The Truth Behind Infidelity: 10 Reasons Why Even the Happiest People Cheat

When we think about infidelity in relationships, we think that it could never happen in our own relationship. We often think of infidelity as something that only occurs in broken, unhappy relationships, or when partners are feeling super desperate. But the truth of the matter is that infidelity can occur in even the happiest couple. And infidelity is more common than we would like to think. This doesn’t mean that everyone is going around and cheating on their significant others, or that people are constantly looking to cheat on their partners, just that infidelity often doesn’t happen in a vacuum, for no reason at all. These reasons can be personal or related to the relationship, or a combination of the two.

While some people are more predisposed to cheat than others, there are often factors in a relationship that can cause people to cheat, or drive them to cheat on their partner. This can be due to a lot of different problems that could be hiding under the surface of what appears to be a happy, healthy relationship. Even though this goes against what we imagine when we think of cheating, people can appear to be totally happy in their relationship and still decide to cheat on their partner because of these personal or relationship factors. Note that we are not trying to make excuses for anyone who cheats. At the end of the day the decision to cheat on a partner (whether it’s one time or repeatedly) is a decision to sacrifice the trust and respect of a partner.

When people commit infidelity it is entirely their decision and blame should not be put on their partner. That being said, it is important to understand some of the reasons people feel compelled to cheat, so that you can address the problems within your relationship and avoid infidelity. As much as we hate to believe it, even the happiest people cheat while they are in romantic relationships.

Here are ten reasons that reveal the truth behind infidelity in even the happiest of relationships.

Feeling neglected

Infidelity is more often than not traced back to feelings of loneliness. Loneliness often arises out of neglect, and can lead someone to feel overlooked and undervalued in their relationship. It’s important to recognize that neglect can look a lot of different ways. In happy relationships, you may assume that you are supporting your partner just by being around, but for many people this is not enough. Relationships require emotional support, and a lack of this can lead to feelings of neglect or feeling misunderstood in the relationship. When this happens, it is common for that person to seek external validation so that they feel less taken for granted. Having someone outside of their relationship pay attention and want them can make them feel less alone.

If you are feeling neglected in your relationship, it is important to air these feelings to your partner. Being honest about your needs and the attention you need from them can prevent these feelings of neglect in the first place, and can allow you to feel more supported in your relationship, so that you don’t feel the need to look for support outside of the relationship. Expressing these feelings can be difficult, but it is important to be honest with your partner and let them try and support you.

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Self-esteem issues

If someone is feeling neglected in a relationship, or has underlying self-esteem issues, they might be more likely to cheat. People with low self-esteem often need more external validation than other people do because they are not able to validate themselves. If they require more validation, and if they are not getting this validation from their partner, they may turn to someone outside of the relationship for validation, praise and attention.

Understanding both you and your partner’s needs in a relationship can help everyone feel supported and validated, and less likely to seek these things outside of the relationship. If you are dealing with a partner that has self esteem issues, there is only so much that you can do as a partner to validate them. As we mentioned above, it is important to make sure that your partner does not feel neglected in the relationship, but it is also important to recognize that you cannot be the entire source of your partner’s self worth.

At the end of the day, self esteem and self worth should be things that come from within. If your partner has self esteem issues, in addition to being supportive and validating to them, you should encourage them to work on these issues so that they do not interfere with your relationship.

Different sexual desires/libidos

Passion is a crucial part of long term relationships, and even if you and your partner are happy and in love, if the passion is not there, one person may turn to infidelity as a way to satiate sexual desire. Our sexual desires change over time and over the course of a relationship and our desires might not always line up with our romantic partners. The beginning of every relationship (sometimes referred to as the honeymoon phase) is often characterized by tons of sex and physical intimacy. As couples move beyond the honeymoon phase, they typically have sex less and less frequently, which can lead to partner’s feeling unsatisfied.

To avoid letting differences in sexual desires or libidos lead to infidelity, you and your partner need to openly discuss your sex life on a regular basis. Are you both feeling satisfied? Are you happy with the amount of sex that you are having? Are you open to trying new things in the bedroom? Do you and your partner have different libidos? Would you consider opening up your relationship so that both of your sexual desires are met? These are all questions worth asking in order to make sure that both you and your partner are sexually satisfied. Not only will these open conversations help prevent infidelity in the relationship, they will also significantly improve your sex life which will improve all other aspects of your relationship as well.

Unmet needs

It is important to draw the distinction between different sexual desires and unmet needs. Because even if your desires differ from your partner's, it is possible (through a little creativity and exploration) to meet the sexual needs of your partner. Unmet needs are often a result of poor communication in the bedroom. You can have frequent sex with your partner, but if you are not satifying them, then they might feel like they have to sleep with people outside of the relationships to get their needs met. To avoid this problem, communicate what you want and need in the bedroom. Your partner will be eager to satisfy you, especially if you are able to tell them exactly what you want. It can be very difficult to articulate what you need in the bedroom, especially if you don’t have practice doing so!

