Understanding Infidelity: Why We Cheat

By

hand cheater
Can you handle the truth?

"Why" is usually the hardest and most painful question to address after someone cheats. It's easier to answer "where," "when" and "how," but those questions rarely offer the answers that fill your deepest needs. "Why?" is the one resounding question that will echo through your mind  long after an affair.

And the answers can vary. Even scientists and therapists don't have a clear reason to exlpain why people cheat. In fact, when researchers question men and women about cheating, men brag about their supposed infidelities while women minimize, lie and cover up their affairs. Helen Fisher, a social anthropologist, says it's for good reason: Women have traditionally suffered from the revelation of infidelity more than men. Women can lose their children, their financial support and even risk domestic violence as a result.

Still, lots of people do it. Almost half of those in committed relationships cheat. Those who don't probably think about it. A staggering 98 percent of people have fantasies of people other than their mates. With the prevalence of social networks like Facebook, it is easier than ever to act out those fantasies, either online or in real time. But why do people cheat?

Contrary to popular belief, affairs do not always happen when people are unhappy in their relationships. Actually, some say 80 percent of affairs happen because of opportunity. If this is true, it doesn't matter how often you have sex with your spouse or whether or not you take out the garbage, your marriage is at risk for infidelity. Cutting out friends of the opposite sex doesn't work, nor does restricting time on the internet. What works is honesty.

Tell your partner how you feel. If he does cheat, ask him "why?" Ask him to be honest with you. Let him know you are ready to sit down and have an honest, heart-to-heart talk about what was going on in your relationship prior to the affair.

Are you ready to hear the whole story from his perspective?  If not, get real friendly with the "why?" because sometimes it's easier to wonder than it is to know the truth.

Tammy Nelson, PhD is a sex and relationship expert and the author of The New Monogamy; Erotic Recovery After Infidelity and Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together.

More on cheating from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Tammy Nelson

Counselor/Therapist

Tammy Nelson, PhD, LPC http://www.drtammynelson.com/ email me at tammy@drtammynelson.com

Location: Ridgefield, CT
Credentials: LPC, PhD
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Sex Therapy
Other Articles/News by Tammy Nelson:

Would You Stay Together If Your Partner Cheats?

By

If you have ever been cheated on, you know the pain and heartache that comes from betrayal. The hurt can last a long time, maybe even years.  So why should you stay?  Your friends and family will tell you “once a cheater, always a cheater.” But is that always the case? These days, 65% of couples stay together after an ... Read more

6 Steps To Moving Past An Affair And Reclaiming Your Lost Love

By

For many couples, an affair feels like the absolute end of the marriage or committed partnership. And for some it is. An affair can be what I call a "can opener," or a good excuse to end the relationship. But for other couples, staying together might mean hard work and a renewed commitment to one another, and with a clear path and some dedication to ... Read more

Can An Affair Ever Be Positive?

By

Intrusive thoughts, pictures of your partner with someone else, and the anger toward the one who cheated can all ruin what once felt like a deep, connected partnership.  Yet some couples seem to stay together after one partner cheats.  How do they do it? And are they really happy? Some couples who come to me for couple’s therapy see their ... Read more

See More

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.