Why do people cheat in loving relationships?
It’s a question you’ve been asking yourself because you certainly didn’t see this coming.
You thought you were in an intimate relationship with your soulmate, someone you planned to spend your life with.
Now you’re not so sure.
You find yourself wondering why you’re stuck in the middle of your partner’s relationship sabotage and the feelings of love you share.
Although trust and commitment are essential, love doesn’t disappear when trust is broken.
Maybe someone you love has recently betrayed you, or perhaps you’ve cheated on your partner and still love them deeply but are confused by your actions.
How can you make sense of this?
Is the relationship over?
Do You Really Love Someone if You Cheat on Them?
Cheating in loving relationships is not uncommon. In the past few decades, the number of married people who have cheated on their spouses has climbed drastically.
According to Divorce Statistics, recent surveys show that 22% of married men and 14% of married women admit to cheating on their spouse at least once during the marriage. Of course, the divorce rate has also risen steadily during this time, but not all marriages with an episode of infidelity end in divorce.
Dr. Theresa E. DiDonato, a social psychologist and a professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland, says the vast majority of cheaters admit to still loving their partner after cheating on them.
Which answers a resounding “Yes” to that big question: Can you love someone and still cheat?
But now you are left wondering why someone in love with you would cheat on you? Or, if you are in love with your special person, why would you cheat on them?
Why Do People Cheat on People They Love? 13 Common Reasons
So, why cheat?
There are several reasons that people admit to cheating on someone they love.
Understanding these reasons can help you navigate the road to relationship recovery. If you’re the one betrayed, it can help you heal your pain and address any of your own contributing factors.
As you read these 13 common reasons why people cheat on someone they love, consider your relationship and how to meet the needs you and your partner both have.
1. Not feeling heard or seen by your partner.
We all get caught up in our lives and forget to focus on the needs of others, even those that we love. Over time, not celebrating the successes of our significant other or treating their struggles with empathy can take a toll on the relationship.
Taking the time to check in with your partner each day can make all the difference in a loving and committed relationship.
2. The excitement of something different.
Days can become monotonous and boring – getting ready, going to work, making dinner, etc.
Without something to look forward to or creating spontaneity in your life together, you may look for ways (even subconsciously) to find excitement.
Cheating may just become that exciting new thing if you don’t find your life at home stimulating enough.
3. Having low self-esteem.
Cheating on someone you love may be more about the one engaged in infidelity than about the relationship.
Physical connection with another person is hard-wired into you to stoke confidence. You may look to an affair for that boost of self-esteem.
Luckily, many other techniques boost mood and self-esteem – from exercise to talk therapy. Engaging in healthier daily practices may just be what you need to stay in your loving relationship.
4. Being bored in your relationship.
Having a schedule helps you manage time in your busy life, but it can also lead to boredom. You may subconsciously seek a way off the boredom track by doing something entirely out of character, like having a fling.
But don’t destroy your relationship because you’re bored. Try to do something different from the usual routine. Get out and play with your partner, be silly, and laugh. The key to avoiding boredom in a relationship is trying new things together.
5. Feeling a low level of commitment from your partner.
Relationships can’t be one-sided if they are to thrive. Of course, time apart from each other to focus on your own interests and passions is important. But you must also ensure that the person you love knows you love them.
Not feeling loved by your partner can cause you to seek love from someone else. Both people in the relationship need to take the time to show, not just tell, their partner that they love them.
6. Being angry at your partner.
Arguments are a part of relationships, and they can be a valuable way to work through issues.
The strength of a relationship doesn’t rest on the number of arguments you have but how you bounce back from them and come together.
It’s the coming back together that is the significant part. Leaving argument after argument without resolution leads to long-standing and deep-rooted anger. Take the time to show your love after a heated disagreement and work to resolve your conflicts.
7. Having unmet sexual desires.
Regular physical intimacy with your partner is an essential part of any relationship. But if you have unmet sexual needs at home, you may try to satisfy them elsewhere.
For both men and women, one’s partner must try to meet the sexual needs of the other for a healthy relationship. If your partner never initiates or pushes you away, you may turn to someone else to fulfill your sexual needs.
