Why Do People Cheat on their Partners? 12 Major Causes of Unfaithfulness or Infidelity

What is Unfaithfulness or Infidelity?

Unfaithfulness also referred to as infidelity is an act of not being sexually faithful or loyal to one's partner, spouse or lover. In marriage, unfaithfulness is morally referred to as adultery.

The subject of unfaithfulness matters in human society because unlike animals, humans are moral beings and the human ethical nature, social and cultural structures, mandate that humans stick to certain orders and rules. Such civic rules include moderation of sexual engagement with others.

Although some types of marriage permit multiple partners engaging in legally approved intimacy, such individuals are still restricted to those they have made such a deal. Without cultural and ethical values like this, our society would be in chaos.

Unfaithfulness as a Major Challenge in Our Society

Unfaithfulness is one of the major challenges in relationships and marriages, especially in this modern time where moral values have declined. It contributes to over 20-60% of the global divorce. Therefore, it is the second major cause of divorce after lack of commitment, according to research. This makes infidelity a major social challenge worldwide.

Promising relationships, families, and friendships have collapsed as a result of this same subject. Besides divorce, break-up and other personal challenges, unfaithfulness can force one into depression, social anxiety and other mental health challenges. There had also been stories where couples either kill or betray one another to cover-up their unfaithful acts. This implies that the danger of being unfaithful to one's partner range from consequences that affect oneself and those affecting the society at large. In a research titled "Intimate Femicide: The Role of Coercive Control" as published on Sage Journal, infidelity (whether confirmed or suspected) was noted as one of the key causes of domestic femicide in Australia. Another study found that the rate of femicide is even higher among those cohabiting over married couples. Although there are many other contributors to this, unfaithfulness is one of it.

Who Cheats Most in Relationship and Marriage?

Unfaithfulness can be perpetrated by either the male or female partner but gender factors cannot be left out when considering who have a higher chance of cheating. Also, while some countries have a higher rate of infidelity than others, it is a menace across every region, race, and religion.

It is widely believed that men cheat more than women because of several biological and social factors. The values are closer, with men cheating at the rate of 20-25% and women  13-20%.  The data provided above are debatable, anyway. A publication by the New York Post reveals that women are likely to cheat for emotional reason while men cheat for sexual reasons, but women are more likely to be easily aroused than men. The data above, however, counters data obtain from DNA results in some countries where women score higher than men in cheating. In Nigeria, for instance, where the rate of paternity fraud is placed at second position globally, it is difficult to conclude that men cheat more women.

The major setback in knowing who cheats most in developing countries is that people are not sincere because of religious and cultural consequences. Meanwhile, whether cheating is a factor of gender, geographical location, or whatever, is a subject to discuss in this context.

One thing common about unfaithful people across gender and geographical location is that they don't lack excuses, especially, to blame their partners. Most of such excuses are not usually true but as defence mechanism. That is why we want to focus on the most general causes of unfaithfulness: The question of why people cheat on their partners, in this article.

These are the major causes of unfaithfulness or cheating among partners

Major Causes of Unfaithfulness
Credit: istock /blackcat

1. Hypersexuality disorder

Hypersexuality also referred to as compulsive sexual behavior or sexual addiction is a condition where an individual has an uncontrollable sexual obsession. People having this condition have constant sexual fantasies and they always want to engage in romantic activities at all times.

Sex addiction poses serious threats to the individual involved because it makes them feel uncomfortable whenever they don't satisfy their sexual urges. This makes hypersexuals act abnormally whenever they are in close contact with people of the opposite sex. It also poses a serious threat to their social lives, especially, their relationship and marriage. It's very hard for sexual addicts to be faithful to their partners, especially if the partner is not always available to satisfy their outrageous needs.

Most cheaters in this category find themselves sleeping around anyone that comes their way even those they cannot imagine. Sex addicts hardly settle with one partner and their marital lives can be in shamble unless they find compatible partners.

2. Lack of trust and insecurity

People who don't trust themselves in relationships cannot be faithful. Lack of trust in the other partner makes the future of the relationship vague. Therefore, partners in this kind of relationship feel insecure and uncertain about what the other partner thinks, plans, or does. Such partners double date in case the other disappoints, they would not be left stranded. When there is too much suspicion and insecurity, the chance of remaining faithful diminishes.

3. Sexual incompatibility

Sexual compatibility is very important for a lasting and faithful relationship. In fact, it is estimated that a large percentage of global divorces result from issues associated with this factor. It is also manor cause of cheating in relationship.

When a partner has high sexual demand and the other is not in the same category, it posses a serious challenge. The unsatisfactory partner in this case would find satisfaction elsewhere thereby leading to unfaithfulness. That is why sexual compatibility is an important factor to consider before marriage.

