Why Do People Cheat Within Relationships?

Well, if that isn’t a loaded question to consider over my morning cup of tea, I don’t know what is. I get a lot of email from heart-broken and lonely individuals asking, “Why, oh why did they cheat on me? What did I do wrong?” Here, have a hug. And some chocolate. Actually, give me back the chocolate, eating feelings is a bad habit.

There are some evolutionary reasons that we could delve into for cheating, and while that stuff is great to know, it doesn’t soothe an aching heart, nor does it help us to evolve socially. There are lots of detailed and intricate reasons to be dissected – but I’m going to save that for a later post.

Let me start by saying that by my definition, I have cheated once and have been cheated on once. Fairly limited, I know, so most of my speculation comes from my friends’ relationships as well. (I kind of feel bad for my friends, they’re like my lab experiments sometimes-ha!) I am asserting no facts here, just my own opinion.

There are three main reasons I have pinned for cheating:

1. Unhappiness – When one person is unhappy, and the lines of communication are not open to work on things, the individual does not feel fulfilled. The unhappy cheater is seeking out fulfillment that they’re not getting in the relationship elsewhere. This can be emotional fulfillment or sexual. Usually people get in more trouble/feel more guilty about a sexual affair than an emotional one. Go figure… Also, this reason for cheating tends to end relationships more than the others.
2. Opportunity – This is also known as thinking with one’s vagina or penis. Regard for the cheater’s partner goes out the door because a sexual/emotional encounter presents itself. Assuming you have made a monogamous commitment to each other, opportunistic sexual encounters may be telling of the cheater’s actual investment in you. Or maybe it’s not telling, the opportunistic cheater is sometimes genuinely sorry that their hormones took hold of them.
3. Apathy – Many of us have probably seen one of those relationships that is hard to watch because one person CLEARLY cares more than the other. The apathetic cheater is not invested in the relationship at all, even though they might say they are. These people often get labeled as “users” because they use people for personal gain. Examples: she doesn’t like YOU, should likes your car; he doesn’t care about YOU, he likes that being ‘in a relationship’ with a hottie gives him status with his friends.

Moral of the story? People can be hurtful meany heads, and thats why we’ve got to look out for ourselves. Looking out for ourselves means communicating openly and approaching relationships rationally. Yes, I did just try to advocate rational emotion.

And with that facepalm, let me know what you think about cheaters. Don’t forget your experiences – there are numerous folks who quietly read & benefit from your comments, just like YouTube. :)