The Real Reason Some Partners Become Cheaters

E.B. Johnson

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Has your relationship been shattered by infidelity? There are few actions more damaging to the trust and vulnerability that form our partnerships. When your partner cheats on you, it creates a doubt that permeates into the space between you. Addressing that doubt is a process, and one which has to be undergone so that you can decide what you need to do moving forward. To give yourself peace, understanding is key. They didn’t cheat because of you. They cheated because of beliefs they held and decisions they made.

The real reason some partners become cheaters.

Did your partner stray outside of the relationship? Did they betray your trust and the faith you had in your love? There are a lot of different reasons that people make the decision to cheat, and not all of them are equal. Some are rooted in personal insecurity and pain, while others are wired strictly into the selfish ideology of a selfish person (Silva, et al. 2017). Coming back from that, infidelity is better addressed when we understand the reasons behind it. Then we can make more honest decisions about what needs to come next.

It's all about opportunity

As corny as it seems, cheating is sometimes simply a matter of opportunity. People land in compromising positions with tempting options. Depending on their self-control, they wind up making the wrong decisions and hurting the wrong people. Your partner may still love. There may be no intention to hurt you or damage your relationships. They simply found themselves in the wrong place at the right time. And the rest is history.

Excuses are key

Frankly, cheating is always the result of excuses. Sometimes, those excuses are the only basis for the action. The cheater may excuse it by claiming that “everyone does it” or that they aren’t getting what they need (therefore justifying their betrayal). They may claim that they didn’t know better, or that their past and pain trauma made them do it. With excuses, there’s no end to the stories we’ll write for ourselves. Of course, those excuses rarely add up and never justify betraying someone we’ve committed to.

Little emotional honesty

Cheating — in many cases — can be a result of mismanaged and misunderstood feeling. Maybe your partner committed before they truly considered the depth of their love for you. Along the way, they met someone who did check all the boxes. And you got stuck holding the bag. It’s crucial that we are honest about our emotions and what our true feelings mean before committing to someone that’s all in on a “true love” story.

Absolutely mismatched

It’s not easy to admit when we don’t want to be with someone, especially if we’re married to them or we’ve been with them for a long time. Rather than hitting the big red button, we can find ourselves slinking around in the background instead. Some people don’t like to admit hard truths, so they create justifications and excuses that lead them down the path to cheating.

Lack of commitment

When someone isn’t ready to commit in a relationship, they can react in a lot of weird and wacky ways. These reactions are meant to communicate the words they don’t have, or the truths they’re not ready to admit to themselves. Rather than telling you they don’t want to get married, or they’re not ready to move in, this partner will cheat just as things begin to get serious in your partnerships. If someone isn’t ready to commit, they will show it with their actions.

Inability to voice needs

People cheat out of a total lack of self-awareness. They don’t know what they want from their lives, let alone their relationships, so they go chasing every opportunity they can to be happy. Avoiding this trap requires that we consider (and prioritize) what matters to us in relationships before we make serious investments and commitments in people who don’t have what we really need to feel complemented.

Craving some variety

We all have different sexual appetites and needs, and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for this. We pretend we can put ourselves into the same relationship boxes as everyone else, but that’s not the case. Some people have a need for variety. They thrive when they are flipping through a Rolodex of sexual partners or relationships — and that’s okay. As long as they are being honest and open about it with every partner they bring into their lives.

Intimate incompatibility

Like it or not, sexual compatibility plays a big role in a lot of infidelity moments. If you and you partner are sexually incompatible, then it can cause divisions and frustrations that are damaging. Not getting what you want, thoughts begin to stray. It’s not long before the heart follows suit. If you and your partner are struggling in the bedroom, being honest about it could be a deterrent to future infidelity attempts.

Bottomed-out self-esteem

Even if you think your partner is the strongest and most capable person in the world, they could still be dealing with low self-esteem. That’s because low self-esteem doesn’t always manifest like a shut-in or a loner. Sometimes, people react badly to their low self-esteem and make bad choices in order to correct it. Cheating is one such choice. Partners with low self-esteem stray outside of their relationships in order to feel like they are more attractive or worthy.

The best ways to deal with infidelity.

Have you discovered that your partner or spouse is cheating on you? Figuring out the truth is heartbreaking, and it destroys the reality we thought we were living in. That’s why it’s so important to stay focused on our self-worth, even as we create the space we need to decompress and heal. In that space, we can confront the truth and make the hard decisions that matter.

