Have you ever wondered if your partner is cheating in your relationship? Or maybe you are just curious to find out whether there is a ‘type’ of person who cheats. This subject can be very stressful so lets peel back this layer and understand why people have affairs. We can learn how to view our own personal relationship, see where the cracks are and learn how to fix them before they fragment.
In every relationship, there are times we do not feel as close and can sometimes second guess what is going on in the other persons mind. Our lives are busy and occupied with work, children and our home. Our personal relationship can often trail in third or even forth place of priority.
By taking a hard, uncomfortable look at our relationships, our own attitude and the person sitting opposite us as the breakfast table we can learn so much. The ultimate aim is to prosper emotionally. Whether or not this is still as a couple remains to be seen.
What is an affair?
An affair is a form of cheating. Cheating is a betrayal of a type of trust. Within a relationship, it would be the trust of your partner. Depending on the type of betrayal and the extent, it can often result in the ending of a relationship.
Cheating is also an emotional word and often needs refining in order to fully understand it. Within the arena of a personal relationship, there are different types of cheating. Lets focus on why and how people have affairs.
The most obvious is physical intimacy. This is also the one most people think of when they think of cheating. It can be seen as the most shocking as it does not require a build up of a relationship but can happen on the spur of the moment.
Don’t look confused! I don’t mean regular messaging of friends. By this, I mean sexual messages to someone the partner knows and is attracted to. This is known as sexting. Whether or not there is an intention to have a sexual relationship or end the current relationship, this is also a form of cheating.
Why do people have affairs? Emotional affairs. This is probably the second most common and often occurs over a period of time. This involves one partner growing emotionally close to someone outside of his or her relationship and sharing confidences that would normally only be shared with a partner.
Cyber cheating is becoming increasingly common and involves having a type of relationship with someone online. This could be through pornography, dating sites, etc.
Will my partner cheat?
Now we have broken relationship cheating down into different categories, lets turn the spotlight onto our partners and look at causes why people have affairs. How can we tell if our partner will cheat on us? Why do happy couples cheat? I find this a very interesting question and one that many, many people wonder as they get closer to someone. Are there personality traits we should be looking for as we get to know them? Should we ‘stay away’ from certain types of people?
I would have said no but surprisingly, there are personality traits that make someone more predisposed to cheating….
A narcissist is someone who ‘excessively’ likes themselves. Who puts their interests above anyone else’s. From this point of view, it is easy to see that a narcissist could have a propensity towards cheating. As well as adoring themselves, they want others to adore them. Which could seem very heady when it comes from new, fresh admiration. They also may not recognise they are hurting others so this factor would not come into play when considering whether to have an affair.
A slightly ‘harsh’ category to create but it is logical that the more attractive the person, the more opportunities there will be to cheat on their partner. However, just because a person is attractive does not mean they will cheat!
This is one of those factors that we can’t see. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone linked to attractiveness and empathy. As a neurotransmitter, it is released when two people intimately touch each other. High levels of this hormone can result in a solid bond between mother and young child as they bond. Low levels of this in a man can lead to a decreased feeling of intimacy with a long term partner. Also, a higher likelihood to cheat when deciding why people have affairs.
Who would have thought your age would be a reason behind cheating? Statistics shows that for women, they are more likely to cheat when aged between 18-29. Whereas, men are more likely to cheat in their 70’s. Who would have thought?
People in a position of power are also more likely to cheat. Power gives a sense of authority over others, an attractiveness to others and increased confidence. You are more likely to have closer relationships to others at work and this often leads to more opportunities to cheat.
Sex drive in a couple really needs to be equal. Why? Imagine one person wanting to have sex every day and the other being content with once a week. Can you see the discord this would bring? Apart from sexual frustration, it can lead to emotional and mental problems. All of which could possibly lead to infidelity. Another reason why people choose to have affairs.
This one can actually work either way. If your partner comes from a broken home, they may not have seen the positive influence two loving parents can bring or the interaction between the two. Without this, learning to navigate a relationship themselves could be more tricky. However, on the flip side, this could also mean they are more determined to be successful in their own relationship, to listen and to not argue.
Now this is a slightly bizarre category so I’ve stuck it at the end. Studies have shown that women who are blonde are more likely to cheat than those with other hair colours. Go figure! And I say this slightly incredulously as I flick my blonde hair out of my eyes….
After reading this, you may recognize some of these traits in yourself or your partner. Does this then mean you are going to cheat? Certainly not. Each relationship is unique and needs to be looked at and worked on within its own merits.
Statistics on cheating and why people have affairs
20% of men admit to having cheated on their partner, whilst a lower 13% of women say the same.
