Having sex with someone other than your regular partner or Cheating, as we call it, has become rampant and notorious in recent times (thanks to celebrities like Tiger Woods, David Letterman, and Jesse James). We all know the consequences of cheating in relationships (especially marriage), including the damage to one’s reputation or even career, the risk of contracting STDs, the pain and heartbreak we cause our loved ones and the resulting risk of a breakup or divorce, the waste of time, money and energy, etc. And yet, cheating is on the rise. So the question we are trying to answer is, “Why do some partners cheat?
The reasons people cheat in relationships are as varied as there are cheaters. There are, however, some common reasons, and I believe knowing them can help you prevent cheating in your relationship. It should be noted that a cheating act cannot always be attributed to one factor. Sometimes there is a combination of reasons at play. For instance Tiger Woods cheated with multiple women not just because of an uncontrolled lust for different women, but also a distorted philosophy of morality as well as spiritual emptiness (as he admitted in his Press Conference); hence, his decision to practice his Buddhist religion more seriously and undergo therapy.
Here are seven common reasons partners cheat in relationships:
- 1. Uncontrolled Lust
Those who are practicing the Biblical model of courtship will agree with me that it is not easy to adhere to the requirement of abstaining from sexual union with each other until marriage. So where there is no agreement or understanding among the partners on the practice of abstinence, it becomes difficult for the lustful partner whose sexual appetite is not being satisfied such that they lose focus and sometimes become less interested in the relationship. A prolonged situation like this can lead to the deprived partner turning to someone else for sexual gratification. Such partners thus go about looking for excitement they judge as missing from their own relationship, leading to cheating.
Even when the relationship involves sex, it still becomes difficult for the lustful partner with an uncontrolled sexual appetite to wait patiently and remain faithful especially when both partners are separated for a while by travel, sickness or other reasons. Such lustful partners end up sleeping with other partners.
Even among married couples, when one partner has a higher sex drive than the other and doesn’t feel satisfied with the amount and quality of sex they get at home, it could cause them to look for more sex outside their marriage, leading to cheating.
- 2. A Distorted Philosophy of Morality
Another reason some partners cheat in relationships is that they don’t care if it is wrong as long as it makes them happy. You can also call that selfishness. A lot of people today have very weak morals, and without guilt or conscience, no longer consider sex with multiple partners as an abominable act. They rather see it as a game and an interesting one at that (as long as they don’t get caught). The situation is even more critical when they see their friends and others around them cheating as well, as it lends them support for their own distorted moral philosophy, and serves as an endorsement of the act. Since birds of the same feathers flock together, cheating behaviors are reinforced in a bad company of friends. Among such friends, cheating with multiple partners is seen as an adventure in which their ego is boosted. Sometimes there is even a competition to see who can sleep with more partners. And for partners caught up in such groups, the more they do it, the more interesting it becomes, and the more “respect” and “pride” they build with their peers.
But in the end, their relationship takes the biggest toll as they begin to pay less attention to their partner, spend less time at home, and get caught eventually by the partner who is being cheated on.
- 3. Stress and Frustration
A number of partners also cheat because of stress and frustration, which usually results from problems and difficulties in their relationship. When partners in a relationship begin to feel unloved and neglected, or when they feel there is too much tension in the relationship resulting from unnecessary arguments and fights, and the controlling and critical nature of their partners; or when they begin to think that everything wrong with their relationship is the fault of their partner, it creates a stressful and frustrating feeling, which makes some partners look around for an outlet to ease their frustrations. When this happens, anyone who comes along with adequate attention and care is embraced as more loving, understanding and fun, leading to intimacy and cheating.
These partners thus use cheating as a way of escaping from the problems in their relationship instead of working with their partners to address them. In the end, the cheating act worsens the problems in the relationship and can lead to a breakup.
Sometimes, the stress and frustration could also result from financial problems. Due to poor financial management and discipline, many young men and women find themselves buried under bills they can’t pay. This makes them stressed out and frustrated, and where their regular dating partner is not financially well-positioned to help them out, they turn to others for help, who in turn sometimes demand sexual favors leading to cheating.
- 4. Low Self-esteem
Men with low self-esteem also cheat sometimes as a way of seeking reassurance of their manhood from another woman other than the one they are dating. When the men in relationships which involve sexual activity don’t get the desired feedback on their sexual performance, it tends to affect their self-esteem, and thus could make them turn to other women for sex as a way of reassuring themselves of their manhood.
Even in relationships that do not involve sex, ridicule and pressure from friends and peers that tend to question the manhood of the men involved often lead them into demanding sex from their dating partner to prove their critics wrong; and where the partner declines such sexual demands, these men in an attempt to reclaim their esteem from their friends and peers resort to cheating.
Some women with low self-esteem may also cheat for reassurance that they are still sexy, desirable and attractive. This usually happens when they feel unattractive or unwanted in their own relationships, or when they don’t receive compliments and reassurance from the primary partner about their attractiveness. For such women, cheating is a way of reclaiming their esteem.
- 5. As a Way of Seeking Revenge
Some partners also cheat as a way of settling scores with their partners. They cheat in retaliation of something their partner has said or done. This could be an actual cheating act by their partner or a suspicion they may have that their partner is cheating, or a false cheating accusation their partner may have charged them with, etc. For such cheaters, their satisfaction is not from the cheating act itself, but from the feeling that the scale has been balanced.
Unfortunately, revenge seems the fairest way some people are able to deal with the wrongs their partners have done against them, leading to infidelity in many cases.
- 6. Spiritual Emptiness
Some partners also cheat because they have no rigorous religious standards or beliefs to prompt them to do otherwise. Many of us may not believe in the role of evil spirits in sexual infidelity, but they are undoubtedly a real force. The propensity to cheat is higher for people who lack moral restraint emanating from sound spiritual laws, in which case evil spirits working through human instruments take the best of them.
- 7. As a Way of Ending an Unhappy Relationship
Yet other partners cheat as a way of ending an unhappy relationship. When their love turns sour and they don’t find anymore happiness or fulfillment in their relationship, and yet are unwilling to openly discuss such feelings or explicitly ask for a breakup, a number of partners simply resort to cheating. They usually do this openly, expecting that their partners will initiate the breakup once they find out about their infidelity.
In conclusion, Cheating is wrong and unacceptable in relationships. Knowing your partner’s emotional, physiological and sexual needs and doing your best to help satisfy them can sometimes help you prevent cheating in your relationship. But sometimes the reasons your partner may cheat would not be in your power to control, in which case the pain and heartbreak is unavoidable. It is therefore important to choose a partner who has a good character and sound religious beliefs.
Sometimes, it is so tempting to fall back and refuse to trust anyone ever again in another relationship when you are cheated upon once. But even in the most disappointing of circumstances, there is always a lot more trust to give if we can just learn to give it unreservedly.
Like a blind man trying to cross the road at a busy intersection, we all have to learn to trust the next passing stranger or we will never step on the other side of the road.
This article was adopted from a book in progress. All comments are welcome.