When it comes to describing why some people cheat, it is certainly not a black and white answer. So based on my current level of awareness and intelligence; I will do my best to give some answers to this question.
I believe that in order to understand or at least try to understand why some people cheat; we need to look at three experiences. What I mean here is that there is the experience of the person who cheats, there is the experience of the person who has been cheated on and there is also the literal experience that is seen by others.
The literal experience
So let’s start off with the literal experience. Here judgments are made and one person is typically seen as a victim and the other is seen as the perpetrator. One person is classed as good and the other as bad.
There is usually questions asked, as to why the person has cheated, but these are rarely deep questions. It is also unlikely that any questions would be asked; as to why the other person has been cheated on.
The Person Who Cheats
This person has one of two options as to how they go about dealing with the conflict and pain that has been created by their actions.
They can feel a sense of regret and remorse within. Beating themselves up mentally and emotionally for the choice they have made. This will also cause incredible guilt and even shame.
It is also possible for the person to feel justified in their actions. Perhaps the person’s needs were not being met in the relationship or feel that it is not possible for the relationship to meet there needs. It could be that their partner cheated before and now they feel as though they are getting their own back.
Justification is usually a defence mechanism the ego mind uses to protect itself. It does not take much thought to see that one can justify pretty much anything.
The above options could also go in cycles and alternate; based on different internal and external factors. One could feel guilty for their actions one moment and justified for their actions in the next.
The Person Who Has Been Cheated On
Here the person is likely to feel betrayed and betrayal at the deepest level of their being. The term heartbroken comes to mind here, with a feeling that the heart has been ripped out and now all that resides there is emptiness.
One can feel as though their life is over and that they have nothing to live for any more. This can also create feelings of being powerless and of having no control.
The Two Experiences
As we look at the two main experiences it becomes clear to see that they are each having a subjective experience.
So now let’s look at this from a deeper level and see what might cause a person to cheat and also what might be going on for the other person who is being cheated on.
The Person Who Cheats
So what is going on in the mind of the person who cheats? There is of course general views on why women would cheat and why men cheat. These include mans need to procreate with as many women as possible for ‘evolutionary reasons’. And women are often viewed as being ‘emotional creatures’ that have no control.
The evolutionary answer is obviously legitimate and carries some truth. However, by using this as an answer; it says that men have no control of their actions and are therefore not responsible either. They are at the whim off there body because of evolution. And for someone who is a conscious human being and not an animal; this answer will not suffice.
What this answer does not take into account is that both men and women are usually motivated at an emotional level. And what causes this motivation is the desire to have ones needs fulfilled. And these needs that are calling out to be met are to do with the here and now or the past that has not been processed.
These needs could be classed as ‘higher’ and more evolved needs or ‘lower’ and less evolved needs. Depending on how conscious and evolved one is, will define what their primary needs are and whether their ‘lower’ needs have been met. They are classed as lower, not because they are less important than the higher needs but because they exist lower in the body and are to do with ones survival.
These lower needs typically create conflict when ones inner child carries trauma. And this causes these needs to be unmet. The needs that I am talking about consist of being: accepted, validated, nurtured, loved and approved. Although these needs are years old, they still need to be acknowledged and validated. If they are not looked, they will control one’s life. Ones behaviour is then likely to be reactive and unconscious as a result.
The reason for this is that unless the original trauma has been validated, observed and processed or at least observed; the inner child will take over and continue to create the same inner and outer conflict. One will lose their self of self. And from this place of merging with the inner child, these needs can never be met, they are insatiable. One will continue to play out the same patterns and stories of the past.
Playing Out The Past
By cheating on another person there might also be a sense of revenge, and revenge that is really meant for an original caregiver. Here the unprocessed past is now being projected onto the present person in one’s life
So whether someone will cheat will partly depend on how conscious they are and on their relationship to their inner child. Because if one is operating purely from the body, ones awareness will be extremely limited and one will be completely unaware of what consequences might occur from their actions. All that is on their mind is the fulfilment of their current needs or impulses. The ability of the heart to empathise is basically out of use or has been bypassed.
I believe that describing women as emotional creatures or as being from another planet just creates more confusion. When in reality, women just like men, have masculine and feminine traits within. If they are over emotional and act in irresponsible ways; it shows that they also have inner child work to do.
The Person Who Has Been Cheated On
It is natural for the person to feel like a victim and that all of the feelings that they are experiencing are being caused by the person who cheated on them. And all that happens during this time needs to be honoured, validated and grieved.
However, does another person really have the power to cause another person to feel rejected, abandoned, powerless and empty for example? Does ones wellbeing really rest upon another?
What I believe is actually occurring here is the past that has not been processed, is appearing once more. And that the reason these emotions and feelings are so intense is because old unprocessed wounds, relating to original caregivers, are being opened.
This will not be realised unless one has some kind of inner awareness. And all of the unprocessed feelings of rejection, abandonment, loss, betrayal, powerlessness, hopelessness and the emotions of anger, frustration and resentment that still exist from the original trauma in ones childhood; will now be projected onto the present partner.
It could also be said that if one has experienced intense abandonment and rejection as a child, it will make them vulnerable to experiencing them as an adult. There might even be an expectation that the partner will leave them, just like their caregivers/s did.
Feelings of low self worth are created through these early experiences of neglect and this can lead to self sabotage. Here one can unconsciously act in ways that will push the other person away and to go with another person. The reason for this that the ego mind came to associate the early experiences as being safe and now as a result of this; continues to create the same patterns in the present.
This shows how important it is for one to become conscious of their past and to process it. Because all that has not been looked at will influence ones present life. It will define what kind of people one will attract and on the quality of the relationships that one has.
A relationship can lead to the loss of one’s individual identity; however it does not remove the fact that one is having their own unique experience. And this experience is allowing one to become aware of all that needs to be processed for one to become a whole human being. The past that is unfinished and unprocessed is being brought up to the surface through the relationships that one has with others.
However, this involves looking at relationships symbolically, as opposed to literally. Observing what happens instead of getting emotionally trapped by what happens and the ‘drama’ of the experience.
Occurrences like enmeshment and dependency cause one to lose their sense of self. This is partly down to having boundaries that are nonexistent and this allows dysfunctional relationships to occur. This can lead to the illusion of being incomplete and empty and that one needs another to feel whole.
This is a common idea and belief in our society, but it is one that is both false and dysfunctional. And one that has the potential to create years of needless confusion and suffering. This shows that a new paradigm is required in our society, when it comes to the purpose of a relationship.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.