People cheat. A lot. Certainly not everyone, and definitely not all the time, but many people can and do. That people cheat on their partners in relationships is often obvious, but why they cheat is not as clearly understood as you might think. When most people think of “cheating” or infidelity, whether the couple is married or in a dating relationship, the most common reason for it in most people’s minds is something to do with sex. The common thought is that “this person is cheating because he/she wanted to have more/better/different sex with that other person.” My response to this belief: “Sometimes yes, but not always, and not for the reasons that you think”. When many people have affairs, whether they have an actual person for the affair or if they are just thinking about it, the affairs may eventually include sex, but sex is often not the original motivation for being with a new person.
Many affairs develop because the new person gives the partner what they’re not getting at home. While this missing piece may sometimes be sex, it is very often other things, such as: attention, kindness, appreciation, time, affection, courtesy and politeness, making the partner feel heard, and making the partner feel valued and special. At first glance, these factors might seem too simplistic and superficial. Let me assure you: these factors are powerful, they can enhance a good relationship and save a dying one, and the absence of them for a long enough period of time will get you left, dumped, or cheated on.
If you think about it, the power of these factors should be fairly obvious. When someone is eager to spend time with you, is kind to you and considerate of your feelings, appreciates you and all your efforts, truly listens to you and values you, how can you help but feel like a queen or a king? Now, compare that type of devoted person to the one you may be tied to in a relationship at this very moment. That person may be selfish, self-absorbed, too busy to spend time with you, not as kind, courteous or polite as he/she used to be, and doesn’t make any special effort to listen to you or your feelings. Worse still, you may be the person in your relationship with these traits. If someone new enters the picture, the building, or the workplace, and they show all this attention, kindness, and consideration to a person who has not had that kind of treatment in a long time, if ever, it becomes clear how an attraction can begin, and how an affair can develop. Briefly getting back to the sex issue: if someone makes you feel this special, this valued, and this adored, how can the sex not be good?
Want to know how powerful these factors are? To many people who have affairs, these factors have been more important than looks, money, or race. I’ve listened to many women who have had their egos bruised when their men have developed relationships with women who were “less attractive” or of another race. They made the mistake of thinking that their partners would never leave them because of how good they looked. Simple fact: “Looks may attract, but they don’t always keep”. I’ve seen men who have watched their wives, girlfriends, or partners go elsewhere, despite how financially successful the men were. These men were more than willing to spend their money on their partners, but weren’t spending their time with them. Think about it: do you really want to know that your girlfriend cheated on you just because that other person was simply nice to her? Isn’t it kind of silly and wasteful that one of the main reasons your husband left you was because that other person actually liked to cook for him or showed affection towards him? Trust me, affairs begin and relationships end over small (but important) matters such as these. Consider what it would take for your partner to cheat on you because he or she gets these things from someone else: attention, appreciation, spending time, making him/her feel valued. Compare that with what it would take for you to keep your partner satisfied: attention, appreciation, spending time, making him/her feel valued. The same factors. Whether it’s your partner who doesn’t show these traits, or whether it’s you, don’t despair. There’s still time for change to take place. People can change. A lot. Certainly not everyone, and definitely not all the time, but many people can and do.