The Science Behind Why People Cheat

The science behind cheating and the strength behind not straying.

Last updated on Feb 23, 2023

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There’s a popular YouTube video going viral called "The Science of Cheating" that explains in scientific terms the reasons some people are more apt to cheat than others.

With lots of curious scientific terms and talk of why some people are more prone to addictive behaviors than others, the video offers an interesting look at why cheating can provide us with as much pleasure as exercising, eating great food or other pleasurable activities.


It also examines that "once a cheater, always a cheater" mantra that seems so appropriate for some folks who seem to not know how to stay faithful.

But throughout all the scientific talk, the video does address how cheating on one’s spouse can be a passive-aggressive tactic used by cheaters to take some of their power back.

RELATED: Why Cheating Should Never Be Considered Normal

Here is the science behind why people cheat:

1. Cheating is a means of relief or gaining power

We’ve all probably seen a henpecked man whose wife dictates his every move. Perhaps he’s more of the passive type who, for whatever reason, allows her to do so.


By dictating who can be his friends and micro-managing his life, the nagging wife may have believed she’s won the war of never letting a man control her. In actuality, she could be sending him straight into the arms of another seemingly kinder and more understanding woman. 

The same holds true for a wife who feels too dominated by her husband.

If the husband continues to lay down the law to his less confrontational wife instead of listening to her needs for more real conversation and romance, he could also unwittingly send her into the bed of another man.

RELATED: A Sociologist Explains What Makes People Cheat (& 3 Major Things That Make Having An Affair Likely)


2. Cheating provides an exciting emotional lift

The most common refrain that marriage counselors hear in the wake of an adulterous affair is that the affair made the cheater feel "alive." 

Adultery can seem exciting at first. But only until someone imagines the consequences. At that point, they would be well served to stop and think of a better path. 

That, in and of itself is the key to putting the parking brake on an adulterous affair before it begins, or even after it starts: A love psychic might tell a person their affair partner could be the love of their lives, but the Lord alone knows if that’s right.

Stranger things have happened. Some folks have experienced successful marriages even after those unions began in tawdry ways, through adulterous relations, despite what statistics and edicts claim about "the same way you got them is the way you’ll lose them" and the like.


The key involves forgiveness and a contrite heart.

RELATED: 7 Tough-But-Honest Reasons Why People Cheat — Emotionally And Physically

3. Cheating fulfills dangerous fantasies 

So while holier-than-thou types will try and make you believe they’ve never had a lusty thought nor engaged in adulterous affairs, we all know the truth is different.

And that truth can mean a person has considered an affair, engaged in an affair, or has looked down the road and has decided to do better for themselves, their families and their spouses.


This doesn’t mean looking down our noses at cheaters, but it means we're thankful that love does indeed cover a multitude of our sins and that we see the benefits of avoiding adultery every day.

RELATED: 7 Unexpected Reasons People Cheat

Paula Mooney is a writer whose essays and articles have been featured in national print magazines such as Writer's Digest, and in major online publications like Yahoo, Examiner, and more.