1. Consider your true self worth

It’s important to always keep your self-esteem in sharp focus when dealing with things like infidelity. What someone else does has nothing to do with you. Sure, you may not have been present the relationship as much as you could have been. But your role in that issue does not justify or shift the blame from your partner and their actions. Those were decisions they made. And all decisions come with a degree of consequence for us to contend with.

At every stage of the healing process, remind yourself of this important mantra: “I am not at fault for their decisions. This is not a reflection of me.” Say it to yourself every day, 1000x a day. Continue to love yourself hard, and continue to fiercely protect your beauty and your strengths.

At every stage of the healing process, remind yourself of this important mantra: “I am not at fault for their decisions. This is not a reflection of me.” Say it to yourself every day, 1000x a day. Continue to love yourself hard, and continue to fiercely protect your beauty and your strengths.

Even if their choice to cheat was rooted in a real problem in your relationship — they are still in the wrong. Your issues did not give them permission to cheat. That was a decision (and an action) that they took entirely on their own. Your worth never came into the equation. That’s because someone else’s decision to betray you is not baggage you have to carry. Keep focused on the fact that you are a beautiful, smart, and capable person who deserves to be loved and respected in the ways they desire.

2. Take some space to process

Finding out that our loved one has strayed is devastating. Your sense of reality is shattered and the rug is pulled out right from beneath your feet. There’s no making sense of anything. You’re overwhelmed with grief, with rage, with confusion. There’s a cloud of pain around you, and in that cloud you will be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. You’ve got to get through this cloud in order to take the first step in the name of your healing, wholeness, and happiness.

Create space in your relationship for the two of you to process and decompress. Get space away from your partner. They need time to think about what they’ve done, and you need a chance to sort through the complicated emotional bomb that’s been detonated in your life. Doing that can’t happen when you’re interfering with each other.

It’s easier to see your partner and their behaviors, too, when they aren’t there to dissuade you from reality. Some cheaters can sweet talk their way right out of accountability — but that won’t bring about happiness. Only more of the same. You don’t have to give up on the relationship yet. You just need alone time to make sense of what you want to do and how you’ve been affected. Stay with family. Take a solo trip to that dream destination. Do what you have to do, but give yourself enough space to decompress and reconsider what actually matters to you.

3. Be upfront with the truth

At some point, you’re going to have to confront the truth with your partner. That means sitting them down and talking things through. This may not be the conversation that defines the future of your relationship, but it should certainly be the conversation that allows you to say the things that are heavy on your chest. You need to make sense of what went on, and you need a chance to explore the pain that you’re in (with the person who caused it). More than that, you need your partner to take responsibility for their actions.

Pick a time and place that feels right to you, and sit your partner down for an honest conversation. If your partner has already confessed, then focus on your feelings, how you’ve been affected, and what solutions you need in order to feel as though the damage has been repaired. If they haven’t confessed, calmly and respectfully communicate your doubts (back by concrete evidence and examples).

At all times, it is important that you stay calm and focused in the present moment…and the facts. When we’re still too close to the pain, this is when things can get heated. That’s why it’s important to take time before confronting your partner. Then you can come back with a better sense of yourself and what you need to say. More than that, you’ll have time to organize your thoughts and your ideas about what you want to happen. Be realistic. If you can’t forgive or you’re not willing to work through change and therapy, it may not be a partnership that’s going to work.

Putting it all together…

Did your partner cheat on you? A lot of factors go into someone’s decision to stray outside of a relationship. Some of them are simple, and a natural result of people who are going through challenges. In other instances, they come from misunderstandings, frustrations, and resentment. Identifying the reasons behind the act is a crucial part of healing. Once we understand why something happened, we can decide whether it’s worth being repaired.

First and foremost, know that your partner’s behavior is not a reflection of your worth. It is nothing more than a reflection of them, their beliefs, and where they are at emotionally and mentally. Let them have that responsibility. Your responsibility is to care for yourself. Make sure you’re taking time to process and rest. Give your body and your mind the time they need to decompress. When you’re ready, sit your partner down and have an honest conversation about where you’re at, what happened, and what you want to do moving forward. Whether you decide to stay or break things off, decouple from one another mindfully and with understanding. You need space to find yourselves and figure out what comes next. Be compassionate and don’t rush this process. There will be a lot of difficulties along the way, but on the other side of this pain is peace and a new understanding of who you are.

  • SILVA, A., SARAIVA, M., ALBUQUERQUE, P., & ARANTES, J. (2017). Relationship quality influences attitudes toward and perceptions of infidelity. Personal Relationships, 24(4), 718-728. doi: 10.1111/pere.12205
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Writer. Host. Certified coach. Host of the Practical Growth Pod. Master Practitioner NLP. Get all my books and resources at the link below.

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