'Why I Cheated' — 5 Brave People Reveal The Real Reason They Strayed

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Heartbreak

There's no sex like beginning-of-a-relationship sex.

The anticipation. The exploring. The grabbing-your-new-lover-as-soon-as-they-walk-in-the-door, throwing-them-onto-the-kitchen-table-and-making-love-with-the-fervor-of-a-Greek-god.

Inevitably, what was once fresh and unfamiliar can become boring or lackluster, and that magic can only occasionally be recaptured with your significant other through the joy of make-up sex.

But some people don't want to have to argue over whether or not it was their turn to do the dishes in order to rekindle that now unfamiliar feeling. And unfortunately, many resort to cheating.

Why do people cheat?

Infidelity statistics are notoriously hard to come by because people tend to lie on surveys, but according to estimates published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 57 percent of men and 54 percent of women surveyed have admitted to cheating in a relationship at some point in their lives.

Dave Carder, author of "Torn Asunder Workbook: Recovering From an Extramarital Affair," says that infidelity generally falls into two distinct categories.

"There are predators who are out looking all the time," Carder says, yet it's the second group of cheaters that is the more typical. "The other kind of adultery happens to people who are not looking, but they just get swept off their feet. There is a lot of shame, remorse, guilt, problems in the marriage. Those people are a very different group of people than the first group."

According to psychology, 90 percent of all Americans believe infidelity and cheating are unacceptable; however, 30-40 percent of people choose to cheat. The reasons can come from individual reasons, relationship reasons, or situational reasons.

Says relationship expert Keith Dent, "By some accounts, the lifetime prevalence of infidelity is approximately 20 to 25 percent of marriages, with men and women cheating at similar rates. There is a variety of reasons, but it all boils down to an unmet need or desire and your partner unable to fulfill it."

Men are the most likely to cheat because they have more testosterone, and the more you have, the stronger your desire to have sex.

In a study led by the University of Maryland Department of Psychology, titled "Motivations for Extradyadic Infidelity Revisited," a total of 562 adults who proved to cheat in a committed romantic relationship were asked to answer 80 questions about motivations for engaging in infidelity.

The researchers then analyzed all those responses and were able to identify eight reasons to explain why people cheat. The list includes issues with anger, sexual desire, lack of love or affection, neglect, low commitment, self-esteem issues, variety, or situational circumstances.

RELATED: 8 Things Chronic Cheaters Have In Common

What is the main cause of cheating?

According to the University of Maryland study, the main cause or key motivator for cheating was a lack of love in the participants' current relationship.

The study found that men were more likely motivated to cheat due to sexual desire, variety, and situational conditions; however, women were more likely to cheat due to neglect.

People who cheat also had motivations of anger, lack of love, or variety, where the affairs were longer. Those who cheated from situational motivations were the opposite and had shorter affairs. On average, women were also found to have longer affairs than men.

While the main cause of cheating is neglect in a relationship, what about the other reasons people cheat? Why would they cheat if they love someone?

Well, it depends on the circumstances, but sometimes people cheat on the ones they love because romantic love isn't the only thing needed to sustain a relationship; there's more than just love involved when you fall for someone, after all.

There are actually three types of human drives that lead us to experience feelings of love: sex drive, the drive towards romantic love, and the drive towards attachment.

8 Key Motivations for Cheating

1. There are problems with anger in the relationship.

Sometimes people cheat because of revenge and anger. The person who cheated might be frustrated, stressed, or irritated if their partner isn't around much, doesn't understand their needs, isn't getting what they need physically and sexually, or because of constant arguments.

The other partner might have also done something to betray the cheating partner, which is why the cheater believes there's good reason to stray from their relationship. It's simultaneously an act of revenge and a way to act out on anger.

2. One partner has a sexual desire for someone else.

The cheating partner might be feeling unsatisfied with sex or sexually unfulfilled in their current relationship, and think that finding someone new to try to fill this void will help.

There's a newfound sexual desire to find someone else with whom to start a physical relationship, one the cheater believes will satisfy their needs.

3. The cheater has fallen out of love.

Over time, one partner might have felt a change in passion and excitement in the relationship, and look elsewhere to find it. Perhaps there's no longer that loving feeling in the partnership, or spouses have grown apart. Whatever the cause, the cheating partner is no longer in love.

The cheating partner may also question whether they even really loved their partner, or if their partner was the right person for them.

"Over time your relationship changes. You either go from just being a couple to parents, or one or both of you change. You are a different person than you were when you got married," adds Dent.

4. The cheater has unmet needs in the relationship.

The cheating partner might feel like their spouse isn't giving them enough love and attention. They might feel neglected, emotionally or physically, or both.

They cheat because they feel like they don't have their partner's respect or attention. Or, they may feel that their partner is emotionally distant, and seek out that connection in another person.

5. Issues with commitment are growing.

Sometimes, a cheater may have struggled with commitment issues while in a relationship, including a lack of interest in a long-term committed relationship, wanting more of a casual relationship, or wanting a way out of the relationship.

