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11 Reasons Why People Cheat

"I cheated on my husband or wife or partner?" 

Be prepared! After the affair is over, your betrayed partner will ask, "Why did you cheat?"

If you are the victim of infidelity, then you will want to know why your husband or wife or partner cheated. Is your partner remorseful and deserves to be forgiven?

11 Reasons People Cheat_2

Let's look at 11 most common reasons a partner cheats.

1. Naive Flirtation

A common reason an affair starts is that one is in the wrong place at the wrong time and didn't take take proper precautions to avoid the slippery slope that can lead to an affair. It sounds like a cheap excuse, and it is... but it frequently happens. When a person's guard is not up when compromising situations present themselves, it is easy give in to temptation instead of standing firm with one's marital or committed relationship values. An 'accidental affair' is often a one-time liaison. However, it can also lead to long-term philandering.

2. A Solution to Personal Crisis

Some people do all sorts of things they would not usually do when faced with a crisis. Adultery can fall into this category of uncharacteristic behavior, and as such it is an act of desperation to avoid the reality of one's life. For example, a person can have an affair as a response to stress. Infidelity is a very enticing distraction which can temporarily push aside stress and a person can be deceived into thinking that it has a positive effect in one's life.

3. To Prove One's Sexual Prowess

When an individual feels as though his or her sexual ability is subpar, they may panic. An affair can act as a way to 'prove to oneself' that he or she still has what it takes to attract, seduce, and perform; especially if the affair is with someone younger or more attractive than his or her partner. 

4. For Friendship

Some individuals become distant from their partner, and they feel lonely. In this case of adultery, the sex and romance may be important, but the friendship is most important. The cheater is looking for someone to talk with, share one's feelings, and alleviate his or her loneliness.

5. Relationship Testing

Sometimes the motivation behind an affair is to see if what is perceived as 'missing' in the marriage or committed relationship can be found in another relationship. It's like sampling wine or beer to see if the old standard can be improved upon.

6. Increase One's Social Status

An affair can be used to 'trade-up'. For example, the partners met working as cashiers in a department store. Then the wife went back to school and became a lawyer. She is now embarrassed to be married to a clerk in a department store and seeks a partner with a more prestigious job.

7. Relationship Improvement

Some individuals are deluded into thinking that having an affair can improve their marriage or committed relationship. This self-serving idea is promoted by some unethical websites such as Ashley Madison which assert that having an affair is a form of marriage therapy. Having an affair is not marriage therapy. In the real-world, marriages and lives are ruined by adultery. Learn more about how cheating will not improve or save your marriage.

8. Revenge or Punishment

Sometimes an affair is entered into as a way to hurt one's partner or to exact revenge. For example, a person may cheat in response to his or her partner having cheated at an earlier time. Even if the partner never learns about the affair, the cheating partner feels satisfied knowing that he or she is keeping this secret from their spouse. Cheating for revenge or punishment is an act of passive-aggressive anger.

9. Sexual Glutton

Some people are never satisfied with what they have. They may have more than others, but it is never enough. They feel entitled to get more. For example, feeling the need to 'indulge oneself' by having an affair, or using an affair as a reward for working hard.

10. Sexual Experiment

A person's sexual appetite may increase, especially in the digital age if he or she views pornography. That partner may want to try new sexual activities, however their partner may not feel the same way and may be resistant to explore new sexual activities. The partner then looks for outside sexual partners to engage in a greater range of sexual behavior. The feeling to engage in experimental sex may be increased if the philanderer got married at a young age and did not have other sexual partners before marriage.

11. Paying For Sex

Individuals delude themselves into thinking that prostitution is a legitimate and a progressive solution to sex deprivation or disappointment. Most people who engage in 'paying for sex' conceal this from their husband, wife, or partner. This 'secrecy' is a sign the cheater knows that if his or her partner finds out that he or she is having sex with a prostitute, he or she will be devastated.

Cheating Regardless of the Reasons Cannot be Justified

Regardless of the reason or explanation, cheating on one's partner can never be legitimized. Cheating simply injures too many people. Society has all kinds of rules to prevent people from acting upon their impulses when doing so puts others at risk of injuries such as drinking and driving, firing weapons, and threatening to hurt others. Infidelity injures many. Infidelity is not a victimless crime.

If someone is not satisfied with their legitimate relationship — their marriage or committed relationship — they can get divorced and seek a new partner. Leaving their life partner of many years may not turn out the way they think it will, especially if there are children. Likely the divorcing individual will, in the end, regret their decision to end their marriage — research has proven this to be so. Nonetheless, divorcing before getting involved with another person is legitimate — infidelity is not.

Get our book, Surviving Infidelity: Making Amends, Restoring Trust, Finding Forgiveness, and Living Together Happily for the Rest of Your Lives, to help you survive infidelity.

surviving infidelity, after the affair, dealing with infidelity, my husband cheated, my wife cheated


Most often the assistance of a relationship professional who specializes in infidelity is required to help you survive infidelity. Below are sources where you can find qualified therapists.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
The Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Surviving Infidelity Recovery Specialist

Topics: How to deal with infidelity, When to walk away after infidelity, Surviving infidelity