Let’s talk about why people cheat. Four reasons that I often see brought up in my practice are distance, insecurity, anger, and lack of physical intimacy.
. So the number one thing is distance. Why is it that we have distance in our relationship? Sometimes that's physical distance where we actually are living in a different state or our spouses are away on travel for long periods of times. That kind of distance can set us up for the risk of our partner or ourselves cheating because we get lonely and we feel disconnected. And while we may be committed to our partner, loneliness or sexual drive can lead us into a situation where we feel compelled to cheat. Another kind of distance of course is emotional distance. This can happen when people aren't talking to each other with enough intimacy, when they’re avoiding topics. I've would say this is probably one of the more common things I see in my practice is where you have couples who avoid conflict and when they're avoiding conflict what ends up happening is that they will feel more and more distance from each other. The truth is the people that we work through emotional conflicts become the people we feel closest with. But if we don’t resolve these conflicts and we hold in our true feelings and not speak our truth we end up feeling distant from our partner and when we feel distant from our partner it's a lot easier to slide into a connection with somebody else who we have less history and less complication. It’s easier for us to connect to and sharer because we don't have to worry about them getting upset by how we feel or what we think and what's going on with us
Distance and Cheating
The two different forms of distance are physical distance and emotional distance and the problem with the physical distances again you're not maintaining perhaps enough communication while that person is physically gone you're not having enough contact with them to where you remain feeling connected and supported and emotionally available. Maybe you're not having a phone sex together which would be a fun thing to do while you’re having a “Distanceship” and another thing is to be really aware of how that conflict-phobia or the perhaps even a feeling that you are afraid to communicate honestly with your partner can cause you to feel distant from your partner which can cause you to set yourself up to the availability of somebody else coming.
Social media might also play a role because we have so many more ways to connect than we used to have. There's a lot of different ways that people can get in and people do they try to get in I have people connect with me all the time via social media that I do not know trying to start conversations with me trying to create that kind of intimacy which I call opening a window. So when we open that window if we have distance in our relationship and we open that window to somebody else allow them to get in then we're much more at risk of cheating even if our intent is just to have somebody to talk to. Opening that window we're actually opening our hearts. Things we’re not sharing with our partner, we're sharing with the stranger or with somebody that's a friend; saying things that we would not say to our partner. By doing this, we're kind of opening that window and creating more distance with our partner.
However if you are consciously aware of the problem, with the distance growing in your relationship whether it's physical distance or emotional distance there are things you can do. You can have phone sex you can have increase the number of face to face contacts you have through face time or skype or whatever virtual reality you might be able to pick. Find a way to have more frequent contacts and be willing to share what you're experiencing. And not just the day to day activities but how you're feeling that day. You need to be willing to say “you know it's really had a hard day today. I'm really stressed out. I really missed you.” Share things that are from your heart that will help you to connect more emotionally with your partner when they are a long ways away. Secondly if it's something that's happening inside of you and you're feeling distant from your partner emotionally take ownership of it.
Also go to your partner in what I tell my clients and get good “skin to skin” time. Getting naked together, if that's at all possible, and allow yourselves to have that time together where you feel that skin to skin contact. Skin to skin contact allows you do release oxytocin and have a feeling of closeness even if maybe you're intellectually thinking that you're not that close but it gives you that sense of being close when you when you allow yourself to have lots of skin to skin contact. You also need to be courageous enough to speak your truth and tell somebody what's going on with you, what you are feeling, what you feel conflicted about, what is bothering you. Talk about what's going on with you, share your emotions. Share your heart even if it's difficult because as I say to my clients on a regular basis you have to risk the relationship in order to have one. You have to be willing to make those difficult conversations in order for things to be different
Insecurity and Infidelity
Another reason why someone might cheat is the problem of insecurity. What I mean by it security when as it relates to the potential for cheating is that when we feel insecure about our looks, maybe we're getting older, maybe we've gained some weight, for men oftentimes that insecurity can happen around employment in some way or not feeling good about yourself. Basically if you're in a situation where you start to feel a lack of confidence in yourself it makes you more vulnerable again to somebody getting into that window because if somebody is really good at flattering you, making you feel good about yourself, building you up when you're in a place where you're not feeling good about yourself and your partner is not so good at flattering you and making you feel better about yourself.
