causes of cheating

Infidelity causes guilt, and responsibility.

Infidelity causes guilt, and responsibility.

Infidelity or cheating  is a rather unpleasant word, and even more unpleasant is the experience associated with it. Everyone has had to deal with it, and if not everyone, then most people for sure.

More than once we have wondered: Why did it happen? Why with me? What prompted the partner to cheat? Is it my fault?

In this article we will try to understand what infidelity is, consider the most common causes of infidelity, and try to understand the nature of infidelity as such.

Cheating - what is it?

Before we can understand the causes of cheating, we need to define what cheating is. In the most common sense, cheating means the physical proximity of the partner with another person, and most often refers it to sex.

But let's be more realistic, it's unlikely that anyone would enjoy having a partner kiss and hug another.

It seems simple and straightforward. But what do you say if your partner cheats on you emotionally? It sounds like a joke, if there was no physical intimacy, that's fine.

For many people yes, but not all, and there is a grain of rationality here.

Imagine that your partner is in daily contact with another person, a co-worker or a new friend from the gym. Your partner didn't have to specifically look for that person, he/she just showed up on your partner's path, in his/her environment. He/she didn't have to look for someone on a dating site.

They find a common language, they spend a lot of time together and an emotional connection is formed. Your partner shares personal information, problems at work at home and not with you, but with the other person. Maybe even complain about you. Still don't think the emotional connection is cheating?

But as with anything, there is a downside. For some people physical intimacy is just an act of pleasure, whereas an emotional connection, feelings for another person is a betrayal.

Cheating for most is common and understandable, but at the same time individual and highly personal.

For someone to lust for another person in their partner's mind is also cheating. It is enough for one look, in which one reads an obvious desire and the relationship is spoiled. And for others, watching adult movies with a partner is a taboo at all, because this way the sexual desire is also switched to a stranger. Such people even try to find porn sites accounts of their partners.

Therefore, we can distinguish the following types of cheating or, more precisely, actions that can be regarded as cheating or are such for most people:
- physical intimacy;
- emotional intimacy;
- mental lust.

A scientific perspective on the problem of cheating in relationships.

Questions of the study of human behavior, the reasons that push us to certain actions have always been of interest not only to psychologists and scientists, but also to ordinary people.

Cognosce te ipsum - get to know yourself, shouldn't that be the starting point for any person? If you want to understand your partner, get to know yourself.

Infidelity, cheating, betrayal is something that has existed in society since ancient times. Of course, from age to age, views on this phenomenon have changed with society. 

Let's try to understand what cheating is today, what pushes people to cheat.

In the article "Why Do People in Relationships Cheat?" by Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. on May 4, 2021, describes a research of 495 people (87.9 percent of whom were heterosexual). Participants answered questions based on the question, "Why did you cheat?"

In the end, eight main reasons for cheating were identified:

  1. Anger.
  2. Self-esteem. 
  3. Lack of love.
  4. Low commitment.
  5. Need for variety.
  6. Neglect.
  7. Sexual desire.
  8. Situation or circumstance.

These motives influenced not only why people cheated, but also how long they did it, their sexual pleasure, their emotional investment in cheating, and whether their primary relationship ended as a result.

Although most of the cheating involved sex, it was rarely just about it. Most participants experienced some form of emotional attachment to their cheating partner, but it was significantly more common among those who reported suffering from neglect or lack of love in their primary relationship. 

About two-thirds of the participants (62.8 percent) admitted to expressing affection for their new partner. And about the same number (61.2 percent) had engaged in explicit sexual dialogue with him or her. About four in 10 (37.6 percent) had intimate conversations, and one in 10 (11.1 percent) said: "I love you." Those who reported feeling less attached to their primary partner experienced greater emotional intimacy during the infidelity, perhaps as a way of meeting that need. Similarly, when infidelity was associated with a lack of love, people found greater intellectual and emotional satisfaction.

That is, infidelity, as we said, is not always a need for physical intimacy and is far from always dictated by sexual dissatisfaction. An important part of any relationship is feelings, an emotional connection.

What lies behind infidelity?

Mark Manson presents a rather interesting idea in his article. He puts on the scales two human traits, a person's need for self-satisfaction and a person's need for intimacy. 

