- 13 Reasons Why Men Cheat
- The Real Reasons Why People Cheat
- Reasons Why Married People Cheat
- Why do people cheat?
- Feeling unloved
- Fear of commitment
- Issues related to self-esteem
- Sexually addictive behaviour
- So what now?
- Why Do Men Cheat? Real Guys Explain Why They Cheated On Their Partners
13 Reasons Why Men Cheat
Source: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock
After almost three decades of working with couples decimated by infidelity, I can tell you that men who cheat on a beloved wife or girlfriend can be amazingly creative when they try to explain why.
Sometimes cheating men tell me, and the women they love, that their behavior doesn’t really count as cheating, because it didn’t involve actual sex.
Other times, they find ways to blame others for their choices—their spouse, their boss, even the other woman.
[Yes, I understand that women also cheat. I have written about that numerous times, including here. However, this article is about cheating men.]
As a therapist, I find most of the reasons that cheating men use to justify their infidelity fascinating—because almost all of these reasons imply that cheating was the only logical solution to their relationship issues and other life problems. I often find myself thinking, “Sure, cheating is an option, but only one among many.
How about taking up a hobby, or volunteering to make the world a better place, or actually talking to your significant other about what you’re feeling and how the two of you might be able to craft a more fulfilling relationship? Wouldn’t any of those choices be better than lying, manipulating, and keeping important secrets from a woman you truly care about?”
But most men don’t have that type of insight. So when confronted, they minimize, rationalize, and justify their behavior with statements :
- Every guy wants to have sex with other women. And when the opportunity arises, he takes it.
- It’s a man’s biological imperative to have sex with as many women as he can. Why should I be any different?
- If I got enough (or better) sex at home, I wouldn’t need to cheat.
- I’m not doing anything that most of my buddies don’t do. If you don’t believe me, ask them.
- If my wife hadn’t gained so much weight—or if she was nicer to me, or more attentive—I wouldn’t have even thought about going elsewhere.
- If my job wasn’t so stressful, I wouldn’t need the release I get from online sex.
- Cheating? Really? I mean, who would rationally call getting a lap dance in a strip club infidelity? It’s just what guys do for fun.
- My dad looked at magazines and went to strip clubs, and that wasn’t a big deal. Well, I have webcam chats and interactive sex. What’s the difference?
- If the police had been out chasing actual bad guys, I wouldn’t have gotten caught in that prostitution sting. Why don’t they go after some real criminals?
- I’m only sexting and flirting. Where’s the harm in that? I don’t meet up with any of these women in person. It’s just a game.
In the therapy business, we have a name for this type of reasoning: Denial. From a psychotherapy perspective, denial is a series of internal lies and deceits people tell themselves to make their questionable behaviors seem OK (at least in their own minds).
Typically, each self-deception is supported by one or more rationalizations, with each one bolstered by still more falsehoods.
In the eyes of an impartial observer, such as a therapist, a cheating man’s denial typically looks about as solid as a house of cards in a stiff breeze, yet these men will doggedly insist their rationale is sound.
This, of course, begs the question: Why? Why do men really cheat? And why do they sometimes continue cheating after they’re caught, even in the face of profoundly unwanted consequences divorce, loss of parental contact, loss of social standing, and the ?
The truth is that all sorts of dynamics can play into a man’s decision to engage in infidelity. Generally, though, his choice to cheat is driven by one or more of the following factors:
- Immaturity: If he does not have a lot of experience in committed relationships, or if he doesn’t fully understand that his actions will inevitably have consequences hurting his partner, he may think it is fine to have sexual adventures. He might think of his commitment to monogamy as a jacket that he can put on or take off as he pleases, depending on the circumstances.
- Co-occurring Issues: He may have an ongoing problem with alcohol and, or, drugs that affect his decision-making, resulting in regrettable sexual decisions. Or maybe he has a problem sexual addiction, meaning he compulsively engages in sexual fantasies and behaviors as a way to numb out and avoid life.
- Insecurity: He may feel as if he is too old (or too young), not handsome enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, etc. (An astonishing amount of male cheating is linked, at least in part, to a mid-life crisis.) To bolster his flagging ego, he seeks validation from women other than his mate, using this sextracurricular spark of interest to feel wanted, desired, and worthy.
