Every one who has encountered cheating knows it’s a lot like the stages of grief. First, there’s the shock that the person you love and you are closest to has committed such a betrayal and perhaps even denying their act. Followed by pain, and anger. Which basically lead me to ask. Why do people cheat?
Reading several studies on the topic from Kelly Campbell, Ph.D. an associate professor of psychology and human development at California State University, there are many reasons people cheat, but she’s quick to point out that it shouldn’t necessarily be threatened. She even argues that we don’t know if humans are even meant to be monogamous. Some people are naturally more in-tune with those views and others are not.
A lot of pain, and anger could probably be eliminated if we would be more open to discuss what cheating means to us. How do your partner define it? What is worse physical or emotional cheating? How do we draw the line?
In a poll from Gallup I found that 91% report that cheating in a partnership is morally wrong and 64% say they would not forgive their partner. Further 54% of the american population say they know someone who has an cheating partner/spouse. I find it very interesting. So how can you find out if your partner is cheating? How can you potentially eliminate it? I found some of the red flags to be aware of, the reasons and how to move forward.
The red flags, the reasons, and the next steps.
The Red Flags
- Sharing. Are you sharing meaningful and emotional information with each other? When you see each other, do you disclose information or do you hold back? It’s important to be vulnerable with your partner.
- Agreeable. Are you agreeing with each other? It’s important to be on the same page with your partner.
- Consistent and focused. Does your partner have a desire to do a task well, and take obligations to others seriously? It’s not just about getting to church on time, in a fresh pressed suit.
It’s a fundamental trait that influences whether your partner can set and and can keep long term goals, deliberate over choices, behave impulsively, and take seriously obligations to others. If not your partner might be more likely to cheat.
- “Opposite attract” doesn’t hold true as a relationship develops. You might find someone traits desirable in the beginning because they might give you balance, and you think you need that in your life. But after time people who are opposite often see these traits as fatal flaws.
- The behavior of a Psychopath. Be aware they are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others. Although they often have VERY charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal. Some are so good at manipulation and mimic emotions that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting anything. Studies have shown that this person with this behavior has a 95% likelihood to engage with other sex partners outside their relationship. They also tend to have a higher number of lifetime sex partners. They are very good to separate love from sexual activity, and to keep this lifestyle; they are more likely to have prolonged periods of lying.
- The behavior of a Narcissist. Be aware of narcissistic behavior, if you notice your partner has started to crave more attention e.g. chatting the waiter up at the restaurant while you are on a date – that’s a red flag! This person usually believes they are better-looking, smarter, fitter and therefore more worthy than their partner and let them believe they are entitled to cheat. Further the fact they believe they are better-looking, smarter, fitter, and more worthy than their partner they are having an affair with, may lead them to believe they are entitled to use their partner exclusively for their own sexual pleasure.
Why do people cheat? There are many reasons. People with lack of attachment, trouble getting close, trusting and relying on others. They actually seek out relationships that are more likely to be distant and less emotionally demanding. Their early bonding experience likely involved a distracted or dismissive parent who failed to satisfy their needs. As a result, they seek comfort from those who are less intimate and committed in their relationships. An affair perfectly avoids the threat of intimacy in a sexual relationship, whereas for the narcissist its the opposite, they actually craves for the intimacy that was lacking in their insecure early attachment to their parent, and may very well be lacking in current relationship with partner.
Other reasons are dissatisfaction, unfulfilling sex, and conflicts, can lead to cheating because they don’t feel satisfied. Also another interesting study shows the more dissimilar partners are, in terms of personality, education level, religion and other factors the more likely they are to cheat.
The Next Step
You found out that your partner was unfaithful and you’re left with a very difficult decision. Do you stay and try to work on the relationship, or do you walk away? I find it’s important to find out why people cheat in the first place, but don’t go into unnecessary details. Getting the true answer, do it without judging them. I would ask them to share why they did it to learn their side of the story. Try to approach it with an open mind, so they don’t just tell you what you want to hear. That doesn’t help you. Is this really about them?
Another aspect in this conversation is to see if they’re remorseful. It will be difficult or impossible to continue and grow the relationship if they’re a defensive or not willing to be truthful after cheating. If you decide you wanna move forward and you both are on the same page. But then moving forward, can you ever get to that place where you can trust them again? Will you be able to not bring it up at every argument? If you do – it’s unhealthy. Can you be the type of person to forgive and trust them again?
Finally, step back and look at the situation, and think about your values. Have they been violated beyond a point its difficult to move forward? If your partner has cheated, it’s an indication that their needs weren’t met – but were yours? I know its extremely difficult, but have high self-esteem, and realize what you’re worth.
Have you ever dated a cheater? Any warning sign’s you’d share with others?