These 10 Common Beliefs About Infidelity Are Actually Just Myths

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Why Do People Cheat? Common Beliefs We Have About Infidelity That Are Actually Just Myths

By Shreyasi Debnath

Myths about cheaters? Yes, you read that right.

Maybe you should go back and read that once again and let that sink in.

Some people are of the belief that cheating is what some people are actively seeking to get rid of their monotonous relationships and that cheaters are the most treacherous and heinous creatures on this earth.

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They are better done away with, because who on earth cheats? How can someone commit such an unforgivable crime? Crime, indeed it is.

But when (if) you ever find your partner cheating on you, do not jump into hasty conclusions. Before you make some biased assumptions regarding cheating and cheaters, do consider this list of 10 cheating myths.

However unbelievable they might sound, these 10 myths about cheating truly need to be done away with.

1. Cheaters intentionally get involved in affairs.

It is time we stop believing that cheaters are out there with a hidden agenda to toss you out of their lives and destroy your good night’s sleep. No! Infidelity does not function that way.

Affairs outside of the relationship are as equally surprising for both the person who is cheating and also the person being cheated on. Even people who stray find it difficult to point out what really made them do it.

Dr. Tasso says, “Inadvertent cheating is when you innocently start chatting with someone like a friend or old acquaintance, perhaps via social media, for example. From there it can turn into something more than just casual, whether emotional or physical.” He rightfully says that the internet is a “fertile ground for infidelity.”

A survey designed by Divorce-Online, a UK-based legal services firm had the word "Facebook" mentioned in the form as a reason behind infidelity.

2. Cheaters are never guilty.

If someone is cheating they would probably not feel guilty, because it’s their conscious decision. No. If this is the case, then we human beings might be perfect.

Like most of us, people who slip on the slippery slope of infidelity also have a conscience. It is wrong to assume that cheaters are psychopaths.

Dr. Kurt Smith says, “I’ve found that most cheaters really do have a conscience. Many people who cheat didn’t set out to do so. A lot of time, cheating just develops out of one bad decision followed by another bad decision."

You might have varying reactions – anger, frustration, resentment, grief to your cheating partner, but it doesn’t mean your partner enjoys cheating on you — they’ll probably just not show how they feel about it.

Dr. Kurt says, “Once they’ve crossed that line, it’s easier to justify it, keep on cheating, and enjoy the ride while it lasts.”

3. Affairs only happen in a glitched relationship.

No matter how surprising it sounds, an unhappy relationship is seldom a cause for an extra affair. Paradoxically, cheating happens even when the cheater is satisfied and happy with his/her significant other.

The act of cheating is symbolic of something that is lacking in the relationship, in your partner or yourself. For instance, the need for self-exploration might be a very strong reason behind seeking affection outside one’s relationship.

Perel writes, “People stray for a multitude of reasons and every time I think I have heard them all, a new variation emerges. But, one theme comes up repeatedly: affairs as a form of self-discovery, a quest for a new (or lost) identity. For these seekers, infidelity is less likely to be a symptom of a problem and is more often described as an expansive experience that involves growth, exploration, and transformation.”

Overall, it is safe to say that people in happy relationships might also give in to cheating to seek the thrill of the forbidden and to experience the excitement of newfound emotions. It has very little to do with the nature of the present relationship.

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4. A cheater today is a cheater tomorrow.

Tammy Nelson, a couples therapist and the author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity says, “When we assume 'once a cheater, always a cheater,' we deeply underestimate people’s ability to change.”

This saying simply sells people short. To believe the cheating myth that cheaters cannot change is to discredit one powerful human emotion: guilt.

What connection does this have with cheating? Couple therapists have to say that the guilt that cheaters are overcome with slowly gnaws at their conscience and it doesn’t let the wrong settle in them.

Once a person realizes the pain one has inflicted on his/her partner by cheating on them, they will never want to go back to experience the aftermath of cheating.

5. People who cheat are narcissistic manipulators.

Not all narcissistic manipulators are cheaters. Some narcissists will never cheat on you with other people, yet subtly keep manipulating and controlling you throughout the relationship.

Not everyone who cheats is the evil monster you think them to be.