- It’s Over, Version 1: He may want to end his current relationship. However, instead of just telling his partner that he’s unhappy and wants to break things off, he cheats and then forces her to do the dirty work.
- It’s Over, Version 2: He may want to end his current relationship, but not until he’s got another one lined up. So he sets the stage for his next relationship while still in the first one.
- Lack of Male Social Support: He may have undervalued his need for supportive friendships with other men, expecting his social and emotional needs to be met entirely by his significant other. And when she inevitably fails in that duty, he seeks fulfillment elsewhere.
- Confusion About Limerence versus Commitment: He might misunderstand the difference between romantic intensity and long-term love, mistaking the neurochemical rush of early romance, technically referred to as limerence, for love, and failing to understand that in healthy, long-term relationships limerence is replaced over time with less intense, but ultimately more meaningful forms of connection.
- Childhood Abuse: He may be reenacting or latently responding to unresolved childhood trauma—neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc. In such cases, his childhood wounds have created attachment and intimacy issues that leave him unable or unwilling to fully commit to one person. He might also be using the excitement and distraction of sexual infidelity as a way to self-soothe the pain of these old, unhealed wounds.
- Selfishness: It’s possible that his primary consideration is for himself and himself alone. He can therefore lie and keep secrets without remorse or regret, as long as it gets him what he wants. It’s possible he never intended to be monogamous. Rather than seeing his vow of monogamy as a sacrifice made to and for his relationship, he views it as something to be avoided and worked around.
- Terminal Uniqueness: He may feel he is different and deserves something special that other men might not. The usual rules just don’t apply to him, so he is free to reward himself outside his primary relationship whenever he wants.
- Unfettered Impulse: He may never have even thought about cheating until an opportunity suddenly presented itself. Then, without even thinking about what infidelity might do to his relationship, he went for it.
- Unrealistic Expectations: He may feel that his partner should meet his every whim and desire, sexual and otherwise, 24/7, regardless of how she feels at any particular moment. He fails to understand that she has a life of her own, with thoughts and feelings and needs that don’t always involve him. When his expectations are not met, he seeks external fulfillment.
- Anger, Revenge: He may cheat to get revenge. He is angry with his mate and wants to hurt her. In such cases, the infidelity is meant to be seen and known. The man does not bother to lie or keep secrets about his cheating, because he wants his partner to know about it.
For most men, no single factor drives the decision to cheat. And sometimes a man’s reasons for infidelity evolve as his life circumstances change. Regardless of his true reasons for cheating, he didn’t have to do it.
There are always other options: couple’s therapy, golf, being open and honest with a mate and working to improve the relationship, or separation or divorce. A man always has choices that don’t involve degrading and potentially ruining his integrity and the life he and his significant other have created.
Still, knowing why he cheated can be helpful in terms of not repeating the behavior in the future.
The Real Reasons Why People Cheat
Source: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock
There are few moral issues that enjoy as wide consensus as infidelity: An overwhelming majority of adults, in North America and Europe, believe that infidelity is wrong (Blow and Hartnett, 2005).
But despite this widespread social censure, infidelity is fairly common. Estimates suggest that as many as 10-25% of married couples in the U.S. experience sexual infidelity at least once (Atkins et al.
, 2001; Blow and Hartnett, 2005; Elmslie and Tebaldi, 2008).
Why is it that so many spouses cheat?
Motivations for Infidelity
Not unsurprisingly, motivations for cheating vary, as does the nature of the illicit union—one-night stands or long-term affairs, purely sexual liaisons or strong emotional connections (Blow and Hartnett, 2005).
The majority of cheating spouses, regardless of gender, report that their extramarital affairs satisfied emotional and sexual needs equally (Thompson, 1984), although men are more ly than women to report a primarily sexual motivation while women are more ly to be motivated by dissatisfaction with the primary relationship (Barta and Kiene, 2005; Thompson, 1984).
However, men and women are equally ly to cite emotional or sexual motivations if their primary relationship is lacking in either regard (Omarzu et al., 2012).
