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What is Infidelity?

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Infidelity is when one member of a relationship breaks an implied or verbally contracted promise. The breaking of this promise is generally considered serious enough to cause a fracture in or termination of the relationship. This is not to say that cheating, or other significant breaches of trust, always  end a relationship but it normally requires a period of healing and forgiveness before the couple are able to move on. One of  the foundations of a healthy relationship is trust, so it must be rebuilt to ensure a healthy relationship is possible. 

Why Do People Cheat?

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Cheating is most often unplanned and not premeditated. Iit can appear to be or even feel in the short term, fun, liberating, sexy and even empowering. However this is not always the case. Cheating can also be cold and calculated,fueled by revenge, retaliation for something that may or may not have occurred.

What is certain is there will be emotional consequences for all concerned. Commonly perpetrators feel post guilt and remorse but rarely enough to change their behaviour. This is generally accompanied by self rationalisation to escape the cognitive dissonance they would otherwise feel.Most people know it’s wrong to break a promise, especially with someone you love or are in a relationship with. Humans however are not perfect and a combination of alcohol, drugs or other external stimulants may cause impaired judgment leading to an increased risk of cheating. The decision over whether this should excuse or validate the behaviour is solely in the couples hands, but many would argue that such promises create unrealistic expectations pledged at a time when only the freshness of the relationship is considered and not the possible emotional maturation of the individuals, resulting in a very different type of coupling. Promises may not change but people almost definitely do.

What Counts as Cheating?

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What accounts as cheating is a very grey area almost completely dependent on the couple’s value system. In modern monogamous relationships, couples usually opt for defining what is acceptable rather than the simple definition of cheating. This generally involves more relaxed examples like kissing and/or having sex with someone else as long as their “heart” remained committed to more stringent rules where even a text message would be considered emotional cheating.

Similar dichotomies occur with fantasies and pornography. Pornography, by design depicts unrealistic sexual expressions, and if used as a sexual benchmark can easily lead to feelings of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. Similarly, fantasising when used as a verbal comparison can understandably leave a partner feeling unfairly judged or even unattractive. The partners in any relationship need to be the judge but there is documented correlation between higher porn use and infidelity but fantasising about your partner can contribute to the robustness. Ideally a healthy relationship should involve an open dialogue about all aspects, including those considered risqué 

Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

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It is usually not fair to paint someone’s future with the sins of their past but there is evidence that suggests if someone has cheated in a previous relationship they are more likely to wander in the future. When someone cheats however, they generally have to bear the entire blame. This is done without any consideration of other factors. Often cheating is a sign of something missing or broken and a momentary dalliance provides the necessary release.

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