Why People Cheat

One reason why people cheat is what I like to call “conscience searing”.

Bob and Cindy had great childhoods. They grew up in loving families with strong religious and moral backgrounds; neither got into any serious trouble and both excelled at school. They met each other in college. Bob was a business major and Cindy was interested in History. They grew closer through the college years and before they knew it Bob had popped the question to Cindy at the Cardinals baseball game. A joyful wedding and a wonderful honeymoon followed. They were madly in love and nothing would ever come between them. Things were good in the early years. They were best friends. Their sex life was exciting and satisfying. They had great jobs and great friends.

After a few years they decided it was time to start a family. The decision was made for Cindy to stay home and care for the children while Bob continued his career and supported the family financially. Bob took on more responsibility at his job to bridge the financial gaps. Cindy settled into the motherhood role. Nine months later they welcome their first child into the world. What a life changer this moment is. No longer does the world revolve around the two of them. No longer is life spontaneous and care free. Bob and Cindy roll up their sleeves and move forward into the new chapter of their lives with smiles just a little smaller than before.

Then one Friday afternoon Bob is called into his boss’s office. A reduction in force has eliminated his position. Uncertainty and conflict enter their lives. Work is scarce and they blow through their savings and 401k to survive. Tension mounts. Disagreements grow worse. Bob withdraws. Cindy hounds. Finally after 6 months a position opens up. It pays less than before and requires more travel but it will pay the bills. Bob jumps at the chance. Things are tougher now. The honeymoon is over. Cindy notices how Bob is messy and always is hounding her for sex. Bob notices how Cindy never lost all the weight after the baby.

Bob travels to Boston twice a month for work. He normally travels with his assistant Lisa. Lisa really looks up to Bob and is young and fit. They spend a lot of time together and discuss work and life frequently. Over the months their talks slowly turn to relationship issues. Bob feels that Lisa understands him more than his wife. Lisa “respects” Bob more than Cindy does. Bob has fun with Lisa and enjoys the chemical rush of being near her. Their talks turn to flirting. Bob feels his wife doesn’t understand him. Cindy never made him feel like Lisa does. Lisa admires Bob. She always says the right thing and when she touches his arm the sparks fly. Bob deserves to be admired doesn’t he? He deserves to be wanted and desired doesn’t he? Soon the flirting turns to touching and kissing. Lisa responds to Bob’s advances. There are no kids to worry about or nagging wives. Cindy never met Bob’s sexual needs and doesn’t Bob deserve to have his sexual needs met? One night after too many drinks Bob and Lisa end up in bed together. The sex is incredible. The best he ever has had. Cindy has never satisfied him like Lisa does. Doesn’t Bob deserve better? Bob can’t stop now. He has the best of both worlds. Cindy will never know………………..



Cindy is lonely. Bob is away on business trips half of each month. Even when Bob is home he is distant and pre-occupied. Cindy craves the attention and affection she used to get from Bob. She turns to the internet to fill the empty hours. Then one day Steve sends her a message on Facebook. Steve is an old boyfriend of Cindy’s. Their relationship ended badly. Cindy always wondered “what if?” Cindy starts innocently texting and chatting with Steve. They discuss old times and their current lives. The innocent discussions turn to complaints about their current relationships and spouses. Steve asks if Bob is treating Cindy well. Cindy answers honestly no. They both discuss what could have been if their lives were different. What they would have done if they could start over. Slowly the text and emails turn to flirting. Cindy asks herself if she is in love with Bob anymore. The feelings are gone. If you love someone doesn’t there have to be feelings? Maybe she made a mistake. Steve pours on the pressure and affection. Cindy decided she hasn’t loved Bob for years. She has been pretending for the sake of the kids. One day, after a big fight over the phone with Bob, Cindy finds herself at a hotel in bed with Steve. The feelings she has are overwhelming. It has to be right. Cindy decides she never really loved Bob. She felt sorry for him and married him only because there was no one better at the time. Bob is a pervert and abuses Cindy and the children. God wouldn’t expect Cindy to stay with a monster like Bob would He? God wants Cindy to be happy right?

Does anyone see how the two affairs developed? Why do people cheat? Bob and Cindy are not psychopaths. They didn’t go looking for an affair. They didn’t wake up one morning and decide to destroy their family and spouse. What really happened was “conscience searing”. A series of small, seemingly innocent, decisions that pile up to become huge issues. What seems incomprehensible to newlyweds can suddenly look “justified”. The affair is justified by tearing down the partner. Shame is covered by false accusations and justifications. The conscience is seared until they truly believe it’s okay to have an affair. That God will bless their awful decisions. It’s okay to destroy the person you once loved more than anything in the world.

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What an awesome depiction of how we rationalize our decisions.