This is not uncommon and it happens in relationships because we tend to be so much more critical of our partner than we do of the other people in our lives. One of the ways to help is to take the time to really be aware of what your partner might be experiencing and be aware of what you might be experiencing. Are you feeling insecure in some way? What ways are you making yourself vulnerable to the possibility of somebody else getting in? Is your partner feeling insecure? If they are talk to them about the insecurity and maybe find ways to help them. Explain to them what you value about them. Make sure you give them plenty of affection and make sure that they feel wanted. See what you can do to help each other get pass that insecurity is a way to move forward in your relationship and start to shift things around so that the vulnerability is less.
Anger and Extra Martial Affairs
Another issue that can lead to infidelity is anger. Because if you have a partner who is prone to anger it can manifests as yelling and screaming or shaming maybe even physical aggression. Anyone of these manifestations can cause you to feel insecure, afraid and even unsafe all of which are a setup for letting somebody else coming through the window.
Because there's nothing that shuts people down like anger does. If there is anger their voice, if they're aggressive with their anger that’s a trigger for many people to shut down and feel distant thereby opening a window for us to go out and allow ourselves to try to find somebody who we can feel safe and secure and allows us to be more open. Also our cheating response to this anger is really a passive aggressive manifestation of anger back at our partner. “Oh you’re going to show angry to me? Well I’m going to show anger (cheating) back to you. We act our anger in a way that we know that it's going to hurt them maybe even unconsciously. We do those things because we're so hurt and angry with our partner so being able to process that anger and recognizing that processing what you're feeling with your partner is a really huge part of what it takes to have full intimacy which in you know full intimate relationship you are not breaking agreements that you have in cheating on each other .
Lack of Physical Intimacy and Adultery
The final reason we will discuss is physical intimacy and how it can set us up to be unfaithful or set us up to have problems in our sexual relationship with a partner so if we don't if we're not experiencing the kind of physical intimacy that is satisfying to us.
In my practice I see people who are really committed. Today in fact I had someone come in who I really was moved because even though he says he has not had any physical intimacy with his partner in a year and even though he's craving that physical connection, he absolutely refuses to do anything other than go to his wife and work on the problem because he knows how hurtful that would be to her. He's lived with it, he's seen it in his own life as a child with his mom and his dad and he knows that's not something he would want to do.
The thing often talked about in couples therapy is how one partner or the other did not feel like they were getting their physical intimate needs met. This can be in the form of not having enough physical intimacy. It can also be not having the right kinds of physical intimacy to where you're feeling that your emotional and sexual needs are not being met.
I want to include in this conversation something that I this that I would call “them sexual confusion” which is being talked about a lot in the media these days. When people have gender identity issues and they're often times because of our culture, men and women are sort of forcing into seeing the only acceptable pathway for a normal life is to be a “traditional” male or female and to be heterosexual. They may have felt forced to living out hetero-norm gender stereotypes in order to have the acceptance and love of their family, their peers, security in their workplace, to feel more a part of the world at large. Sometimes people will feel pressured into marrying into a heterosexual relationship when in fact they are really is homosexual. So not only do we have the issue of what is the quality of the sexual connection both emotionally and sexually and the frequency but we also have the additional complication of people sexual identity. If someone is confused about what it is in their heart they may be acting out on their homosexual impulses while they're in a committed heterosexual relationship. This can cause all kinds of pain for everybody involved because it's okay to be who you are but what's not okay is to lie and cheat and not be honest about what's truly going on in your heart .