When a person's need for self-satisfaction outweighs his need for intimacy, cheating is likely to happen. 

Any relationship contains a certain sacrifice of the partners. After all, no matter how much the person understands us, loves us and no matter how much it is mutual, we still have to give something, make concessions. And at the moment when there are more such moments of self-sacrifice and less intimacy of love, then self-satisfaction takes over.

"I'm doing so much for this relationship," "Why doesn't he/she appreciate me," "I'm giving and getting nothing in return." When these thoughts arise, the person intuitively looks for a reward, looking for someone who will appreciate him/her, who will repay him/her for all his/her hard work.

But this is one side. The second, is in such an important attribute of human nature as maturity. The author clearly draws a line between the mature person and the person who goes along with his own self-satisfaction. 

Maturity is when you relegate pleasurable moments to the background, because there are more important things, more important events, more important people. It is the ability to think about the future and understand the consequences of your actions.

We won't talk about people who put their pleasure, their self-satisfaction in the first place, it's all clear here, such people are immature and as a rule, they need relationships only for their comfort, just to fill the missing puzzles in their life.

Better, let's talk about those cases where infidelity is provoked by an unhappy relationship. 

You can say, if the relationship is unhappy, why don't the partners just break up or try to work on their relationship?

 Mark Manson answers this question perfectly, "The problem is that many people don't recognize the unhappiness in their own relationships. They come from a family full of unhappy relationships and/or have a long history of unhappy relationships, so for them it's not even unhappy, it's the norm."

Here the author identifies two toxic situations in relationships.

The first is when you don't tell your partner NO. In a healthy relationship, you don't have to say YES all the time, you have to learn to say NO.

A relationship, it's the interaction of two people, two personalities and two individuals, it's about mutual respect and understanding of the other.

But imagine a situation where you do everything for a man/woman, never say no, forgive any mistakes and even do everything for him/her. So tell me, why shouldn't a hedonistic person like that cheat on you? He/she knows that everything is possible, that there are no boundaries, so why not go and get what you want, they will be forgiven anyway.

The more the boundaries are pushed back, the more the impression is created that they don't exist.

A little different situation to deal with jealous people who limit their partner, do not trust him and all the time blame him for cheating. You are already accused and convicted before the crime. Who would like that?

In such situations, a person may decide that they have already "served their sentence" so why not commit what they were punished for.


As we can see, infidelity does not happen simply because it is a result. The result of a relationship, the result of people's behavior, the result of an interaction.

From what we have learned, the causes of cheating can be divided into internal causes, which are directly related to the cheater's personality, and external causes, which are related to the relationship, and the circumstances.

Internal causes are:

  • selfishness;
  • the predominance of self-satisfaction over intimacy;
  • lack of empathy and indifference to the feelings of others;
  • insecurity of self;
  • hedonism;
  • lack of moral compass.

External causes are:

  • complete and unimpeded permissiveness on the part of the partner;
  • coldness, indifference;
  • false accusations;
  • total control;
  • seeking and receiving benefits from the relationship;
  • unfortunate circumstances (confusion, alcohol intoxication, emotional instability).

As for the internal, you can safely talk about the cheater's guilt and responsibility. You were unlucky enough to meet such a person, and in this case you should not wonder why it happened. The only exception, perhaps, may be if you often meet such people. Then you should think about two things:

  • Why do you meet these people all the time, what attracts them in your behavior, in your communication?
  • Do you really evaluate these people correctly, are they really that bad, maybe it is all about you? 

The last question is, by the way, the main problem with identifying internal causes. Often anger, resentment, and irritation pre-determine the people who hurt you as bad. But here it is important to remember self-analysis, first analyze yourself, think about whether you have done everything right. This, in the first place, distinguishes you from the people who are inherent in the internal factors of cheating.

It's not so simple with the external ones. Relationships are two-way, you cannot only receive something in a relationship or only give something away in a relationship.

Two people are at fault in a relationship, nothing happens out of the blue. If you think everything was fine, then you just turned a blind eye to it (unless of course your partner turned out to be a scoundrel, watch the internal factors of adultery).

So the blame should be split in half, but the responsibility remains on the cheater, it was his/her choice, and for such an action, there are always consequences.

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