For both genders, greater dissatisfaction with the primary union promotes emotionally closer relationships with cheating partners (Allen and Rhoades, 2008).
Similarity and Satisfaction
Couples tend to match each other on many characteristics, including education, income, physical attractiveness, religious views, interests, and attitudes.
Those couples who do not match on one or more important trait may be more vulnerable to infidelity, perhaps because they experience higher levels of marital dissatisfaction.
For example, couples with the same religion and educational level are less ly to experience infidelity, and couples in which both partners have a college degree enjoy especially low rates of infidelity (Brooks and Monaco, 2013).
Interestingly, women with higher levels of education than their spouses may be more ly to cheat than comparable women with equally-educated spouses (Forste and Tanfer, 1996).
This is consistent with the argument that spouses with greater socioeconomic resources will be less afraid of jeopardizing their primary relationship through infidelity (Forste and Tanfer, 1996).
Similarly, individuals may be more ly to cheat when they are employed but their spouse is not: This effect appears to be stronger for sole-breadwinner women than for sole-breadwinner men (Brooks and Monaco, 2013; Atkins et al., 2001).
Shared employment status might reflect spousal similarity, and the shared experience of employment might strengthen couple bonds. Conversely, a sole provider may have greater autonomy to pursue alternative partners and may anticipate lower costs if their partner discovers their infidelity.
Given the popular stereotype that female infidelity is far rarer than male infidelity, the findings that motivations for cheating are similar for women and men may be surprising.
It might be equally surprising that women’s socioeconomic autonomy predicts their infidelity—that is, women are especially ly to cheat when they have more education than their husband and when they are employed and their husband is not .
But there may be less of a gender gap in cheating than is commonly supposed.
Historically, men have generally reported higher rates of infidelity, but the gender gap appears to be diminishing as women gain socioeconomic and sexual autonomy.
For example, using data from the General Social Survey, multiple independent studies find a large gender gap in reported infidelity among older cohorts but a small or non-existent gap among middle-aged and younger adults (Atkins et al., 2001; Elmslie and Tebaldi, 2008).
This absence of a gender difference in reported infidelity is reflected in other recent studies of college students (Brand et al., 2007; Lambert et al., 2014).
Moreover, even when a gender gap in reported infidelity is evident, it might result (at least in part) from gendered reporting bias.
Fisher and Brunell (2014) find that the gender gap in reported romantic cheating disappears when undergraduates believe they are being monitored by a lie detector.
The authors suggest that much of the apparent gender gap in infidelity in survey data may reflect a gender difference in reporting rather than a gender difference in actual behavior.
In other words, men may exaggerate infidelity while women understate it.
Infidelity and Fidelity
Most obviously, discovering infidelity is often very painful to the deceived spouse (Blow and Hartnett, 2005) and infidelity is very damaging to the primary relationship, often resulting in divorce (DeMaris, 2013). But these costs may not be effective deterrents.
For both genders, dissatisfaction with the current relationship is often a central motivation for infidelity—and so hurting the spouse or damaging the marriage just may not matter to dissatisfied spouses.
Given these weak disincentives for infidelity, cheating is ly to continue, despite social disapproval. Websites such as AshleyMadison.com, designed to facilitate extramarital affairs, further lower the costs of cheating.
Perhaps we should be less surprised that infidelity is common despite social disapprobation, and instead be grateful that most of our partners don't cheat.
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- Allen, ES, and GK Rhoades. 2008. “Not All Affairs are Created Equal: Emotional Involvement with an Extradyadic Partner.” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 34(1):48-62.
- Atkins, DC, DH Baucom, and NS Jacobson. 2001. “Understanding Infidelity: Correlates in a National Random Sample.” Journal of Family Psychology 15(4):735-749.
- Barta,WD, and SM Kiene. 2005. “Motivations for Infidelity in Heterosexual Dating Couples: The Role of Gender, Personality Differences, and Sociosexual Orientation.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 22(3):339-360.
- Blow, AJ, and K Hartnett. 2005. “Infidelity in Committed Relationships II: A Substantive Review.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 31(2):217-233.
