Why People Cheat – And How To Stop

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Affairs are often portrayed as the ultimate, unforgivable relationship sin. The cheater is considered untrustworthy at best, and downright evil at worst. Yet, affairs happen all the time in relationships. And they don’t happen because a person is bad. The reason why people chat is often because they are trying to get their emotional or sexual needs met.

Infidelity however often results in profound emotional turmoil for everyone involved. Let’s look at the motivations behind cheating and show you some actionable strategies to safeguard your relationship from betrayal.

Delving into the Why: The Psychological Terrain of Cheating

At its core, infidelity often stems not from a lack of love, but from unfulfilled needs. Here are the main reasons why people cheat:

Reason 1: Lack of Emotional Connection

People may feel undervalued or emotionally ignored within their primary relationship. Maybe something is lacking, but they are afraid to ask for what they want. And whatever is missing is so profound, that they simply can’t live without it. This can push them to seek affirmation or excitement in the arms of another.

Cheating is also an expression of the desire to be seen in a different light, or to explore a different aspect of themselves that is perhaps getting suppressed in their relationship.

Two people cheating while getting surprised by partner

Reason 2: Sexual Boredom

Many people also have affairs to make up for a lack of sexual connection. It may be that they don’t feel accepted or desired by their partner. Maybe the sex they are having is not arousing to them, or there is little or no sex at all in the relationship.

Yet others have a strong desire for novelty and excitement – despite a great sex life with their partner. Cheating can be a way for them to fight boredom and frustration, particularly when they have been with one person for a long time.

Read about the Top Sexual Problems in Relationships.

Reason 3: Escape From The Daily Drudge

For some people, affairs are a way to escape the responsibilities and criticisms of daily life. They want to feel, for a moment, that there is nothing they have to do, and that someone is just as excited about them as they are.

Reason 4: Revenge or Resentment

Some people have revenge affairs to get back at a partner who has cheated. Others have them to make up for the feeling of having been taken advantage of. Unexpressed resentment about something that happened in the relationship can also often be a cause. 

Reason 5: Fear of Intimacy

Personality traits and psychological predispositions can also play a significant role in the reason why people cheat. Those with impulsive characteristics or who possess an insecure attachment style are more likely to succumb to temptations of infidelity. They struggle with fear of intimacy, which can manifest as seeking superficial connections outside the committed relationship.

Lesbian couple with fear of intimacy

Strategies for How to Stop Cheating – or Building Immunity Against an Affair

To stop or forestall the possibility of infidelity, couples must take proactive steps to ensure their relationship is as fulfilling and robust as possible. Here are some preventive measures you can take to help protect your relationship from the devastating effects of an affair.

1. Be Honest

The best way to stop cheating or altogether avoid an affair is to be honest about your desires. For this to work, you and your partner must create an ethic of acceptance around each other’s desires – even those that feel scary or threatening. This lack of openness is rooted in the fear that their partner will judge them, stop loving them, resent them, or begin suspiciously watching their every move.

Cultivating a deep emotional connection, encouraging vulnerability, and maintaining an ongoing dialogue can enhance intimacy and reinforce the relationship’s honest foundation.

2. Negotiate Your Relationship Contract

Evaluate your Relationship Contract frequently and look at the boundaries you have set for yourselves. Examine your resistance to certain sexual desires and practices.

If you do decide to expand your boundaries, it’s critical to do so slowly and with lots of communication. It’s important to remember that trying something new does not mean agreeing to it forever. If you’re reconsidering your sexual relationship, read this helpful article on Sexual Contracts: 50 Shades of Grey and Beyond.

3. Make Room for Disappointment

Making room for disappointment when needs are not being met is crucial for building immunity against affairs.

Often, if you are allowed to openly and shamelessly ask for what you want – and receive the support of your partner – it can be enough. Then, even if it is beyond your partner’s capacity to allow you to meet those desires out in the world, they at least understand you are disappointed. And you can still feel loved and accepted by them.

4. Turn a Threat into an Opportunity to Stop Cheating

Continuously investing in the relationship is vital. Simple acts of appreciation, routine date nights, and shared interests can affirm the importance of the partnership.

You might also see if there is any part of your partner’s desires you can explore and satisfy through fantasy and role-play. If they want to have sex with other people, you might dress up, pretend to be a stranger, and have them pick you up for a night of sex.

Or you could have a secret affair with your partner, complete with afternoon rendezvous. If your partner desires threesomes or group sex, you might come up with a hot fantasy to whisper in their ear during sex.

Happy couple on sofa

If You Need Help Dealing With an Affair or Stopping One

Understanding why people cheat and how to prevent such betrayal is key to building and maintaining a strong, resilient relationship.

For some people, just having their desires heard and accepted will be enough. Others might not be satisfied with such a solution, and their partners will need to listen to their disappointment or discuss outsourcing.

If you need help stopping an affair, or dealing with rebuilding trust after cheating, you can find a trusted certified relationship coach in this directory.

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Danielle Harel
Danielle Harelhttps://www.somaticainstitute.com/faculty/danielle-harel/
Dr. Danielle Harel is the the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She has a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality (DHS), a graduate degree in Clinical Social Work (MSW), and a Bachelors (BA) degree in Psychology and Educational Counseling.

As a somatic sexologist, professor, and author, Danielle has devoted the last 20 years to resolving her client’s sexual challenges, training sex & relationship coaches, and empowering people. Harnessing her extensive training in sexology, psychology, and body-based modalities like Hakomi, attachment theory, character theory, and neuro-patterning, she guides people in reaching their fullest personal, professional, and sexual potential.

In addition to being faculty at Esalen and teaching the Advanced Somatica Training and Mastery Classes, Danielle has most recently embraced the adventure of co-producing the TV series Here She Comes – an episodic based on the Somatica Method (currently in production).

Before that, she published original research on Orgasmic Birth, and co-authored 3 books with Celeste Hirschman: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together.

She has also written extensively on sex, relationships, and dating, and is frequently quoted as an expert resource in publications.

To everything she does, Danielle brings her unparalleled passion, depth, intuition, and magnetizing personality.

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