Image taken from Laura Lewis on Flikr.com
You come home late one night after a long day at work. The house is dark, but you can hear something. Curious, you follow the strange noise to your bedroom. You open the door and turn on the light, only to see your significant other cheating on you with someone you don’t even know. You feel shocked. Angry. Betrayed. Sad. You don’t know exactly how to feel and your thoughts are a tornado of incoherent words. However, one question stands out…. Why? Months of depression, anger, and trust issues follow, and all you can think about is what you did wrong and how it can only be your fault. But most of the time, it’s not.
So, why do people cheat?
According to “Cheating Statistics: Do Men Cheat More Than Women?” about 70% of men cheat, while only 50-60% of women cheat. But, it’s not as simple as the want for sex.
Humans crave emotional bonds. In a study ran by M. Gary Neuman, only 7% of the cheating men said it was for sex, while another 48% said it was the lack of an emotional connection that caused it. 88% of them even said that the “side woman” was less attractive than their significant other. So, it’s not always about the physical stuff.
However, sometimes it is. If a partner is sexually dissatisfied in a relationship, they are more likely to cheat. The level of satisfaction is that person’s personal opinion, so these issues are “around” the relationship, meaning that the affair wasn’t your fault.
Another big reason for infidelity is a theory called “cognitive dissonance.” This pretty much means justifying something you do so it doesn’t seem wrong. An experiment was done on this that showed when people were forced to feel bad about their past cheating, they thought it was wrong. However, when their behavior was said to be okay, they were able to rationalize their cheating.
A simple misunderstanding can also take the blame. The partners could have different personal definitions of cheating. So, this means kissing another person can be cheating for one partner while for the other it’s not.
Surprisingly, genetics could additionally play a role in the cause of cheating. People of Scientific American found in a study that men who have the chemical vassopressin in their DNA generally have problems in relationships. Binghamton University also did research on this. They discovered that people with the chemical DRD4 also took part in cheating activities.
Those are only a few reasons why so many people commit infidelity. Read about more of them here.
The Effects of Cheating
When we first fall in love, our brain structure slowly changes. This is because the brain is getting used to the endorphins that are being released when we are first falling in love. Once we find out about our loved one’s affair, the brain’s networks have to be reshaped to adapt to the distressing environmental changes. This can be extremely mentally painful. The “cheated-on” can also feel varying degrees of depression and anger and can go through times of trust issues with close family and friends.
As for the cheater, studies have shown that men feel guiltier about sexual infidelity while woman feel more guilt about emotional infidelity, or moving on to someone else. This is because men can believe that their relationships are more sexual than they actually are while women feel more in-depth about emotions. This proves that the cheater can also feel guilt. If it was “accidental” (when the temptation is so overwhelming they think they have no other way out,) they are a wreck of pain and self-hatred. If it was on purpose, the cheater will still more than likely feel guilty.
How to Heal After An Affair
Image taken from Nicolas Raymond on Flikr.com
Both partners don’t get anything good out of cheating. Some people can take it so badly that they consider suicide or self harm. This is not the way to cope with cheating. If you feel the need to take your own life, get help immediately.
Do not decide what to do with the relationship right away. The first thing that you need to do is understand that the affair was not your fault. You had nothing to do with it. It was the cheater’s decision. Then, you need to rid yourself of your mental pain. This will leave you in a safe mental state to decide what to do with the relationship.
If you decide to leave the relationship, find something to busy yourself with. This could be a new hobby, or maybe exploring something interesting or just trying something new. Try to spend time with family and friends more often so you know people do love you.
If you have stayed with your partner, you need to be honest and not get revenge. Revenge will do nothing but make the situation worse. Make sure both sides apologize for what might have been said, especially on the cheater’s part. The cheater must prove that they really are sorry and that they will never do it again. This could mean allowing their phone to be searched at times. This may seem rude and unnecessary, but sometimes it really does help. Another option to help regain trust is couple therapy.
Read more about the steps here or watch this video for additional help:
Why This Needs to Stop
Now, cheating is seen almost as a “success” instead of a wrong. People are talking about ways to discreetly cheat, gloating when they betray their partner and don’t get caught, making games out of it, and are starting to think it is an okay thing to do, despite the pain it causes.
The effects of infidelity can be long lasting and mentally and physically damaging. We need to stop glorifying infidelity in order to save relationships and even some people’s lives. Cheating is not a joke, and it never will be.