- Brand, RJ, CM Markey, A Mills, and SD Hodges. 2007. “Sex Differences in Self-Reported Infidelity and its Correlates.” Sex Roles 57:101-109.
- Brooks, TJ, and K Monaco. 2013. “Your Cheatin’ Heart: Joint Production, Joint Consumption, and the lihood of Extramarital Sex.” Applied Economics Letters 20: 272-275.
- DeMaris, A. 2013. “Burning the Candle at Both Ends: Extramarital Sex as a Precursor of Marital Disruption.” Journal of Family Issues 34(11):1474-1499.
- Elmslie, B, and E Tebaldi. 2008. “So, What Did You Do Last Night? The Economics of Infidelity.” KYKLOS 61(3):391-410.
- Fisher, TD, and AB Brunell. 2014. “A Bogus Pipeline Approach to Studying Gender Differences in Cheating Behavior.” Personality and Individual Differences 61-62:91-96.
- Forste, R, and K Tanfer.1996. “Sexual Exclusivity among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women.” Journal of Marriage and Family 58(1):33-47.
- Lambert, NM, S Mulder, and Frank Fincham. 2014. “Thin Slices of Infidelity: Determining Whether Observers Can Pick Out Cheaters From a Video Clip Interaction and What Tips Them Off.” Personal Relationships 21:612-619.
- Omarzu, J, AN Miller, C Schultz, and A Timmerman. 2012. “Motivations and Emotional Consequences Related to Engaging in Extramarital Relationships.” International Journal of Sexual Health 24(2):154-162.
- Thompson, A. 1984. “Emotional and Sexual Components of Extramarital Relations.” Journal of Sex Research 19:1-22.
Reasons Why Married People Cheat
There are many reasons why married people cheat. Upwards of 40% of married couples are impacted by infidelity, and despite the high percentage, most people — even those who stray — will say that cheating is wrong.
Risk factors such as personality disorders and childhood issues, as well as opportunities such as social media and poor boundaries, can increase the chance that one of these reasons will actually lead to some type of affair.
Frustration in the marriage is one common trigger; the cheater may make several attempts to solve problems to no avail.
Maybe they had second thoughts about getting married or they were jealous over the attention is given to a new baby and neither had the skill set to communicate these feelings.
Perhaps the straying spouse has childhood baggage — neglect, abuse, or a parent who cheated — that interferes with his or her ability to maintain a committed relationship. Less often, the cheater doesn't value monogamy, lacks empathy, or simply doesn't care about the consequences.
We will take a look at a number of risk factors and causes for cheating, but it's important to point out upfront that a partner doesn't cause their spouse to cheat. Whether it was a cry for help, an exit strategy, or a means to get revenge after being cheated on themselves, the cheater alone is responsible for cheating.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
Men are more ly to have affairs than women and are often seeking more sex or attention. Men express their love in a more physical way — they often don't have the perfect “feeling words” for their wives.
So sex becomes an important path to connection and intimacy. If men aren't sexually satisfied (for instance, if their spouse declines sex often), they take that rejection to heart, and it can easily translate to feeling “unloved.
” In fact, men are more ly than women to cheat due to a feeling of insecurity.
When women cheat, they're often trying to fill an emotional void. Women frequently complain of disconnection from a spouse, and of the wish to be desired and cherished.
Women are more ly to feel unappreciated or ignored, and seek the emotional intimacy of an extramarital relationship. An affair is more often a “transitional” partner for the woman as a way to end the relationship.
She is seriously looking to leave to her marriage and this other person helps her do just that.
That's not to say that sexual satisfaction isn't a primary driver of affairs for wives as well as husbands.
In one study of men and women who were actively pursuing or involved in extramarital affairs, both genders said they were hoping to improve their sex lives—because they felt their primary relationship was lacking between the sheets.
Similarly, boredom with the marital relationship may lead both men and women to cheat.
There's a myriad of reasons or causes why men or women may engage in an extramarital liaison, but certain risk factors—either with one of the individuals or the marriage as a whole—increasing the odds it will happen.
