Add CIA Director General David Petraeus' name to the list of people who have been caught cheating recently. So, what is it that people who cheat are after? Why would these successful, intelligent people risk their marriages, reputations and careers? There are so many questions and a multitude of opinions.
Being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, I am not surprised by this latest sex scandal involving the 4-star general and CIA director. Ask any marriage counselor you know; they keep their schedules full with couples who are trying to make sense of an affair or someone's sex addiction.* As long as people have affairs, sadly, I and other therapists will have a stable source of income.
The facts being reported by multiple sources about Patraeus are that he has been married for 37 years to Holly and has two adult children. He has had a 37-year career as a government employee and is a war hero. He also admitted to an affair with Paula Broadwell, a married woman with two small children. Patraeus' fall from grace is being reported across the globe displayed for all to see. His story is not unique; it is just public. Both families are likely experiencing the intense and unbearable pain of betrayal.
Given that there are so many people being exposed in sexual scandals recently, let's see what we can learn about this widespread epidemic of unfaithfulness:
1. Why do cheaters cheat? Character flaw or mistake? Based on research and psychological theories, people cheat due to unmet needs of the cheater. These unmet needs can be feelings of being valued, special or appreciated.
Often in marriages, the initial spark loses its flame. The couple then stops investing in their relationship. They exist in their home, focusing on raising their children. Often they don't know how to work on their relationship to make it more satisfying. Continue reading.
*To be clear, I refuse to diagnose people with sexual addiction based on news reports as it is unethical to do so.
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