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There are many reasons why married people cheat. Risk factors such as personality disorders and childhood issues, as well as opportunities such as social media and poor boundaries, can increase the chance that one of these reasons will actually lead to some type of affair. Frustration in the marriage is one common trigger; the cheater may make several attempts to solve problems to no avail. Maybe they had second thoughts about getting married or they were jealous over the attention is given to a new baby and neither had the skill set to communicate these feelings.
Perhaps the straying spouse has childhood baggage — neglect, abuse, or a parent who cheated — that interferes with his or her ability to maintain a committed relationship. Less often, the cheater doesn't value monogamy, lacks empathy, or simply doesn't care about the consequences.
We will take a look at a of risk factors and causes for cheating, but it's important to point out upfront that a partner doesn't cause their spouse to cheat. Whether it was a cry for help, an exit strategy, or a means to get revenge after being cheated on themselves, the cheater alone is responsible for cheating. Men are more likely to have affairs than women and are often seeking more sex or attention.
So sex becomes an important path to connection and intimacy. If men aren't sexually satisfied for instance, if their spouse declines sex oftenthey take that rejection to heart, and it can easily translate to feeling "unloved. When women cheat, they're often trying to fill an emotional void. Women are more likely to feel unappreciated or ignored, and seek the emotional intimacy of an extramarital relationship.
An affair is more often a "transitional" partner for the woman as a way to end the relationship. She is seriously looking to leave her marriage and this other person helps her do just that. That's not to say that sexual satisfaction isn't a primary driver of affairs for wives as well as husbands. Similarly, boredom with the marital relationship may lead both men and women to cheat. In one study of men and women who were actively pursuing or involved in extramarital affairs, both genders said they were hoping to improve their sex lives—because they felt their primary relationship was lacking between the sheets.
There's a myriad of reasons or causes why men or women may engage in an extramarital liaison, but certain risk factors—either with one of the individuals or the marriage as a whole—increase the odds it will happen. The general rule is that it takes two to tango, or in this case, to mess up their marriage with an affair, but there are certainly exceptions.
Individual factors that may increase the chance of infidelity include:. In a study looking at personality traits, women who ranked high in "neuroticism" and men who ranked higher in " narcissism " were more likely to cheat. Problems in the marital relationship can also be a risk factor for cheating. Some of these include:. With or without individual or marital risk factors there are a of possible reasons for marital infidelity.
Underlying many of the reasons, however, lie a few thre. One is the role of unmet needs.
One partner may be incapable of fulfilling their partner's needs, but far too often, those needs have not been expressed. Marital partners are not mind-readers. Another is the lack of addressing problems directly. Running away from problems conflict avoidance rather than staying and addressing them is another crucial element in communication and commitment in marriage. Some of the reasons cited as the cause for cheating may include:. In addition to the primary reasons for cheating noted above, there are secondary reasons that may lead to an affair.
Sometimes people have a suspicion that their spouse is cheating but don't have any solid evidence. While often the best approach in marriage is to be direct, you may wonder if it will cause more damage to ask directly.
And, of course, the answer your spouse gives could either be the truth or a lie. The best approach will vary for different couples, but if you're concerned, it may be a good idea to look for some of the s. In some marriages, an affair is a cry for help, a way to force the couple to finally face the problems that both parties are aware of but aren't addressing. In this case, the partner often actually tries to get caught as a way of bringing the issue to the fore. Other times a partner may simply see infidelity as an exit strategy—a way to end an unhappy marriage.
Regardless of the underlying reason a spouse cheats, it can either devastate a marriage or be the catalyst for rebuilding it, depending upon how the infidelity is dealt with. You may, however, want to explore how the dynamics between you and your spouse led you to this point. Recognizing that infidelity is a symptom of deeper issues can lead a couple to fix the underlying problems in their relationship and grow closer.
If you were the one cheated on, it's critical to realize that you're not responsible for your spouse making the decision to cheat. You are not to blame for his or her behavior. Women tend to find emotional affairs more threatening than sexual affairs, whereas men are more willing to forgive emotional affairs but for both, the most common response to learning of their partner's affair is jealousy.
Even if you were the one wronged, working with a professional may be helpful in coping and recovering yourself. Unresolved jealousy can lead to resentment, and as the old adage claims: "Resentment is like poison you drink yourself, and then wait for the other person to die.
Some couples can move past infidelity and move on to have even an even better relationship, whereas some cannot. Certainly, there are times when continuing the marriage wouldn't be recommended. Before you analyze the specifics of the affair from your spouse's perspective and look at why the affair occurred in terms of his or her needs, it's important to look at your own needs.
This can be more challenging than it sounds, especially amidst the jealousy and anger. If you were the one who had an affair, there are several steps you can take if you hope to save your marriage. Foremost you need to stop cheating and lying immediately and own your choice. Being patient and giving your spouse space is essential. That doesn't say it will work out. It may not. But without accepting full responsibility not blaming or justifying your behavior the chances will be low. The chance that you can get past the affair depends on many factors, such as the reasons why it occurred and the characteristics of both people.
To truly understand and move forward, both partners will need to listen to the other which can be extremely challenging in this settingand not assume that their partner's motivation or feelings would be the same as their own. For those who decide to try and overcome infidelity, it appears that the mutual capacity to forgive and a strong commitment to the relationship are key. There are many potential reasons for cheating, and marriage is complicated.
But speaking directly, expressing your needs, practicing forgiveness, and making a commitment to work on your marriage daily, are the best insurance plans to protect your marriage. Learn the best ways to manage stress and negativity in your life. J Comp Psychol. The Demographics of Infidelity in America. Erratum for PMID Therap Adv Gastroenterol. DOI: Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?
Serial Infidelity Across Subsequent Relationships. Arch Sex Behav. Khalili M, Wong RJ. Dig Dis Sci. Altgelt, E. Who is Sexually Faithful? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Mark, K. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Park, Y. Current Psychology. Selterman, W. Motivations for Extradyadic Infidelity Revisited.
The Journal of Sex Research. Weiser, A. Family Background and Propensity to Engage in Infidelity. Journal of Family Issues. Your Privacy Rights. To change or withdraw your consent choices for VerywellMind. At any time, you can update your settings through the "EU Privacy" link at the bottom of any.
These choices will be aled globally to our partners and will not affect browsing data. We and our partners process data to: Actively scan device characteristics for identification. I Accept Show Purposes. Table of Contents View All. Table of Contents. Motivations Differ by Sex. Causes and Risks. Primary Reasons. Secondary Reasons. Coping With Cheating. Overcoming Infidelity. Verywell Mind's Online Therapy Awards, presenting the best providers across 20 important. Can Your Marriage Survive Infidelity?
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The Reasons Why Married Women Cheat on Their Husbands