Reasons Why People Cheat

Gender has little to do with infidelity

So many relationships end because someone cheats. The infidelity is often a reaction to something that has soured within the relationship.

Too often, people realize their partner is being unfaithful when it’s already too late.

Here are the reasons why people cheat, and why they do it.

Reasons Why People Cheat

Unmet needs

Often, people cheat because they feel their needs are not being met, said Leo Willcocks, a stress consultant and author of DeStress To Success: Solving Stress and Winning Big in Relationships, Wealth and Life Itself.

“This is not just sexual needs but is generally more on their emotional needs not being met. When they start talking to others about the problems they are having and the other person listens, they feel that this person is meeting their needs,” Willcocks said.

The other reason people cheat is because, he said, “Outwardly they may say that they deserve better or that they are better than their loved one, so they go and cheat. However the truth is, nine times out of 10 that they actually feel that they are not worthy of the person that they are with. They tend to feel less of a person due to something that has happened in their past. These things from their past can vary and in some cases where they were not even at fault, such as being molested as a child. Regardless of what the past event was they feel unworthy of the person they are with and sometimes try to use cheating as a way out so they don't have to keep feeling insecure in their relationship.”

Reasons Why People Cheat

Feeling a disconnect

Anita Chlipala, a relationship therapist, said, “People cheat because they feel disconnected from their partner. They may feel unhappy and alone in their relationship, feel unappreciated by their partner, get stuck in negative patterns, don’t receive the affection they need, other needs may remain unfulfilled and they feel hopeless and helpless.”

And it doesn’t happen due to lust, she said.

“Most cheating happens as a step-by-step process. For example, two co-workers may run into each other in the break room. First they talk about work, then the conversation turns personal and they talk about their families. They start having lunch together where the conversation turns more intimate, both sharing about their unhappiness in their relationships. Lunch turns into drinks after work, which turns into dinner, a kiss then turns into sex. People step beyond boundaries but realize it too late. The damage has already been done,” she said.

Dr. Jeanette Raymond, a psychologist, psychotherapist and relationship expert, agreed that it’s not about the sex. “It's less about the sex and more about the freedom to do something outside your strict sense of moral codes. It's part of the development of self, needing to liberate itself from a restrictive but safe existence. In addition they cannot talk about their need for freedom openly because that too would break a taboo subject once you are in a committed relationship,” she said.

Sometimes an affair can bring this conversation into the open and heal the damage that has been done in a relationship.

“In my experience men who cheat want to send a message to their woman that they need more tenderness, emotional closeness and attention. They want to make the woman jealous and reclaim him with the intention of showering love in a way that makes him feel precious and treasured as a man - not as breadwinners or as a chore helper,” Dr. Raymond said.

“Women in my experience cheat for a different reason. They want control. They want their guy to be ‘a good boy’ and do as he should, do as he is told and give her what she deserves. They are not looking for emotional intimacy, but obedience. That's why so many women want to control the purse strings, limit his free time away from the family and manage his life,” she said.

Reasons Why People Cheat

Emotional deprivation

Research shows that women cheat because they feel emotionally deprived, and men because they feel sexually deprived, said Tina Tessina, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Romance”, psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction.

“With illicit affairs quite easily available online or at the office, it's often easier for a spouse who is dissatisfied with the relationship to transfer affection to someone else than to take the emotional risk of talking to a partner about dissatisfaction. While most marital dissatisfaction is not that hard to fix, and cheating is usually emotionally devastating for everyone, the cheater has an instant gratification mentality, and is just doing what feels good, and feeling unable to control it. He or she is not thinking of future problems (at least, when connecting with the other person) and is just masking emotional pain,” Dr. Tessina said.

If you are trying to figure out if a new date might be a potential cheater, you have to take the time to get to know him and get him to open up.

“Telling a guy you won't stand for cheating is a waste of time. Instead, be open and accepting, and encourage him to talk about his sexual exploits. If he's cheated before, he probably will cheat again. The best protection against cheating is to have open and frank sexual talks - allow him to tell you when he's attracted to someone else. Don't freak out or get upset, he'll just hide it from you. An attraction you two can laugh about together, and incorporate into your own sex fantasy life, is a lot less threatening than one that's a secret,” Dr. Tessina said.

And remember, “Cheaters cheat. That's why it's inadvisable to marry someone who was cheating in an affair with you. When you're the spouse, you'll get cheated on. People who feel entitled to sex any way they can get it, will always rationalize cheating, and just keep doing it. They don't want to work on marital issues, or learn to keep intimacy alive with the same person. They get their jollies from illicit sex (cheating.)”

Tessina shares her top five signs to know if he’s cheating:

  • His habits change: Your husband, who was always home on time, is suddenly (or gradually) coming home later. Or, he stops answering his phone, spends more money, or dresses better.
  • He brings guilt gifts: A man who never thought of flowers has suddenly started bringing them home.
  • Extra bills: Unidentifiable charges on his credit card are often the clue that catches him.
  • He stops talking about what he's doing at work: This may be a sign that he's keeping a secret.
  • Uninterested in sex: If he's not interested in sex with you, he may be getting his needs met elsewhere. Conversely, if he's more interested in sex with you, it can be a sign that he's had an ego boost from cheating.

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