Actually, the status of our relationship could impact on this statistic. If in a marriage, both partners are more likely to work on their relationship after cheating the first time. Marriage is generally seen as a higher level of commitment.
Blow and Hartnett, 2005 showed that cheating happens in 20% of marriages. Wiederman and Hurd, 1999 also showed that cheating was prevalent in up to 70% of unmarried relationships!
Once a cheater, always a cheater….
Once your partner or you have cheated, it can be very easy to gain a level of cynicism. ‘They’ve done it before, of course they will do it again!’. But is this true? Or could it be us trying to protect our heart, our emotions against more hurt?
Cheating in a relationship is often seen as crossing a line that there is no coming back from. For this reason, many people will not cheat. But this reason can also strangely mean that someone who has cheated will endeavour to pull themselves back to the right side of the line. Guilt often wades in and the effect on the partner can be enough to ensure it does not happen again.
However, it is also true that once a partner has crossed that line, they recognise the feeling and have taken a theoretical step towards doing it again. Guilt could get less and less the more the line is crossed.
Why do cheaters stay in a relationship?
Statistically, Knop, Scott, Ritchie, Rhoades, Markman and Stanley showed in 2017 that those who cheated in a previous relationship are more likely to cheat in a subsequent relationship. So this is definitely something to think about if you discover your partner has cheated. But remember that statistics, although broad, do not look at the individual and what is going on in their lives or their relationship at the time.
Should you have an affair?
This is a controversial question but is one that a certain percentage of people will ask themselves at some point in their relationship. The easy answer is always a no. It will hurt and cause chaos between the two of you.
The harder answer is still a ‘no’ but with a deeper layer. Look at yourself and ask why this question is coming up? How are you feeling in your current relationship? Loved, appreciated? Listened to and respected? For a relationship to be successful long-term, these should feature heavily in our hearts and minds. When someone behaves like that toward you, it is easier to maintain these emotions and thoughts back.
Are there any situations in which it is OK to cheat in your relationship?
Another tricky question! I am definitely not advocating having an affair but rather suggesting that if you have got to this stage in your relationship that it is time you and your partner had a talk. There are certain situations that couples find themselves in where, if they talk they may come to an understanding. These can include:
- A sexless marriage
- One partner is terminally ill
- A loveless marriage
- Staying together for the children
This decision is a hard one and needs to be communicated openly and with the agreement of both partners. If, within these parameters, both are happy with the decision, then a respective relationship may not be seen as an affair but rather as having an open relationship.
What can you do to help prevent your partner from cheating?
Ultimately, the decision on whether to cheat whilst in a relationship is down to your partner. However, the state of a relationship often plays a big part in this. Once you know why people have affairs, you can learn how to ensure that you have a loving and healthy partnership.
Effective communication in a relationship
Talking to each other is a key component in a successful relationship. Not about the weekly grocery list but rather expressing ideas, emotions etc.
Listening to your partner
Likewise, the other half of talking is listening. Therapists often suggest setting aside time each month to talk and listen. This should be a safe space for the two of you to talk about what has happened during the month between the two of you and how you both feel about it. After a while, you should both feel more appreciated and loved.
Date nights are important whether you have children or not. They remind you that you have fun as a couple and find each other attractive. Get dressed up, vary your routine and don’t just bring back the romance, never let it go.
By this, I don’t mean your job. I am referencing your future, as a couple. If you have similar goals and aspirations and see each other working towards this, you can feel reassured that you are working as a couple.
Trust in a relationship is key
Lastly, after we have examined different types of cheating, who is likely to cheat and how to recognize this in our partners we need to examine trust. Why, I hear the now embittered reader cry? Because we can all recognize at least one of these traits in both ourselves or our partner. But this does not mean that we should be ready to greet them with their bags or an argument.
Rather, to me it means a need to be an adult and think. Think about our relationship, what it means to us, what the other person brings to us and our family unit and how you have both prospered since becoming a couple. Why are you reading this article? Is it because you have true fears and suspicions? If so, then you really do need to take some time to think about your future. Or is it because of insecurity? Fear of getting close to someone and looking for reasons not to?
A personal relationship is hard work. But the best type is worth it and brings joy in so many ways. Having someone physically, mentally and emotionally close to you means there are two of you walking along your life journey, experiencing situations together and sharing the love.
Choose to love your relationship
Trust is earned. It comes from spending time with one another, learning their values and ideals. It springs from learning how that person reacts in certain situations. And it grows when one of you is going through a tough patch and the other is there, ready to walk your path too.