Since the Ashley Madison scandal has become a high profile story, it has left many people questioning 'why do people cheat?'
In my work as a Relationship/Divorce Coach, I have come to realise that understanding why some people cheat and some don't' is a far more complex topic than the cheater just being an 'asshole' or not.
I would define that there are actually 4 types of people in relationships;
- The person who will always cheat
- The person who will cheat maybe once or twice in their lifetime
- The person who thinks about cheating but never acts on
- The person who never thinks about it and therefore never cheats.
#1: The person who will always cheat: The function of cheating for this person is like putting a plaster on a wound. The cheating makes them feel better just for that moment but ultimately their deep rooted issues will always return. They will always be chasing a future moment of bliss i.e. " when I get a new car I'll be happy, when I get this, when I get that…" The bliss moment will never arrive because it is not external influences that will solve their issues for them. They need to work on the inner self before there is any chance of this person stopping cheating.
They may also exhibit other forms of excessive binge behaviour as well i.e. shopping, drug and alcohol use, gambling etc.
If you are dating/married to a #1, (and you will know deep down if you are - trust your gut), the likelihood is that the relationship will always be shadowed with cheating. Maybe not every day, it could be several years between each episode, but it will not stop. This person will cheat in every relationship that they have, it is their issue and not yours. So if you discover your partner is cheating and realise that they are from this category, don't spend hours thinking that if you had done something differently then they wouldn't have cheated because they were always going to cheat regardless.
#2: The Once or Twicer: This person may cheat as a way to get out of a relationship that they do not want to be in (often in early relationships), or in response to a situation that is putting pressure on the relationship i.e. getting married, having children, bereavement etc. They are looking for uncomplicated intimacy where there is no reminder of pain or problems.
If you are dating/married to a #2, you will need to find out the motive of their cheating. Sometimes a significant life event causes people to re-evaluate their own circumstances, they may test the waters and cheat. They could realise the relationship is wrong and want out or deeply regret it and want back in. You will need to take a good long hard look at whether the relationship was really working before you make any decisions about the future. If they want back in, you both will need to work incredibly hard to redevelop the trust. It is doable, I have seen relationships survive and thrive after cheating but only when both parties were completely committed.
If you are with #3 or #4, chances are you won't be reading this anyway. A #3 or #4 will end a relationship if it is not working as opposed to cheat, and a #2 can become a #3 or #4 in the right circumstances.
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