Cheating is one of the most harmful things one can do to another person. If it gets found out or confessed, there’s the possibility of the relationship ending. There is additional betrayal trying to lie and cover up the infidelity if one tries to keep it secret. Once the secret is out, the person cheated on will likely have difficulty with future relationships as their trust has been betrayed. The person who is cheated on is often left wondering what they did wrong and why their partner felt the need to cheat. So…why do people cheat on the people they love?

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sex Research looked at responses from 495 people who self-reported their infidelity to try to determine why people cheat. The key reasons are:

Falling out of love

The ‘honeymoon’ period doesn’t last forever. Instead of ending the relationship they no longer want to be in, people look outside of it for a new romantic prospect. While it would be romantic to believe that love lasts forever, it is kinder to everyone involved to end the existing relationship first if one wants to be with someone else.

Low commitment and sexual variety

Relationships aren’t always easy, and they require ongoing commitment and trust to be successful. If that commitment isn’t in place, it is more likely that one would consider cheating on one’s partner. Relationships aren’t for everyone, and if commitment isn’t high on the priority list, one might be happier (and so would the partners who would be potentially cheated on) by not getting into a long-term relationship and remaining unattached. This will also allow for engagement in a more sexual variety if that is what appeals.

Esteem

Some people view the number of sexual partners or interest they receive as a self-esteem boost. Often, people in relationships feel loved and thus more confident. This confidence makes them attractive to other people, and if they are not willing to resist the advances of others, infidelity becomes likely. While being desirable to others may boost esteem, it is important to consider what it will do to the esteem of the person being cheated on.

Situational factors

Sometimes people blame situational factors for their cheating. Examples of this are that they cheated because their partner was away on business a lot of the time, or they were drunk and not thinking clearly. This comes from a desire to displace the locus of control onto something external and thus absolve them from being ‘bad people’ who cheated on the person they love. However, cheating remains a choice – regardless of the situation that put cheating on the table in the first place.

These are just some of the reasons people cheat – but none of these reasons make cheating a fair thing to do to someone. Cheating can result in the relationship ending, but its effects can go far beyond that, impacting someone’s ability to have a trusting and loving relationship in the future.

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