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Why do people cheat?

07 July 2016, 18:49Nielen de Klerk

It’s a sad truth in life. People cheat. People in seemingly loving relationships betray their partners. But is it all about sex or are there other reasons?

According to Psychology Today there are three primary reasons why people cheat: Individual reasons, relationship reasons and situational reasons.  For ease of reading, we’ve split various reasons into these categories.

• Individual reasons

When it comes to individual reasons, there are various personal traits that would make a person less (or more) likely to cheat.  A person who is, for example, overly religious or more conscientious is generally less likely to cheat. 

Most women have affairs for very different reasons than men, says Rutgers University biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her? And Why We Love? This hasn’t been proven or disproven, but apparently has something to do with women’s motivations often being something other than sexual.

Fisher says women are often more likely to fall in love with the person they cheated with, whereas men often cite purely sexual reasons for their infidelity.  Women are also more likely to have affairs because of loneliness.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. Bestselling author and relationship expert, says in Huffington Post, people often cheat because of self-abandonment. This self-abandonment leads to an ‘inner emptiness’ which in turn leads to a person looking for ways to be externally filled up – like with gambling, drug and alcohol abuse etc.
Paul believes when self-abandonment is present in the case of infidelity, it’s usually because of an addiction to things like approval, sex or attention.

• Relationships

People also cheat because of issues in their relationships (sad, but true). There might be something in their relationship that is unsatisfying. Unfulfilling sex, boredom, revenge, dissatisfaction and high conflict are all reasons people cheat.

According to M Gary Neuman, a psychotherapist and best-selling author, most cheating occurs after a man (or woman) has formed a close relationship with the person they will eventually cheat with. Neuman believes when men feel disconnected at home, they’re more likely to cheat.

It may just be that couples may just lose their appreciation of each other.

The answer, Neuman says, is making your relationship successful. He says to keep in mind what it takes to be successful in every other part of life: focus and time.

• Situational reasons

Something in a person’s situation might be causing him/her to cheat even if they’re in a happy relationship or wouldn’t be a cheater otherwise. A person might spend a lot of time in the company of a very attractive person or might be employed in a job that requires a lot of one-on-one time with someone else.

Money is another situational reason. According to research cited in the Independent, the likelihood of an affair rises if one partner is financially dependent on the other.

Experts mostly agree on one thing, though. There isn’t a universal reason why people cheat. It’s generally differs from person to person.



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