10 Psychological Facts About Cheating That Might Surprise You
If you are considering an affair or have a partner who is cheating on you, you might have assumptions about what an affair is.
You might believe that it’s all about sex and connection and fancy vacations and love and travel and all of those sexy things that are so appealing. So appealing that people are drawn into affairs.
But there is so much more to affairs than sex and romance. They are way more messy than you might think.
Why? Because of the negative effect that an affair can have on one’s psyche. An effect that is so profound that it negates most of the pleasure of having an affair.
10 Psychological Facts about Cheating.
With that in mind, let me share with you 10 psychological facts about cheating that may surprise you so that you can know more about affairs as you process getting into an affair or dealing with the discovery that your spouse is cheating.
#1 – The guilt is overwhelming.
I know that it seems like affairs are all romance and sex – and they can be, to be sure. But affairs are, in fact, insidious things that can be destructive in many ways.
The number one psychological fact, one that might surprise you, is that people who cheat often suffer from an overwhelming amount of guilt about what they are doing.
We are all raised to believe that cheating on a partner is not ok. Beyond not ok. It’s one of the worst things that we can do in a relationship. And, when we are in an affair, we are going against everything that we have been taught.
By cheating, we are betraying our commitment to our partner. If we have kids, we are betraying them by doing exactly what we have taught them not to do. We are betraying our parents who raised us. We are betraying our friends and extended family by lying to them.
As a result, someone having an affair will struggle every day with debilitating guilt. Not so romantic and sexy, right?
#2 – The affair is addictive.
Scott Haltzman, psychiatrist and author of “The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity,” in his article for Brainworld.com, posits that affairs produce dopamine and serotonin, feel-good chemicals. When we no longer have these in long-term relationships, we crave them. Having an affair gets these chemicals flowing again, and we quickly get to the point that we don’t want to let them go.
Furthermore, I believe that one of the most compelling part of an affair is that, when we are in it, we are no longer the person we are in regular life.
Instead of being a wife or a mother or an employee or a child, we are a man or a woman who truly feel.
We feel alive again. We feel young and flirty, and sexual. We feel many things that we haven’t felt for a very long time. And we LOVE this.
When we try to get out of an affair, we are also faced with letting go of this new person we are who has emerged because of this affair and this is often more than we can bear.
So, we stay in it, needing that feeling that we feel when we are with our affair partner. And that is hard to let go of – very addictive indeed.
#3 – Infidelity leads to self – hatred.
I mentioned before that people who are cheating are often suffering from extreme guilt because they are betraying those they love. But they are also letting themselves down.
I know that, when I was having an affair with a married man, I was not being the person I wanted to be in the world. Before I met him, I was single and happy and successful and ready to take on the world. Once I started down this road to infidelity, I started to lose who I was.
I spent my life focused on him. I let go of friends and family. I was obsessed that he leave his wife and his children and to do so tomorrow.
A year into it, I was a fraction of who I was at the beginning of the relationship.
And I hated myself for it. Deeply hated myself.
I sunk into a deep depression and it was only once the relationship finally ended that I could work to restore my self esteem and find myself again.
#4 – Cheating allows us to ignore relationship issues.
One of the psychological facts about cheating that many people aren’t aware of is that affairs are a means for us to ignore problems that we are having in our primary relationships.
A client of mine was very unhappily married, and she had an affair. Her therapist told her that having the affair was satisfying her physical and emotional needs, and she no longer needed it from her marriage.
As a result, she stopped making any efforts to work on her unhappy marriage. She and her husband carried on as if nothing was happening while she had her affair partner and had all of her needs met.
#5 – Many cheaters are depressed already.
Another client of mine was struggling with depression when we first met. She felt horrible about who she was in the world, and this lack of self-respect led her to make questionable choices about her life.
One of those questionable decisions was to have an affair with someone she worked with.
This affair started for two reasons. The first was that her co-worker totally understood what it felt like to be depressed, and she was able to confide in him. The more she confided in him, the closer they got. This ultimately went down a slippery slope to having an affair.
The other reason that the depression led to the affair was that she wasn’t feeling good about herself, and because she wasn’t feeling good about herself, she made decisions that she might have made differently had she had self-confidence.
So know that depression is one most common reasons that people cheat and something that is often overlooked.
#6 – Many cheaters have commitment issues.
This is one psychological fact about cheating that many people are, in fact, aware of.
According to Wendy Rose Gould, writing for Verywillmind.com, fear of commitment can have a dramatic, toxic effect on relationships. These toxic effects can hurt a relationship and can cause people to cheat.
People who have commitment issues, for a variety of reasons, just can’t commit to anything – a job, a partner, a car or a place to live, and more.
So, they sell their car, get a new job and move etc. Ideally, they would break up with their partner if they don’t want to commit but, more often, they cheat.
And cheaters will continue to cheat because of these commitment issues unless they become aware of them and work to do something about them.
#7 – Opposites often attract, and that can be destructive.
An interesting thing about affair partners is how different they often are from each other.
When we choose a partner to share our life with, we tend to find someone who is like us or who complements us. Our morals and values and ways of doing things are aligned and, as a result, we can live a successful life with them.
In contrast, affair partners are often very different from each other. The old phrase ‘opposites attract’ is something that is very common in affairs.
And while this can be exciting for a while, ultimately, it can become very destructive.
Because of their different perspectives, the way they deal with their affair might clash. Someone who is more daring might want to tell everyone and blow up their world, while someone who is more cautious would go out of their way to keep this under wraps. As a result, the cheaters might turn against each and all hell might break loose.
#8 – That it’s not about sex.
Again, I know that it seems like affairs are all about sex, but they are not. Of course, there is a sexual component to every affair – chemistry is very hard to resist. But there is so much more to an affair than one might realize.
Most people don’t set out to have affairs. They just slip into them slowly. They meet someone, they become friends, they share the confidence, they spend time together. Gradually, the friendship blooms into something more, and unless they are cautious, it can turn into an affair.
Many people who have affairs have lots of sex at the beginning, but as the affair goes on, the sex dwindles, and it’s the personal connection that lingers. That connection began as a friendship.
So, know that affairs really aren’t about sex but about personal connection, which, in my opinion, can be harder to deal with.
#9 – Many cheaters have no impulse control.
For whatever reasons, many people who have affairs often have no impulse control.
They might have a hard time watching their eating or getting their work done on time. They might buy things on impulse without being concerned about cost. They might change their plans at the last minute to do something completely different.
And, when it comes to having an affair, the temptation is something that they just can’t resist.
They might recognize that getting into the affair is a bad idea and try to push back against it but ultimately, their lack of impulse control gets the best of them, and they start their affair.
#10 – Cheaters have to live with regret.
I don’t know one person who has cheated, myself included, who doesn’t live with a substantial amount of regret about what they did.
As I said, most people don’t seek out affairs – they just happen. Whether or not they did it knowingly, having done so they have to live with it for the rest of their lives.
Whether they have to carry the secret in private because no one else knows or whether they have wrecked their marriage or hurt their kids, someone who has had an affair will be filled with shame and wracked with regret.
Even if the affair is over, they will carry what happened with them, shamefully, until the end of their lives.
So, there you are – 10 psychological facts about cheating that might surprise you.
Again, cheating isn’t all about romance, love and sex. There is an insidious side of every affair that causes pain (to everyone involved) and anguish and addiction, and lack of self-worth.
Know this as you move forward in your life, whether you might have had or are having an affair or if you are trying to recover your marriage after discovering your spouse has cheated.
This information might help you understand what cheating is all about just a little bit more so you can make a better decision about the next steps for you!