Historically, marriage was often arranged by families. It was considered a business alliance or a way to survive. Since love and passion were not necessarily central to these marriages, we assume people strayed to find love. Today, when many marry for love and passion but it fades or goes awry, people stray to seek their magical happiness. Some even feel obligated to look for true love until they find it, marriage after marriage.
Most people assume that infidelity is a result of an unhappy marriage. One partner is lonely and seeks human connection. Or suffers from a prolonged lack of sex. Or is laying the groundwork for an excuse to get a divorce. Or is just simply tired of living through constant rehashed arguments.
But infidelity is not always a result of an unhappy marriage. It does not necessarily correlate with marital dysfunction. Sometimes people in great relationships commit adultery while claiming to be perfectly happy. They love their spouse, they have good sex, and their relationship is healthy. But they cheat and they can’t stop or they don’t want to stop. And that is what the problem is with their marriage.
So why do happy people cheat?
Discovering the New You. Maybe you’d like to reinvent yourself. Or see what life would be like if you had made different choices. Maybe you’re entering into affairs as a way to discover a new identity. So while your partner is in pain and agonized by what he considers a terrible betrayal, you are exploring and growing. At least for the duration of your affair, you are free from being the person you have been and you discover a new aspect of yourself. You feel liberated and empowered. It’s a rush that makes you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt.
Tasting the Forbidden Fruit. There is nothing so delicious as the one thing you cannot have. You already have a good partner and a good life. But the very nature of the clandestine affair is what makes it so alluring. Many people who cheat say they feel like a teenager again, when sex was forbidden and you had to sneak around. Certainly having stolen sex in risky places can be a thrill. Infidelity can pump adrenaline through your veins and make you feel young again. The very fact that there are obstacles that must be hurdled make the sex all the sweeter. It’s exciting to break the rules, especially if you’ve been a good little boy or girl all your life.
Exploring the What-If Scenario. You have a restless curiosity. Maybe your grade school boyfriend connected with you on Facebook. Maybe you saw your ex at your high school reunion. Or maybe you wonder what might have been if you had married someone different from your partner. And now your options are gone and you are wondering. What if you had taken a different path in life? That’s why people sometimes find themselves in affairs with people who would so clearly be a poor choice as a life partner, but they offer insight into another kind of life. Maybe they’re in a different class, or culture, or even a totally different age group, much younger or older. Having an affair is a way of finding out What-If.
So cheating does not always mean dissatisfaction with your partner. But for sure, for your partner, it hurts no matter what the reason. It’s important to find out the reason for infidelity because the road to healing depends on it.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact