When you've been cheated on there are so many 'why' questions you want answers to as you try to make sense of what's happened. One of the biggest is why do people cheat on people they love?
Having a partner who says they still love you complicates the confusion around this question all the more. And leads to the question of how can somebody love someone and cheat on them at the same time?
It's true that caring for and loving someone is the opposite of cheating on and hurting (wounding, destroying) them. But that doesn't mean someone can't deceive themselves, deny the truth about their cheating and tell themselves they still love their partner despite choosing actions that are the complete opposite. The ways we all can twist reality around in our heads to make our behavior seem acceptable is one of the reasons why people can cheat on people they love.
I have been with my now husband for 12 years. We only just got married after being together for 10 years. We met when I was 16 and have been together since. Over the course of our relationship he has battled denial about his addictions. With addiction there has been lies and job losses and home losses. I have stuck by him throughout it all. The summer of our 10 year anniversary, we were struggling financially on the brink of eviction. He left the state we were living in while I stayed behind with our children. He was to stay at his mom's place to work and find us a place. As soon as he left I felt "it", something was definitely off. I think I knew then but didn't want to accept it, was in denial. I took the excuses of why he couldn't talk on the phone or why he couldn't come visit. That was until I was told by a family member and couldn't deny it any longer. Once it came to light fully, so to speak. He said that it was over, that it was something that he couldn't take back. That he wasn't coming back to me. And then he did. He ended the affair and he came and got the kids and I and we moved and he finally married me. But he says that he doesn't have a reason why he did it, he said that it had nothing to do with me. But that doesn't make any sense to me. How could you cheat on someone you say you love?.... Could he do it again?" -Megan
Why People Cheat & Hurt the People They Love
Deep down we're all inherently selfish. We have to be to survive. If we weren't, and were too self-sacrificing, we'd give all of our food to others, starve and die. Some level of selfishness is necessary and healthy -- too much though causes problems.
When people cheat they're in a very selfish, extreme, it's 'all about me' mode. The people cheater's love become secondary, or more accurately get ignored and forgotten. When someone is in that space they just want the 'fix' -- the feel good high that comes with infatuation, lust and the thrill that comes new love. Most of us know the incredible high that comes from these feelings. The powerful chemicals released in the brain have a similar effect as on junkie craving drugs, so nothing else matters but getting that high again. The same is true when cheating.
While many times cheating can appear to be just about sex, it is almost always about so much more. Why do people cheat on people they love? Because they want to be accepted, respected, loved, wanted, or praised (the things they likely feel they aren't getting in their current relationship). The reasons vary from person-to-person, but they're all about a need the person is trying to get met. Cheating can be justified in their minds because they aren't getting what they believe they deserve from their present partner.
Can People Cheat On You & Love You Too?
As contradictory as it may sound, your partner can cheat on you and still love you. It's just that their needs come first and take priority over loving you.
Two days ago, my husband confided in me what I had been suspecting for years. He had a year long sexual affair with a co worker 15 years ago. When I look back on that time, our son was four. He brought his lover into our home and dropped her daughter off for me to babysit so they could go into work together, then brought her back to pick her daughter back up four hours later. Two days ago I learned that on that day, he actually had me watch her daughter so they could go have sex in an abandoned building where they worked. I felt sick. I am so hurt. I had trust issues before this and feel like I cannot trust anyone now. He held this information for 15 years, he keeps saying it was so long ago and he is different now, but I can't bring myself to forgive. It feels fresh to me. He slept with her over 50 times in a span of over a year and had me watch her kid while he did it. Brought her to my home to pick up her kid after being intimate with her - that is the part that hurts me the most I think, he used me to have the affair in addition to betraying me. When she wanted a commitment with him he moved us to another state (I thought it was to be with his parents). He does not have contact with her and hasn't since we moved. He wants me to go to a counselor and says he is sorry. I asked him to leave and he is staying with his parents. My son, now nineteen years old, knows and is handling things well, but my eleven year old is starting to ask questions. I have agreed to see a counselor but have told him I don't see me staying married to him. To cheat under your wife's nose is just inhumane, she was incredibly unattractive so he had no standards - which just shatters my ego. I am numb and feel so angry. Once a cheater always a cheater, right?" -Teresa
Teresa's right, "to cheat under your wife's nose is just inhumane." Her husband was able to do it, and likely still believe he loved her at the same time, because cheating on someone you love requires a combination of twisted logic, distorted state of reality, and delusional thinking.
A typical pattern will be that the cheater will alternate between periods of being loving, such as a husband putting the kids to bed so his wife can get a break, and periods of unloving behavior, like the same married man not coming home on time because he's with the other woman. Teresa's also right that "he used me to have the affair."
Obviously there's some deep psychology required to answer the question why do people cheat on people they love. Because of this it's smart to do as Teresa did and get the help of a counselor as you try to sort it all out. Having an objective, trusted, experienced psychological professional guide you through the maze of craziness behavior and twisted thinking is often times a necessity in order to get your sanity back.
When it's been done to you, understanding why people cheat on people they love is one of the hardest things to comprehend. Because it's so personal and the pain hurts so deep, it's very hard to be objective and see how it's really motivated by selfishness and not about hurting you.
Have you had someone you love cheat on you? Please share your story with others by leaving a comment below.
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