When marrying, for the majority of traditional couples, there is an implicit understanding that the relationship is exclusive between the two partners. Yet, Darrel Ray, Ed.D sites in his book, Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, that 70% of couples indicate that they have cheated on their partner. Much research points to the idea that humans are not wired for monogamy. The commitment to monogamy is based on religious and social expectations (Ray, 2012).
It is important to understand the motivation for cheating when one is in a committed relationship. Understanding the motivations can possibly help prevent cheating. It can also help the partner forgive the one who has transgressed.
In the article, To Stay or Stray? the author calls this category of cheating, “crimes of opportunity.” Simply, an opportunity presented itself and the person took it. Perhaps he or she was traveling out of town, a partner was not home, or the office was empty and a hot co-worker came onto him or her. All these incidents are indicative of a last-minute fling. The person may have never thought of cheating before, an opportunity came about and they acted on it.
The other side of something as flippant as opportunity is the need for an emotional connection. Often, one partner might feel lonely or bored in the relationship. When an affair happens, it is to fill the void. Researchers have found while men indicate reasons for cheating are related to both sexual and emotional dissatisfaction, women more often indicate emotional dissatisfaction. This is not to say women only cheat for emotional dissatisfaction. As women are becoming more financially independent, their motivations for cheating are beginning to equal the motivations for cheating in men.
3.To act on a fetish or sexual fantasy
Sexual interests don’t always line up. In fact, sexual interests do not have to line up. Each person should have the space to express his or her interest or disinterest in a particular sexual fetish or fantasy. The trouble begins when one cannot take a no for an answer. When a partner expressed disinterest in acting on the fetish, the other finds someone who will participate in his or her sexual fetish. There is always an option of permitting your partner to go out on their own and find a space to express their need (see When Someone You Love is Kinky by Dossie Easton). But, hiding from your partner that you are seeking your sexual fetish elsewhere and having sex outside of your relationship, is cheating.
Couples can seek revenge for many reasons. Having a relationship where taking revenge is the norm, is toxic and unhealthy. Revenge can either be because one partner cheated or was suspected of cheating. Yet, revenge can also be for reasons other than the partner’s sexual transgressions. Out of anger, spite, hurt, rejection, a person will have an affair to punish the action of his or her partner.
5.Curiosity / sexual boredom
Sexual energy and the sexual libido between two people are often not a perfect match. Healthy couples are able to find a balance where both partners are satisfied. Struggling couples cannot seem to find the balance, causing one partner step outside of the relationship. An imbalance in sexual interest does not excuse the action. If you need something, say something. There are many ways couples can maneuver around this imbalance. Cheating does not have to be the answer.
All of the above are not to justify cheating but to bring awareness to the triggers. If you see any of these red flags in your relationship talk it through with your partner. If speaking to your partner seems difficult, seek out a therapist who can help you find solutions to your concerns.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, MHC-LP, CASAC is a psychotherapist in New York City where she practices individual therapy, couples counseling, and sex counseling. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc
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Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC