Why Do We Cheat?

Cheating seems to have become more common than ever before. Not for everyone of course but in recent times it seems to be ever so slightly embedded in modern day culture. So why do we cheat? I once worked with someone who told me he loved his girlfriend with all his heart but sex was sex. His explanation was that sex was simply a meaningless act and that the occasional misdemeanor would never compromise his feelings for his girlfriend. I found his outlook fascinating but extremely concerning. I could never condone cheating, but I do acknowledge that things aren’t always as cut and dry as they seem. To find out more I decided to hear from a few guilty but refreshingly honest parties.
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Scott, 26, Cardiff….

I and my partner met on a night out at university, we messed about a lot for around a year before we decided to ‘officially’ get together. We had a good relationship for about six months or so until my partner got suspicious whenever I did literally anything without her, whether it was going out with friends or even just wanting to study on my own for a bit. Her attitude eventually led me to cheat on her. Unfortunately I had developed the attitude of ‘if you’re going to accuse me of doing stuff behind your back I may as well just do it’. After another five months or so the relationship eventually broke down completely. Once the relationship started to go downhill I cheated on three separate occasions and as far as I’m aware she never found out. I feel bad about it looking back but at the same time the relationship had started to deteriorate before that point and I knew it wasn’t going to last.

Emilia, 31, London….

We had started off as really close friends, then he left his girlfriend for me. It was a summer romance that just kept on going. We both grew as people but in very different ways which ultimately led to us growing apart. He became very manipulative and to be honest just a bit twisted. We fought a lot, fault on both sides, then one evening he hit me and things got steadily worse. He bailed on me on New Year’s Eve, I got drunk and slept with a guy from work.

We broke up a few months later because the trust issues that were already present had only got worse. I had realized just how easy it was to cheat on someone without them finding out so in the most peculiar way my own infidelity had made me not trust him. Crazy I know. But I don’t think cheating is as black and white as people make it out to be. The person who got cheated on isn’t always in the right, even if the cheater is always in the wrong.
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He never found out about my actions but I never found out if he had cheated on me either and I strongly suspect he did. People told me he had but they weren’t exactly my biggest fans so I took it with a pinch of salt. Oddly enough, no matter how much I hated him for the things he had done to me, I had never wanted to throw it in his face.

Ben, 37, Manchester….

I was with my girlfriend for about 4 years. She was perfect on paper: gorgeous, kind-hearted, funny, loving, pretty much everything a man could ask for. Looking further ahead I also knew she would make an amazing wife and an even better mother. But for the longest time I always felt something was missing. We worked well together but there wasn’t that spark, that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you just couldn’t live without them. It was a ‘nice’ relationship but I craved ‘spectacular’. I loved her but was I ‘in’ love with her? I still don’t know, but then maybe that just means no? I found my eye wandering on several occasions. I wasn’t proud of it and I didn’t tell a single person but I felt like I had to spend time with someone else to truly know how I felt about my girlfriend. If I’m honest it didn’t help, I wasn’t really getting that spark with anyone so maybe it was me that was the problem? I can’t excuse my actions in any way I realize it’s not acceptable to treat someone like this, especially a ‘good’ person but I’d spent so long lost in confusion that I desperately needed some answers. I still haven’t found them.

So there you have it three very different reasons for cheating: boredom, abuse and indecision. It’s not for me to judge what’s right and what’s wrong but I do believe in hearing both sides of the story before we do. Could we handle these situations better? Of course we could, but nobody’s perfect.

Tell me your story.

PTB

Follow me on twitter: @paulthomasbell

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20 Comments

  1. January 12, 2015 / 12:52 am

    We cheat because we are people, we are stupid, and we are easily distracted by shiny objects on the ground. People go seeking external solutions for internal problems, so if you have an emptiness inside of you, it’s very easy to believe another person can fill it up for you. I don’t mean to sound unkind towards cheaters here, it’s just human nature that we all share.

  2. January 12, 2015 / 1:01 am

    Even though I haven’t much experience to draw on, I know this much is true: sex is not a meaningless act—for anyone. Sexual union creates a bond between two people, a “karmic” bond that ties them together in unimaginable ways. I knew a guy who used to boast of his numerous sexual conquests. Because of those and other factors, today he is a mess. He can’t think clearly.

    Before you go about merging with people, better think about it, else you make a mockery of love and sex, territories of vast confusion and misunderstanding. Love without righteousness is a shame to both God and man.

  3. January 12, 2015 / 1:16 am

    Insightful blog. Invokes some thoughtful reflections on my past experiences being cheated on.

    Scott’s experiences spoke out to me the most when he stated “if ur going to accuse me of cheating…..I might as well do it.”

    I had suspected and accused my partners and the reason I suspected was bc their behavior changed. They became lazy in the relationship. Less romantic. Less affection. Less sex.

    If I’m not getting it, who is?

  4. B1004
    January 12, 2015 / 1:27 am

    Interesting topic! I spoke to someone who’s poly, he has a similar attitude that he can share sex with multiple people without it detracting from his love for his gf (but at least she’s aware and okay with it rather than it being behind her back).