The cheater could possibly not have understood or cared if the relationship was exclusive, or been confused about the status of the relationship.

6. There's an opportunity to meet someone new.

If there's an opportunity to cheat and your partner has been thinking about it, they might act on it.

The situation might mean drinking too much with a friend or a stranger at a bar, having sex after a night out, wanting physical comfort after being stressed, or being in an environment where physical touch and emotional connection can be found.

These situations make infidelity more likely to happen and the cheating partner can then blame it on "not thinking clearly."

7. The cheater has low self-esteem.

There may be feelings of emotional turmoil or depression, leading to low self-esteem in the cheating partner that makes things worse. And one way they believe they can feel better about themselves is through cheating.

If a partner cheats because of low self-esteem, they're trying to find someone who will make them feel empowered, attractive, confident, or successful. They think they can increase their own self-worth, feel better about themselves, and be more independent by having sex with other people.

8. There's a desire for more variety outside of the relationship.

The desire for variety is mostly based on the need and want for sex, and to experience sex with different people. Variety can mean wanting different conversations with new people or different non-sexual activities.

It can also mean wanting to attract other people and create happy relationships with them while with a current partner.

RELATED: Why Cheating Can Actually *Help* Your Marriage

What do I do if I cheated?

If you cheated on your partner, you first need to decide whether or not you disclose your affair to your partner, and if you intend to make an effort to continue the relationship. Offer your partner a sincere apology, and take steps to actively change — not with words, but with actions.

Think about why you strayed from your relationship. Are you unhappy in your marriage? Do you suffer from anger issues? Or perhaps you were just seeking something different in your life. To get to the root of the issue, consider seeing a therapist; then, cut off contact with the person with whom you cheated, and focus on fixing your relationship.

On the other hand, if you were cheated on, let your partner explain themselves and don't make any rash decisions. Let them answer all your questions and remember to not blame yourself. If you can forgive them and move on, that shows your strength and willingness to improve your relationship; however, never forgiving them can damage your mental health. For your sake, forgiveness, even if it's not immediate, is the best way to go.

According to relationship coach and psychologist Dr. Wendy Lyon, getting over being cheated on means discussing setting boundaries with your partner.

“I just spoke to a client who complains that all the women adore her charming boyfriend. He gets away with cheating on her because he’s not fully committed to having a monogamous relationship with her. When he’s around other women, he has leaking sexual energy and no clear boundaries. Helping her establish her own boundaries means she will no longer tolerate this behavior, and will advocate for the trust and love she desires,” Lyon says.

But the best way to get over being cheated on is to express your feelings to a close friend or family member and embrace the pain. Accept that you couldn't have changed what happened, but that you can grow from it and avoid jealousy or negative responses.

After your partner cheats, it's absolutely essential for the both of you to commit to honesty and maintain open communication in your relationship going forward.

Infidelity is nothing new. If Adam and Eve had more options, they'd probably have cheated on each other, as these days, it's much easier to reach for that forbidden fruit.

Everybody who cheats does it for their own reasons, but we decided to ask some real-life cheaters why they were unfaithful.

RELATED: The Reason 67% Of Married Women Want To Cheat

Here are 5 honest answers to the question "Why did you cheat?" — as explained by cheaters themselves.

1. "I cheated for a same-sex hookup."

Tamara* is a 30-year-old psychologist living in Austin. Until her last relationship, which ended when her boyfriend found out she was sleeping with a chick she met at work, she had never cheated on a lover.

"The relationship was going okay," she said. "But I had always wanted to try hooking up with a girl, and this one was the only one I had ever really been sexually attracted to."

When Tamara told her boyfriend, he reacted less enthusiastically than she anticipated. "He instantly broke up with me," she said. "He didn't even try to suggest a threesome."

In the end, she thinks she is better off. "What kind of man doesn't at least try for a threesome?" she asked.

Carder says there is nothing particularly unique about this situation, outside of the same-sex angle. He also explained that there are people out there who just like having sex with married people.

"There is a type of infidelity called 'poaching' that has some initial research behind it," he said. "That is where people actively decide to look for married people only. They don't look for anyone who might be looking for a committed or long-term relationship. They just want to sleep with other people's spouses."

Oftentimes, it is the fear of getting caught rather than any sort of admirable morality which keeps a relationship monogamous.

2. "I cheated to even the score."

"It was a long time ago, but I guess why I cheated was based on revenge," said Anthony, a 34-year-old financial analyst in Dallas.

Early on in his long-distance relationship with his current wife, he found out that she had had sex with a frat boy in the front seat of her car after a sorority mixer. He decided to pursue what had been an innocent flirtation with a woman who worked in the same building as him.

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"There is a class of relationships that was researched in the nineties," adds Carder, "a power-based relationship where the couple has to keep everything equal and level. If one spouse has an affair, the other spouse will probably go out and do it as well. It's called an 'Intimacy Avoidance Marriage.'"

