Cheater's High: Why A Cheater Will Almost Always Cheat Again

by Dan Scotti

As a rule of thumb, if a loved one is cheating, rarely will you “find out” about it the first time. I was told this piece of advice, some time back when I first heard a “rumor” that I was cheated on, and although I didn’t really feel like speculating –I  sat there, thinking to myself: Well, this does sort of sound rational.

I realized, if this truly was the first time my girlfriend had cheated on me, I probably wouldn’t have found out from one of my boys, she would’ve been upfront with me, and told me herself.

The whole notion of hearing from somebody else, and moreover, her denying it – led me to believe that this probably wasn’t the first or only time. Also, as we've learned from the past, cheating tends to be repetitive.

Who knows? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I’ll never know for sure, and that’s cool, because if there’s any emotion that pairs with cheating, as well as a glass of port does with some dark chocolate – it’s that feeling of general bewilderment.

Who? What? Where? When? While all of the W's are painfully dwelled upon, it might be “why” that tends to linger around the most. Probably because that one often goes unanswered.

Who, what, where, when – with social media, and the amount of gossip that circumnavigates the corridors of universities and high schools – these answers have the knack of eventually floating to the top, so to speak. But, “why?”

That one is a bit more difficult. Well, if all else fails, it appears that science offers at least one suggestion.

According to Psychology Today, following bouts of infidelity, cheaters will experience something commonly referred to as, “cheater’s high.”

According to new research, cheating, specifically the act of getting away with cheating, has an addictive, pleasurable nature – both emotionally and psychologically.

It’s important to keep in mind that much of the research and experiments conducted in the supplied studies revolved around cheating in general, and not solely sexual infidelity, however as told by Robert Weiss – many of the same cognitive systems involved with reinforcement feedbacks apply to the broader spectrum of cheating.

Fundamentally, research shows that the feeling of “getting away” with something triggers a number of “built-in neurobiological rewards of excitement and arousal.”

The same concept applies to cheating sexual partners. One rationalization provided to Weiss relies upon the conception of “ignorance is bliss.” Cheaters will cheat until their cheating is detected.

So, according to this school of thought, as long as one’s boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t know that he or she has been cheating – it can’t hurt them, and, subsequently, isn’t anything to feel guilty or lament about.

Weiss continues to establish that cheating is “far from a victimless act,” and how once one case of infidelity presents itself, a tumultuous downward spiral is imminent.

Ultimately, the lies and effort put towards covering the cheating up will likely create an increasingly traumatic scene once the proverbial “sh*t hits the fan,” so to speak.

Weiss alludes to the three most logical causes of “cheater’s high,” in his study. First, and probably the most obvious, are the personal gains derived by the cheater. Next, Weiss highlights the feelings of autonomy experienced by the cheater that ensue following acts of disloyalty.

Finally, Weiss notes the “mental gymnastics” performed by the brains of cheaters, following “beating the system.” The common denominator for all of these possible origins is that they act as positive reinforcement for the cheater, to keep cheating.

As I mentioned prior, the study at hand did not explicitly focus on cheating as sexual infidelity, but rather cheating as an immoral act. If you have been affected by cheating – after getting cheated on, or doing the cheating – it does not necessarily mean that the problem will repeat itself.

There are infinite reasons why someone will chose to cheat, including things like self-control, situation-specific variables, and the current state of your relationship.

Having said that, this study does provide critical evidence suggesting that, for many people, cheating can prove to be rewarding – until they get caught, that is.

If you’re in a relationship, try and stress the notion of communication – sooner rather than later. Make sure you get the answers you’re looking for, while you still may be able to salvage a flawed relationship.

Because, when that proverbial “sh*t hits the fan,” as alluded to earlier – you’ll be left with questions.

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