Why Do People Cheat? A Look Into Reddit's Adultery Forum

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why do people cheat
Love, Heartbreak

In mainstream society, love is defined by a number of different things. It’s defined as a special bond between two people that involves emotion, experience, understanding, and trust. When we love someone, we trust that person to do right by us and to be there with us. We define love by honesty, but sadly, honesty isn’t always that easy to find.

Affairs are breaches of the very honesty we expect from our partners — and as such, we as a society rightfully see affairs as bad. They literally fly in the face of everything that love and commitment stand for. In a word, they’re about as selfish an act as you can get.

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But why do people cheat? For the most part, people who have affairs are not proud of it. In fact, they will often find ways to justify it or do what they can to keep it as hush-hush as humanly possible. They know what they’re doing is wrong.

At the very least, most people will do what they can to at least appear to be a decent person to their spouses. But as the internet can always teach us, there’s going to be at least a handful of people who don’t get the memo about being a decent person

Out in one corner of Reddit appears to be such a cabal. In the forum known as r/adultery, people stop thinking about the promises they made to their spouses and start talking about how finding a side piece is a lifestyle choice.

Here, cheating partners gush about affair partners while praising one another for keeping things a secret.

A quick look at Reddit’s adultery forum will lead you to a lot of different topics. Many of them involve advice on how to convince someone to be a side piece, or how to avoid falling in love with an affair partner. I decided that it was time to take a closer look at how deep the rabbit hole goes.

“I'm meeting her at the end of the month! We are both excited and trying to remain calm. I am a gentleman and just wanted to share the excitement with the world!” —​RandFLman​

“We were both nervous at the beginning but that fades within 10 minutes. It was the best hour of my week. The excitement, the unknown, the don't get caught — everything was so great. I wanna meet her again, she wants to meet me, but our agendas, with work, kids, marriage, makes it pretty difficult to see each other every week. Just wanted to vent, I can't tell anybody and I'm feeling so good!” —​FWF84

In almost any other circle, people who would hear these quotes would think they are talking to an excited high schooler who just asked a girl out on a date for the first time. However, it’s not two kids talking; it’s married people discussing the enjoyment they’re getting from cheating on their partner.

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When you’re reading these confessions, it’s so hard to remember what they’re doing is wrong... until you hear people mention skills for keeping spouses unaware, talking about how their spouses never care, and then discuss why it’s okay to cheat rather than break up.

For those of us who don’t stray, what really sets aside Reddit’s r/adultery from other forums is the sheer amount of advice given to people who are pursuing an affair.

The “rules” are laid out in plain English, warning others to avoid getting emotionally attached, and to keep mum about it to everyone but fellow r/adultery members. Of course, the number one rule in this forum is “Don’t judge.” The denial is strong here.

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By now, many people are probably wondering how people can be so chill with cheating on their partners. After all, it’s clear that they know they’re wrong. However, there’s something to be said about cognitive dissonance. People who are in the wrong very rarely will openly admit what they’re doing is unethical or wrong.

In r/adultery, the name of the game is denial — or justification. Almost every post will have at least one comment that suggests that a cheater is justified, and scarily, there are some pretty valid arguments at times.

“In a dead bedroom for a few years now. Working on improving things with my wife. I subscribed for a dating site and within a week I was hitting it off with a nice woman I met on there.” —​Fwf84​

While many will say that the affair is somehow helping their family life or spouses, others are more about the “levels of cheating.” Even more make mention of the fact that they know they’re in the wrong, but the loss they’d incur from the breakup makes it the only viable option for them.

For some, though, the guilt seems to be very real... sort of.

When asked if she thinks of her affair partner when having sex with her spouse: “Yes I do think of him, in the sense that more and more I feel guilty for cheating on him. Sex with my husband is no chore; he's very good, I just don't want to. I find myself increasingly unsatisfied with the experience and crave the things the boyfriend does and says.” —​Stillfeellikehisgirl

One theme that you’ll see pretty frequently on this board is how much they wish their affair partner would have been the person they married. Sometimes, it’s accompanied by how bad their marriages are, or why they’re dissatisfied with their current partners. It's downright heartbreaking at times.

“I get the affection, but not the sex. So now, I don’t want the affection either. It’s a hollow replacement for passion, desire and intimacy.” —​lolachica​

It’s this part of r/adultery that turns the entire forum into a bittersweet thing to behold. It makes you wonder, “What if?”

What if you didn’t really meet the One when you thought you did? What if it just wasn’t meant to be with your spouse, but rather, some random stranger? Is love truly a sham, the way these people treat it, or were they just misguided on what love really is?

“And those of us who've found their match, those with that emotional bond, we allow our minds to wander. What would things be like if we'd met just a few years earlier? What would things be like if our partners weren't in the picture? What would life be like if we were free? Many of us end up grieving a life that we never had, a life that will never be. It can be exhausting maintaining a relationship with a firm foundation but no walls. Because those foundations may be strong enough to withstand a powerful earthquake, they may stay firm despite storms and fires and destruction, but foundations alone can never be a home.” —​ohtinystargazer

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