Why Do We Cheat On Someone We Love
“I just cheated on my husband,” she said. “It was the only way I could get what I wanted.” It took me a moment to respond. The words were out of my mouth before I really understood them myself: “You’re kidding!” She continued with her story about how she’d been talking to her best friend and decided to go over to her house where they made love. Her friend had told her that it didn’t matter if her husband found out because he would never find out. And now here she was, caught red-handed.
She wasn’t the first person to confess cheating to me. Often times, their stories are similar: They thought no one else knew, they thought it wouldn’t hurt anyone, and sometimes they even felt like they deserved to be forgiven. They all seemed genuinely remorseful as they confessed, but when I looked at each of their situations more closely, something always came up that caused them to seek relief through infidelity.
In this article, we’ll examine why people choose to cheat on those they care most deeply about — themselves.
Unsatisfied Sexual Need
A simple desire to have sex can motivate some people to cheat. Other factors, including opportunity or unmet sexual needs, may also play a role in infidelity that’s motivated by desire. But someone who wants to have sex might also look for opportunities to do so without any other motivators. If you’ve ever gone to an adult bookstore, then you already know that there is nothing better than looking at pictures of naked bodies (or clothed ones) while sitting alone in your office chair. You’ve probably seen it happen every day. A woman comes into the store alone, looks around for a few minutes, and walks out with a stack of magazines under her arm. Men will often browse online porn sites during work hours.
When a man goes to such lengths to satisfy his desires, he doesn’t necessarily mean to break the law. He simply sees his opportunity for pleasure as being worth taking advantage of. Many women feel the same way. When I interviewed women for my book Secrets of Women’s Fantasies, many admitted to fantasizing about having sex with men other than their partners. One woman described going home from school and masturbating in front of her boyfriend after class; another said she fantasized about meeting a stranger in the grocery store. What these women all had in common was wanting to experience fantasies outside of reality — which is fine. However, when someone acts on such desires in order to escape reality — and not because they want to please their partner — they begin to stray from the path of healthy sexuality.
One reason why people turn to extramarital affairs is due to a lack of opportunity within their primary relationship. This is usually driven by dissatisfaction with their current partner. For example, maybe a wife feels neglected or unloved. Or perhaps a guy feels ignored sexually. Either way, the problem lies in the fact that the couple has not explored ways to address issues within their existing relationship. Instead, the dissatisfied party seeks satisfaction elsewhere. In most cases, once satisfied, those involved in the affair eventually end the extra-relationship activity and return to normal life.
However, there are exceptions. Some couples stay together while others leave. There are pros and cons to both scenarios. After recovering from an affair, a couple must decide whether to remain committed to their marriage. Sometimes, the temptation is strong to continue on with the status quo. Yet, most experts agree that a happy marriage requires communication, compromise, and open discussion. Because of this, staying together is usually preferable to divorce or separation.
Unsatisfied Sexual Need
Sometimes, people cheat because they haven’t met their sexual needs adequately within their current relationships. A man may need to be able to touch his partner intimately enough to trigger erotic thoughts and feelings. Likewise, a woman may need to receive sufficient stimulation from intercourse to reach orgasm. These needs aren’t inherently bad, but if they aren’t met satisfactorily, then someone may resort to seeking gratification elsewhere. While it’s true that everyone’s body differs, it’s important to remember that sex does not have to involve penetration or genital contact. It can take place in a variety of locations and positions, and it can include masturbation or oral sex. Also, while penetrative sex is certainly necessary for reproduction, it isn’t required for nonsexual intimacy.
If a man hasn’t experienced an adequate level of arousal during sex with his partner, then he may rely upon pornography for stimulation. Pornography can provide a great deal of visual information to help him become aroused. At the same time, however, the images shown on a screen don’t offer much tactile feedback. So, a man may benefit greatly from learning techniques to increase his own self-pleasure. Masturbation is a good starting point for helping him learn more about his own anatomy and sensations. Through trial and error, he should come to understand what kinds of actions bring him the greatest amount of pleasure.
Women often use pornography too, although they typically prefer the real thing rather than fictional characters. Some women will watch pornography alone while lying in bed. Others will show it to their male partners. Still others will share their viewing experiences with friends. Whatever kind of response a woman prefers, it should be noted that she doesn’t need to perform fellatio to achieve orgasm. Most women can derive enjoyment from manual clitoral stimulation, vaginal penetration, or both. Additionally, there are plenty of options available to stimulate a woman’s genitals using the hands and fingers. Foreplay involves kissing, stroking, fondling, and nipple caressing. Oral stimulation includes licking, sucking, biting, and fingering. Finally, mutual masturbation provides ample opportunity for direct physical interaction between partners.
Whether a man or a woman engages in extra-marital activities, it’s crucial to communicate openly about expectations for sex. Otherwise, frustration can build until emotions run high. Couples should try to talk about their individual desires and preferences regarding sexual encounters, as well as their overall goals for their relationship.
With these caveats in mind, it’s clear that infidelity can occur for numerous reasons apart from lust. Even though our society tends to make light of infidelity, its devastating effects linger long after the dust settles. People who engage in cheating behavior usually suffer tremendous consequences, including emotional pain, loss of trust, guilt, shame, and fear. To prevent these losses, it’s vital for couples to find support and encouragement instead of enabling cheaters.
The following questions were asked in a survey conducted by Dr. John Perry of Columbia University. It included 1,000 married couples. Of these, 200 were currently cheating spouses and 500 were faithful spouses. The results showed that cheating husbands were significantly less likely to see their wives’ faces, hear their voices, hug, kiss, or tell them they loved them. They were also less likely to listen attentively to their wives, give affectionate hugs, tell them they cared, or say anything meaningful. Conversely, cheating wives were significantly more likely to feel angry with their husbands, complain about their appearance, feel lonely, cry, or ask for reassurance. See? Sex is powerful stuff…even among married people!
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