Home » Blogs » Surviving Infidelity » 11 Reasons Why People Cheat On Their Partner [and They Can’t Justify Their Bad Behavior]
Surviving Infidelity
with Abe Kass, M.A. R.S.W., R.M.F.T.

11 Reasons Why People Cheat On Their Partner [and They Can’t Justify Their Bad Behavior]

Discovering that your spouse has been cheating is devastating.

After the affair is over, if relationship recovery is a mutual decision, then the betrayed partner always asks, “Why did you cheat?”

Let’s look at 11 reasons a partner cheats:

1. Naive Flirtation

A common reason behind an affair is being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not taking proper precautions to avoid the slippery slope that can lead to toxic love. It sounds like a cheap excuse, and it is… and it frequently is the truth. When a person’s guard is down when compromising situations present themselves, it is easy to give-in to temptation instead of standing firm with one’s marital or committed-relationship values. An ‘accidental affair’ is often a one-time liaison. However, it can also lead to long-term philandering.

2. A Solution to a Personal Crisis

Some people do all sorts of things they would not usually do when faced with a crisis. Adultery can fall into this category of uncharacteristic behavior, and as such it is an act of desperation to avoid the reality of one’s life. For example, an affair can be entered into as a response to stress. Infidelity is a very enticing distraction and a person can be deceived into thinking that it has a positive place in his or her life.

 3. To Prove One’s Sexual Prowess

When individuals feel as though his or her sexual ability is subpar, they may panic. An affair can act as a means to ‘prove to oneself’ that the cheater still has what it takes to attract, seduce, and perform; especially with someone younger and more attractive.

4. For Friendship

Some individuals become polarized from their legitimate partner, and they are lonely. In this version of adultery, the sex and romance may be important, but friendship is preeminent. Just to have someone to talk with, share one’s feelings, and comfort each other is a valuable commodity and for them this means everything.

5. Relationship Testing

Sometimes the motivation behind an affair is to see if what is perceived as ‘missing’ in the legitimate relationship can be found in another one. It’s like sampling wine or beer to see if the old standard can be improved upon.

6. Increase One’s Social Status

An affair can be used to ‘trade-up’ if one feels his or her partner is not moving forward. For example, the partners met working as cashiers in a department store. The wife went back to school and became a lawyer. She is now embarrassed to be married to a clerk in a department store and seeks a more prominent partner.

7. Relationship Improvement

Some individuals are deluded into thinking that having an affair can improve their marriage or committed relationship. This self-serving idea is promoted by some unethical websites such as Ashley Madison. Ashley Madison and similar sites assert that having an affair is a form of marriage therapy. In the real-world, marriages and lives are ruined by adultery.

8. Revenge or Punishment

Sometimes an affair is entered into as a way to hurt one’s partner or to exact revenge. For example, a person may cheat in response to his or her partner having cheated at an earlier time. Even if the partner never learns about the affair, the cheating partner feels satisfied knowing that he or she is keeping this secret from their spouse. Cheating for revenge or punishment is an act of passive-aggressive anger.

9. Sexual Glutton

Some people are never satisfied with what they have. They may have more than others, but it is never enough. They feel entitled to get more. For example, feeling the need to ‘indulge oneself’ by having an affair, or using an affair as a reward for hard work.

10. Sexual Experiment

Especially in the digital age where so many people view pornography, a person’s sexual appetite may increase, and he or she may want to try new sexual activities. However, their partner may not feel the same way and be resistant. So the cheater looks for outside sexual partners to engage in a greater range of sexual behavior. The urge to engage in experimental sex may be increased if the philanderer got married at a young age and did not have other sexual partners before marriage.

11. Paying For Sex

Individuals delude themselves into thinking that prostitution is a legitimate and a progressive solution to sex deprivation or disappointment. Most people who engage in ‘paying for sex’ conceal this from their husband, wife, or partner. This “secrecy” is a sign that the cheater knows that if his or her partner finds out about the dalliance with a prostitute, he or she will be devastated.

Cheating – Regardless of the Reasons – Cannot be Justified

Regardless of the reason or explanation, cheating on one’s partner can never be legitimized. Cheating simply injures too many people. Society has all kinds of rules to prevent people from acting upon their impulses when doing so puts others at risk of injury, such as drinking and driving, firing weapons, and threatening to hurt others. Infidelity injures many. Infidelity is not a victimless crime.

When individuals are not satisfied with their legitimate relationship — their marriage or committed relationship — they can get divorced and seek a new partner. Leaving their life partner of many years may not turn out the way they think it will, especially if there are children. Likely the divorcing individual will, in the end, regret his or her decision to end the marriage — research has proven this to be so. Nonetheless, divorcing before getting involved with another person is legitimate — infidelity is not.

Need help surviving infidelity? Get our book, Surviving Infidelity: Making Amends, Restoring Trust, Finding Forgiveness, and Living Together Happily for the Rest of Your Lives

11 Reasons Why People Cheat On Their Partner [and They Can’t Justify Their Bad Behavior]

Abe Kass

Abe Kass, M.A., R.S.W., R.M.F.T. is a registered marriage and family therapist, a registered social worker, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, and the author of more than a dozen books designed to help couples and individuals live a more loving, more satisfying life.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Kass, A. (2018). 11 Reasons Why People Cheat On Their Partner [and They Can’t Justify Their Bad Behavior]. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 May 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.