I’m not here to judge anybody. We all know that cheating isn’t the best decision in the world. My previous post inspired me to focus on an issue that I see repeatedly in my clients: Cheating and why you’re not only fooling your partner, but also yourself.
In my last post, I talked about passion within an official relationship; specifically that it diminishes over time, that this decrease in passion is totally natural, and the many factors that can cause this to happen. I also mentioned that it’s precisely when passion starts to decline that the risk of cheating goes up. However, the cheating parties in a relationship aren’t always truly aware of what is going on, and don’t realize that their desire for passion is blinding them.
Let’s go one step at a time:
The majority of people who cheat don’t really love the person they’re having an affair with. I wrote about the mystery a new person can bring in my last post, and also about how the rush that comes with forbidden “love” releases neurotransmitters (dopamine). And also, I wrote about how we idealize people we either don’t (or can’t) have, or don’t know completely. Indeed, all these things fit. What I often see, is that people aren’t passionate for the actual person they’re having an affair with, rather they are passionate about the idealized version of that person that lives in their head. Every new person awakens strong feelings within us that make us feel like they’re the love of our life. In time, some people jump from one affair to another once they realize it wasn’t what they were searching for, only to find themselves in another affair that releases new strong sensations, at least until those get old… and the cycle continues on and on.
Beyond idealization, there is also a strong chance that the other person is feeding your “ego”: if they also idealize you, all the extra attention makes you feel special. The majority of people who are in an extramarital relationship feel special (after all, why have an affair with someone who makes you feel worse about yourself?), and they feel like they’re receiving more attention.
What I’m trying to say with all of this is that the majority of people who are in an extramarital relationship aren’t in love with another person, but with how the other person makes them feel. Many times it’s a question of validation and self-esteem. Therefore, before you give in to temptation, or if you already are in an extramarital relationship, consider individual or couples therapy to try and repair your marriage.
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