Reasons why cheating happens even in happy relationships || The general thinking about why people cheat on a committed relationship partner is that there is a problem with either the cheater or the relationship. Here are four reasons why people cheat even in a happy relationship with someone they love.
Often, we assume that cheaters have a pathology, some unresolved trauma or dysfunction, or at best a form of emotional immaturity, that pushes them into infidelity. Other times, we assume that the primary relationship is flawed in some significant way that creates a perceived need for external sex and intimacy. Either way, we tend to view infidelity as symptomatic of underlying problems. The cheater and/or the relationship is troubled, and cheating is the result.
Here are four reasons why people who are generally well adjusted and happy in their relationship or marriage might nevertheless engage in infidelity, risking their marriage, their home, their family, their standing in their church or community, and more.
Searching for a new sense of self is likely the most powerful of these reasons (and it may encompass the other three).
For these cheaters, infidelity is an exploration of never experienced or long-repressed parts of the self. It is freedom from who they have been and currently are. Interestingly, they usually don’t want to change who they are; they simply want to escape those constraints for a short while — to feel young again, to feel unburdened, to explore and grow and experience life. When these individuals cheat, they’re not looking for another person, they’re looking for themselves (or, at the very least, for a lost or long-ignored aspect of themselves.)
- The Seductive Nature of Transgression
Sometimes happy people who cheat say they feel like a teenager when they’re sneaking around and having sex or an affair. It’s exciting and forbidden, and they get a kick out of breaking the rules. It’s like a 5-year-old sneaking a cookie that his mother said he couldn’t have. The forbidden cookie just tastes extra sweet.
The seductive nature of the transgression is a phenomenon from a sexual perspective with the erotic equation: Attraction + Obstacles = Excitement. Because the cheater is not supposed to have extracurricular sex and romance, he or she wants it even more. For children and teens, pushing limits in this way is a natural exploration of self and the world. As an adult, infidelity can feel like more of the same.
- The Allure of Lives Not Lived
Here, instead of transgression, it’s missed opportunities that draw cheaters in. They think about the one that got away, or the one that never was, or the life they could have had if only . . . This may cause them to feel limited and fenced in by the life and relationship they’ve chosen — regardless of how much they enjoy that life and relationship. So, they indulge in their curiosity. They use extracurricular sex to see who they might have been if they’d opted for a different path. Again, this is a form of self-exploration, where infidelity introduces the individual to the stranger within.
- Feeling New or Exiled Emotions
Lastly, happy people who cheat may do so to experience new or exiled emotions. Again, this is a form of self-exploration. Men can be especially vulnerable to this, as they are often told, as they grow up, to repress and not express their emotions. Over time, they learn to “cowboy up” and not feel. Unfortunately, in so doing they often stifle joy as well as sorrow, pleasure as well as pain. For these individuals, regardless of gender, infidelity is more of an emotional release than a sexual release. And once again, these cheaters are exploring their inner selves.
Are some reasons for cheating better than others? And does the answer to that question really matter? From the perspective of the betrayed partner, probably not. For the betrayed partner, sexual betrayal hurts the same, no matter the underlying cause, and there is no good reason to do it.