Have you ever been a victim of infidelity, or are you someone who has indulged in it? Have you ever thought about the reasons for infidelity?
So much occurs during our development from infancy through adolescence, and it all contributes to how we eventually act in adult romantic relationships. In particular, early “implicit” and “explicit” memories impact future behavior.
Implicit memory guides or behavior outside of our awareness. These are the memories we cannot consciously remember.
Alternatively, explicit memory is that which we can recall and use to make insightful connections about how they impact our behavior.
When something we do is not within our awareness, we may have trouble figuring out why we behaved the way we did. This includes infidelity and cheating behavior.
Here are five reasons for infidelity and the implicit, unconscious processes that drive us to cheat:
Boredom is often cited as a reason for infidelity. Extensive evidence indicates that novelty erodes after a period of cohabitation or marriage. Relationship length is a reliable predictor of infidelity: the longer the relationship, the more likely one partner will cheat. Furthermore, married couples consistently reported a decline in marital satisfaction over time. This phenomenon leads us to the concept of “habituation.”
The habituation process is the way in which we pay attention to a stimulus. In general, after a certain period, you get used to the stimulus, as well as similar stimuli, and no longer pay attention. For example, a loud beeping sound might at first startle you, but after hearing it over and over, you start to tune it out. Over the course of habituation, there is a shift from preferring the familiar to preferring the novel. In a sense, we habituate to our partners, and novelty is found in another person.
Want to know more about why people cheat in relationships? Read Why Do People Cheat Even In Happy Relationships? 4 Myths About Infidelity and Affairs
2. “It just happened.”
When we have conflicting desires (for example, your partner vs. the attractive person flirting with you), we tend to choose alternatives that seem most relevant in that particular context at that precise moment in time. Both human (and nonhuman) animals temporarily prefer options that pay off immediately, rather than the better (but slower) option.
Infidelity studies show that being apart from a partner facilitates opportunities for extra-marital involvement, especially in the workplace. Couple this with someone who has impulsive personality traits, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Looking to know more reasons for infidelity? Read The Unedited Truth About Why Couples Cheat
3. “It was only for physical gratification.”
Having “perceptive competence,” or the ability to “read” other people and situations, is strongest in adulthood. This ability is learned in infancy and is a necessary survival tactic to help us become efficient at gauging our environment and the opportunities for action that are available. It allows for a quick assessment of situations that offer a reward or ability to meet a goal.
Opportunities that help us meet our needs (including sexual satisfaction) are called “affordances.” However, the consequences are severe when the “affordance” you pounce on is someone other than your spouse!
4. “My spouse wasn’t meeting my emotional needs.”
Affairs are often pursued to help alleviate, albeit unsuccessfully, unmet intimacy needs or a sense of growing apart. These adults are seemingly in a constant state of disequilibrium, feeling intense anxiety over abandonment and other times an avoidance of closeness.
These “insecurely attached” individuals tend to engage in short-term strategies to self-soothe. Cheating is one such unhealthy self-soothing strategy. Conversely, couples who achieve security through their relationship, improve interpersonally on many levels resulting in decreased susceptibility to infidelity.
Want to know more about emotional affairs? Read 6 Warning Signs Of An Emotional Affair