People who are depressed do things that are hard for people who aren’t depressed to understand. Some are small, like not being able to get out of bed, and some are large, like infidelity.
Therapists and life coaches working with relationships that are struggling with infidelity often see depression as one of the root causes.
Understanding why people who are depressed might be unfaithful could be an important thing to help you work through your partner’s infidelity and build a future together.
So, why might people who are depressed be unfaithful? Here are 4 reasons:
People who are depressed are prone to self-destruction.
People who are depressed might not get out of bed or they might stop eating or hanging out with their friends. They might isolate and lash out at people who love them. People who are depressed feel so badly about themselves that they are driven to make themselves feel worse.
Unfortunately, many people who are depressed are prone to be unfaithful purely because of these self-destructive behaviors.
People who are depressed believe that they are worthless, that no one loves them, that they are losers in the world who will never get ahead. And the best way to reinforce those beliefs is to do something so terrible – like being unfaithful.
Being unfaithful helps them believe the worst about themselves, which, unfortunately, will only make them more depressed. Furthermore, this self-destructive behavior will persist, and maybe get worse, if people who are depressed aren’t treated. And as a result, the infidelity will continue, unabated.
When people are depressed, they will do anything to feel better, even if for a moment. Because psychotropic medication is so stigmatized in our culture, people often search for other ways to make themselves feel better, if only for the short term.
Healthy ways to do this include exercise, sleep, spending time with loved ones, and doing things that traditionally make us happy. Unhealthy ways include drug and alcohol abuse, isolation, and infidelity.
In my experience, one of the most compelling things about an affair is not the sex (although of course, that is part of it). What is most compelling is that, when we have an affair, we step out of our lives. We step out of the mundane life that we are living, with a partner and a job and, perhaps, children and a dog. We step away from chores and petty arguments. With an affair, everything is fun and flirty and we feel like the person we used to be.
How great would that feel for people who are depressed?
The hallmark of depression is hopelessness. Hopelessness about our place in the world, about our relationships, about the future, about how we will not feel depressed again.
When the future is hopeless, when today is hopeless, people who are depressed often throw caution to the wind. Things that used to seem out of the question, like infidelity, suddenly seem doable. Even attractive.
‘Why not,’ they think. ‘Life sucks anyway so why not just make it all worse by doing something that might blow up my relationship?’ The longer the hopelessness persists, the more the person will cling to their affair, proving to themselves that the world is a terrible place and they are a terrible person in it.