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3 Reasons why people cheat in relationships

17 August 2023
3 Reasons why people cheat in relationships

What you will learn from this blog:

  • What is defined as ‘cheating’ in a relationship
  • ‘Cheating’ arises not because of a lack of willpower, but because of unmet emotional needs and trauma

Cheating is one of the common issues we see couples for at relationship counselling at Intracresco.

Cheating can be emotional or sexual. It happens when someone stops investing energy into building connection and intimacy with their partner and invests that energy elsewhere.

Examples include:

  • Watching porn to satisfy your sexual desires, instead of investing in sexual intimacy with your partner
  • Engaging services to satisfy your sexual/emotional needs, instead of building a sexual/emotional connection with your partner
  • Being emotionally/sexually intimate with someone else regularly, instead of working on emotional intimacy with your partner

Let’s explore why and how people cheat in relationships:

  1. Unmet emotional needs

Cheating happens when someone is unable to get their emotional needs met in the relationship.

Emotional needs include connection and intimacy; appreciation; feeling seen and heard; respect; feeling understood.

Emotional needs are equally essential as physical needs. Just as we need food, water and sleep daily, we also need emotional connection daily. If we don’t get it, we “starve” and are driven uncontrollably to get that connection elsewhere.

Someone who is often criticised by their partner might feel unvalued and might cheat with someone who adores them and sees their value.

Someone who does not get attention at home because their partner is focused on the kids or work might cheat with someone who gives them undivided attention.

Someone who had a painful childhood may not feel fully understood by their partner who had a smooth life and may cheat with someone who had a similar life experience and can empathise with their pain.

  1. Sexualised Trauma

Trauma is any past experience that left you with:

  • Unhealthy subconscious beliefs
  • Unresolved emotions
  • Suppressed part of you

Trauma is sexualised when the resulting behaviours due to the trauma manifest as overwhelming sexual attraction.

For example, sex can be used to fill an emotional void left behind by trauma such as loneliness and unworthiness.

Some specific examples of trauma resulting in sexual tendencies:

  • A person who was sexually abused as a child may take away the subconscious belief that “it is okay to use someone’s body for pleasure”; and use sex to escape the unresolved shame and pain from the abuse.
  • A person who grew up in an environment where sex was taboo might reject and suppress their own natural sexual desires, causing those desires to come out in unconscious, insidious ways.
  • A person who went through unsafe experiences with one gender may develop a sexual attraction to the opposite gender (e.g. a man who was abused by women in the past may develop a sexual attraction to men due to the subconscious belief that “it is unsafe for me to be close to women”).
  • A person whose masculinity was suppressed because his father was domineering and it was unsafe for him to express masculine qualities such as assertiveness, can develop a sexual attraction to men, even though he may be dominantly heterosexual.

Sexualised trauma is like a parasite which comes out of the dark to feed and then retreats after it has fed – only to come out again when it is hungry.

The fact that sexualized trauma-driven activities usually happen in secrecy only serves to strengthen the parasite. The more one is ashamed of and guilty about their trauma-driven sexual urges, the more those urges have control over the person.

It is thus important to bring those sexual urges into the light – by becoming aware of them, talking about them with trusted people, and seeking help; even seeking trauma therapy to help get over these past traumas.

Remember: the more we become aware of and shine a light on the parasite, the less power it has over us.

  1. Fear of Commitment

This is when someone is afraid of being trapped and seeks options outside the relationship.

Their greatest fear is committing to something and losing out on something else, or being stuck with a bad option.

The reality is that going from partner to partner is not real freedom. It may be “fresh” and “exciting”, but we cannot go deep in any of these flings. It keeps us stuck in the endless cycle of never being satisfied and always looking for something new.

Cheating damages relationships because:

  • It breaks trust;
  • There is a lack of effort put into building connections; and
  • The fact that most cheating happens in secrecy creates an emotional divide between a couple, where partners are unable to share their true feelings openly with each other.

Commitment is necessary for us to build a real depth of connection with someone that gives us consistent fulfilment, support and belonging. This commitment can be built, step by step through relationship counselling.

Sometimes time and space are needed for us to process and resolve our feelings and differences fully. Trying to fix them prematurely risks sweeping issues under the rug and missing the opportunity to understand each other better, and grow stronger in your relationship.

Learn more on how you can work with us on relationship counselling, and if you understand that your urge to cheat comes from repressed trauma, we can also guide you towards healing through our trauma therapy services. We at Intracresco are here to support you.

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