If you feel like your partner is not satisfied (perhaps they are faking it, or just not that eager to get it on anymore), then try facilitating the conversation. Sometimes bringing this up in the first place is the hardest part. There are plenty of online forums and sex guidebooks that you can turn to if you need help verbalizing your needs in the bedroom. Like we mentioned before, having these open, honest conversations will not only help you avoid infidelity in your relationship, but it will also improve your sex life! And who doesn’t want that? More enjoyable sex often leads to more sex, which can help strengthen your connection to your partner and further avoid infidelity in the relationship.

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Needing variety

As upsetting as this can be to hear, certain people (no matter how happy they are in a relationship) cheat on their partners out of a need to experience variety. This is not due to any shortcoming in the relationship, and is more about the person and their desires. Some people are just not cut out for monogamy, which means that they are not satisfied with having one sexual partner. Sometimes it takes people feeling confined in a monogamous relationship to learn this about themselves. In the worst case scenario, this feeling of confinement can cause them to lash out in a way and sleep with another person.

Open communication about your wants and needs in the bedroom (this is starting to become a theme!) will help you understand where your partner is coming from and can hopefully pre-empt a conversation about opening up the relationship before infidelity happens. Whether you are open to the idea of opening up your relationship to polyamory (some people are not, which is totally OKAY), adding a little variety to your sex life definitely won’t hurt and may be enough to scratch a partner’s itch for variety in the bedroom. Having serious conversations about monogamy will help define your relationship in a way that supports both partners' needs and desires.

Thrill seeking

Sometimes people cheat because of deep-seeded thrill seeking behavior. Knowing that something is wrong or taboo is exciting to some people, and can lead them to infidelity even if they are in a happy relationship. This behavior is some of the hardest to navigate in a relationship, because it has nothing to do with the relationship itself. To keep things exciting, you and your partner can explore different ~ thrilling ~ kinds of sex. Adding role playing, sex in public places, toys or intimate games to your sexual repatoir can help thrill seekers feel satisfied in the relationship without turning to infidelity.

If you or your partner do have thrill seeking behavior, and thrilling sex with your partner is not enough to satisfy your need, you coud consider opening up your relationship to add an element of thrill. Openly discussing your needs in the relationship and ways to add thrilling sensations to the relationship will make sure that both partners are satisfied and are not tempted to look outside of the relationship for thrills.

Lack of clarity

A lot of the time, cheating can be related to misunderstandings about the status of your relationship. If you and your partner have never DTR’ed (aka defined the relationship), your partner may not be on the same page as you about the open/closed-ness of your relationship. If you don’t have the conversation to be sexually exclusive, how is your partner supposed to know that is the expectation for the relationship?

Sure, you may think that these things go unsaid, but failing to clarify your boundaries in the relationship can lead to miscommunications and missteps, including infidelity. Open and clear communications about your relationship status, and your expectations from your partner can help you avoid misunderstandings about the terms of your relationship.

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Insecurity about the future

A lack of clarity can also be related to where you see the future of your relationship going. If someone in the relationship is happy, but doesn’t see the relationship as a long term thing, they may be more likely to sleep around or break their partner’s trust. This is due to a lack of faith in the shared future.

Like we mentioned before, temptation is out there! If your partner does not feel like your relationship is the real deal, they might give into temptation. Addressing this problem will involve open communication about your relationship - the good and the bad - so that you are on the same page, and believe in a future together.

Sexual desire for another person

Even if you are in a happy relationship, sometimes the opportunity to cheat arises out of the blue, and sometimes people are so tempted by the opportunity that they go for it. Let’s face it, temptations do exist outside of our relationships! And sometimes it takes a lot of willpower not to act on these temptations. We can’t choose who we are attracted to, and sometimes attraction precipitates out of nowhere, which can lead to infidelity, but it doesn’t have to.

Let’s be clear, no one is completely powerless in situations of attraction, and being tempted to cheat often points to larger problems in a relationship. Nurturing intimacy, love and attraction in your relationship will reduce the risk of an opportunity arising as well as reducing the chance that someone will act on this opportunity.

Anger

No matter how great your relationship is, there are times when you and/or your partner experience anger. Some studies have shown that people cite anger towards their partner as the reason that they cheated, explaining that cheating acted as a way to get back at their partner.

Unfortunately, infidelity is often used as retribution against a partner. This normally happens in situations when someone is extremely hurt and angry. To avoid this scenario, it’s important to bring up feelings of anger in a mature, communicative way so that these feelings don’t fester and manifest in a brash action like infidelity.

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