What Is Cheating, Exactly?
Before you ask yourself “why do men cheat” or “why do women cheat”, we need to be on the same page about what cheating actually is. The problem with defining it is that everyone has different ideas of what constitutes cheating.
For some people, it’s only cheating if your partner has intimate physical or sexual contact with someone else. For others, even flirting with a person outside of your relationship could be considered cheating.
Then there’s emotional cheating, which is when your partner develops feelings or an emotional relationship with someone else. And what about cheating in non-monogamous partnerships, is that even possible?
As with anything in relationships, communication is key! You should always set explicit and specific boundaries with your partner so that neither of you “accidentally” cross any lines you didn’t know existed in the first place. But in lieu of that, there is a “universal” definition of cheating.
Infidelity or cheating is any act that breaks the explicit or implied rules of a relationship, especially as it pertains to sexual, romantic, or emotional exclusivity.
So, if you and your partner have agreed to date only each other, and you still keep flirting with other people, that could be considered cheating, even if you’ve never slept with them. It’s also possible to cheat in a non-monogamous relationship if you don’t follow the conditions you set, like not telling your partner about it or engaging in acts with other people that you agreed you would only do with each other.
Why Is Cheating So Painful?
Everyone reacts to cheating differently, but we can all agree that it’s not fun finding out that your partner had an affair. Some people consider cheating the worst kind of betrayal because the damage runs really deep. When someone cheats on you, it can cause you to feel a slew of negative emotions like pain, doubt, fear, confusion, and anger, just to name a few.
Cheating violates the foundation of trust and respect that every relationship should be built on. You feel like your relationship was a lie, and something that you thought was beautiful and good actually wasn’t. It leaves you uncertain about every interaction you’ve had with your partner, and it undoubtedly will make it more difficult to trust someone in the future.
But perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with after being cheated on is the self-doubt and guilt. Even if it wasn’t your fault, you can feel responsible for your partner’s actions. Maybe you feel like you weren’t enough for them, or that you could have done something differently. Cheating destroys not only your relationships with others, it can also destroy your relationship with yourself.
What Percentage Of People Cheat In Relationships?
Despite the fact that cheating is such an earth-shattering experience, people still do it. And unfortunately, it happens more often than you think. Well, at least it happens enough to warrant its own Cheaters TV show, and even a controversial “cheaters” website called Ashley Madison.
Some research has shown that a whopping 20% of people have admitted to cheating in a relationship at least once, and men are more likely to cheat than women. The millennial generation is the most open to non-monogamous setups.
Why People Cheat: REAL Cheating Stories
“I Got Bored”
There was just no spark in my relationship anymore. I loved her, but even love couldn’t overcome the fact that our relationship was stagnant. I cheated on my girlfriend because I wanted to see what was out there, and it made me realise that I had to move on to something better for me. - Albert, 29
“I Felt Unloved, Unappreciated And Lonely”
My partner was always busy and distant. I think we saw each other maybe once a week if we were lucky. We were together, but it felt like I was alone. I wasn’t getting the support or attention I needed from him, so I looked for it elsewhere. - Sarah, 24
“It Just Happened”
I wasn’t setting out to cheat on my partner. I was actually quite happy with him. But on a night out with the girls, I met another girl I just had amazing chemistry with. One thing led to another, and I slept with her that night. - Reese, 27
“It Made Me Feel Good About Myself”
I had just lost my job and I was battling some serious depression and self-esteem issues. My wife and I would fight almost every night about money issues and it was stressing me out. Then this girl came along and made me feel like I wasn’t such a failure. - Matthew, 34
“I Didn’t Know How To Breakup With My Partner”
I cheated on my fiancee last year, but the relationship was over months before that. We hadn’t had sex in almost a year, and we were kind of just going through the motions. I wanted out, but I was so terrified and ashamed to call off our engagement. I think I cheated so he would have a reason to leave me. - Monique, 31
There are many reasons people cheat, whether it’s because they weren’t fulfilled in their relationship or because it was exciting to meet someone new. But although most cheaters don’t set out to hurt their significant other, having an affair is one of the most painful things you can do to your partner.