Updated: Nov 19, 2022
Affairs can be devastating for all involved. The impact of an affair can cause trauma and lead to divorce, and the pain of an affair can last for a long time. For the person who has been cheated on it can be very hard to understand why their partner would do this if they did love them.
So, why do people cheat on people they love?
An affair isn't something that just happens in a once long-term, monogamous relationship. There will be a reason or several reasons why an affair occurs. Each situation is different and there are many potential reasons why, read on for some possible explanations.
Obviously, having an affair is not the solution to your problems when things go wrong. But when things have gone wrong, they can provide relief to the painful reality of their marriage or relationship. Having said that, not all affairs happen in relationships that are painful or have things obviously wrong. Sometimes, the affair is a shock to the person having the affair themselves, as it is so out of character and not something that they ever imagined that they would do. Sometimes, affairs have very little to do with the relationship itself and more about the person having the affair.
So, what causes affairs? There are numerous explanations for this. However, it's quite possible that the person's basic requirements aren't being addressed in the way that they need them to be. We all have Human Needs, when our needs are being fulfilled, we are happy and content. When our needs are not being met, over a sustained period of time, we feel dissatisfied and like something is missing. It is, ultimately, our own responsibility to fulfil our own needs. When we are in a relationship we also expect our partner to fulfil some of our needs as well, as, for most of us, this is a big part of why we want to be with them, because they make us feel good and we love to be around them.
For example, one of the human needs is Significance. We all need to feel significant, important, seen and heard, and feel like we matter. If you are in a relationship with a person who has a strong need for significance, and you neglect to give them attention, compliments, be interested in them, spend time with them and give them reassurance then, over time, they may start to feel differently about your relationship. If then they meet someone who compliments them, gives them their undivided attention, is fascinated by them and makes them feel special, then those feelings, if ignited frequently, may be hard to resist as it is fulfilling their human need for significance. Even if your partner does not have a strong need for Significance, if you don't make them feel significant at all, they may be tempted to go elsewhere to fill that need.
The sex could still be fantastic — or it could not. However, if their daily life with their partner is not providing them with what they require, an affair may be considered. Suddenly, the grass on the other side of the fence appears to be greener, and the person is more receptive to overtures from other directions.
It could be that a man no longer believes he can pleasure his partner. This is critical for a man. He has been socialised to please and protect – both physically and emotionally – and if he no longer believes he can do this for his partner, a sense of failure will set in, along with the fear that he won't be enough. From here, his mind will begin to protect him, and flight will become a viable possibility. By flight, I mean sprinting into another woman's arms.
For women, she will begin to defend herself if she no longer believes her man will protect and care for her. This need for protection will be met by her male side. This has the potential to spread quickly. She sees her spouse as weak and incapable of being the guy she requires, and she will seek out a male who can fulfil this desire.
There is also a physiological reason why people have affairs and that is down to infatuation. Infatuation is an altered state of consciousness that clouds our usual reactions of fear and shame. When we consider having an affair when we are not infatuated we shudder at the thought that we would do such a thing. But, when we are infatuated, the usual responses of fear or shame are clouded as our brains become flooded with feel-good hormones. This is a natural high, that can lead us to want to spend more time with that person so that we continue to feel that way. However, this only lasts so long before reality kicks back in, sometimes when the affair is discovered and then the shame of having the affair affects the marriage going forward.
What matters is that the couple discovers why the affair occurred and what they can do to better understand and meet each other's needs in the future. An affair does not have to mean the end of the marriage. There are couples for whom, their affairs have led to a closer relationship because they learned so much from it. For some couples, they realise that they have taken each other for granted, that they have miscommunicated for such a long time, or that they just didn't understand each other's needs. All of these things can turn a relationship around with the right help and knowledge if both partners are willing to try.
Get in touch for non-judgmental help if you want to save your marriage from an affair and put it on a new and stronger footing. Or, if you would like to know more about the Human Needs to protect your marriage from an affair or improve the state of your marriage going forward please get in touch.