What Is the Main Cause of Cheating?

Reviewed on 7/8/2021
why do people cheat
Why do people cheat? 7 of the most common reasons for infidelity in romantic relationships

Getting cheated on can be devastating. But in addition to feeling hurt, angry, and sad, you may be wondering why it happened.

Infidelity is widespread and increasingly common. According to one study, 20% of married couples and 70% of unmarried couples chat in romantic relationships. 

So why do people cheat? Here are 7 common reasons.

7 reasons why people cheat in relationships

1. Anger or revenge

Sometimes people cheat on their partners as an act of revenge. For example, if one partner has been flirting with a friend or even cheating, the other partner may cheat as well as a form of payback.

Other reasons for anger-driven infidelity include:

  • Frustration when a partner doesn’t understand the other person or their needs
  • Anger at a partner who is never around
  • Anger at a partner who doesn’t seem to contribute to the relationship
  • Anger or frustration after an argument

2. Falling out of love

The dopamine rush of falling in love may not last long. Excitement, passion, and exhilaration of the initial phase of a relationship usually fade over time. 

Long-lasting relationships do exist, but those butterflies you felt on the first date only get you so far. Once they go away, you may realize that there wasn’t really much love there.

3. Feeling unappreciated

If one person feels that they aren’t receiving enough love, respect, and attention from their partner, this can cause them to look for those things elsewhere. 

Sometimes, even if a partner hasn’t actually neglected the other, they can still feel neglected, especially if there are unrealistic expectations. Or it could just be that one person has emotional or sexual needs that they feel are just not being met.

4. Lack of commitment

People with commitment issues are more likely to cheat in a relationship, whether it’s because they want to avoid commitment or because they have a different idea of what commitment means. 

Reasons for commitment-related infidelity may include:

  • Difference in opinion about relationships (casual, exclusive, etc.)
  • Fear of committing even if they love their partner
  • Lack of interest in a long-term commitment
  • Wanting a way out of the relationship

5. Sexual desire

For some people, cheating is simply the result of sexual desire, even if they are already in a fulfilling relationship. Some other reasons for sexual desire-driven infidelity include:

  • Feeling unsatisfied with the sex
  • Desire to try something new

However, someone who just wants to have sex may just look for opportunities to do so without any other reason.

6. Situational factors

Infidelity sometimes happens because a partner was in a situation where the opportunity presented itself. For example, if a person gets drunk with a coworker, there may be a high chance of cheating. Some other factors include:

  • Being in a long-distance relationship
  • Being on vacation
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Wanting physical comfort after a distressing event
  • Living or working in an environment that involves a lot of physical touching and emotional connection

7. Self-esteem

Wanting a boost to self-esteem can also cause someone to cheat. Getting sexual attention from someone new can make someone with low self-esteem feel attractive, confident, or empowered.

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References
Relate. Why Do People Cheat? https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/affairs/why-do-people-cheat

Mark Manson. Why People Cheat in Relationships. https://markmanson.net/why-people-cheat

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