The general rule is that it takes two to tango, or in this case, to mess up their marriage with an affair, but there are certainly exceptions. Individual factors that may increase the chance of infidelity include:
Addiction: Substance abuse issues, whether it”s addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or something else, are clear risk factors. Alcohol, in particular, can reduce inhibitions so that a person who wouldn't consider having an affair when sober, may cross the line.
Previous Cheating: The saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” is more than an old wives' tale. A 2017 study was the first to evaluate the credibility of this saying. In this study, those who were involved in an extramarital sexual relationship were three times more ly to become involved in extramarital relationships in their next relationship.
Personality Disorders and Psychological Issues: People who have strong narcissistic traits or personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder are more ly to cheat.
With narcissism, an affair may be driven by ego and a sense of entitlement. In addition to being self-centered, people with these disorders often lack empathy, so they don't appreciate the impact of their actions on their spouse.
The particular psychological issues or personality traits that raise the risk of adultery in marriage may differ between the sexes.
In a 2018 study looking at personality traits, women who ranked high in “neuroticism” and men who ranked higher in “narcissism” were more ly to cheat.
Some attachment styles, such as attachment avoidance or attachment insecurity, as well as intimacy disorders have also been looked at in relationship to a propensity to cheat. Poor self-esteem and insecurity can also raise the risk of an affair as a way to prove worthiness.
Mental Illness: Some mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder are a risk factor for cheating in marriage.
Childhood Issues: Having a history of childhood trauma (such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect) is associated with a higher chance that a person will cheat (if he or she has not addressed the trauma and has unresolved issues).
Exposure to infidelity in childhood can also increase the risk of infidelity. A 2015 review found that children who are exposed to a parent having an affair are twice as ly to have an affair themselves.
Sex Addiction: Certainly, sex addiction in one partner increases the chance that they will be unsatisfied with the physical aspect of their marriage and look elsewhere.
Problems in the marital relationship can also be a risk factor for cheating. Some of these include:
- Lack of communication
- Emotional and/or physical disconnect
- Low compatibility (people who married for the wrong reasons): Low compatibility can lead to a sense of “buyer's remorse”
- Domestic violence and emotional abuse
- Financial pressures
- Lack of respect
With or without individual or marital risk factors there are a number of possible reasons for marital infidelity. Underlying many of the reasons, however, lie a few threads. One is the role of unmet needs.
One partner may be incapable of fulfilling their partner's needs, but far too often, those needs have not been expressed. Marital partners are not mind readers.
Another is the lack of addressing problems directly.
Running away from problems (conflict avoidance) rather than staying and addressing them is another crucial element in communication and commitment in marriage.
Some of the reasons cited as the cause for cheating include:
Unhappiness/Dissatisfaction: Dissatisfaction with the marriage either emotionally or sexually is common. Marriage is work, and without mutual nurturing couples may grow apart. A sexless marriage is often claimed as a reason by both men and women.
Feeling Unappreciated: Feeling unvalued or neglected can lead to infidelity in both sexes, but is more common in women.
When both partners work, women still often carry the brunt of the work when it comes to caring for the home and children. In this situation, the affair validates the person's sense of worthiness.
On the flip side of this, however, is that feeling neglected may be related to unrealistic expectations of a partner rather than true neglect.
Lack of Commitment: Everything else aside, a 2018 study found that people who are less committed to their relationship are more ly to cheat.
Boredom: As noted, boredom can lead to an affair in both men and women who are looking for the thrill of the chase and the excitement and passion associated with newfound love.
Some people claim that, rather than looking for a substitute for their partner, their fling is a way to spice up their marriage.
Falling love is also frequently cited as a reason for cheating, but maybe a lack of understanding of the normal maturing of love in marriage.
Body Image/Aging: Illustrated frequently by stories of middle-aged men having an affair with women the age of their daughters, cheating may sometimes be a way for a man (or woman) to prove that they still “have it.” Hand in hand with these thoughts, a spouse may cast blame for their own indiscretions by claiming that their spouse has “let himself/herself go.”
Revenge: If one partner has had an affair or has damaged the partner in some way, the offended partner may feel a need for revenge resulting in an affair.
