From the forthcoming book:
Adultery Case Histories
Why People Cheat on Their Partners.
Othniel Seiden, MD & Jane L. Bilett, PhD
Understanding the reasons for affairs and infidelity can help reconciliation. There are many reasons why people cheat, the least of which is love of another person. Sexual addiction, does it exist, or no such thing?
The first reaction to the discovery of your partner being unfaithful is usually shock, followed by disbelief or denial, and then is quickly followed by anger and rage. Often these are followed by, feelings of lowered self-esteem, self blame, feelings of failure, and even guilt.
We use the term partner, rather than spouse, because the same factors are valid be the relationship one of marriage, living with a significant other, gay, or lesbian relationship, or any situation where monogamy is expected by at least one of the couple. Most books or programs dealing with infidelity presume their subjects are legally married heterosexual couples, but the pain, and destructive potential of infidelity is just as deep regardless of the structure of any relationship where monogamy is assumed, and expected.
If you know why your partner cheated you’ll be better able to determine if you can save your relationship after an affair, or if it is worth the effort to save it. More important you’ll be able to shed your self-blame, guilt, and re-establish your own self-image. It is extremely important to know that the decision to have an affair was that of the cheating partner, not the cheated upon. Regardless of your partner’s reasons for cheating, it was his or her decision, not yours. Frequently the guilty party will try to lay blame on the innocent partner by pointing out imagined or real shortcomings, “You never understood me!” “You don’t love me anymore!” “All you do is bitch at me!” “You never show me any love!” “You don’t have any time for me!” It matters not if these accusations are true or false. For reconciliation to have any chance at all, your partner has to admit his or her culpability in the infidelity.
If reconciliation is to succeed, an essential first step is for the unfaithful partner to accept responsibility for violating trust. Understanding why your partner cheated will also determine what approach you should take to save your marriage. To fix something you have to analyze what needs to be repaired. Relationships are no different. The infidelity came about because of a shortcoming or glitch in either your partner’s personality, or in the relationship itself. To repair that glitch it needs to be exposed.
In addition to repair of the relationship, knowing the cause of your partner’s infidelity will be essential to resolving your own feelings about the affair. You may never forget the pain you’ve suffered by your partner’s actions, but for reconciliation to succeed there will have to be genuine forgiveness. Understanding the real reasons for the infidelity will be essential. Coping with infidelity requires understanding and insight. Knowing the reasons for your relationship problems are paramount to saving your partnership.
Common Causes of Infidelity
The causes of infidelity are many and often combinations of reasons. Each case will have its unique reasons. However most will entail one or a combination of the following most common causes.
Chapter 1. Unrealistic expectations about marriage
Often infidelity is fueled by unfulfilled expectations
Chapter 2. Inability to cope with cultural or ethnic differences, and family interferences
America is an extremely diverse population. In years past immigrants and members of different religions tended to live in separate communities among their own ethnic and religious groups, thus being able to share traditions, language, and cultural ties.
Chapter 3. Divergent interests, and disappointment that one partner hasn’t grown in the same directions
When a partner feels that he or she is intellectually or physically superior to one’s mate, stresses are bound to result.
Chapter 4. Inability to accommodate a partner’s needs, interests or expectations
Incompatibility is a very common cause for infidelity, and one of the most difficult to reconcile.
Chapter 5. Lost sense of fun and excitement in the marriage It’s easy to remember the fun, the joy, the excitement, the romance and thrills of first meeting, courtship, engagement, and early months and years of a relationship; maintaining those wonderful experiences is altogether another matter.
Chapter 6. Curiosity
Men and women are curious individuals. Some people control their curiosity; some people follow their curiosity to dangerous levels.
Chapter 7. Inability to communicate one’s own interests, needs, or desires. Lack of verbal skills or motivation to solve relationship problems together
Any successful relationship is based on the ability of partners to be able to freely express their needs, desires, complaints, and feelings to each other.
Chapter 8. Boredom with the marriage, work, life, the relationship, or the routine
There are people who stray from their vows simply because they are bored.
Chapter 9. Falling out of love
Falling out of love happens! It can happen to anyone.
Chapter 10. Falling in love with someone else
This type of infidelity occurs when a partner experiences genuine love and sexual desire for more than one person.
Chapter 11. Opportunity
This type of infidelity occurs when a partner is in love and attached to his or her better half, but succumbs to a sexual desire for someone else.
Chapter 12. Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem, lack of being appreciated, work stress, and aging makes a person feel less wanted, less valuable, and may lower his or her self-esteem.
Chapter 13. Midlife crisis
Middle age and low self-esteem often go hand in hand. Many people in their middle years suffer from declining self-worth for various reasons.
Chapter 14. Challenge
Few people who engage in shoplifting really needed the items they steal; it’s just the thrill of getting away with something.
Chapter 15. Jealousy
Jealousy takes many forms. If your partner is one who flirts or spends time with others more than with you, that may surely lead to jealousy
Chapter 16. Drugs and Alcohol
Addictions to drugs and/or alcohol may be a primary cause for infidelity.
Chapter 17. Revenge
Discovering that one’s partner has strayed is usually a devastating experience. One reaction to the pain of discovery of unfaithfulness is unfathomable hurt, which is expressed as anger, and fuels the need for punishment
Chapter 18. Emotional Infidelity
Recently infidelity has been reclassified to include not only physically consummated affairs but, also, emotional affairs.
Chapter 19. Extrication
Was a time when the only way to get a divorce in New York was to prove your spouse was having an affair
Chapter 20. Uncontrolled lusts or addiction to physical gratification or emotional intimacy
Sometimes adultery is due to an uncontrolled lusting for sex or romance.
Chapter 21. Gender Preference
With today’s more liberal views and acceptance of homosexuality more people are willing to “come out of the closet.” The general public, the state, and the nation are thankfully, beginning to accept same sex relationships.
Chapter 22. Age, Illness, and Medication
With people living longer than ever before some partners will lose some of their libido.