What drives people to cheat?

2015-04-19 06:00

In an attempt to find out why people cheat, a recent study by the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, found the reasons differ greatly between the sexes. For men, it’s typically about sex – the more sexually excitable they are, the more likely they are to cheat.

For women, it’s about the level of satisfaction in her relationship. If a woman is unhappy in her marriage, she’s 2.6 times more likely to cheat.

Regardless of the reasons, however, there’s one thing that’s certain: infidelity is devastating, not only for the betrayed partner but also for children.

Dr Ana Nogales, author of a 2009 research study and book – Parents who cheat: How children and adults are affected when their parents are unfaithful – insists that children are never unaffected when they find out about a cheating parent.

“Whatever their age, children whose parents have been unfaithful often react with intense feelings of anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, sadness and confusion. They might act out, regress or withdraw … they may feel pressured to win back the love of the cheating parent or to become the caretaker of the betrayed parent.

“The bottom line is that when parents are role models of infidelity, their children can’t help but react.”

She said her 2009 survey showed several core feelings experienced by all children when they discovered that a parent had been unfaithful.

These include a loss of trust – they often learn not to put their faith in love. They may also feel that they are not worthy of receiving monogamous love.

Another consequence is that rather than confronting their feelings directly, children may exhibit behavioural problems during childhood, sexual acting out during adolescence, and intimacy avoidance or sexual addiction during adult years.

Sandton-based clinical psychologist Madeleine Kelly said most women stay in a marriage even when their partner cheats because of money.

“Most of them can’t afford their lifestyle on their own,” she said.

Kelly agrees that infidelity harms children and the extended family. “But it also depends on the family attitude, culture and beliefs towards cheating. In some families, the elders would say only a man is allowed to cheat.

“While at times, the mother of the wife would tell her daughter to stay in a marriage, because ‘cheating’ is ‘acceptable’, but only when a man does it,” said Kelly.

» Get a copy of City Press newspaper today for our package on how wives deal with the reality of their cheating husbands ... and the cost, emotionally and financially, that affairs incur.

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