What Causes Infidelity | Men and Women on Why They Cheated

It’s a fact of life: Cheating happens. But why do people cheat? That’s murkier. Official numbers are hard to come by—makes sense, given the secretive subject matter—but most indicate that somewhere between about 10 percent and 70 percent (yes, over two-thirds) of women have cheated. Another more recent and perhaps more accurate study showed that about 15 percent to 18 percent of married people have cheated on their spouses. That still means the vast majority of people aren’t cheaters, which is great to hear.

But, even though we all know cheating is wrong, some people still do it. Why do people cheat? We asked those who have done it what their reasons were. Here’s what they shared:

Why men have cheated

“For the first time, women were hitting on me”“I cheated on my girlfriend because I could. I never had a lot of sexual options through high school and college, but after school, I really hit my stride. For the first time, women were hitting on me, and I was drunk on the feeling. One night, I let it go too far and slept with a woman at a party. I didn’t tell my girlfriend it happened but broke up with her on a trumped-up fight instead.” —D.H., 28

“I was seeking something that I was not getting in my marriage”“Both times, I was seeking something that I was not getting in my marriage—sex, love, and affection. … The absolute truth is that I could have likely had all the things I was seeking in my affair with my wife. It was a lack of effort and too much old programming that led to me to believe otherwise.” —Don, 29

“The opportunity to something different in bed”“The two main reasons were the excitement I got from the chase leading up to the cheat and the opportunity to do something in bed that my girlfriend objected to.” —John, 34

“What we wanted out of our sex life was very different”“We had some issues in our relationship that had been slowly pushing us apart. She was steadily becoming more religious, and what we wanted out of our sex life was very different—and we were operating on a long-distance relationship.” —Adam, 25

Why women have cheated

“I needed a way to end it”“I fell out of love and was too scared to tell him and too embarrassed to admit to myself that the relationship was done. I needed a way to end it by making him end it for me. Cowardice, really.” —Gloria, 34

“We were emotionally incompatible”“I felt all men cheated and so I should just strike first. That was a huge mistake. I was young and didn’t know how to process the feelings of isolation in my relationship. Rather than confront the fact that this person and I were emotionally incompatible, I cheated.” —Mary, 31

“To get my needs met”“I felt dissatisfied with the romance/sex in the relationship, even if it was a stable and loving one. There ended up being a lot of tension, as he expected me to do all the work to make our relationship ‘spark’ again, and didn’t lift a finger, didn’t communicate with me, and didn’t really react when I did try. Eventually, I got tired of bothering and slept with someone else to get my needs met.” —Kay, 32

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