"The myth is that cheaters always get caught, but that is not always true," said Anthony. "You have to respect a guy who doesn't get caught and has some busty, aging blond that no one knows in the back row of at his funeral."

3. "I cheated to feel wanted."

Another common reason to cheat is probably due to a lack of attention from one's lover.

"There is no doubt that a lot of infidelities happens as a result of boredom in a current committed relationship," Carder says. "But I think the majority of people get swept off their feet when they make contact with somebody else. They find the rush of feeling overwhelming. They haven't felt like that since junior high when they had a crush on somebody. They fell so much more alive and younger. It is something that becomes self-perpetuating and kind of takes on a life of its own."

Andrea, a 24-year-old graduate student in Austin, knows what Carder is talking about.

"I like to feel wanted by lots of people," she admitted. "My main relationship was a disaster, and while I didn't want to give up on it, I needed some validation and attention from outside. The guy I was with was incapable of giving me compliments but liked being in a relationship; the guy I was cheating with didn't want a relationship but constantly told me how great and beautiful I was. I was trying to aggregate the two into the ideal relationship."

In the end, she never came clean, but she did break up with her man — the aggregation wasn't worth the aggravation.

4. "Cheating is a way of life for me."

Experimentation, revenge, and a cry for attention are extenuating circumstances that lead to cheating. But for some people, cheating is a way of life and only further fuels the argument of once a cheater, always a cheater.

Daniel is a 29-year-old, newly married attorney in Dallas who says he has cheated on every girlfriend he has ever had. His wife doesn't know it, but he had another girlfriend when he met her and for the first few months that they were dating.

"I don't know why I do it, I just always have," he said. "One girl even caught me in bed with another girl, and though she had a fit, I swear, she liked me more after that. Obviously, it is nice to be desired, and there is a level of control when you know you are cheating, but the person you are cheating with has no idea."

"Some people need this," revealed Carter. "They need the rush. They are junkies for this kind of thing."

Daniel isn't the only attorney participating in extra-curricular debriefings.

Thirty-eight-year-old Laura moved to Washington, DC to practice law when she got married ten years ago. Although she admitted she cheated on her husband by sleeping with nine other men since exchanging vows with her hubby, she says she has a good marriage. In fact, she credits cheating with keeping her and her husband together.

"I am happily married, but I live a double life," she confessed. "I travel, and the internet has allowed me this, to 'cheat,' or, as I like to see it, feel fulfilled. My husband is what every woman wants — successful, smart, honest, incredibly good-looking. Two errors: I'm 38 and I need sex more than he does, and he stopped listening to me because he is so busy. The internet allowed me to be anonymous, so to speak. The only problem is I became addicted to it. I thought it would be easy to stop, but it's not. Once you cheat and walk away, you want to keep doing it. It's my drug."

"It's good that she's being honest about that," Carder said about Laura's admittance. "Every mood-altering experience, whether it be alcohol, gambling, sex, whatever it is, always has diminishing returns. Over time she's going to have to do more or take greater risks. She will get more aggressive and she'll no longer be satisfied with simple encounters."

5. "I cheated to find a new, better relationship."

"My reason for cheating was spark and connection," said Beth, a 22-year-old recent University of Texas graduate. "My steady partner and I had been in it for a while. We had these ideas of a destination wedding, of never-ending love, of passionate lovemaking at eighty, baby names picked out, the works. But we had moved out of the puppy love phase and we became bored, monotonous, and neglectful of each other. When a new boy caught my eye and he made me feel that first spark, like he was someone I could really love, it took me back to that cloud nine."

Carder says that when cheaters leave their partners for their other lover, they often don't realize the mess they've created, especially if they have kids.

"When you talk with those people five years later, and I do see them five or more years later, they realize you can't leave a family with children in the United States of America," he explained. "The law will track you down. If you want out of your marriage, work through the marriage before you have an affair. Affairs don't solve anything, they only complicate life."

Carder also stresses the difference between infidelity within a marriage versus infidelity between non-married partners.

"I think boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, even if they have been living together for 10 years, don't have the level of commitment that a married couple with children has. They just don't."

Finally, Carder made sure to point out that cheating doesn't have to end a relationship.

"If a couple has a good history and they went through long periods where their relationship was rewarding, they have better than a 90 percent chance of reporting a high level of satisfaction in their relationship two years after disclosure."

Even so, you need to put some thought into it before telling your lover you've been cheating on them with the UPS guy.

"First you need to work through a simple exercise," he said. "You need to list the benefits and the problems if you tell, and the benefits and the problems if you don't. And that will help convince you whether or not you need to tell your spouse or partner."

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

Mason Lerner is a writer and stand-up comedian in Austin, TX, who writes a small business column for the Houston Chronicle. His work has also appeared in ESPN the Magazine, ENVY Magazine, and American Jewish Life Magazine.

*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.