9 Reasons Why We Cheat
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Why do we cheat on our partners, often when we still love them? We don’t cheat simply because we are 'made that way', or brought up with poor morals. Instead, a slew of psychological factors quietly play a hand in making people succumb to the temptations that lie outside of their steady relationships. Here are some, in no particular order.
1. Low self-esteem
People with low self esteem need constant validation and approval. Just the fact that someone other than their partner wants them, provides a boost to their self esteem, and makes them stray into the arms of someone else who makes them feel desired, even temporarily. Often, people with low self esteem land up settling with a person they don’t like too much, as they don’t believe they can do better. And then, if they do find someone they like a lot better, the temptation to cheat gushes to the fore.
2. Power Trip and Ego Boost
Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the connection between power and infidelity. They all conclude that there is a strong correlation. Psychology professor Lammers says, “Irrespective of gender, the more powerful a person is and feels, the more confident that person is in his/her ability to attract partners. And not only is this effect found for actual infidelity, it is also found for intentions to be unfaithful in the future.” Truth is, not only do powerful or successful individuals feel more attractive, but they are also perceived as more attractive. Many of them start using sex as a perk, a commodity or a bargaining chip. It gives them a huge ego boost and an even more enhanced sense of power.
3. Mid Life Crisis Borne Affairs
A midlife crisis is a time when one feels they’ve reached, or crossed life’s halfway point, and the best years of ones life are rapidly ending. That time is running out! It’s a strong awareness of aging and taking stock of ones life and decisions. Many people feel stuck, oppressed with the burdens of domesticity, or disappointed with how life panned out. Some crave new experiences and adventures, or simply become eager to make the best of their vanishing “prime.” It’s a fertile time for the sowing of an affair, as it represents new options, fresh validation, a break from the rut, excitement, adventure, and even a renewed sex life. A common outcome is men having affairs with much younger women, as this makes them feel desirable, younger, reckless, and more virile. Having said that, it’s important to know that women are also prone to affairs borne from a mid life crisis, although they are less frequent due to various socio-cultural factors, and often pan out differently.
4. Child With Special Needs
Parents who have children with special needs often face way more challenges as a couple. They usually have to plough a lot more time and effort into raising their child. They have to learn about the disability, deal with multiple specialists, different learning systems, social insensitivity and numerous expenses that most other parents never need to bother about. It is all a very time and energy intensive process, and the associated stress is extremely high. To add to it, some develop a feeling of inadequacy, shame, guilt, frustration, or helplessness. This stress gets transferred on to the relationship, and couples forget why they got together in the first place. Most don’t even notice their relationship with their partner wilting away. Frequent blame throwing, neglect, criticism, and never talking about anything but the child makes them slowly drift apart. Having an affair at this point becomes a release, a breath of fresh air. It may provide more emotional and physical intimacy, comfort and joy. And many people use this as a justification to absolve themselves of guilt.
5. Unappreciative Partner & Emotional Disconnect
A large number of people who engage in infidelity say that they feel lonely, unappreciated, unloved, disconnected, empty or sad in their existing relationships. This lack of emotional connection leads to anger, feeling low and results in resentment. Such feeling often make the aggrieved partner seek emotional succour outside of the relationship. They may simply go seeking a friendship, not an affair. But over time as the intimacy increases, as more personal information and feelings (including the state of the primary relationship) are shared, the “friend” begins to take on the role of the partner. The friendship then develops into a full-blown romantic and sexual relationship.
6. Dissatisfying Sex Life
Some people cite a poor sex life as the reason for their infidelity. They often claim to love their existing partner, but don’t derive pleasure or climax with them. They don’t feel any chemistry or passion and may no longer find them attractive. In many arranged marriages, they probably never found them attractive to begin with. Others compare their “present-phase” sex with their “honeymoon-phase” sex and feel they have lost their sexual chemistry. They miss the high of sex with a new partner, the rush that comes with the newness, and seek that in an affair or a one-night stand. They enjoy the sparks, wooing, anticipation, headiness and lack of commitment, even the danger of doing something outside of the boundaries of their existing relationship. Some find this so utterly exciting and aphrodisiacal that they actually get hooked to philandering.
7. Casual Workplace Sex
There are people who happily use sex as a way to enhance their career, or gain favours from people in power. They manage to compartmentalize their ‘personal sex life’ from their ‘professional sex life,’ thinking of the latter as a mere transaction. Also, many professions today require people to travel outside of their city or country. There is ample opportunity for social bonding between colleagues, and indiscretions often happen after a drunken evening as people stumble back to the same hotel, and surrender to the temptation of the moment, familiarity, time and place.
8. Sex With an Ex
Most people find sex with an ex a pretty hot proposition. You know each other’s buttons, there’s familiarity, history and past chemistry. It’s more tempting and less threatening. More people think of their ex partners when they are having trouble with their current relationship, than they do about someone totally new. They snoop on them via social media, wonder how happy they are, and possibly what life may have been like with them. So, if they happen to reconnect, especially during a rough time, the chances of reigniting the flames are pretty high. It usually doesn’t go far, but it happens.
9. Long standing infatuation or unrequited love
A man once told me how he had a perfectly good relationship with his spouse. And then one day he met this lady he had not seen for years. Someone he was wildly infatuated with, but she had shown no interest in him earlier. But this time things were different. Something had changed. He could feel there was a chemistry bubbling and one day, when she made a move, he just jumped right in (no pun intended). What happened is not uncommon. Sometimes seeing ones fantasies come to life can be horribly tempting. The rush of the moment, the eventual reciprocation of your affection, and the subconscious validation it provides, can lead to making decisions that may go against your grain, but you make them anyway.
The author is a Counsellor, Mental Health Therapist and Wellness Writer
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