If infidelity is calling to you, try these steps to avoid cheating.
Have you been concocting various erotic scenarios that involve someone other than your spouse? Perhaps you've taken things a step further, and you're in the midst of a flirtation with someone, or you've been exchanging sexually charged emails or text messages.
The truth is that you're not daydreaming, you're thinking about cheating and these urges can quickly become too strong to resist. When you're caught up in the midst of a new attraction, you might not be able to see the reasons behind why you're looking to stray.
Take a look at the top reasons you might be thinking about cheating and see if you recognize yourself—and find possible alternatives to looking outside your marriage for fulfillment.
1. Boredom in the relationship. Whether you've been together two years or more than ten, by now that new relationship feeling has worn off. Sex has become predictable and sometimes it even feels like you have nothing to say to one another.
Cheating alternative: "It's time to reboot your imaginations," says Dr. Patti Britton, author of The Art of Sex Coaching. "Get creative. Do something you have never done before together, like go to a strip club or an erotica expo. Change your patterns with touch and sex—whatever you did before, do the opposite. Variety sparks the dopamine response in our brains, causing us to feel that something is in fact new."
2. You don't get enough attention from your spouse. Work. Kids. Some days it seems like your spouse's attention is on everything except you. You want someone to ask you about what's going on in your life and to maybe give you a back massage once in a while—without you having to ask.
Cheating alternative: Britton suggests that if you want more attention, you should first try giving your spouse more. "Put notes to him all over his mirror in the morning. Be proactive at getting his attention. Showing more interest in [your partner] could result in the same toward you."
3. You want confirmation of your attractiveness. After settling into a marriage or long-term relationship, you may have forgotten what it feels like to be desired (for something other than your cooking, financial support or parenting).
Cheating alternative: "Go out with one of your other happily married friends, flirt it up and then go home with all that confidence and self-esteem and sleep with your guy," says Ian Kerner, sex and relationships counselor and author of "Sex Recharge." "Sometimes a little harmless flirting can keep the real harm of infidelity away and be channeled back into your own love life."
4. You're a thrill seeker. Do you find yourself taking dangerous risks in other areas of your life? The potential disaster that an affair can cause might actually be pulling you toward putting your marriage on the line.
Cheating alternative: "Start finding ways to share thrills with your partner," says Kerner. "From scary movies to roller coasters to skydiving class to calling in sick to work together and playing hooky, find ways to vary your routine, introduce thrills and enjoy the sex that can come after."
5. You're no longer attracted to your spouse. If your significant other has gained weight or simply stopped taking pride in his appearance, it can be difficult to see him in a sexual way.
Cheating alternative: Suggest taking a walk together after dinner or preparing healthy meals together. This way you can get your spouse looking his best and spend more time together. Be sure not to put him down. "Positive encouragement will go a long way toward helping him get back to his personal best," says Britton.
6. You married young, and your interests have changed. If you got married in your early twenties, chances are you've changed a lot over the years, and you and your spouse may have grown apart. When you meet another man who feels passionate about the same things that you do, it's only natural you would gravitate toward her.
Cheating alternative: "You don't have to do everything together," says Kerner. "Great relationships require being great individuals, and you need to be able to do your own thing, have your own friends and take time for yourself. Of course, you should try to develop new common interests and activities together, but you also need the trust to grow as individuals."
7. Looking for an out of your relationship. Perhaps you've known for some time that you no longer want to be married but you're not ready to sit down and that difficult conversation. It's possible that part of you wants to get caught with another person, or that you're too scared to leave the marriage and be on your own.
Cheating alternative: Running into the arms of another man will not solve your problem -- it will only compound it. Before things can change, you have to be honest with yourself and your significant other. "Get a good therapist or coach to resolve this critical conflict," says Britton.
8. You're in a new situation. Have you recently lost weight, started a new job or taken up a new hobby? You're excited about a new phase in your life, and, intentionally or not, your spouse may be getting left behind in favor of someone who is a part of your new lifestyle.
Cheating alternative: "New changes bring new challenges, and it's easy to shut your partner out and feel like he just wouldn't understand," says Kerner. "Make your husband or wife part of your team. You'd be surprised how much a spouse can understand, support and advise. Whether it's a new job, a new hobby or a new diet, you can still be inclusive."
9. Your spouse is not into sex. When two people have very different levels of libido, this can cause difficulties. When one party never feels like making love, it can cause a real rift in the fabric of your relationship and cause you to go looking elsewhere.
Cheating alternative: Before looking outside the marriage for fulfillment, be sure to communicate with your spouse and see if a compromise can be reached. "Couples need to own the differences and then find compromises that allow the lower -desire person to meet the higher-desire one at least halfway," says Britton.
10. Because your marriage has become long distance. It's difficult enough to maintain a happy marriage when you're in the same house together. But if one of you has to be away for a job or military service, the distance can put a strain on things. You may be feeling lonely and start looking to someone else to fill the gap.
Cheating alternative: "Absence can and should make the heart grow fonder, and luckily there's phone-sex, sexting and even computer-enabled sex toys that can keep you in touch with the sexual side of your relationship," says Kerner.
11. Because he cheated on you. Your spouse cheated on you in the past, but part of you has not truly forgiven him. You may be looking for revenge, and so you tell yourself stepping out on him will even the playing field.
Cheating alternative: "Revenge is never going to get you the life you want; it's a reactive not a proactive mode," says Britton. "Focus on what you want to have again in this relationship or get out of it.
12. You're overcome with desire. You value your marriage, and you love and are attracted to your partner. You may even have a great sex life, but these days, someone else is catching your eye and putting butterflies in your stomach. The nagging thoughts of what it would be like won't go away.
Cheating alternative: "Flirtatious friendships can easily spiral out of control, so watch out if you're spending too much time with the object of your fluttering stomach," says Kerner. "On the other hand, many women fantasize sexually about other men, even when they're having sex with their husbands. Nothing wrong with a fantasy, just don't turn it into reality."
Written by Ronnie Koenig for AOL Health. Read more:
- When Your Friend's Spouse Is Having an Affair
- 20 Percent of You is in Love with Someone Else
- Infidelity: How Couples Cope