Cheating is something that isn’t a new concept (unfortunately) when it comes to deviating from ones relationship. Many people do it and for many different reasons. Morally it’s something that will never be right, at least in my eyes, and I can’t think of any circumstance in a relationship where it should be accepted or is acceptable. As cheating is frowned upon by so many why isn’t it a foreign concept? Moreover, why do people in happy relationships stray away from their significant other?
I believe cheating can be a completely learnt behaviour. I don’t plan to go down the whole Freudian route with this but if a cheater has ever seen parents or peers steer away from a committed relationship into a sexual or emotional affair with another then somehow it can be instilled in their mind that cheating is okay. An individual may have been conditioned to think that cheating is an acceptable part of life, even if in a happy ‘committed’ relationship.
Not able to communicate needs for intimacy. If your partner, or you, or both of you, have had some trouble communicating what you both want between the sheets then it could come down to communication. Perhaps you have, or both of you have, tried to express how you feel or what you need but nothing seems to be working. It could very well be the case that although the communication may be there your partner still feels that they have not been heard and so they have gone astray sexually. This is not condoning in any way this behaviour, infidelity is never okay, but if there's even a slight chance that difficult conversations get swept under the rug due to avoidance or inability to deal with conflict then to save your relationship (if that's what you want) you both need to address your intimacy needs, the way you communicate them and let your partner know that they are heard.
Separating sex and love. Some people have strong beliefs that sex and love are two things that are not intertwined and so in their mind being physical has nothing to do with the amount they are emotionally committed, hence, they enter into a sexual relationship with someone else outside of their existing relationship. In fact, an extra martial dating site conducted a study around peoples’ reasons for indulging in extra-marital affairs and they found that an ‘unfulfilled sex life’ landed on the top of the list of reasons why people have affairs with 27% of members feeling sexually unsatisfied with their significant other. In the same study another 14% reported that a particularly high libido was a reason for them being led astray sexually and with 9% stating that a quirky sexual interest such as a fetish led them to deviate from devotion.
There’s a cheating gene, apparently. According to some research conducted on human behaviour and evolution apparently there is a ‘cheating gene’, an idea that I will entertain for arguments sake. Tentative evidence found that there is a gene that influences infidelity in women (the vasopressin receptor gene) which according to researchers in this field, is a gene that is responsible for empathy and sexual bonding. While I do think research is necessary I do not think cheating is limited to one gender or more so in any gender at all, I do think it’s specific to an individuals outlook on relationships and their own sense of self-fulfilment and so, if someone has the inclination to go astray, no matter how happy a home they live in, they will do so.
Boredom. We live in a world where our senses are constantly stimulated, our attention spans have dwindled in a digital age to that less than goldfish of fewer than 8 seconds. With that said, I can only imagine how that affects the way we communicate in relationships and our desire to always want more despite being in what from the casual onlooker seems to be a happy, healthy and committed relationship. If we are constantly seeking to be stimulated it makes sense that relationships will be affected and those with the inclination to cheat might feel compelled to do just that due to sheer boredom and perceived lack of thrill in their life.
If we sought less to receive attention from others outside of our relationships and to instead communicate on a deeper level then I truly believe we would lead more sexually and emotionally satisfied, fulfilled, loving and sustainable relationships.
P.s. I recently spoke to the Huffington Post about relationships, cheating, breakups and why people still cheat in 'happy' relationships (alongside some other wonderful dating and relationship experts). Have a read here.