facebook

6 Sad Reasons Men And Women Have Affairs (& How To Prevent Future Infidelity)

Photo: Getty
How To Prevent Infidelity By Knowing The 6 Main Reasons Why Men & Women Cheat In Relationships
Heartbreak

Affair-proof your relationship.

Do you believe that your commitment to marriage is enough to keep your spouse from having an affair and protect your relationship from infidelity?

As common and devastating as affairs are, most people don’t understand why people cheat. But understanding the main reasons why men and women cheat and being "affair aware" could actually be the key to preventing adultery and unfaithfulness in your marriage.

RELATED: The 5 Main Reasons Why Men Cheat (And What You Can Do To Stop It)

If you don’t understand the "why's" of betrayal, then simply said, your relationship is vulnerable to the devastation of infidelity because you won't be able to recognize the signs that your partner is on the verge of cheating or having an affair.

You really can prevent years of suffering — not to mention thousands of dollars in therapy, repair work, or divorce — by becoming affair aware and knowing how to recognize the signs of cheating before it ruins your relationship.

Here are 6 sad reasons why men and women cheat and how understanding these triggers can prevent infidelity in your relationship.

1. They lose their emotional connection with their spouse.

In most cases, affairs are symptoms of a loss of emotional connection.

So what is an emotional connection, and why is it so important for keeping a relationship secure and healthy? Why will being emotionally connected in a relationship keep you safe from betrayal?

Simply said, an emotional connection is when you and your partner care about what each other feels. There's nothing more healing than our partner's compassionate understanding when we are in emotional pain. And there's nothing more hurtful, and potentially damaging, than being emotionally ignored by the person we love the most. Have you been there, felt that distance, and longed for emotional connection?

When your partner does not respond to your emotional pain with compassion and understanding, you feel hurt and rejected. This is true for everyone!

If your emotions are not responded to, eventually you'll either shut down or get angry. Both shutting down and getting angry will cause damaging arguments and dangerous distance in the relationship.

This is one major way couples prepare the stage for an affair.

2. A friendship turned into something more.

Few people intend to have an affair. Most affairs begin with an innocent friendship. Sure, some affairs are calculated and driven by sexual desire. And even then this drive is often a result of unmet needs. But this is not true most of the time.

So what do you suppose might happen if you aren't emotionally connected with your partner, and a friend or coworker outside your marriage responds to your emotional hurt with compassion?

You may as well brace yourself for a huge release of the new love chemical called dopamine. Did you know that the dopamine released in a new love relationship has a greater impact on you than a hit of cocaine? It feels so good that you will want more!

This is true for all new love relationships. They are consuming and create a euphoric feeling that most have difficulty escaping. The dopamine will open up your feelings. You'll feel alive and on top of the world. The power of this drug can't be overestimated, especially in the middle of an emotionally distant marriage.

So becoming affair aware is about knowing that emotional distance in a relationship will make you more susceptible to reaching out to a friend for emotional comfort. This opens the door for new love attraction that is overwhelmingly powerful and deceptive. You can easily believe that the new love emotions that you are feeling are true love.

All new lovers suddenly become poets. It's under the influence of dopamine that you become uninhibited and are able to express your most deeply felt needs and desires. You can write beautiful poems and text seductive bait to lure your lover into your clutches.

When you're under the influence of dopamine, you're basically out of your mind, kind of dopey. But the experience feels so great that you want more and more of it.

With dopamine on board, you'll do almost anything to protect the feeling that you're pretty sure is true love.

If you believe this deception, you will distance yourself from your spouse because you believe that you don't love them anymore. And so begins the deception.

3. They fall for new love instead of recognizing lasting love.

Becoming affair aware is about understanding that new love is not true love. True love is enduring love. It is the love that creates families and support through good and bad times. True love is a deep and abiding, knowing that your partner loves you as you are and will be with you through thick and thin.

True, enduring, mature love is driven by a chemical the brain releases called oxytocin. It is the bonding hormone that mothers have when they breastfeed. It causes you to want to protect and nurture the person that you're bonded with. Oxytocin is released through emotional connection.

The emotional connection between child and mother bonds them together in the same way it bonds adults together.

It’s true. Humans are all big babies. You bond as adults the same way that babies bond to their mothers through emotional mirroring.

RELATED: The Age Women Are Most Likely To Cheat

4. They don't understand attachment styles.

Mary Ainsworth was a pioneer researcher in the field of attachment theory. She found that when mothers remain emotionally distant from their infants, children have insecure attachments with their parents.

When children are emotionally insecure they are clingy and difficult to comfort or they become distant and difficult to connect with. She called these insecure ways of relating attachment styles — either anxious or avoidant.

Now, thousands of research studies have shown that these same attachment styles exist in adult love relationships.

Part of becoming affair aware is about understanding your and your partner's attachment styles. About a third of people have insecure attachment styles that will make it difficult to stay emotionally connected. Unless of course, you understand them.

If you grew up with an insecure emotional connection with your parents, you are more vulnerable to being insecure and emotionally disconnected in your adult love relationship. Emotional disconnection will make you or your partner more vulnerable to a betrayal.

You don't have to be a research scientist to understand attachment styles, and your attachment style doesn't limit your choices of a lifetime partner. But understanding it is an important part of making sure you know what you need to feel secure in a relationship and what your partner does as well.

5. They weigh the challenges of kids, work, and other aspects of their lives.

Another thing that makes relationships vulnerable to affairs is the parallel lives you create when setting up dual careers.

Modern day is a dangerous time for relationships. The culturally expected dual-career marriage puts extraordinary stress on a couple's capacity to nurture their emotional connection.

This becomes even more challenging when children are thrown into the mix. It can become unbelievably difficult to find even 30 minutes a day to connect with each other. That's an accident, or affair, waiting to happen!

It takes time to wind down after a hard day. It takes time to give kids dinner, baths, stories, and put them to bed. And it takes time to emotionally connect with your partner and to give intimacy a chance to be expressed.

Emotional connection is the muscle that holds your relationship together. It has to be exercised to maintain its strength.

6. They don't know the signs so they can't get help.

The last part of being affair aware is knowing what to do if you don't know how to emotionally connect. It's about being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of disconnect. It's about recognizing and taking action if your relationship is already in trouble.

There's nothing wrong with asking for help when you feel like your relationship is on the verge of disconnect.

And if an affair has already happened to you, then you understand the deep pain and destruction cheating can cause in relationships. The mere mention of this topic may even give you flashbacks due to unhealed emotional memories, since about 70 percent of people who have been betrayed by a cheating spouse have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

If that’s you, please don’t live with the betrayal trauma. There is no shame in asking for help.

And if you're just hoping to prevent infidelity and protect your marriage, then congratulations! If you've made it this far you're already more affair aware than you were a few minutes ago. When you keep your eye out on these six reasons, you really can relax and enjoy a safe, loving, and fun lifetime relationship.

RELATED: Why Happily Married Men Cheat On The Wives They Love

Michael W. Regier, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and certified emotionally focused couples' therapist and EFT supervisor in central California. He and his wife Paula are authors of the book Emotional Connection: The Story & Science of Preventing Conflict & Creating Lifetime Love. They have developed Relationship Foundations, an online learning course which helps couples become affair aware and create secure lifetime relationships.