Few things are capable of damaging the trust between two people like cheating. It's something that can often be difficult to address, because once it's happened, wiping the slate clean can get complicated. While we might not want to acknowledge the fact that cheating happens way more often than people like to admit, for some, it becomes a pattern that can feel impossible to break. Why some people get the urge to cheat and act on it isn't a question that has one answer.
I have heard many people who struggle with fidelity talk about how venturing down that road, even just once, can make the urge to cheat again feel like a strong impulse rather than a choice. However, for anyone who's ever been cheated on, it's almost unfathomable that a partner's decision to cheat is anything other than a choice. To better understand the main reason why some people are driven to cheat, I spoke with licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson, and licensed psychologist, Dr. Wyatt Fisher.
"Usually, it's because their top needs aren't being met in the relationship. For women, it's usually their need for emotional connection and for men it's usually their need for physical connection," Dr. Fisher tells Elite Daily. "If needs aren't being met in the relationship, then urges with others can become very common."
Although it might be a tough pill to swallow, some cheaters may simply be in relationships that aren't meeting their specific needs. While this definitely doesn't make it OK, it makes sense when you think about it. For example, most of us can probably remember a time when we were in a relationship and came across an attractive someone. For many people, if the relationship they were currently in was fulfilling their needs, then it's unlikely that they would feel as tempted to stray as they might if things were lacking.
"There are a lot of different reasons and forms of cheating," Richardson tells Elite Daily. "Feeling ignored or neglected in your current relationship, having a difficult time feeling heard, feeling as though you cannot talk to each other honestly and openly about things, acting out sexually for validation, etc."
So, what does all of this mean? Well, IMHO, it doesn't mean that cheaters should be absolved of responsibility for their actions. However you and your SO have defined cheating, counts as cheating, and therefore wrong of them no matter which way you spin it.
That said, some people who find themselves frequently tempted to cheat and follow through with it might not be doing it with the pointed purpose of hurting you or destroying your relationship, but rather to feed their own sense of desirability and self-esteem. Getting to the honest cause of someone's behavior without immediately demonizing them is an important step in understanding why they do what they do. Ultimately, this understanding can help facilitate change.
According to Dr. Fisher, if you or your partner continually feel the urge to cheat, then it's important to discuss these feelings with your partner.
"[They should] discuss how their needs aren't feeling met in the relationship and how it's increasing their urges elsewhere," he says. "Also, it's important to discuss ways they may not be meeting their partner's needs too, so both have areas to work on. Their needs probably aren't being met because they aren't meeting their partner's needs in some way. Therefore, unpacking these feelings and dynamics and seeking solutions for improvement is key."
Needless to say, if your partner has cheated on you and it's harmed your relationship to the point that you are unable to let it go, then this is totally understandable. Ideally, they would've communicated their discontent much sooner. But, if you are both willing to work together to address the source of the issue, then it's up to you to decide if working on your relationship is worth it. Full, faithful relationships are only possible when both people are willing to do the work.
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