Understanding Infidelity In Relationships
Realizing a partner has cheated on you can be life-shattering. You might feel angry, sad, hurt, or even physically sick. But above all else, you are probably wondering “Why?”
A 2017 study published in The Journal of Sex Research utilized an online survey to ask 495 respondents who had cheated in a romantic relationship about the reasons for their disloyalty. Participants included 213 men, 259 women, and 23 respondents who did not reveal their gender. They were mostly heterosexual with an average age of 20 years. The study recognized eight motivating factors that lead to infidelity. Of course, these don’t cover every instance of cheating but if you are browsing through relationship cheating quotes, you would be happy to learn that these factors offer a useful framework for a better understanding of why people cheat at large.
Here, we take a closer look at those key factors and how they might surface in a relationship.
Anger or revenge
People often cheat when they are left feeling angry or with a desire to get revenge. Maybe you just learned that your partner has cheated on you. You’re hurt and devastated. This might make you want to cheat on your partner as well so that they get a taste of their own medicine and really understand the pain they caused you. Retaliatory infidelity is often the reason for people to cheat on their partners.
Anger-motivated infidelity can occur for reasons other than revenge, however. You could be triggered to cheat if you’re frustrated in a relationship where your partner doesn’t seem to understand you. You could be angry at your partner if he or she isn’t around as much or doesn’t have much to give physically or emotionally. You could also be angry or frustrated after a regular argument. Regardless of what the underlying cause may be, anger is a powerful motivator when it comes to getting intimate with someone else outside of your relationship.
Falling out of love
The exuberant feeling of falling in love with someone does not last forever. When you initially fall in love with someone, you experience excitement, passion, and dopamine rushes from simply receiving a text from them but the power of these feelings usually fades over time. Of course, stable, lasting love does exist but those first-date butterflies only last you so long. Once the butterflies have faded, you may realize that the love is just not there or that you’re in love with someone else.
Remember that falling out of love doesn’t have to mean that you don’t love your partner. This makes it harder to leave a relationship that still makes you feel like you have family, friendship, stability, and safety. However, remaining in a relationship without romantic love may lead to a desire to experience love once again and therefore motivate adultery.
Situational factors and opportunity
You are more likely to cheat if you are simply given an opportunity to do so. Of course, this does not mean that everyone in the given situation will cheat but when several factors come together, it’s easier to find yourself being infidel to your partner.
For instance, you might be in a long-distance relationship with your partner and experiencing feelings of low self-esteem around your appearance. One day, a colleague flirts with you and expresses interest in spending more time with you. You might have not acted on your impulses on any other day but considering the current circumstances, you give in to your desires. Certain situational factors can also make infidelity more likely, even if you are in a reliable, fulfilling relationship. These include having a lot to drink and sleeping with someone after a long night, wanting physical comfort after a stressful event, being in an environment where there’s a lot of physical touches or emotional connection.
People who have difficulty committing are more likely to cheat. It is possible for two people in a relationship to have different ideas about the status of the relationship such as whether it’s exclusive or casual and so on. It’s also possible to really like someone and still hold back from making a commitment to them. In such situations, one partner might end up cheating as a means to avoid commitment even though they would actually prefer to remain in the relationship. Other reasons for commitment-related infidelity might include a lack of interest in committing long-term, wanting a relationship to remain more casual, or seeking a way out of a relationship.
Sometimes in a relationship, one or both partners’ needs for intimacy might go unmet. Some people choose to remain in the relationship, hoping things will improve, even more so when everything else seems fulfilling. However, unmet needs might lead to frustration, which may worsen if the situation does not improve. This might lead a partner or both to get those needs met elsewhere. Unmet sexual needs occur when both partners have different sex drives, one partner doesn’t have an interest in sex or can’t have sex, one or both partners often spend time away from home.
Unmet emotional needs can also lead to infidelity. Emotional infidelity is tricky to define but it usually refers to a situation wherein a person invests a lot of emotional energy into someone apart from their partner. If your partner doesn’t appear interested in what you feel, think, or have to say, you might start sharing with somebody else who appears more interested. This typically leads to an intimate connection that is a lot like a relationship.
The simple desire to have sex can cause some people to cheat. Other factors like unmet sexual needs may also play a part. But someone who’s looking to have sex might want to do so without any motivators per se. Even people in fulfilling relationships might be looking for sex with other people. This might stem from high levels of sexual desire and not necessarily any issues in the relationship.
The desire for variety is often linked with sex. For instance, you may be interested in trying out different types of sex that you’re partner necessarily isn’t into even though you are otherwise well-matched with him or her. Variety could also mean different styles of communication, different non-sexual activities, attraction to other people, or relationships with other people in addition to your current partner. Attraction is another big facet of variety. You could be attracted to many types of people and that needn’t stop just because you are in a relationship. Some people adhering to monogamous relationships might have a difficult time not acting on those feelings of attraction.
Infidelity can be a result of wanting to boost self-esteem as well. If you have sex with a new person, it can lead to positive feelings. You might feel attractive, empowered, or confident – feelings that build up your self-esteem. A lot of people who cheat because of self-esteem issues have supportive partners who are generous with encouragement and compassion. But they may feel that their partners are, in a way, compelled to say good things to them. Receiving approval and admiration from a new person, on the other hand, seems unusual and exciting. It would feel more genuine to someone with low self-esteem, who might assume the other person is not obligated by a relationship to lie or to exaggerate.
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