8 Reasons People Cheat in Relationships

These reasons why people cheat in relationships include a list of when spouses are most likely to have an affair. If you’re worried about cheating, it’s important to arm yourself with the facts.

Why People Cheat in Relationships
Why People Cheat

When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts and Minds of People in Two Relationships by Mira Kirshenbaum is a good book to read if you’re experiencing cheating and want to know why affairs happen. I like the title because it reminds me that cheating doesn’t necessarily mean people are evil or bad. It means they made a really bad choice and betrayed their marriage vows, yes. Can you be a good person and cheat on your wife? It’s a complicated question – and I like that the book tackles it.

Is Your Husband Cheating? 5 Signs He’s Having an Affair has been one of my most popular articles since the dawn of time. But today I realized that there are certain times in the cycle of a marriage that spouses are more likely to cheat. So, here I want to answer the question “why do people cheat in relationships” with a list of reasons for having affairs. Then I’ll describe when people are more likely to stray.

Why People Cheat in Relationships

An affair is seldom the result of one single cause. Why people cheat depends on their personality, background, family history, and lifestyle. Here are the most common reasons for cheating in a relationship…

An affair can be:

  • The result of anger towards the partner
  • An attempt to find intimacy, excitement, or passion that’s lacking in the marriage
  • The result of a fear of intimacy in marriage
  • An attempt to find a way out of an unhappy relationship
  • The result of a fear of getting older
  • The consequence of growing up in a family in which cheating was “normal”
  • A result of addiction issues
  • An effort to fix the marriage

If you have experienced cheating in your relationship and you don’t know if you should try to save it, read When to End a Relationship. It might help you see your marriage or partner more clearly, which can help you decide if the affair is the end of your relationship.

The Most Common Times People Cheat

Knowing when people – both husbands and wives, men and women – are most likely to cheat can help you understand why affairs happen. This is good for both prevention and understanding why people cheat in relationships…

Husbands and wives often cheat shortly after getting married

In Making Marriage Work for Dummies, the couple marriage counseling team Simrings say, “We know of spouses who started cheating months – even weeks after the wedding ceremony (as well as some who cheat during the engagement). People in this category often experience a kind of buyer’s remorse, a feeling that sometimes kicks in before they even walk down the aisle.” During the early stages of marriage, spouses may wonder if they made the right choice. This is a reason why people cheat in relationships: they are scared they married the wrong person.

Two reasons why husbands or boyfriends cheat after a baby is born

It’s never easy to forgive your husband for having an affair, but it may be easier to understand cheating when you are aware of the stress a new family brings. There are financial, psychological, and emotional pressures after a baby is born. Sometimes this is a reason why people cheat in relationships.

“Some men are upset because their wives seem to be giving them less emotional attention,” writes the Simrings. “They end up feeling as if they’re in competition with the new baby. Under the circumstances, it can be far easier for a man to find a lover than to try to deal with all the problems at home.” Of course, a baby is never an acceptable reason for having an affair! This is just a more common time and reason why people cheat in relationships.

The seven year itch – a common reason men and women cheat

I didn’t experience this cheating danger zone in my marriage, but I’ve heard it’s quite common.

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reasons why people cheat in relationships
8 Reasons Why People Cheat in Relationships

The term “seven year itch” was used as a title for a hit movie in 1957, and has become the reason many marriages falter and even fail. This itch is the result of a deeper examination of one’s self, relationships, family, career, and life. If people feel stuck, they often look at their marriage as the scapegoat.

“It’s hard to leave your job and nearly impossible to overhaul your life in the short run,” writes the marriage counselors in Making Marriage Work for Dummies. “However, it’s relatively easy to find sex outside the marriage – and that’s the course many dissatisfied spouses take.”

Husbands and wives use “midlife crisis” as a reason why cheating happens

This is the most common answer to the “why do people cheat?” question – and it may be because the more mature married partners get, the more likely they are to cheat. Almost 25% of married partners in their 40s have affairs, which is higher than any other age group (except for 18-24 year olds). Middle-aged husbands and wives go through all sorts of emotions, as well as changing sexual appetites, aging, and mortality that can cause emotional angst. This turmoil can set the stage for an affair.

Read Making Marriage Work For Dummies to learn more about creating a healthy marriage. I never like the “for dummies” titles, but the books are often full of very good tips and information. This book in particular is a great resource for building a better relationship and even saving your marriage – as you can probably tell from the quotes, it was the source of these reasons why people cheat in relationships.

If your partner cheated and you want to forgive him, read Can Trust Your Boyfriend After He Cheated? 5 Ways to Tell.

What do you think of these reasons why husbands and wives cheat in relationships? I welcome your thoughts below, but I can’t give advice or counseling about marital infidelity or affairs in relationships.


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