As a couple, strive to add spontaneity to your sex life and discuss any differences in sexual needs. If children and busy schedules get in the way of spontaneity, plan some special date nights to ensure sex happens, even if you have put it on the calendar.
8. Jealousy toward your partner.
Feeling your partner is successful, intelligent, and attractive is one thing, but comparing yourself to your partner can lead to deep-rooted jealousy. You may seek someone who validates your good qualities if you feel jealous of your partner’s attributes.
A loving and committed relationship should include lots of affirmation, not competition. Recognizing that each of you plays a significant role in the relationship and working on your own self-esteem can help prevent jealousy or resentment.
9. Extended time away.
In some infidelity situations, one partner is away from the other for extended periods. It might be due to travel for work or a pastime or hobby that keeps you apart,
Too much time away is a form of neglect, and the neglected person may look for companionship elsewhere. It could be a friendship that evolves into a full-blown affair.
Being away from the person you love requires you to work harder on the relationship and the emotional connection between you. Managing a loving relationship from a distance involves lots of communication, gestures that show you care, and planned time together to look forward to.
It might also mean cutting back on travel or activities that pull you away to spend more time with the one you love.
10. Drinking too much.
This is a big one. Drinking alcohol reduces chemical signals to your brain, impacts your judgment, and increases impulsive behavior.
Many people who have been unfaithful have likely consumed a few drinks. Combining alcohol with another of these 13 reasons people cheat is dangerous. It weakens your resolve and leaves you open to something you know is damaging.
12. Having long-standing issues with commitment.
Commitment issues can stem from attachment issues you had with your parents when you were a child, even a baby.
Cheating you love or someone you love may have more to do with your childhood than your love for your partner. Betraying the person you love feels similar to the betrayal you felt as a child when your parents didn’t meet your needs.
Clinical counseling has a proven track record of helping people with attachment issues learn to live in a loving and intimate relationship and maybe just what is needed.
12. Feelings of inadequacy.
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 are constantly striving to find more.
Maybe you feel you need another relationship to fill the void or make you feel whole. But affairs rarely provide that sense of completeness.
Several studies have found that the simple act of writing a gratitude list each day helps to combat feelings of inadequacy by focusing on what you have to be grateful for instead of what you don’t.
13. Not feeling attracted to your partner sexually.
Having a healthy sex life means taking care of yourself – mind and body – for both you and your partner. But sometimes, as much as you love this person, they just don’t turn you on like they once did. Then you meet someone who does.
If the chemistry is no longer as strong as it once was, it’s up to you to speak up before you turn to another person. You can spice up your relationship, even if it means going to a sex therapist together.
Why Did I Cheat on the Person I Love and What Should I Do to Repair Things?
Now that you’ve read the list of what makes people cheat, how do you go about getting the relationship back on track? Besides, you know that you love your partner and feel terrible about betraying them.
Recommitting to the relationship is not about beating yourself up. There is a big difference between feelings of regret and feelings of despair and self-shaming. Your focus now is regaining your partner’s trust (if they know about the affair) and addressing the issues that led you to cheat.
So, how can you fix things to get your relationship back on track? Here are some thoughts:
- If your partner knows about the infidelity, own it and accept their anger and pain. Be completely transparent and open with your partner so they can begin to rebuild trust in you.
- Don’t expect absolution right away. It takes time and a lot of work to get over a betrayal.
- Accept that things won’t be the way they were before. You’ll need to work on a new, hopefully, better, relationship.
- Be aware of the causes or triggers for the affair and work steadfastly on that part of the relationship. No bandaids – real work.
- Continue to improve both physically and mentally. Set some personal goals outside of the relationship to become a better version of who you are – one who doesn’t need to cheat.
- Be yourself and relax with your partner. The relationship will not work if you carry the guilt around with you.
- Show genuine remorse and a desire to change. More importantly, recognize that your partner may or may not choose to be with you, but your efforts shouldn’t hinge on their commitment to stay.
Many relationships bounce back from an episode of infidelity, but many also do not.
Realize and acknowledge that this behavior doesn’t reflect who you want to be. You are not proud of it, but you can learn from it.
Relationships require commitment and effort, and you and your partner need to decide if you want to work to make the relationship flourish again.
If so, remember these reasons people cheat and use them to safeguard against straying in the future.