Anthony Tasso, Ph.D., ABPP, a clinical psychologist in Whippany, New Jersey says, “Some cheaters have a more deeply ingrained unconscious, self-sabotaging style. At the core, they don’t feel worthy of a healthy relationship, so the affair becomes an avenue to undermine and possibly destroy their partnership.”

6. Only sexual involvement counts as cheating.

Micro-cheating is the term used to define seemingly irrelevant and insignificant actions on the part of a person that speaks infidelity, even without crossing the physical line. This means holding hands, harmlessly flirting with them, explicitly declaring that you have something for them, or even getting emotionally attached and dependent on them also counts as ‘micro’ cheating.

Interestingly, you have already crossed the line when you believe your partner would feel uncomfortable if they see your actions. Cheating is exclusively defined by the cheater and the person being cheated on.

A recent Norwegian study concludes that men and women react distinctly to different forms of cheating. Whereas men feel sexual infidelity is a bigger crime, so-called emotional infidelity is what makes women the most jealous, which means that people perceive different types of infidelity in different ways.

The next time you forgive yourself for the casual slip off with a side person, you should reconsider your definition of cheating.

RELATED: If Someone Cheats On You, It’s Because They Love You

7. Women do not cheat as frequently as men.

According to recent research by the Institute for Family Studies, men are still, in general, slightly more likely to cheat than women.

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Amica Graber, a relationship expert, says that even though cheating is more frequent in men, “it’s interesting to note that infidelity amongst women has been growing at a rapid pace since the sexual revolution. Among married adults aged 18-29, women are actually more likely to cheat than men.”

Statistics of infidelity are rapidly altering and the truth is taking the shape of a cheating myth.

8. Sexual cheating is more common in men.

It is a highly stereotyped belief that men are more likely to cheat sexually and women are more likely to emotionally cheat on their partners. On the same page, men can also cheat emotionally, even though it is less likely to happen independently.

Even if a man cheats emotionally, physical attraction is a surefire contributor to infidelity. But, Dr. Zeine says that the problem here is that, “There are times or phases in men and women’s lives where they could have sexual or emotional needs. The phases can happen for both of them.”

9. A cheater should never be trusted after an affair.

Moving back to point 4, you could easily debunk this tiring cliche about a cheater being an untrustworthy person. "Can I trust my partner again?" is an important question to ask, especially if you are a victim of infidelity.

By all means, this question will yield you nothing, as the appropriate question here is, "Why did my partner choose to betray me?" This definitely sounds simple, but is apparently difficult to consider when you are distraught with the feelings of betrayal.

Whether your cheating partner can be trusted or not greatly depends on the way you react to being betrayed, rather than on their tendency to cheat. Cheaters are more likely to realize, at some point, that refraining from the cheap thrills of infidelity is better than facing their punitive conscience.

Understanding the concerns of your partner’s betrayal starts with you being your own detective and discerning the root of the infidelity.

10. Cheaters are sexually promiscuous.

It is obvious that people who are more sexual in nature have a greater need to have their sexual thirst quenched. Hence, these people actively seek the opportunity to physically engage with as many people as possible. No. Not really.

The truth here is that, having an insatiable sexual need does not predict your partner’s possibility of cheating on you. Would you eat just about anything under the sun just because you were hungry? Probably not.

It is natural to have a different sexual appetite from your partner. But it doesn’t conclude to your partner being sexually promiscuous in nature.

To draw a line, every infidelity has a purpose. Most often, they are not well-understood or analyzed.

Rather, we like to hide under the illusion that cheaters have the sole purpose of being selfish and not thinking of their partner or that they draw some sort of crooked, sadistic pleasure by imposing pain on their partners.

It’s easier to engage in "Why me?" thoughts, instead of stopping ourselves and asking "Why?" after being cheated on. It’s time we turn the table around.

RELATED: The Surprising Reason People Cheat (And Why It's Happening Now More Than Ever Before)

Shreyasi Debnath is a writer who focuses on relationships, dating, and love. For more of her relationship content, visit her author profile on The Mind's Journal.

This article was originally published at The Mind's Journal. Reprinted with permission from the author.