The typical reasons people give for cheating.
- Cheaters don't really love their partners.
Cheating has nothing to do with love. At least not in most cases. I loved the people I cheated on more than I could explain, particularly my husband, and I still cheated. Why? Because cheating and love are totally unrelated. So, what's the reality? Most chronic cheaters I know are actually more likely to cheat when they care a lot for someone. Because loving someone that much is actually terrifying. Cheating is a way of establishing a self-sabotaging boundary around their hearts, or setting up a backup plan in case the person they love dumps them.
- Cheaters are all narcissists.
Some cheaters might be narcissists. But you don't have to be a narcissist or a sociopath to cheat. The "all cheaters are narcissists" theory is based in the lie that you have to have little to no conscience to cheat. If you could empathize with the hurt you'd cause your partner, you wouldn't cheat, right?
Wrong. So, what's the reality? We all do things that hurt our partners, even knowingly. For instance, we might spend money on things that don't matter, knowing it takes money away from important family expenses. We may say something cruel in the heat of the moment, something we know will hurt the person we love. We might tell a lie to get something we want or conceal bad news, only to be found out later.
- Cheaters are sex addicts.
Again, possibly. Some people don't believe sex addiction is real, and that's fine. Personally, I think that sex addiction is real, if perhaps a different type of addiction like other process addictions. Shopping addicts, gambling addicts, and even plastic surgery addicts have a compulsive need to perform a behavior.
So, what's the reality? Cheating is a bad choice most likely rooted in a deeper issue, just like every other bad choice we make. We can figure out how to stop cheating if we get to the root of why we keep making the same bad choice over and over again. It requires BRUTAL honesty with yourself, and a willingness to accept that you are broken, in some part of yourself. Your cheating is not the boss of you. You just need to grow up and realize it.
- People cheat because they aren't getting what they need from their partners.
Yes, it's likely that cheaters are in imperfect relationships. But get this — everyone is in an imperfect relationship. Everyone is disappointed by their spouse sometimes. Everyone feels isolated and lonely from time to time. And in the course of a lifetime together, you're GOING to have sex issues at some point. I used the excuse of my husband's sometimes cruel behavior for why I cheated on him. But the truth is, it was always me who chose to cheat. I never needed to. I could've relied upon myself to get through our hard times. And more importantly, if I'd been truly present in my marriage, we might have been able to get help earlier.
- Cheaters will always be cheaters, it's simply their nature.
There may be cheaters who always cheat, but that's not because it's in their DNA (though there is evidence a gene may influence who is most likely to cheat) or because cheaters can never change. It's because they didn't get the help they needed, couldn't muster the strength to do better, or because they are simply assh*les who don't care about their relationships.
So, what's the reality? Trust needs to be rebuilt, and that takes time. A lot of time. And a lot of work.