Why do you cheat? That’s behind it!

“It just happened” – many people who have been cheated hear this explanation when their partner admits to an affair. But why do men and women actually cheat?

Cheating and psychology

Various studies show that loyalty, along with love, is the cornerstone of a long and happy relationship – at least in theory. While loyalty in a relationship is important to 90 percent of Germans, 21 percent of men and 15 percent of women have cheated at some point. This was the result of a study by the “Deutsches Ärzteblatt”. The number of unreported cases is likely to be a little higher. This begs the question of why people do such things in a relationship when loyalty is said to be so important to them.

According to evolutionary biologists, humans are not made for monogamous behavior. Loyalty is simply not in our nature. The male gender in particular likes to use the Stone Age explanation that they are hunters and gatherers. The instincts by which the man is controlled in order to bring as many offspring as possible into the world are often cited as an explanation. But it is not that easy.

According to experts, to understand cheating you have to look at it from a different, psychological perspective. For the partnership expert Dr. Wolfgang Krüger, the above reasons are just excuses. He makes it clear to the portal Die Partnerschaftsberater that most infidelities do not arise because of the sex drive and the desire for adventure, but because a partner longs for more relationship – i.e. closeness and attention. For Krüger, an infidelity always has individual, psychological reasons. In men, Krüger divides the psychological reasons into three main categories:

  • narcissistic infidelity (self-affirmation)
  • Fear of intimacy (flight from too much intimacy and dependence)
  • unhappy marriage (sleeping, monotonous relationship)

Causes of cheating in men and women

There are very different reasons why men and women cheat. A study by The Journal of Sex Research investigated the causes.

Reasons for a fling in men:

  • lack of variety in bed
  • boring sex life
  • Proof of your attractiveness and masculinity
  • Escape from relationship problems
  • Slip (too much alcohol, high spirits, “opportunity seized”)

Reasons for cheating in women:

  • lack of affection and tenderness in the relationship
  • mental affirmation
  • Escape from relationship problems
  • Slip (too much alcohol, high spirits, “opportunity seized”)
  • Revenge

The risk of a fling

When a man (or woman) cheats, it doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t love their partner anymore. But why cheat when you’re happy? The common belief among women is that if a man loves his wife, he won’t cheat on her either. But that’s not true. In a long-term relationship, sexual attraction often gives way to intimacy. One partner may miss the lost passion more in the relationship than the other. For many (men) the apparently easiest way to experience this passion again is to have a fling.

According to the psychologist Ragnar Beer, who led a university study in Göttingen, the risk of an infidelity increases from the third year of relationship. Before that, both partners are so in love with each other that they have no eyes for other people. Interestingly, the risk of infidelity decreases again after the tenth year in a relationship.

In women, the risk of infidelity increases during ovulation. The hormones are to blame, which ensure that women are more sexually arousable and more spontaneous. Men, on the other hand, are more prone to infidelity when their partner is pregnant. The reason: Pregnant women often do not feel like having sex. One or the other man looks for the erotic adventures elsewhere.

A fling as a relationship killer?

Your partner has cheated – now what? For many, such an affair means the end of a relationship. Others see something like this as an opportunity. Realistically, an infidelity has far more negative consequences than it benefits a relationship. According to Krüger, around two-thirds of relationships break up within a year after an infidelity. In 85 percent of couples, infidelity worsens the relationship. Only 15 percent improve the relationship through a fling.

A relationship can benefit from cheating above all if the infidelity is recognized as a turnaround and used as an opportunity to finally communicate openly with each other and to make an effort for the relationship and the partner. However, this also presupposes that the betrayed forgives the partner  and that there is enough love on both sides. Only then can an affair have a positive effect on the relationship. 

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