Why do people cheat? You might think the answer is obvious.
Surely a lack of love for a partner must rank in the top spot. But psychologists have identified other reasons for cheating. And some might surprise you. There are various studies that research why people cheat. They range from personality, circumstances to low self-esteem and even anger. So why do people cheat on their partners?
Here are 8 Psychological Reasons that address ‘Why Do People Cheat’?
1. A lack of love
One of the main reasons people cheat is because of a lack of love for their partner. A large majority of people questioned in one study cited ‘falling out of love’ or ‘a lack of love’ for their partner. Others state that they do not feel loved by their partner. One possible reason for this is that a couple is using different love languages.
In psychology, there are Five Love Languages which describe the methods people prefer to express their love for one another. Some are tactile, others use words, some prefer to do nice things, others give gifts or they like to spend quality time with a loved one.
If your partner is using a different love language with you it can leave you feeling unloved. Before you consider cheating try understanding your partner’s love language.
2. Want more sex
Cheating usually involves having sex so it is not surprising that it is another one of our top reasons. In surveys, approximately one-third of respondents admitted that they cheated solely because of sex. Out of this third, the majority who chose sex as their main reason happened to be men.
Evolutionary psychologists put this urge down to our primitive need to procreate and carry on our genes. Perhaps it’s some kind of animal instinct in men as women tended to cite neglect and being ignored as their reason for cheating.
Men stated that they wanted a ‘greater variety of sexual partners’. This actually doesn’t reflect on with their partner at all. It could simply be that they cannot satisfy their needs with just one person.
Another study revealed that people who had enjoyed more sexual partners in the past were also more likely to cheat. It’s thought that this is because they have learned the ‘art of seduction’ and are more able to pick up on subtle signs.
3. Disconnection with partner
Another common reason for cheating is a feeling of disconnect with your partner. Feeling disconnected or that you are drifting apart can occur for many reasons. You might have different interests, you could stop talking to each other, or your relationship could become too predictable and boring.
Or it could just be that your life has become dominated with work, children, and all the humdrum things that make up typical family life. You might feel as if you are simply going through the motions and that you’re taking each other for granted.
One way to stop feeling disconnected with your partner is to try and remember how excited you both felt at the start of your relationship. Even if it means rekindling some early date memories.
4. Self-esteem issues
There are two parts to this category; one is that low self-esteem can lead to a person wanting attention from others, and the other is that some use affairs as a boost to their ego. For those who suffer from low self-esteem, if they are not getting attention from their nearest and dearest, it can lead them to feel very dependent on validation from others.
The slightest little compliment, a kind word, a person paying attention, can all seem like a huge deal to someone starved of love. On the other hand, some people use cheating on their partners as a real ego boost. In fact, studies show that over half of people surveyed chose ‘I wanted to enhance my popularity’ as their reason for cheating.
5. The power imbalance in the relationship
Why do people cheat because of a power imbalance? Well, there are all kinds of different relationships within a relationship. For example, one of you can act as the parent and your partner can be the child. One person can find that they are taking on all the responsibilities such as taking on the finances, organizing the children, making the household decisions etc.
In cases like these, the responsible person might feel under-appreciated and put upon. They might want to relinquish some of this responsibility. Having an affair allows them to be themselves, to feel equal to another human being.
On the other hand, the child in the relationship might feel as if they are always being criticised. They could feel as if they are not treated as an adult and so they cheat to reclaim a sense of their identity.
6. Commitment issues
This is another category that can have two meanings. Just under half of people surveyed said they cheated because they didn’t feel especially committed to their loved one. Another way that people have commitment issues is that they can fear commitment.
Moreover, this fear materializes at the times when you’d think couples are the most secure. For instance, just after an engagement or announcing a pregnancy or wedding. Suddenly the enormity of what they are committing to is overwhelming and cheating can sabotage it.
Having an affair, whether a one-night stand or something more serious is a good way of getting out of accepting responsibility.
7. Environmental factors
Why do people cheat has nothing to do with going green, however, the environment around some people is enough to push them into cheating. So being drunk and not knowing what was going on, or the availability of another partner can lead to cheating.
In surveys, a massive 70% blamed the demon drink as an excuse for cheating. But despite alcohol lowering our inhibitions, it doesn’t turn us into totally different people. In other words, if you are likely to cheat, a couple of drinks is just going to help you make that decision easier.
Finally, you might be surprised to learn that anger is a reason for cheating. But why do people cheat because they are angry? Well, some wanted revenge on their partner for them cheating them, others said they’d had a really bad day.
Yes, I know, a bad day! But this makes sense if you take into consideration data from another survey. This survey says that the kind of people that go on to cheat are more likely to be impulsive types. That is people that act immediately on their emotions and feelings without giving them much thought. Impulsive people don’t tend to think about the consequences of their actions.
As for the reasons that didn’t have much impact on relationships, one was the length of time a couple had been together.
So, unfortunately, it appears that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with your partner. If one person is going to cheat chances are they will.
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