Why Do People Cheat? Dr. Helen Fisher Explains

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couple wondering why people cheat

Many cheaters claim to truly love the very partner they have wronged, and usually we doubt their sincerity. After all, loving someone means maintaining a certain level of trust, honor and commitment, right?

Why do people cheat in relationships?

Biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher says that the most common reason people have for cheating on someone they love is isn't as simple as them never having been in love with their current partner in the first place.

Rather, the number one reason why people cheat is that human beings are biologically driven to form romantic and sexual connections with others.

"Romantic love is not an emotion, it's a drive," Fisher states in her TED Talk on the subject. "And in fact," she continues, "I think it's more powerful than the sex drive."

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Fisher conducted an experiment with a team of scientists where they scanned the brains of people who were in love. She and her team showed subjects a neutral photo first, followed by a photo of someone that they love in order to record which region of the brain became active.

The results showed that part of the brain responsible for governing the reward system became active when a people looked at a photo of their lover. This is the same region that becomes active when you do cocaine, when a mother looks at her child, and even when you pet a puppy.

What complicates things is that romantic love isn't the only thing that drives men and women when we feel when we're falling for someone.

There are actually three types of drives humans have that lead to us to experience feelings of love:

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  1. Sex drive: This is the desire which dictates how often a person wants sex.
  2. The drive toward romantic love: This is what makes us direct our energy to only one person.
  3. The drive toward attachment: This is the need we feel for security with a long-term partner that allows us to raise children with them.

Which means, dun, dun, dun ... "In short, we're capable of loving more than one person at a time," explains Fisher.

And that's why people cheat. Because it's scientifically possible to feel deep attachment to a long-term partner at the same time, you feel intense romantic love toward someone else and at the same time feel sexual attraction toward another person, Fisher explains.

Obviously, this doesn't make cheating right, and it certainly won't make you, the cheated-upon, feel any better.

But at least now you may understand the scientific reasons why cheaters can be truly genuine about the love they have for their partner, even while they're sleeping with someone else.

RELATED: 10 Tell-Tale Signs He's Cheating On You

Nicole Weaver is a love and entertainment writer.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on July 23, 2018 and was updated with the latest information.