Where there's a gene, there's a way.
Let’s be real, consistently choosing fidelity can be a difficult decision.
The idea of, from time to time, stepping out of our 'ordinary' lives and entering a fantasy world, is a curious one at the least. It’s human nature to want what we can't have, and when the desire wins over will, we end up crossing the line.
Why Do Some People Cheat?
Well, scientists have found a gene that could explain why some individuals cheat. In a recent study, participants that had at least one affair in the past had longer alleles (part of the DNA structure that determines traits, such as hair and eye color) within their DRD4 dopamine receptors. These receptors are located in the reward center of the brain and are responsible for providing our sense of pleasure.
That doesn't mean that everyone with longer alleles will cheat. It just means that those with longer alleles could be at a higher risk of becoming addicted to thrilling behaviors.
The rewarding sensation they experience from certain activities is heightened, making those activities more addictive. Whether it’s more dopamine receptors or longer alleles, there is some mechanism making their reward feel more intense.
Leaving any opportunity that allows them to feel euphoric is very difficult, as that feeling is EXTREMELY addicting.
Is Cheating Addictive?
Yes! The high from the lust hormones is just as powerful as shooting up with heroin. This is why I’m compassionate to those who stray.
No relationship is immune from infidelity. I believe that cheaters are moral people that acted on what some only fantasize about.
The New Perspective
This study provides a new perspective for those who have been destroyed by betrayal or feel an affinity towards the forbidden.
The reasons why some individuals cheat vary — several crave to feel alive again, desire emotional connection or search for parts of themselves missing in their marriage. Ester Perel recently stated in a TED Talk, “When we seek the gaze of another it is not always our partner we are turning away from, but the person we ourselves have become.”
Attempting to figure out what drives people to cheat is no different than trying to determine why some snort cocaine. There isn't one clear answer.
The results from this study give us an opportunity to look at cheaters through a new lens. If a loved one struggled with a gambling, drug, or alcohol addiction, you’d help him or her find a suitable treatment.
In time, it is my hope that scientists will present a strong enough argument to entice others to have compassion for those addicted to the forbidden rather than casting stones.
Jessica Miller M.A. is an infidelity specialist. For more information about infidelity coaching services, please visit southmetrocounseling.com and complete the free assessment.