A lot of times, we get questions from people that are painful questions. This particular question is one we hear a lot: why do people cheat? I can’t answer that all the way because there are many reasons why people cheat. Of course, there are psychological reasons that come into that.
Most people are good. They’re not bad people, but unfortunately, good people do bad things. Now, if you pause for a minute and think about your own life, you’re a good person. And if you think back, you’ll look and see there are things you’ve done wrong. Remember, none of this is an excuse for the bad, or a free ride to do whatever you want.
Instead, it’s a reminder that we are all screwed up—every one of us. I’m broken; you’re broken. And there are things in our life that just don’t come together, things we don’t understand, or things we’ve adopted from childhood. We’re good people, but they influence us in negative thinking, poor thinking. Now, let’s discuss why people cheat.
Sometimes our perspective gets messed up.
People say stuff like, “it’s the sum of your life’s experience that provides your perspective or helps you know whether life is good.” I’m telling you that it isn’t the sum factually; it is your perception of life and how that looks to you that creates your path. So, as we’re looking forward at a spouse who’s cheating, the first thing I want you to do is to be careful and not make this something evil. What I mean by that is, I doubt that the person is evil. Are there evil people out there? Yeah.
What I’ve discovered is that vulnerability, many times, is why people cheat.
When we get together in a relationship, we usually hit all our PIES: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. That’s what attracts us to one another. That attraction brings us closer. So we’re meeting needs. We’re finding acceptance in that piece, which is the second area of the LovePath. So we’re finding acceptance in that I’m sharing some things with you.
Maybe I don’t really want to share, or perhaps I’ve shared them with other people, and they’ve attacked me. Or maybe, to be honest, I’m embarrassed about it. There are things in my life I don’t like about myself. So I began to take a risk by removing bricks from a wall in front of me that protects me from rejection or criticism.
In the relationship, those walls are low. And we’re getting to know each other, and we feel good about our relationship. Why is that important? Because in a 25-year literature review of everything written on marriage and divorce, they discovered three main things that people said led them to divorce: I don’t believe you love me. I don’t think you like me. And I don’t think you respect me. Those three things are the leading causes. The symptoms come out of that. Money, in-law problems, kids, things like that–they are symptoms. So, many times an affair is the actual symptom of the brokenness in the relationship.
Now stay with me and follow me. An affair is not the cause of brokenness. It’s not a cause, but we all know there are influencing factors that move into our life that don’t control us, but they require us to adjust. Like when you’re driving down the road, and a big burst of air hits your car, you feel the sway, and you correct. It didn’t make you do anything, but you performed in accordance with that influence. Well, that’s what these influences are.
When the relationship begins to break down, and we don’t see eye to eye, and our responses and the things we’re going through are negative, we build more of a wall instead of taking the wall down. And at some point, we start feeling alone. This isn’t a process that happens overnight, it occurs over years. Not one event, but multiple offenses through the perception of the eyes of your spouse or the person who had cheated. They’ll see it, think about it, and they’ll start to come to a place of thinking, “this person doesn’t love me anymore.”
Will they have an affair? No. There are a bunch of other things that can happen, and this is not always why people cheat. But for some people, when they break the intimacy with their spouse, there’s an intimacy vacuum.
I don’t believe that humans were created to be alone. I think we’re made to be with people. You could be on a deserted island, but at some point, you’re going to find a Wilson. You’re going to find this ball. Cause you’ve got to talk to something; you can’t be alone. And I promise you, if you’re with Wilson long enough, a regular old ball, you’ll get ticked at Wilson and throw them away at one point because we’re emotional creatures.
What’s the point? Intimacy is critical to a relationship because it’s where I know you love me. It’s where I know you accept me. If my perception changes in my relationship with my spouse, and I think she doesn’t love, like, and respect me, I will start to protect myself. It will put me in an intimacy vacuum. And if I’m not careful, aware, and paying attention, it can become an easy, easy slip into being influenced by another person’s words. That longing for intimacy can be one reason why people cheat.
It’s not right. I’m not justifying it. What I’m saying is this happens often. Your partner isn’t looking for sex; they’re looking for a connection. They’re looking for someone, or someplace even, that they could feel comfortable in, to feel significant. I’m sure your intention was not to cause that; I’m confident of that.
But no one’s taught us how to deal with people or how we’re supposed to handle things. So we handle them the best we know, or maybe as our parents did. And Lord, we all know we want to improve on that. But in either case, we get to the place where we do all we know to do. But the relationship begins to degrade. Again, not an excuse, but a look at understanding why people cheat.
Another reason why people cheat is because of their vulnerability.
If I may speak about myself one second, I grew up most of my life believing that I was invisible and insignificant. I came to a place where I thought I didn’t matter at all, and so I became what I felt in my mind was a perfectionist. But I wasn’t a perfectionist; I was a pleaser. I thought if I could meet everybody else’s needs and desires, and if I could be the answer for people, then I mattered. What happened is, as well as I do, you can’t please everybody. And so, as I began to fall short, I felt worse about myself.
I began to judge my wife on things she would do if she forgot something. And I think to myself, “if she loved me, she wouldn’t forget that.” I had a short-term memory because I had forgotten things many times, but we don’t typically examine ourselves first; we look at the people hurting us. So I looked at Shannon and thought to myself, she doesn’t care about me. She doesn’t love me.
When I made that decision in my mind, and I can’t tell you exactly when it came to pass, it placed me in a vulnerable position. I want and need to feel significant. Sometimes people will go to the gym or golf or an activity. But sometimes, it becomes a person that makes them feel significant. Listen to me carefully; this is not your fault. I’m not saying it’s your fault. I’m not even alluding to it. What I’m saying is that people desire intimacy, and they have vulnerabilities. And if intimacy is missing and the vulnerabilities are strong enough, they can become susceptible to another broken person out there.
Another reason why people cheat is they find themselves in a place of pain and don’t know what to do.
They’re hurting from previous relationships or their childhood, or maybe it’s a pain from the marriage they’re in right now. So they want relief. And when it comes to pain, when it comes to hurt, we’ll do just about anything we can, try anything we can, to get relief. People go to considerable lengths to get relief. Sometimes, looking for that relief can be why people cheat. People are going out, they’re not necessarily looking for it, but they stumble into opportunity, and eventually, they cross the line.
I want to repeat it: I’m not making excuses for people who have affairs. I had one, and I don’t make any excuse for it whatsoever. Were there contributing circumstances that led to me thinking a certain way, or at least being influenced? A hundred percent. People cheat for a lot of reasons. I want to encourage you to realize that they’re not an evil person, but that they’re a good person that’s done a bad thing. Realize that even though that’s a considerable offense, many offenses happen in a relationship. We don’t get to say which one’s bigger or worse or things like that because pain is subject to the person who’s experienced it.
Please get ahold of us. We want to help you in any way that we can. One of the things we have for you is an affair quiz. You’ll be able to take this quiz and see what your next steps are. You can see where you are and see what your options are in making it. And we want to provide that absolutely free for you today.
In addition to that, we have an online course called, “How To Get Your Spouse Back”. It is a mini-course done by our CEO, Kimberly Holmes. She will be taking you through a way to look at options on attracting and influencing your spouse. These are great resources you want to check out. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to keep up to date on all the latest information and research that we have to help you in your relationship. Thanks for joining us.