In addition to the primary reasons for cheating noted above, there are secondary reasons that may lead to an affair. Some of these include:
The Internet: Having an affair, especially an emotional affair, is much easier than in past, and social media sites have been implicated in many affairs and divorces. Internet infidelity or “online cheating” is still cheating, even if the two people never met face to face.
Pornography: While it's a role in marital infidelity has been downplayed, pornography is dangerous to marriage and has clearly been demonstrated to be a “gateway” for some people. Unfortunately, pornography has become much more accessible to the internet.
Opportunity: Periods of absence, whether traveling for work or serving in the military provide greater opportunity for an affair to occur. Not only do these absences allow a spouse to have an affair with little risk of being discovered, but the absence may lead to the loneliness and resentment often cited as reasons.
Poor Boundaries: Poor personal boundaries, or the limits we place on other people as to what we find acceptable or unacceptable, can also increase the chance that an affair will occur. People who find it hard to say no (being overly compliant or “people pleasers”) may find themselves in an affair even if it wasn't what they desired in the first place.
Sometimes people have a suspicion that their spouse is cheating but don't have any solid evidence.
While often the best approach in marriage is to be direct, you may wonder if it will cause more damage to ask directly. And, of course, the answer your spouse gives could either be the truth or a lie.
The best approach will vary for different couples, but if you're concerned, it may be a good idea to look for some of the signs.
In some marriages, an affair is a cry for help, a way to force the couple to finally face the problems that both parties are aware of but aren't addressing. In this case, the partner often actually tries to get caught as a way of bringing the issue to the fore. Other times a partner may simply see infidelity as an exit strategy—a way to end an unhappy marriage.
Regardless of the underlying reason a spouse cheats, it can either devastate a marriage or be the catalyst for rebuilding it, depending upon how the infidelity is dealt with.
If you were the one cheated on, it's critical to realize that you're not responsible for your spouse making the decision to cheat. You are not to blame for his or her behavior.
You may, however, want to explore how the dynamics between you and your spouse led you to this point. Recognizing that infidelity is a symptom of deeper issues can lead a couple to fix the underlying problems in their relationship and grow closer.
Women tend to find emotional affairs more threatening than sexual affairs, whereas men are more willing to forgive emotional affairs but for both, the most common response to learning of their partner's affair is jealousy.
Even if you were the one wronged, working with a professional may be helpful in coping and recovering yourself.
Unresolved jealousy can lead to resentment, and as the old adage claims: “Resentment is poison you drink yourself, and then wait for the other person to die.”
Some couples can move past infidelity and move on to have even an even better relationship, whereas some cannot. Certainly, there are times when continuing the marriage wouldn't be recommended.
Before you analyze the specifics of the affair from your spouse's perspective and look at why the affair occurred in terms of his or her needs, it's important to look at your own needs.
This can be more challenging than it sounds, especially amidst the jealousy and anger.
If you were the one who had an affair, there are several steps you can take if you hope to save your marriage. Foremost you need to stop cheating and lying immediately and own your choice.
Being patient and giving your spouse space is essential. That doesn't say it will work out. It may not.
But without accepting full responsibility (not blaming or justifying your behavior) the chances will be low.
The chance that you can get past the affair depends on many factors, such as the reasons why it occurred and the characteristics of both people.
To truly understand and move forward, both partners will need to listen to the other (which can be extremely challenging in this setting), and not assume that their partner's motivation or feelings would be the same as their own.
For those who decide to try and overcome infidelity, it appears that the mutual capacity to forgive and a strong commitment to the relationship are key.
There are many potential reasons for cheating, and marriage is complicated. But speaking directly, expressing your needs, practicing forgiveness, and making a commitment to work on your marriage daily are the best insurance plan to protect your marriage.
Why do people cheat?
When someone’s cheated on by their partner, they’re often left asking: why?
How could someone they trusted and loved – and who they thought loved them back – betray them in such a shocking and hurtful way? There’s usually not only a sense of anger and upset, but also total disbelief.
The reasons people cheat are varied, but there are a number that crop up time and again in the counselling room. If you’re currently struggling to understand why this has happened to you, you may find it useful to think about some of the following.