Related: Compatibility factors to consider before accepting marriage proposal.

3. Emotional disconnection or lack of love

Romance is an emotional behavior, hence, when there is emotional disconnection, the result can lead to unfaithfulness. Partners who have disconnected emotionally find themselves cheating in the process of trying to fill up their emotional bankruptcy.

Once another person begins to offer the emotional comfort, there is bound to be emotional affairs which evolve to sexual attachment. This is especially common among partners who did not  love themselves before marriage. When whatever they married their partners for begin to have no meaning or fade away, they are likely to cheat. Lack of love and emotional disconnection is a major cause of unfaithfulness among married couples, especially those who have married for years.

4. Ideological factors

Unlike traditional religion that see cheating as "sin", secularism have a different view. Most secular people see nothing bad in cheating so they can even boast about it because for them, it is freedom. This is just a case study about how ideology can lead to unfaithfulness.

Of course, sociopolitical factors play vital roles in this case. Those living on society where there is severe penalty on unfaithfulness, will find it hard yo cheat over those living in places where it doesn't matter what you do.

Related: How your thinking influences reality

5. Social and peer pressure

We are in the age of social media where there as much deception about sexuality. Many cheaters often want to try new things out based on the information they received from friends or what they have seen online. They just want to feel among others at the expense of being unfaithful to their partners.

6. Substance abuse

Substance abuse as cause of unfaithfulness in relationship

Drug addiction and alcoholism can lead to unfaithfulness. Under the influence of these substances, people can engage in certain activities like lovemaking out of reasoning. Drunken women, for instance, are more likely to face sexual abuse than those who are not. Some substances can also bring strange feeling in uncontrollable manners that makes one a cheat.

7. Hedonism and materialism

The love of pleasure and materialism is another big cause of unfaithfulness. There are people who think that life is just about enjoyment and fun. Such people can do anything to " enjoy themselves" and live in fullness without considering anything.

Many people in this category are ready to offer their bodies for money or for some that have car, luxury, or whatever they find attractive. Being in relationship with a materialistic person isn't guaranteed because they can cheat just for a little material pet.

8. Poor decision making

Poor decision-making or indecision can cause unfaithfulness in that it allows people to fall to temptations before they realize it. This is a case where someone gets intimate with the opposite sex thinking "Nothing will happen, it's just friendship or relative". Before they realize themselves,  things have already gone far. One danger about cheating is that once you start it, it is hard to stop. 

Related: How to make good financial decision

9. Lack of self-control

Some people are just so weak emotionally and intellectually that they can not control their feelings. Cheaters in this category can cheat because of what their eyes see, not because they are hypersexual. In this situation, the partner cheats because of seduction or sexual trap that they can't control themselves against. People in this category would remain faithful if they don't have a chance or are exposed to what makes them indulge in such activity.

10. Poor upbringing

Family background and upbringing play a vital role in faithfulness, especially during marriage. People from families of parents who cheat on themselves may find it difficult to stay faithful. However, those from family of values who were brought up in strict moral conduct are likely to have self-discipline that keeps them faithful to their partners.

Related: How to raise successful and responsible children.

11. Revenge and anger

Why partners cheat on themselves

Some people have cheated just to take revenge on the other partner who have cheated. While most men do not tolerate a cheating partner, otherwise is the case for women. However, some women find it hard to move on from a cheating partner as men would do, hence, they end up cheating out of anger just to take revenge on their unfaithful partner. It is not only about the other partner cheating, but partners can simply cheat just to hurt the other who might have offended them in one way or the other. This is common, especially for those who cannot control their anger.

Related: Tips on How to Control Your Anger

12. Unexpected circumstances

Circumstances such as poverty, distance and negligence can make people to cheat.

  • Poverty: Where a parent is so poor that he/she cannot take on parental roles and responsibilities, there is a high possibility to cheat. In this case, such a partner only cheats for survival, just to have what to eat. Those who cheat because of poverty do so out of laziness to take on other morally valid jobs while some are those in tight situation like crisis.
  • Distance: Partners in long distance relationships also have a high chance of cheating. This usually to feel the immediate emotional space and sexual needs the other partner cannot offer. It takes self-discipline for people to remain faithful in long distance relationships or when a partner either travels for a long time or live far away.
  • Negligence: In case of negligence, where a spouse abandon his/her partner without care or concern, there is high possibility of falling to infidelity. As we stated earlier, emotional disconnection can force partners into cheating.

In conclusion, people cheat for different reasons such as those highlighted in this article. Meanwhile, all these causes of unfaithfulness can be controlled by the i involved. Unfaithfulness is dangerous to any relationship and to both partners. Whatever excuse you have as a cheaper is not enough. The only way out of it is to stop it and share you grievance with your partner. You can sick counseling to learn about how to overcome it.

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