If you're finding yourself in a relationship where you are feeling like your sexual needs are not being met on a frequency level you desire and you feel those pressures rising. I often have couples in my practice doing hinting, teasing, joking but not being direct about their need for things to be different. If you are in a relationship where you're not experiencing the frequency of sexual connection that you desire it's really important that you address it and if you don't feel comfortable addressing it with your partner or by yourself get help. Go to your minister or go to a counselor, do something go talk to someone who can help you express yourself because It is important that you clearly express what your needs are. And the same goes for someone who is experiencing a lack of Sexual Satisfaction in their relationship. and I know for women it's very difficult for us sometimes to express what we need sexually and it's very difficult for us to be able to talk about what we're feeling because often were socialized into feeling that what we want, what we feel we need is irrelevant or even shameful to want to feel those sexual feelings. This sets you up to feel more sexually distant from your partner and sets you up to try to have that window open again for somebody else to get in who's may be willing to try what you desire without you having to talk about it, without having to go into all that detail, to work for it. So if you're in a relationship it is just as important to get your sexual needs met in terms of sexual satisfaction as it is if you're not getting the frequency that you would like to have but you have to be willing to be courageous enough to bring that up and talk about it and I know that's not an easy thing to do.
I would say just as a word of caution here to make sure that when you do bring up that you don't bring it up in the moment of the sexual relationship. I think it's really important to talk about that before you get to the intimate moment because if you’re trying to talk about it in the intimate moment, too many feelings are present, and it could be too raw, too sensitive. Try to find a time out side of your intimacy time to address that issue with your partner and do it lovingly and in such a ways you're not blaming them but where you‘re saying “look there some things that I would like to be different in our sexual relationship can we talk about what we could do differently” Again if you don't feel comfortable doing that with your partner get some help, go to a therapist to get some help talking about that but do not pretend that you don't have those needs. That’s basically lying to your partner that everything is fine even when it's not and it’s really important for you to be honest and open and allow yourself to speak your truth with the level of intensity that it deserves so that you can I have the kind of relationship that is a safe relationship. Meaning you or your partner aren’t at risk of acting out sexually in some way.
To briefly come back to the sexual confusion piece; that one is a little more complicated. When you have a partner or yourself who are experiencing some confusion about what it is whether you're heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual and you haven't explored that with each other, you haven't talked about it openly with each other, it can come as a really painful thing to actually discuss with your partner. if you again you don't feel comfortable doing that by yourself please find a safe person that you do feel comfortable sitting down with and say “hey I'm having these feelings that I don't understand “ You have to be prepared for the possibility that this communication could change the nature of the relationship. It’s scary because there are sometimes when the only result from this honest communication is to end the relationship. But it’s better for both parties to be honest about what you need and what your truth is in the relationship rather than go on pretending that you're being monogamous when in fact what you're doing perhaps is acting out sexually with somebody who is not the opposite sex so when you do that it's just as hurtful as if and this is the funny thing is I think sometimes people will think well I'm not cheating because I'm with a same sex person, but I guarantee you that if you were on the other end of that you would recognize that's sharing sexual intimacy with somebody else regardless of whether it's same sex or opposite sex is going to be experienced by your partner as the same kind of betrayal. It's just as harmful on the wounding to the recipient of that as heterosexual cheating. We have covered why people cheat and there's plenty more reasons besides the four that are covered, but these are the ones that I feel like are the biggest in my practice and so I wanted to address those which the first one is the distance both physical and emotional distance insecurity sexual insecurity or financial or self-esteem and security that can cause a person to cheat. The third one was anger which being intimidated by someone else's anger can lead you to shut yourself down and look to find somebody who's safe enough that you can voice your feelings with instead of being open with your partner because you're afraid to be or it can also be were you internalize your anger and you stuff everything down and it just kind of comes out sideways where you're actually punishing your partner or being and passive aggressive by being sexually acting out with someone else because you're so angry at your partner. Then finally we discussed sexual intimacy. This problem could be about and the frequency or satisfaction or differences in sexual identities that may not have been talked about within the context of the marriage or committed relationship. These are the areas that I see most often in my practice and I'm sure I could probably do whole episodes on just each of these separately. If you have any questions about any of these four reason, or cheating or relationships and think you might benefit from a more in depth discuss feel free to call the number above or fill out the “Contact Us” form,; whichever makes you feel most comfortable.