One of the most common reasons for infidelity is the feeling that you and your partner have drifted apart. In this case, cheating can feel a way of finding something new and exciting when your relationship has become predictable and familiar.
A sense of disconnection from one’s partner can happen for a variety of reasons. There may be a lack of proper communication in the relationship (talking about specific issues or just generally keeping in touch about how you feel).
Or life may have become dominated by work or looking after kids, so time together has become more functional than loving.
In counselling, we often use the term ‘love languages’ to describe how people express affection to one another.
Some partners communicate more verbally by saying nice things, whereas others might prefer to express affection physically by cuddling or kissing.
If your love language is different to your partners, that can leave you feeling unloved – and potentially more open to the affections of someone who seems to understand you better.
If there’s a lack of balance in a relationship, one partner can begin to feel a bit a parent and the other a child.
For example, one partner may feel they have to be the responsible one, making all the decisions, organising the home, managing the finances and so on, while their partner doesn’t pull their weight. An affair might then be tempting in order to feel appreciated and equal.
Equally, the partner in the ‘child’ position may feel criticised and as if nothing they do seems to be enough, meaning an affair might feel a way of reclaiming some sense of independence and authority.
Fear of commitment
Sometimes, affairs occur at times when you might assume people would be the most secure in their relationship, such as after getting engaged or when someone is pregnant. But worries over commitment can be very destabilising. Sometimes, people can sabotage what they have, consciously or unconsciously, as a way of rejecting feelings of responsibility.
Issues related to self-esteem
Affairs can also arise from personal insecurities. Low self-esteem can cause people to be very dependent on the attentions of others—and in some cases, the attention of just one person isn’t enough. It may also cause someone to feel insecure in their own relationship, so much so that they might cheat as a way of rejecting rather than being rejected.
Sexually addictive behaviour
Affairs can commonly be linked to problems with sexually addictive behaviours. This is where someone habitually engages in sexual activity as a way of satisfying desires and relieving negative feelings they find hard to control.
These desires can be compulsive in the way that a drug or alcohol addiction might be. For some people, this can mean they end up engaging in affairs repeatedly or in multiple relationships.
For more information on sex addiction, visit the NHS choices page.
So what now?
As hard as it might be to believe, an affair doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship.
If your partner truly regrets what has happened, is willing to end the affair and you’re both prepared to put the work into finding your way back, there’s no reason why you can’t save your relationship.
Of course, many couples come to the conclusion that their relationship has run its course—with the affair being a symptom of what was wrong, rather than the cause.
Whatever the case, trying to examine the issues together is your best chance to make sense of things.
The person who has cheated will need to take responsibility for their own their behaviour as wrong and not make excuses and—although it can be very difficult for the person who has been cheated on—both partners will need to acknowledge their responsibility for what was wrong with the relationship prior to this happening.
In terms of next steps, our article on what to do if your partner has had an affair also has lots of useful information. Beyond this, it’s ly you’ll need some form of help to process what’s happened. Relationship Counselling can help you talk about the affair and what caused it in a safe and confidential environment.
Your counsellor won’t take sides – they’ll just listen and help you to make sense of what made your relationship vulnerable to an affair and fully explore your feelings and the impact of the affair. To book an appointment search for your local Relate services online.
Why Do Men Cheat? Real Guys Explain Why They Cheated On Their Partners
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Why do people cheat? It’s not an easy question to answer. Maybe it’s a crime of opportunity, or it stems from low self-esteem. There’s no blanket answer. While every situation is different, these 14 guys open up about the specific reasons they cheated.
1. For a long time, it was how I ended relationships.
I know that’s bad, but when I was younger, I would just let relationships take their course and when things got boring and stale and it didn’t seem we were putting any effort into it, I’d start seeing someone else.
If I’m being totally honest, I think back then I just thought it was easier than having a talk about things and the relationship. I thought it was better to just act shitty until they left.” — Tom, 28
2. “The relationship I was in wasn’t going very well, and I met someone that really gave me a lot of attention and it felt really good. I felt wanted again, and instead of taking a step back and figuring things out, I thought with my dick and just followed it.” — Derrick, 27
3. “I cheated a lot when I was younger because I kept getting away with it. It was a case of having my cake and eating it, too. The blame falls on me, don’t get me wrong, but since the women I was with never broke up with me, I was , ‘Well, why wouldn’t I cheat? What’s the downside?’” — Seth, 29
4. “I honestly don’t know. I was dating this really great girl. I thought she was the one. I thought we were going to get married. All of that junk.
