Why Do People in Happy Relationships Still Cheat?
You'd think that a happy relationship would control a wandering eye. But there are some surprising reasons why people still choose to cheat. By Danielle Anne Suleik
Just when you thought that cheating while in a happy relationship wasn't possible, science - specifically, the social sciences - has once again shown us that not everything you thought you knew is true. People are still likely to cheat even when they're perfectly happy with their partners. Some even go so far as to search for their own affairs. Is it a secret desire or is it just human nature? That's what we're here to find out.
When researchers announced that 80% of divorces were due to cheating, no one was surprised. They assumed that something was wrong with the marriages and that's why they failed. A recent study managed to shock everyone, when it said that 56% of men and 34% of women in happy marriages cheat.
If you read those papers and saw the confirmation with your own eyes, wouldn't you start to think that there's even less hope for a happily ever after now that you know that happy people still cheat? I'm not going to say “yes” or “no” to that, but I will talk about why it does happen. Before I do that, let's discuss how these “happy people” described their relationships.
What's in a happy relationship?
A happy relationship cannot be defined as a bond shared by two people in absolute bliss. A happy relationship is simply something that is shared by two people who have the capacity to prioritize the value of their relationship over trivial things. Being in a happy relationship means that everyone involved is content with their career, families and their sex life. It's a scenario where you can actually ask yourself, “What more do I want?”
You're attracted to your partner. You have amazing sex lives. You don't want for money. The power positions in the house is equal and unintimidating. It's the perfect scenario, but the struggle for contentment reaches its peak when one or the other decides to engage in an affair.
An unhappy relationship would be one that still has a few kinks to iron out. There could be an underlying problem that involves money, pride, personal demons or even an external influence like family members or friends. People expect these types of relationships to experience infidelity, but they never think that people who are content in their relationships would do so.
So why do happy people end up cheating?
If you look at it from a moral standpoint, anyone who cheats is always in the wrong. But what got them there in the first place? If the sex is good, why cheat? If you don't feel intimidated by your partner, why cheat? Apparently, it's not an isolated incident, but it isn't a general consensus either.
People cheat for different reasons. When they're in a happy relationship, those reasons tend to garner less sympathy. So what are those reasons?
#1 Genetics. Apparently, there's something called a “cheating gene” out there. There aren't many studies about it, but one study has confirmed that the people with said gene are more likely to cheat or refrain from engaging in serious or monogamous relationships.
#2 Better than great sex. People have different tastes when it comes to sex, but those interests are rarely realized in committed relationships. Extreme fetishes are less likely to surface when two people are completely happy with the way things are going in their relationship. Happy people will cheat to try new things, but it doesn't mean that they want to get rid of their current relationship.
#3 Cheating parents. As much as we want to believe that we won't make the same mistakes our parents made, it always seems to overtake our common sense in the end. Conditioning has shown us that it's a possible scenario, and the certain steps taken to prevent what your parents did aren't enough to actually avoid doing it.
#4 Romance. Yes, happy relationships are still brimming with romance. But if someone comes along and makes you feel hotter and more passionate than the way you do with your current partner, cheating suddenly becomes an option.
#5 The thrill. If you don't have the means to go sky-diving, you may end up cheating on your partner. A happy relationship can sometimes become monotonous. Happy doesn't equate to boring, but the line starts to get blurry when you stay with someone long enough without anything new happening.
#6 No accountability. No matter how happy a person is, when the opportunity presents itself to cheat without any repercussions, it's possible that they will go for it. If the person cheating is someone who does not put too much value on their morality, their illicit activities won't give them any problems as long as they're absolutely sure that they won't get caught.
#7 Past lovers. You're right in being apprehensive about a partner spending time with their ex. An inappropriate level of frequency and context of meetings could likely end up in an affair, because they have history, are both adults with raging hormones and can resolve themselves to the fact that it can happen because they've done it before.
#8 The opportunity is there. We may be human beings with the power of thought and free will, but a good percentage of our body is still made up of the same biological elements as animals. If we are easily aroused by normal triggers like the nakedness of a person or tactile stimulation, there's no saying if we have the ability to stop ourselves from having an affair or not.
Defending people who have the capacity to take the moral high ground is a moot point, because cheating can happen when you least expect it. It's not inevitable, but it is possible. There are no prevention methods when it comes to cheating that's not premeditated. The best thing you can do is hope that fate doesn't intervene and give your partner ample opportunity to cheat.
So, is there no hope for your happy relationship?
Of course, there's hope. I'm just spouting off statistics, but the point of this article is to open your mind to that certain possibility. If it does happen, don't blame yourself. You did your best. You did not do anything wrong.
The reason why it happens more often that we realized is because the people who cheat in happy relationships have weakness in their integrity. An event in their past might trigger a change in attitude when they experience something similarly traumatic. They might be having a bad day and was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The point is that a person who cheats has no one to blame but themselves. If they decide to have an affair, it's because they weren't able to consider what they were sacrificing in the process. They will make excuses once they are caught, or else they will do everything in their power to hide what they did. If you don't want that to happen, find someone who has proven themselves to be worthy of your loyalty and trust.
Not everyone cheats, but apparently everyone has the capacity to do so. That doesn't mean you should constantly be paranoid of your partner cheating on you. Instead, you should appreciate and improve on what you have now so that the chances of infidelity are lessened.