The Cheating Factor: Is It Just Physical Cheating That Matters?

It happens to men and women. They meet someone, there is chemistry, one thing leads to another and they get involved with them.

Cheating has been an issue ever since we developed the common relationship concept of our times. Throughout history, people have cheated on each other for various reasons.

The root issue for cheating is simple – humankind is just not cut out for monogamy naturally. The secondary reasons are a bit more complex, but one thing we do know is that when it happens, it’s usually a spontaneous act, sparked by an impulse.

Does that automatically mean that the person who has cheated doesn’t love their partner anymore? Maybe, maybe not. What we do know is that we will always find ourselves being attracted to other people for various reasons. In some cases, it might not even be the physical attraction at first, but a familiarity in the personality, a kindred spirit connection.

But what makes some act on that impulse and cheat? Cheaters are often simply bored in their relationship, they don’t feel validated or they’re sexually frustrated. In some occasions the reasons are more superficial – some just need a plain ego boost.

Then there’s also that myth about cheaters: “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” But is that really true? I believe it is just that – a myth. Anyone who’s found their true match, in all the aspects that matter to them, paired with a great sexual chemistry will be much less inclined to act on an attraction impulse. While any relationship will have ups and downs which should be addressed, I firmly believe that it’s a bigger void in some form that leads to giving in to this impulse. In other words, maybe that couple isn’t such a great match in the first place and therefore they have to work really hard on withstanding temptations.

Often, especially when women are cheated on by their spouse, they blame the mistress more than they blame their own partner who is – in fact – the cheater. “She must be an irresistible force, therefore he couldn’t say no”….

Men who are cheated on often want to punch the guy she was cheating with in the face but they rarely blame that man for being an irresistible “seducer.”

But who is really to blame when someone cheats? Is it really the person they’ve cheated with?

Often, the person who he/she cheated with had no bad intentions. They met someone, there was chemistry and then at some point they find out that this person is married or in a committed relationship.

When the chemistry is very strong, they might still get involved with them, albeit knowing that they have a relationship. If they’re really into that person, they might have the hope that they will leave their spouse for them because they feel that it’s something unique. At other times, it’s really just about great sex. In some cases, they had no idea that this person is in a relationship. But even if they knew from the very beginning, I still think it’s not their responsibility.

I believe it’s always an issue between the two partners in the relationship. Yes, the exposure to a situation creates the dilemma in the first place, but the commitment was between the couple who has the relationship. The outsider is not part of that commitment. I think if we can agree on that, it becomes easier to deal with the reality of cheating.

Blaming the outsider implies that it’s not a problem within the relationship. It’s also very counterproductive because it leaves you powerless. If an outsider caused it, then the only thing you could do to prevent it, would be to shield your partner from any kind of temptation. Let’s be honest here, that’s an impossible task, unless you live on a deserted island.

The media also reflects that distorted view of reality, latest in case, the split between Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. While the nanny seems to have other issues [trying to transform herself into her idol, Gwen Stefani], it’s still a fact that Rossdale was the one having the affair. Does that mean he’s the only guilty party in the relationship? No one can say that for sure, as no one knows what was going on between him and Gwen behind closed doors, yet the media focuses on the nanny as the “perpetrator.” Of course, it’s never a favorable trait if someone knowingly interjects themselves into a relationship, but still, the relationship commitment was between Rossdale and Stefani.

Ultimately, it’s up to the couple to figure out if there’s way to forgive and examine the reasons for the infidelity in a truthful way in order to give the relationship another go. However, in some cases, the reasons are either something one can’t fix (falling out of love, lack of sexual chemistry or simply growing apart) or the betrayed can’t get over the betrayal, in which case a relationship is doomed to fail.

But there is also a different kind of cheating, one that hasn’t really been addressed as much; the emotional cheating. I’m not referring primarily to people who fall in love with their affair, but to those who develop a really strong emotional bond with someone other than their partner. What if your partner had met someone they share their deepest secrets with, their innermost private feelings? Thoughts they won’t share with you? How would that make you feel? How would that affect the relationship? Wouldn’t that be worse than someone who physically cheated without any emotional attachment?

I think this is potentially a much bigger threat to a relationship, because a physical cheater is often not emotionally attached to the person they cheat with. In fact, most of the time physical cheaters pick someone they wouldn’t leave their partner for because it’s not supposed to be a replacement for the existing relationship.

It goes without saying that the worst-case scenario would be the one where both go hand in hand – a physical cheating with someone they have this emotional connection with.

Cheating has always the potential to become an issue in a relationship, simply because of human nature and only if we come to terms with that, we can have a truthful dialogue about the reasons.

Therapy and Victimhood

With Arnold Schwarzenegger recently in the news for commenting on how therapy has ruined his chance to patch things up with his estranged wife Maria Shriver, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about therapy.

As with most things, there is an upside and a downside with therapy.

While therapy will definitely help to understand the underlying issues of a more complex matter, often it’s also the cause to dwell on the feeling of being victimized. There are therapists who give action-oriented advice but some keep digging in the patients past in great detail to find more reasons as to why a person is the way she is. Therapy can definitely help to enlighten someone in terms of behavioral patterns but if it turns into an endless reasoning as to why we became the way we are and why it is so hard to change, then it’s quite counterproductive.

Often, when therapists do the latter, it turns people into neurotic self-conscious individuals, and it makes them feel even more as a victim of circumstances.

When something bad of a more serious matter has happened to a person, she might definitely benefit from getting out all her emotions and fears of a particular situation (i.e. rape, violent abuse), but at some point, one has to move on. How does it serve the victim to never trust anyone again, to deny herself the beauty of physical pleasure? Not only does that make the abuser win all over again, ultimately it’s a form of self-punishment for the victim.

This is just one example, where the wrong kind of therapy can keep a person in that mind-frame forever; that she is broken and incapable to move on.

There are many minor issues that lead people into that same kind of thinking. “…because when I was a child, my brother always stole my toys, therefore I have trust issues today.” That’s just one example to show how certain therapy methods create a form of codependency. In these kinds of cases the patient will come back for any little issue and stay in therapy for all the wrong reasons.

Some people end up believing they’re so screwed up that they can never let go and move on with their lives. Then therapy become merely a crutch to hold on to, to dwell in pain, to never take responsibility for one’s actions. In these cases people just find more and more reasons to blame the past for everything that goes wrong in the present. It makes them feel powerless and passive.

Most people didn’t grow up in a perfect environment but that shouldn’t mean that they can’t create a new, much more positive life for themselves. If one just focuses on all the baggage they carry, they will never be happy, because their awareness is constantly focused on their pains and the past.

It is very important to learn from the past, but if all current and future events are always seen through the eyes of the past it becomes a vicious circle

There is definitely a place for therapy but in my point of view, it’s only valuable if it leads to proactive positive changes.

The Uncensored Truth: Let’s Talk About Sex  by L.G. Erikson – now available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.