When someone cheats in a relationship, the explanation is not always as simple as saying, “they’re a selfish jerk.” It can definitely feel that way, but when it comes down to it, cheating can be more nuanced than that. One of the biggest myths about cheating is that it happens when someone is horny, it’s convenient, or they simply don’t care about their partner. But in all honesty, cheating almost never comes out of nowhere. There is always a stronger reason why, even if you can’t put your finger on it. The cold, hard truth is that this was more of a build-up – not a spur of the moment decision.
Let’s get this straight first: cheating sucks, and I’m not trying to defend people who do it. But I am trying to explain why it might happen. Yes, the person who cheats might be a human garbage monster, but they might also have a bigger reason for their actions. It’s not the most mature or caring decision, but it’s a decision with reasons and causes behind it. Want to know what might be going on in a cheater’s head? Here are a few hard truths about infidelity you need to confront that might explain why people cheat:
Their Partner Is Too Close To ThemIf you've ever felt like your identity totally merged with the person you're dating, you know what I'm talking about. People who feel like their partner is in their lives a little too much and need space in order to feel like themselves again get cabin fever and attempt to "fix" this feeling by cheating. It's essentially doing something (um, someone - sorry, I had to) your partner has absolutely nothing to do with and can never touch. Basically, if it feels like nothing can ever be just yours, if you feel bad enough, you'll lash out and get something that's just yours.Source: iStock
They're Feeling Too Distant From The Person They're WithOn the flip side, cheating often happens when one partner feels like they aren't close enough with the other person in the relationship. They feel far away from their bae, so they find someone to feel close with to fill that hole (NO PUN INTENDED I'M SO SORRY). Of course, the easy solution would be to fix the issue at hand with your partner, but we all know that's easier said than done. Sometimes addressing your problems head on is a lot more daunting, scary, and difficult than seeking an easy fix by cheating on someone.Source: iStock
You Have Differing Attitudes About LoveIf one person views love as a game, a power play, thinks it's fake, or that nothing is ever real or forever, they might view cheating differently than someone who believes that love is a special bond between two people. What do I mean? Well, Partner A might not see cheating as that big of a deal - they might think it's normal, or it isn't a dealbreaker for them, so they don't think it's a dealbreaker for others. Meanwhile, Partner B might feel the opposite. See what I'm saying? Point of view colors everything in a relationship, especially how we see cheating.Source: iStock
They Think It's Fine As Long As They Don't Get CaughtTo put it simply, if you cheat and no one ever ever ever finds out, is it still cheating? Short answer: yes. Longer answer: yes, but it makes cheating a more distinct, fun possibility when you are presented with an opportunity and aren't getting your needs met in your relationship. But in defense of the cheaters (I know, stay with me) if no one ever knows - for example, you're on vacation and hook up with someone who doesn't know anyone you know and you both agree to never do it again - and it only happens once, who's to say that it'll hurt your partner? Or does it even matter? If you're given total innocence and a real shot to hook up with someone else, it's tempting, I'm not going to lie. Source: iStock
They Have An Emotional Closeness With Someone Who Isn't YouThis is not to say that the emotional intimacy they have with you isn't valuable! It's just that the relationship and closeness with this other person might be new, exciting, and vaguely feel like the start of your own relationship. These feelings are natural, in this case, and temptation is want to happen. This is likely to happen with someone your partner has a separate bond with that you don't share (they're on the same sports team, for example) and that intersecting with bae feeling totally out of touch with you and more in touch with this person, on an emotional level. This kind of cheating isn't always physical, which doesn't make it hurt any less. It can actually hurt a lot worse.Source: iStock
One Or Both Of You Has Completely Checked OutWhen it doesn't even feel like you're with the person you're in a relationship with, cheating feels less like cheating and more like the start of a new relationship. It doesn't make okay, but this is what happens when you don't try to fix your relationship (or just break it off formally) and try to fix it in other ways... that may or may not be totally hurtful. Good relationships happen when both people are totally invested in making it work and making it good, so when one or both of you are checked out, things are bound to fall apart in one way or another, and more often than not, that means cheating.Source: iStock
Unwavering Monogamy Is Something We InventedIf you want to talk about the nature of human beings and the fact that we didn't always have one exclusive partner, you can see how people argue that cheating is somehow biologically programmed into our DNA. Cavemen weren't exclusively monogamous, you know? So don't be mad! Cool, so now that we aren't cavemen anymore, we can make the choice to be faithful to the person we're with or cheat. So, yes cheating is bad, and if you're using this excuse to make your behavior seem okay, maybe strict monogamy isn't for you. Give it a thought and find a partner who's relationship ideals match your own. Just because it isn't "in our nature" to be monogamous doesn't mean that it's impossible.Source: iStock
Have you ever cheated on anyone? Have you ever been cheated on? Did any of this match up? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.