I was out one night visiting a friend that lived hours away and an opportunity presented itself and I felt I could do it and get away with it. She found out and we broke up. It’s the only time I’ve ever cheated and I’ve been in more casual or ‘worse’ relationships and didn’t cheat.
It’s something I think back to sometimes. Maybe subconsciously I wasn’t ready to commit? I don’t know, but it fucks with me.” — Nate, 26
5. “I was feeling trapped in my current relationship. That doesn’t really excuse cheating but I really felt I couldn’t leave but I wanted to. I met someone who really showed me my value and helped me through it, and it got romantic before we meant for it to happen. We dated for years afterwards, but it’s something I still feel bad about.”— Kyle, 25
6. “I’ve cheated on more than one occasion. And it’s because I never feel invested in the relationship. I’ve never cheated on a serious girlfriend, but I don’t feel bad sleeping with someone else just because I’m ‘seeing’ someone. Especially if I don’t see it going anywhere.”— Nathan, 27
7. “I was young and we went to different colleges and I convinced myself that she was going to cheat on me anyway.
So my thinking was, if I do it first she can't hurt me. And I ‘win.’ And I had it there in my back pocket so that if she did cheat on me, I could say I did, too.
Looking back, that’s obviously such an unhealthy and immature way of looking at it.”— Aaron, 28
8. “It’s funny, but asking me this question now, years later, I have a real answer. Back when I did it, it was just because it looked cool. , that was alpha to me.
But honestly, in hindsight, it was because I had a really bad view of relationships; my parents' relationship, my early relationships.
I just felt they weren’t going to last so I didn’t bother.” — Luke, 28
9. “I was drunk and she was hot, and I’m not going to lie, I mostly saw it as an easy my current relationship.” — Tim, 25
10. “I was a serial cheater for a while and it was because I needed this… I don’t think ‘boost’ is the right word… but I needed vindication. I needed to know I was wanted. In a relationship, I felt I had ‘won’ already and that made me feel restless. I had a lot of problems to work through.” — Anthony. 28
11. “I cheated because she cheated. Unsurprisingly, our relationship didn’t last very long.” — Ethan, 26
12. “I promise I’m not a piece of shit or anything. I was seeing someone I met on Tinder. It was pretty casual. I d her and I was having fun and had just come a long self-inflicted dry spell after a bad break up. And I thought she saw it as casual, too.
I ended up meeting my now-wife when I was out one night. It was instant sparks, just animal chemistry. I broke it off with this other women and she was so upset. I felt awful. I honestly didn’t even realize I had really ‘cheated,’ but she saw us as being in a relationship.
I still feel bad about it.” — Joel, 28
13. “This one is honestly a technicality. I was dating a girl in college. She was great, she made me happy and I didn’t have any real complaints with our relationship. She went abroad for a semester and during that time we were long-distance. This was a few years ago, by the way.
We had email and IM and ways of getting in touch but it wasn’t we could talk 24/7. A lot of foreign carriers had insane price plans and stuff. We couldn’t really Skype. Anyway, the point is that I met the woman of my dreams and then I could not get in touch with this girl to break up with her. I didn’t want to do it over email or something.
I wanted to really call and talk to her and show her some level of respect and let her yell at me over the phone. It took a week until I was able to actually speak with her and at that point she was… not that mad. She was obviously enjoying herself in Europe.
So it worked out, but for that week, I was a cheater but only because the paperwork hadn’t gone through yet, so to speak.” — Greg, 26
14. “I usually cheat whenever I feel the relationship is stalled or fizzled out.
Well, not literally with every relationship, but the handful of times I have cheated have been when things weren’t great. I don’t know why, specifically, honestly.
Maybe it’s my way of making sure things are over instead of trying to work on something I know won’t work.” — Will, 29
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