cheating, compared to 21% of men making less than $35,000 a year.Are cheaters narcissists? ›
Not all narcissists are cheaters, but rates of infidelity are higher among them, which may concern people who are in a relationship with a narcissist. Your partner may show less interest in you, signs of inappropriate online behavior, flirt with others in front of you, and become defensive when you question them.Why would someone cheat on someone they love? ›
Usually, they do so for one or more of the following reasons: Self-Exploration. For some, cheating is a way to explore repressed parts of the self. These cheaters don't actually want to change the core of who they are; they just want to escape the constraints of that for a little while.Why do affairs happen? ›
An affair is generally a sign things aren't right with someone's relationship. Without the necessary skills to heal the issues, a partner may engage in an affair as an ill-equipped way of attempting to have their needs fulfilled – whether these be for intimacy, to feel valued, to experience more sex, and so on.Why has cheating become so common? ›
Lack of Emotional Connection
Studies show that only 7% of cheating women and 8% of cheating men cheated due to sexual dissatisfaction alone. The vast majority cheated either because of a lack of emotional connection in the relationship or a combination of a lack of emotional and sexual connection in the relationship.
Perhaps they were unhappy in their current relationship, or they found infidelity exciting. It could be that their sexual needs were not being fulfilled, or that they have a sex addiction or trouble with commitment. Sometimes infidelity is the result of multiple poor choices, across a period of time.Do cheaters always cheat again? ›
Although many people believe in the adage, “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” it is not necessarily true. Not every person who cheats once will cheat again. However, serial cheaters are people who seek out sexual partners on a continual, chronic pattern of infidelity.What to do if you cheat on someone you love? ›
- Figure out WHY you cheated on your partner. ...
- Decide whether to tell your partner that you cheated. ...
- If you tell your partner you cheated, do it the right way. ...
- Expect major anger from your partner. ...
- Let them go—if they want to. ...
- If your partner stays, move forward together.
Often people who cheat tell themselves that their behavior is justified because their partner doesn't really care about them and therefore wouldn't care if they strayed. They might justify their actions by blaming their S.O. for not showing them enough affection or not seeming to care about them anymore.
Many things may go through the mind of a cheating man. Psychology plays a role, with elements of insecurity, self-perception, self-loathing, anger, and impulsivity. But mental and emotional factors being in play do not excuse infidelity. Everyone is in control of their own actions.What cheating does to a woman? ›
Infidelity can have lasting impacts on partners and children the couple may have. Grief, brain changes, behaviors down the road, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, chronic stress, and depression can result. Some families have been able to move past infidelity with time and therapy.How long do cheaters last? ›
How long extramarital affairs last varies: about 50% may last between the period of one month to a year affair, long term affairs may last long-term, for about 15 months or more, and about 30% of affairs last about two years and beyond. Some even last for a lifetime.What percentage of cheaters stay together? ›
How Many Couples Stay Together After an Affair? In one study, researchers found that with instances of secret infidelity, only about 20% of couples were still married after 5 years. However, for couples who revealed infidelity, that percentage jumped to 57%.Does being cheated on change you forever? ›
Unfortunately, there are several long-term effects of infidelity that can affect a person long after the cheating has stopped. These can be life-changing, and lead to the development of certain mental health conditions including chronic depression, anxiety, post-infidelity stress disorder, and betrayal trauma.Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating? ›
Experts say it's possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they're willing to put in the work. “The couple can survive and grow after an affair,” says Coleman.Should you stay with someone who cheated? ›
Experts like Nelson agree the only reason to stay with a cheating spouse is if he or she is deeply and genuinely sorry for the betrayal and willing to work for your forgiveness. This means they show they understand the pain you went through after learning about the affair, Dr.Do cheaters realize what they lost? ›
Do Cheaters Realize What They Lost? The answer to this question is an astounding yes. The whole reason that cheater's guilt exists and why cheaters don't want their partners to ever find out about the infidelity is because they're afraid of all that they're going to lose.Do cheaters have trauma? ›
Infidelity can be traumatic, causing intensely painful emotions for the person who was cheated on. They may actually experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including heightened anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and emotional distress.Do cheaters regret hurting you? ›
Statistics show that only 31% of marriages last after the affair has been discovered or admitted to. People who are unfaithful to their partners regret causing their loved one so much pain and heartache. Even if the couple decides to stay together, it's very hard for them to have a trust-based, happy relationship.