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Why Happy People Cheat

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Infidelity is a topic that has long fascinated and perplexed us. In Australia, like in many other parts of the world, it's a subject that raises significant concerns within the context of monogamous relationships. Surprisingly, it's not uncommon to find happy couples who engage in extramarital affairs.

This paradox prompts us to delve deeper into the complex dynamics of human relationships and understand why happy people sometimes cheat.

Expectations and the Modern Relationship

In the West, the idea of sexual freedom and individuality is deeply ingrained in our culture. We've embraced the idea that sex is a right tied to our personal freedom. We've gone through various stages of relationships before marriage, from hook-ups to cohabitation, and in doing so, we consciously choose to relinquish our sexual freedom in favour of commitment. This commitment should ideally mean that we've found "The One" and can stop looking elsewhere. But the question is, can one person truly fulfill all our desires and expectations?

Never before in human history have our expectations for romantic and sexual relationships taken on such monumental proportions. We desire everything that the traditional family structure promised: security, respectability, property, and children. However, our expectations have evolved to include a partner who not only loves and desires us but also serves as our best friend, confidant, and passionate lover. This duality of desires, for both stability and adventure, comfort and novelty, can put pressure on long-term relationships.

The Importance of Differentiation

One of the critical factors that can lead happy people to cause strain in long-term relationships is the concept of differentiation within a relationship. Differentiation refers to the ability of each partner to maintain their individuality while still being part of a couple. When couples become too enmeshed or "merge" with each other, it can lead to boredom and a decrease in libido. The initial excitement of the relationship might give way to a sense of predictability and routine, leaving one or both partners craving novelty and excitement.

Differentiation is the delicate balance between maintaining a strong connection with your partner while also nurturing your individual interests, hobbies, and friendships. When this balance is disrupted, it can result in dissatisfaction and, in some cases, lead to causing strain in long-term relationships as individuals seek to regain a sense of independence and excitement that they feel is missing from their relationship.

Prioritising Intimacy

Intimacy is a multifaceted concept that goes beyond just sex. It encompasses emotional connection, trust, vulnerability, and communication. In busy periods of life, such as when raising young children, pursuing a demanding career, or working on personal goals like completing a thesis, couples often find themselves overwhelmed and stretched thin. This can lead to a neglect of intimacy, both physical and emotional, within the relationship.

When intimacy is not prioritised, it can create a void in the relationship, making individuals more susceptible to seeking connection and validation elsewhere. Happy people may find themselves in situations where the temptation of an affair becomes alluring, as it promises a brief escape from the daily grind and a sense of excitement that seems to be lacking in their primary relationship.

After facing hurtful betrayals, many couples share with me that they're having really deep and honest talks, perhaps the most sincere ones in their entire relationship. It's a good idea to discuss these things before they become big problems. Talking about what makes us look outside our relationship, in a trusting atmosphere, can actually bring couples closer. Sometimes, when a couple comes to me after one of them cheated, it's clear that their old relationship is over. So, I ask: Would you like to create a different one together?ether?

Recovery from an affair is possible. If you've been through infidelity and want to rebuild your connection with your partner but are unsure where to start, reach out to our team of skilled therapists for guidance and support.

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