    I can relate to the abusive one a little. I’ve never physically cheated but I once found myself developing feelings for someone who was supporting me through a very emotionally abusive relationship (I never acted on it). My boyfriend at the time figured out that I liked him and reacted as badly as if I actually *had* cheated so I had to sever contact.

    I think the key is knowing when to walk. If you’re miserable or even just not really feeling it, it’s better for everyone involved to walk away as early as possible, rather than drag it out and hurt people. If you know it’s falling apart, why stick around half-heartedly and cheat on them?

  5. January 12, 2015 / 2:21 am

    I saw an interesting article on cheating recently, that your third scenario makes me think of. The article mentioned that when someone is cheating they are trying to fill a void in their relationship. No surprises there, as that part seems obvious.

    The part I found interesting was that the article went on to say that the things a person is looking for is often things that are missing, but they are likely equally at blame, as they are things that person has stopped putting into their relationship.

  6. January 12, 2015 / 2:36 am

    To your title, PTB, I would respectfully offer (and more accurately align with) Why Did We Cheat? Some of us were guilty once, learned a devastating lesson and have never cheated since. Another perspective.

  7. January 12, 2015 / 2:59 am

    If you dont have the spark…why stay?

  8. January 12, 2015 / 6:22 am

    Beautiful exposé on cheating! Thanks PTB.

    Want to ask. In very few words, why wouldn’t you cheat on your wife?

    You’re currently faced with the temptation of sleeping with someone else, what’s that thing that would make you not do it?

    Anyone can answer this.

  9. January 12, 2015 / 8:10 am

    In a way i really love this post as i have been the bad guy (in soceitys eyes) before abd cheated. But i agree with the first and secobd person, it isn’t as black and white as everyone likes to think. Sometimes the person who gets cheated on is perhaps lying about things too. In my case my now ex was lying to me about taking illegal drugs, and to me that was worse then me sleeping with someone else. I’ll stop complaining now haha but great post! x

  10. January 12, 2015 / 10:59 am

    I never cheated on anyone. If you don’t like people doing it to you, don’t do it to others. That ‘rule’ I try to follow in my life.
    Bottom line is, I think, people cheat because they are not satisfied with what they have.
    xxx

  11. January 12, 2015 / 11:25 am

    Ya your attitude is right. We should know what both people went through before branding them as cheaters. Sometimes its just little things that breaks down a beautiful relation and trust is something which is seldom found in relations now.

  12. January 12, 2015 / 5:34 pm

    There’s a lot of reasons people cheat, although I think the reasons often differ from men and women. Women tend to cheat when they feel neglected either emotionally or physically. Men tend to cheat when they feel pressured or stressed at home, or when they feel their partner doesn’t give them enough sex. I think social media throws out a lot of temptation out there as well. I got married at 20 and a few years later, I started to feel like I had been missing out because I hadn’t dated much in my youth. I talked to my then-husband about it and he proposed that we try an open marriage, if I was feeling like I wanted to explore. However, we had rules about honesty and said that if one of us wasn’t comfortable with it anymore that we would stop. I did some exploring, and figured out that it was more trouble than it was worth and that it wasn’t for me, so I decided to stop. Quite a few years later, my husband cheated on me. I say “cheated” because he had sex with someone first and then pretended like he hadn’t and then asked if I would mind if he did. It had been a lot of years since we’d talked about an open marriage and I didn’t feel comfortable with it anymore especially at a time where we were having some marital problems, but he gave me a guilt trip, saying that he was understanding when I wanted to explore, so I reluctantly agreed, although I was very upset about it and wished I had stuck with saying no. Of course I was furious when I found out he had already done it before he’d even talked to me about it first. That just opened up a whole mess of issues to add on to the ones we already had. Once someone betrays your trust like that, it’s extremely difficult to feel like you can trust that person again. He ended up cheating on me again when he started an emotional online relationship with my best friend, which turned physical when she came to visit us. I heard a lot of reasons as to why he did it, but I think the most accurate and valid reason is selfishness. I cheated on ex-boyfriends in the past when I was a teenager, mostly because I was unhappy and wanted to feel like I mattered to someone.

  13. January 13, 2015 / 7:21 pm

    I agree with boredom a lot and also people cheat because of their need for an adventure, something different that’s my take on it.

  14. January 14, 2015 / 8:54 am

    on the second story…..strong point about how the cheated isnt always right even when the cheater is always wrong. despite that, i’v noticed that we tend more to suspect people of doing the bad things we do simply because we are doing them. it helps us excuse our action. her strong suspicion is probably based on nothing else but the fact that she has been unfaithful.

  15. February 22, 2015 / 2:19 am

    Interesting… Maybe we cheat because we have not found the one just yet? The one person who does make us want to stay and not cheat… Not sure…

  16. March 12, 2015 / 11:17 am

    …I think people have given up on the idea of true love. You know – the love that will still be there when you grow bald or get fat. People are desperate to feel loved. To feel accepted. To feel worthy. So they will take it in “fast food” packages out of fear that the “healthy lifestyle” package does not exist…

  17. June 4, 2015 / 4:52 am

    “We cheat because we are people, we are stupid, and we are easily distracted by shiny objects on the ground.”
    I completely agree with INSANITYBYTES22

    Wonderful writing!!

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