Forsaking all others.

When a couple stands before others and replies “I do” to the question of forsaking all others, they assume the responsibility of remaining faithful to their chosen. This promise, to look only to that one person for affection and sexual fulfillment, is a cornerstone upon which a strong, trusting and fulfilling relationship is built. So why is it so easy for so many to break? With the repercussions being so high, why do some men and women cheat on those that they proclaim to love and have pledged to be faithful to? The top reasons scientists give for cheating spouses include the following:

  • Cognitive dissonance – According to a 2013 experiment published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the ability of cheaters to trivialize their behavior or actions, cognitive dissonance, is what allows some to cheat without guilt. By not viewing themselves as wrong for doing so, or by justifying their actions, many cheaters are able to separate themselves from the act of cheating itself.
  • Sex addiction – Though once viewed as a simple excuse for bad behavior, sexual addiction is now recognized as a real psychological impairment that instigates those that suffer from it to engage in risky promiscuity. Where some people may claim to be addicted to sex to justify their behavior, those who have a real problem often risk not only their relationships, but their jobs, financial status and health to engage sexually with anyone who is willing.
  • Spousal disappointment – Often, when spousal expectations are not met, disappointment can lead to cheating. If a spouse feels undervalued and unappreciated, those feelings can lead to resentment and the bond of commitment starts to wear away. Online dating sites that target those who are looking for someone to cheat with, prove this theory with a staggering statistic. The day after Valentine’s Day is, by far, their best day of the year with sign ups increasing by 439% for that single 24 hour period. It is believed that the romantic expectations of Valentine’s Day led many couples to feel let down by their spouse’s inattentiveness; leading them to search for fulfillment elsewhere.
  • Genetics – Cheating, for some, may actually be a related to a chemical imbalance in the brain. One study by Scientific American showed that men who had a “variant of the chemical vassopressin” were more likely to cheat, while research by the Binghamton University found that varying levels of the DRD4 chemical was responsible for the increased tendency to be unfaithful. They were also shown to engage in more risky behavior overall.
  • Sexual Pressure – The idea that those that are not satisfied in the bedroom are more likely to cheat is supported by some recent research and studies. Research performed by Indiana University at Bloomington and the University of Guelph in Ontario both show that those who feel anxiety surrounding their sexual relationship with their spouse are likely to go searching for another partner; one that allows them to be more sexually open and relieving them of the responsibility of pleasing their partner. The belief is that they feel that in some ways, their partner is to blame for their inability to perform.

As a marriage counselor in Westlake Village, I have consulted with hundreds of couples whom infidelity has created long-lasting consequences. It has seldom resulted in divorce however, if both partners are committed to working past the mistake and resolving the issues that led to it. With couples therapy, we can work together to remove the resentment and distrust from the relationship, allowing you both to experience true loyalty once again.