Why People Cheat

This was one of the first questions my wife asked me after she found out about my infidelity – “Why?”

We had been married for 25 years, had two beautiful children, she had stayed at home with the kids when they were young, we were deeply involved in our church, we were active in the community, I had coached my kids’ soccer, basketball, and baseball teams, and we enjoyed each other’s company. Life seemed good. We did have our problems, but every couple does. That’s part of marriage. That’s part of life. But not every couple experiences infidelity. So why did I cheat?

It took a while for the chaos in my life, my spirit, and my mind to settle down before I was able to explore deeply why I cheated. Once I established some equilibrium and received good counsel, I was able to get to the core of some of the issues. Here is what I have concluded:

  1. My wife and I were emotionally disconnected.
    Over the years I had become more and more reticent to tell my wife the truth about my heart. In part that was due to my own lack of awareness, and in part I didn’t want to deal with any upset it may cause. So, I told her what I thought she wanted to hear. This started out with small and gradually led to bigger things.
  2. I expected my wife to make me happy.
    I had believed that marriage was supposed to make me happy. I was very confused because I was not happy. And in fact, the more I tried to make my wife happy – the worse things got in our relationship and the more miserable we both were. I was like a blood-sucking leach trying to experience life through sucking it out of my wife. I thought (at the time) I was being virtuous – trying to make her happy. In reality I was very selfish as my motive was about me and not her. And she knew it.
  3. I had no boundaries.
    I grew up with three sisters and have always felt comfortable with women. I enjoyed connecting with women. I used to say that I was just being playful. After “D Day” a mentor of mine told me that I was not being playful, but seductive. I was looking for affirmation and attention and had developed a skill to get it from women.
  4. I was bored.
    I was under-challenged in my job, my kids were not around, my wife was traveling for her job, and I was alone a lot. I had lots of “down” time with nothing to fill the void. I was (unconsciously) looking for something to fill the void.
  5. I believed that I would never cheat.
    I was the last person I thought would ever commit adultery. I knew what was right and wrong. I was strong and I could handle any and all temptation. I was Superman. NOT! My pride led me to believe that I could get close to kryptonite and not be destroyed. That was foolish. I was a fool.

I was 100% responsible for my infidelity. It was my fault. These things did not “make me” do it. However, these were things that made me vulnerable to cheating on my wife. I am still weak – but now I know I am. And in light of that, I can make different choices and therefore guard against being vulnerable.

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I relate

I relate so much to this. Outside of the boredom, your "symptoms" apply so much to my infidelity, as well as my wife's, I believe. Do you think that showing her this post would be seen as an insult? Or could it be seen as intended - a look inside the mind of someone with a similar situation?

A look inside

Keith, I don't know how your wife would respond, but I can tell you how my wife did when she heard others explain why they were unfaithful and it was similar to why I did. 1. It helped her understand me better. In the trauma of grasping for how this could have happened, it helped to give her a rationale of how I got there. It was still painful, but it did help her to put the pieces together. 2. It helped her to know that I was not the only one who had this problem. Knowing that there were others who struggled the WAY I did helped her to see me as a weak, sinful man - not as a hideous deviant monster. Our counselor said to her early on, "Jill, welcome to the human race." For some reason that seemed to comfort her. Three years later, she still quotes our counselor on that. 3. It gave her hope. She saw other couples who experienced similar trauma and they were able to work through it - and have a better marriage than before. And that is our story right now. Our marriage is far more satisfying than either of us ever imaged it could be. And as time goes by - it keeps getting better and better! I am inclined to think your wife would be encouraged to read the post. I will pray for you all. Jack

A Healing Heart

Reading all these blogs not only gives me hope and strength, but it helps me breathe. I'm am 6 months past "D" day, learning about my husbands affair, married 32 years. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. It has wiped us both out emotionally and spiritually. I hope and pray that we make it through this war, it seems many have and they have not only survived and healed, but got stronger. Thank you all ----

Exploring Deeply

Hi Jack, I sincerely appreciate your honesty. It would be a blessing if my unfaithful spouse explores the core reasons why he cheated instead of bringing out my faults and negative actions that contributed to his long entangled affair with a co-worker. I would like to think he is capable of really dealing with his issues, instead of looking to me for being the perfect wife who needed some "readjustmenting." After all, I was at fault since I never worked at the marriage. It hurts to live with someone who just can't see the pain he has caused, all for the sake of having his needs fulfilled by someone outside of our marriage. Again, I applaud your honest words.... Mel

I understand

I too am a recovering wayward spouse. I could darn near have written what you wrote for the reasons you had an affair. I have dealt with the same topic on my blog in many ways What is most vexing to many betrayed spouses is that they confuse our "reasons" for the affair with an "excuse". I have had this debate with my wife and others. Marital neglect, emotional disconnection and my own internal deficits and issues WERE the reasons I had an affair, but not an excuse. I am 100% responsible for my poor choices. But my wife has acknowledged that she is 50% responsible for the state of our marriage at the time that created a dangerous vacuum and emotional distance between us that created the opportunity for me to do what I did. It's hard thing for many Betrayeds to understand. But your story..your reasons...are very very common. Few men cheat for sexual reasons. Men and women cheat largely for the same reasons -- critical emotional needs in the marriage unmet. thank you for your entry here. It will help people.

Why People Cheat

Hi Jack, Thanks for sharing such insight into why you were unfaithful. I only wish that my husband could truly give me a reason why he did. We did have a very good marriage, enjoyed each other, loved each other and I would have never expected him to cheat. I was a stay at home Mom, married 23 yrs. when he had a 3 yr. affair with a co-worker. I gave him plenty of attention, was very loving, had his meals on the table and always made sure that I looked nice when he came home. Looking back on our marriage before the Affair, it looks like I gave and he took. I did everything for him, built him up, praised him, but he didn't do that in return for me. I didn't realize it as I loved him so much and didn't think about it. He says that the only reason that he can think of as to why he had the affair was that he enjoyed the "extra" attention from someone new. She was the first woman who had ever came on to him by flirting and going after him. He enjoyed the flattery, even though I did the same thing, she was new. We got married at 18 and had never dated, seriously anyone else, no college or experiences. We were each other's first love. So, this was like a mid-life crisis to him, from what he says. She was 6 yrs. younger than me, but honestly didn't look it. That made him feel younger, he started acting younger, drinking more, loosing weight and doing things like you would do in college. She also was the flirty type which I never was. I just loved him in an affectionate and sincere way. So she was different than I was, yet their was times he said, that she acted to silly, but not enough for him to give her up. That is the only reason that he can come up with and that doesn't satisfy me. He's an intelligent man, had a great career and marriage and children, but he wasn't intelligent enough not to risk it all for someone that would give him an ego boost? I only wish that 25 yrs. ago when this happened he had went into IC but he didn't to find out why? We went to MC but he really wasn't there. Now 25 yrs. later it's all coming back to haunt me, as he would never answer my questions about the affair back then and now it's like PTSD for the past year and things are really bad. He still doesn't want to talk about it and I still feel that their are many lies that I don't know about and he won't tell me. So, at 68 yrs. of age, I don't know how my marriage is going to end up. He's not a man of great faith, so that doesn't help either. I'm happy that you got the help you needed and bless you for sharing it with us. Thanks, Songbird

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