15 Reasons People Cheat, According to Psychology

15 Reasons People Cheat, According to Psychology

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Unfortunately, cheating is quite common in relationships. While there may be reasons men and women cheat, the outcomes are still the same. Both parties get hurt.

Cheating can be quite simple, or it can be complicated. Psychologists have many theories behind the reasons men and women cheat. It may seem that the cheater is simply a jerk or a horrible person, but psychology suggests that these issues may run deeper than that. The next section dives into the psychology behind cheating.

Psychology Behind Cheating

Understanding cheaters can be hard, especially if you’re the one who has been cheated on. Victims often fall into a pattern of blaming themselves, wondering what they did wrong to make the other person cheat. The truth is you can’t make a person cheat. That’s a personal choice that they make due to underlying issues they may have.

reasons men and women cheat
According to clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., most people cheat for more than one reason. It’s due to a collection of psychological patterns. These patterns don’t usually have anything to do with the person being cheated on.


Dr. Robin Haight, a clinical psychologist, believes that people who cheat are looking for their partner to make them happy. However, that doesn’t happen, so they end up cheating. It’s not that they want to cheat, it’s that they’re looking for something. “It can get complicated,” says Dr. Haight.

Despite the complicated psychological background of cheaters, there are some surface reasons men and women cheat that are easier to understand. The next section covers 15 of these reasons.

Reasons Men and Women Cheat

1. Lack of communication in the relationship.

It can be incredibly frustrating when there is a lack of communication in a relationship. Without open and honest communication, one or both people in the relationship can feel ignored and unimportant. After dealing with this for an extended period, it can lead to cheating.

Cheating due to a lack of communication is a way that the cheater is expressing themselves. Since they feel they can’t do this with their partner, they find alternative ways to do it. Some people choose drugs or alcohol. Others choose to cheat. Either way, it’s devastating to a relationship.

2. They’re punishing their partner.

As odd as it seems, some people use cheating as a form of punishment to their partner. It could be payback because their partner cheated, or it could be some other reason. What is clear is that the cheater is angry with their partner and this is the way they are showing it.

Sometimes, punishing their partner in secret can be more satisfying than doing it in person. With cheating, the idea of secret infidelity makes the cheater feel better. It’s the feeling of power and control that the cheater likes, not necessarily the infidelity itself.

3. They feel like their partner doesn’t appreciate them.

No one forces anyone to cheat. That’s all a personal decision. However, decisions can be influenced by how a person feels like they’re being treated.


Notice that the sentence says, “feels like”. A person may not be mistreated, but they simply feel like they are for whatever reason. It could be a lack of communication, a lack of passion, or even mental instability.

The point is they feel underappreciated and they probably feel invisible in the relationship. This can lead to infidelity because they simply want to feel wanted or needed.

4. They want to break up, but they don’t know how.

One of the big reasons men and women cheat is that they don’t want to be in their current relationship, but they have no idea how to tell their significant other. They don’t want to hurt their partner and they don’t want to be the bad guy. It’s possible that they don’t want to appear as a failure to others.

Not being upfront about feelings can easily turn a person into a cheater. In this case, they may not even try to hide the cheating very well. They want to get caught so they’ll have a way out of the relationship. Sometimes this is easier than words.

5. The passion disappears from the relationship.

One of the biggest reasons men and women cheat is that passion disappears from the relationship. It’s not that they don’t care about their partner. They may love their partner with everything they have. However, the relationship has just grown stagnant or boring and they can’t figure out how to fix it.

It’s extremely hard to maintain a long term relationship with no passion. Sometimes love simply isn’t enough. Having a good connection and a strong sexual desire is a must. Without it, the relationship will degrade because the romantic needs aren’t being met.

6. The person has commitment issues.

Commitment issues can lead to cheating in a number of different ways. The first is the most obvious, they’re afraid or unwilling to commit. Cheating is basically they’re way of not committing. There is a whole psychological reason behind this and that’s information for another article.

Another way to look at this is that people have different definitions of commitment. Communication problems are usually to blame for the misunderstanding. One person may think a certain stage of the relationship means monogamy while the other doesn’t think the relationship is at that point. Good communication is the best way to avoid this problem.


7. They feel lonely.

Loneliness can make people act out of character. This can be a result of a lack of communication or from the person not getting enough attention from their partner. Humans aren’t meant to be lonely, which is why they seek out meaningful relationships. Friendships help, but interactive romantic relationships are a necessity.

At first, the cheater may feel revitalized. However, after those initial feelings of revitalization disappear, they’re often left feeling confused and lonelier than ever. After all, they didn’t gain the attention from their partner that they really want. This may lead to more cheating in an effort to fill the void.

8. Someone’s needs aren’t being met.

Some people simply aren’t a good fit for each other due to different needs. Sure, they may love each other but one person may be incapable of meeting the other person’s needs. Sometimes, both people can’t meet the other’s needs.

This can manifest itself in many ways. Two people may have different sex drives, different emotional needs, different definitions of the relationship, different religious beliefs, or different desires for the amount of quality time they spend with their significant other. When a person’s needs aren’t being met, it can drive them to cheat.

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9. Some people have an unusually high sex drive.

In cases like this, people cheat because they just want to have sex – a lot of it. It doesn’t mean there are problems in the relationship, that their needs aren’t being met, that they’re insecure, or anything else on this list. They just simply can’t control their sexual desires.

This compulsive sexual desire is known as hypersexuality. This behavior is a mental disorder in which the person will need to seek professional help. Often the person will feel ashamed of their behavior so they may hide it as long as possible. Hopefully, they can get the help they need before their relationship is ruined.

10. They have low emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to control and express your emotions properly as well as the ability to properly handle interpersonal relationships. Some people simply don’t have this ability, or they may not be good at it. In other words, they don’t really know themselves well enough to carry on a relationship.

A low emotional intelligence could also result in a person not knowing how to communicate what they really want. This means that their partner won’t know either, so the person ends up cheating due to being bad at communicating.

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