Why Do Spouses Cheat?

Is there a reason people have extramarital affairs?

A recent report in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity revealed that as many as 65% of men and 55% of women will have an extramarital affair by the time they reach 40.

The reasons for these disturbing statistics are as different as the people who are responsible for them. Some people engage in one-night stands. Other people find that a personal or professional friendship deepens and turns into love. Still others are in the clutches of a powerful sexual addiction or “acting out” in response to inappropriate sexual activity during their formative years.

Another reason cited is the classic “mid-life crisis” and it is affecting both men and women seeking to recapture the emotional passion and energy of their youth. In households where the spouses have lost their identity as a couple and function only with their children as a family unit, “empty nest syndrome” may suddenly underscore that the husband and wife no longer have anything in common.

In many instances, and despite what is commonly believed, sex may not be the main reason for an affair. A desire for intimacy is cited by many as the reason for cheating, and many relationship experts believe that any intimate contact between two people — even if they are only sharing intimate thoughts and feelings, rather than a bed — constitutes an affair.

Although specific reasons may vary, most affairs fall into one of four general categories:

The “Look at Me” Affair – If one partner is dissatisfied with the relationship, an affair may be an unconscious…and passive…way to call attention to the problem in the hopes of fixing it.

The “I’m Out of Here” Affair – If one partner is dissatisfied with the relationship and wants out, an affair is a non-confrontational way of “forcing” the issue.

The “Naughty is Nicer” Affair – For many people, the forbidden nature of extramarital sex is so thrilling that they’re willing to risk their marriage just to experience the excitement.

The “Once Is Not Enough” Affair – Despite loving their partners, some people find it impossible to be monogamous. This may be due to deep-seated problems with investing their emotions or it may be the result of a selfish and self-indulgent personality.

At the heart of an affair is one partner’s willingness to fulfill his/her emotional and physical needs regardless of the consequences, including the break-up of the marriage. Cheaters often also want…

  • To avoid feeling lonely
  • To avoid feeling bored
  • To be intentionally hurtful
  • To prove something (to himself/herself or someone else)
  • To experience excitement and/or adventure
  • To feel desirable, sexually potent, attractive
  • To surrender to their impulses
  • To be a seductress or seducer
  • To “rescue” someone
  • To break the rules
  • To have new sexual experiences



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