When dealing with infidelity, understanding why the affair happened  can help you determine what the chances are that the relationship will survive.

Why Did the Affair Happen

At some point all of us who are dealing with infidelity have asked the question, “Why did the affair happen?”  Obviously every situation is different and there is no simple answer.

Some people are unfaithful for very deep-seated emotional reasons, while others are unfaithful because of their beliefs about the opposite sex.  Still others are unfaithful because infidelity is rooted in the marriage itself.

Whether you are the victim or the cheating spouse, it is important in the healing process to try to understand why the infidelity has happened.  Once you have an idea of why it happened, you can then consider what you need to do about it.

We all know that not all marital affairs are the same, and therefore happen for different reasons.  In fact, men and women often are seeking different things when they get involved in an extramarital affair.  Research by Shirley Glass and Thomas Wright indicates that there are important differences that determine why men and women cheat.  They found that women are more likely to link sex with love, while men’s affairs tend to be primarily sexual.

Of course, this is not true of all men or all women.  Some men look at an affair as a return to excitement and romance, while some women feel that unattached sex adds spice to their lives.

See also  Surviving Infidelity: The Marriage Journal

Don-David Lusterman, Ph.D., author of “Infidelity-A Survival Guide” states that:


“In many instances, the beliefs that people hold about why people stray make it difficult for a couple to communicate when an infidelity is discovered.”

For instance, a woman may find it hard to believe that her husband was simply sexually curious and that his affair had nothing to do with love, because in her mind she cannot imagine that sex can occur without love.  On the other hand, a man may find it hard to believe that his wife had an emotional affair without any type of sexual contact.  He believes a man only gets close to a woman for one reason—sex.

Understanding Why You Had Your Affair – The Simple 5-Step Process

Dealing With Infidelity – Why Did the Affair Happen?

In an attempt to understand why affairs occur, we reveal some of the top reasons Dr. Lusterman has found for why people have affairs.  When dealing with infidelity, it may be helpful to note which reason(s) fits best with your situation and examine it (them) with your partner. (Link to Dr. Lusterma’s Facebook page)

  • Not understanding what relational love is
  • Inability to communicate feelings or needs
  • Not having the verbal skills to solve problems together
  • Not being able to accommodate to one another’s needs or interests
  • Not really knowing the person you married (for example—unaware of some sexual problem)
  • Not being able to cope with cultural or ethnic differences
  • Unrealistic expectations about the nature of marriage
  • Disappointment that your mate has not grown in the same ways you have
  • Sexual curiosity
  • Emotional need (feeling lonely in a relationship and looking elsewhere)
  • Sexual addiction
  • Boredom
  • Losing the sense of fun and excitement you once had as a couple
  • Getting so caught up in life’s daily obligations that you lose sight of one another.
See also  Struggles After the Emotional Affair

When dealing with infidelity, you will see that knowing and understanding why the affair occurred  can help you determine what the chances are that the relationship will survive, how the cheated on spouse should handle it, how the cheating spouse can resolve his feelings about staying in the marriage, and what kind  treatment (if any) might be the most helpful.

    7 replies to "Dealing With Infidelity: Why Did it Happen?"

    • michael

      We had a good mother’s day. And I feel a renewed energy today. Even though Monday is the hardest day of the week, today feels a little different. My mind is still focused on us but in a much more positive way today.
      I wrote this down on May 7th and never posted it. I didn’t quite finish it but its there for the most part. I was being selfish. ——

      Ok, this is a tough one for either side. And obviously by the lack of comments so far today on this post, one that everyone is pondering. Whether to say what the cheater really feels. Or to see it from the cheaters point of view.
      With the lack of communications on my wifes part it makes it very difficult to know exactly why. But with everything that I do know I have a pretty good idea of what happened. In a general sort of way.
      My wife was involved with the OM in high school. (He reminds me of my best friend, selfish). Both sets of their parents were drunks and didn’t give them the love and support they needed. And both my wife and the OM were needy in the love department. And neither of them learned what it meant to really love someone.
      When my wife was eighteen, things that happened forced them to separate. And they never got a chance to close the relationship on their own. She has carried this with her for so many years.
      She was married after that for a few years and her ex-husband returned to jail for drugs and other crimes. She said she also found him in bed with another woman at some point. That’s when I found her.
      Then comes the wonderful things like classmates, and facebook. Somewhere after he was in his third marriage and how ever many kids, he must have got bored again and found my wife on classmates. I don’t think she ever paid for it so she probably never read the emails but she knew he was looking for her.
      Then came last year. Family and friends were on facebook so she got an account and started playing the games on there. About this time we were both spending less time on each other. She had facebook and I in return decided to join my son playing video games.
      We have never been as sexually lost to each other as last year. I spent a lot of nights in my sons bed as he slept with mom because of night terrors. We went about our lives and didn’t talk about how we felt. It all got worse when we bought our house mid year last year. We barely talked at all besides what we needed to.
      Late last year he sent her a message on facebook. And she talked with him for hours. That’s how it started. Texting all the time. Talking all the time. As “best friends”. She has always been one to keep to herself so it was easy to hide the calls, the emails, the text. No one else is worthy of her feelings. Except him. And he worked his magic on her. Well at least her feelings took over common sense.
      Early december she broke down and confessed what she was doing. I think she was ready to leave me and was hoping I would kick her out or end it so it wasn’t on her. She kept telling me she would leave so she would stop hurting me. She wanted to run away from life. And be in that bubble of happy thoughts again. Happiness I have a hard time giving her right now.
      In early January I told her I would let her go if she wanted to go. And that I would help her in what ever decision she made. Well she is still here and I still feel lonely. Lonely for the girl I used to talk to about everything.

      • admin

        Michael, You may have mentioned this somewhere before in your comments, but do you feel that your wife has a hard time trusting people with all that she has gone through?

    • michael

      She has a hard time trusting anyone. She is very guarded with her feelings. And she hides everything. Before what happened it didn’t bother me as much as it does now. Now that I know how far those thoughts can take her, I worry about them. Now I know how unhappy she feels inside.

      • admin

        Michael, Perhaps there is a way that you can use her mistrust, combined with what you’re going through, to really open up to each other. After all, you each have been victims of affairs. I would think there could be some lines of communication that could be opened up as a result of this common thread to where you could share experiences to the point where you can share, determine what went wrong, and then define the relationship that you each want. Just a thought.

    • stephen

      This post really hits home. It is about 1yr after I discovered the EA and she still has not been able to explain (even to herself I think) “why” other than to say it was a mistake and an accident. I think that is one of the reasons I am having a hard time healing. We went to marriage counseling together once and then separately once each. The counselor said he wanted to spend more time with her to get to the root cause. She felt like she was not making any progress and quit going.

      • admin

        Stephen, Thanks for the comment and welcome! Have you have any luck at all in determining what her reasons were for the affair? Perhaps you should look for another therapist.

    • MikeD

      This is honestly what I struggle with the most. My wife moved away from me while we were engaged to another state to be with her family. She never explained really why outside of she wanted to be close to them. In the eight months she was away, she cheated on me multiple times with different guys. I honestly still struggle with this because she lied to me about it for years afterwards.

      We have finally talked about it and she opened up about what happened, but she can never tell me the why. She honestly doesn’t know it herself. Even with therapy, she still can’t get to it. It has caused so much havoc in our married life that I don’t know what to do with it all. I am moving forward and leaving it behind because it was such a long time ago, but I still can’t get over the why. Whether she is not being honest with herself or me, I am at a loss for it.

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