No relationship is flawless. Every relationship has its ups and its down sides. However many people say cheating is the worst thing their partner could ever do to them.
While some people cheat out of lust, others have affairs because they fall in love with someone other than their significant other.
The two scenarios are far from being similar; cheating triggered by lust is synonymous to outsourcing your sex life. On the other hand cheating for love infers that you’re emotionally unfulfilled by your current relationship.
For those who have at some point found themselves in such dilemma, relationship pundits have offered advise on how to work things out.
“The course of true love never did run smooth,” said Lysander to Hermia in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
The impediments the couple in Shakespeare’s play faced are not likely to be as much of an issue today in modern dating. You may not have to worry so much about your parent’s opinion on who you should marry, or have to elude advances from a persona like Demetrius.
But the maxim still rings true – very few romantic relationships go by without trouble. Of all the issues a couple can face in a relationship, the biggest is the pain of infidelity.
In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Lysander starts to pursue Hermia’s friend Helena due to some ill-advised meddling from the fairy king. But in the real world, people stray from their partners without magical tampering and spells.
Studies show that approximately 12% of men and 7% of women have extra-marital affairs, but the figures have been on the increase every year. And considering the fact infidelity site Ashley Madison gets thousands of new sign-ups every day, it’s not ridiculous to assume that lately cheating has become a prevalent part of most relationships.
Why do people cheat on people they love?
There are different reasons why people cheat in relationships. According to Ashley Madison’s director and CTO Ruben Buell, some people “outsource their sex life,”
“I think at some point we learn that life isn’t exactly the fairy tale we were told when we were little boys and girls. Life is real,” he told Business Insider. “Our average users are in their 30s in their 40s, they have lived life, and they have realised sometimes they have got to do something for themselves.”
Alicia Walker, a sociologist at Missouri State University, found that many women cheat on their partners because they want to stay, not leave, contrary to popular line of thought.
“Unlike what we think about women, the reality is that the women I spoke to are cheating to stay married,” Walker told Business Insider. “They’re not cheating for revenge, or to get out of a marriage, or get the husband to notice them through bad behaviour – they were cheating primarily for sexual pleasure and to remain married.”
People use sites like Ashley Madison because they want more sexua1 satisfaction more than anything else. It’s hardly ever due to wanting more affection and connection, the company claims.
One woman who uses Ashley Madison frequently revealed to INSIDER: “Some people are naturally polyamorous, and I didn’t realise I was until it was too late.” She doesn’t meet up with the men she talks to more than once or twice, because she wants to “keep the emotions out of it”.
However, if you don’t intend to leave an affair, things can be a little more complicated. If you don’t sign up to Ashley Madison with the specific intention of finding an affair partner, things can get messy. You might meet someone at work or at a bar, and your feelings about the situation may be less easy to figure out. Plus, your affair partner might not be as discreet as you’d want them to.
A post in Bustle underscores the differences between cheating because you’re overcome with lust, and cheating because you’re genuinely falling for someone else.
For example, cheating due to love often a longer time to build, involves more and better communication, and may be harder to overcome. Lust, in general, may be easier to control, but is opportunistic and carries more risks.
“The obvious difference, first and foremost, is cheating due to lust is purely a physical response,” relationship coach Jenna Ponaman told Bustle. Meanwhile, cheating for love is often due to a “lack of deep emotional desire.”
In other words, someone who is falling in love with the person they’re cheating with may be too afraid to leave their current relationship even though it isn’t fulfilling them emotionally anymore.
Love vs. lust
In short, lust is physical, and love is deeper than that. In a blog post for Psychology Today, psychiatrist Judith Orloff explains some of the ways you can tell if you’re falling in love, rather than just lusting after someone.
They include wanting to spend quality time together other than sex, listening to each other’s feelings, wanting to meet their friends and family, and getting “lost in conversations and forgetting about the hours passing.”
“Pure lust is based solely on physical attraction and fantasy – it often dissipates when the ‘real person’ surfaces,” Orloff wrote. “It’s the stage of wearing rose-coloured glasses when he or she ‘can do no wrong.’”
Love doesn’t include lust, but lust can lead to love, she added. “However, real love, not based on idealization or projection, requires time to get to know each other.”
It all comes down to the reasons why you want to cheat on your partner. If you think your relationship will ultimately benefit, and your spouse doesn’t need to know, some experts argue it’s healthy to outsource that.
But if you’re straying because you’re emotionally unfulfilled, that’s a big sign your relationship might not be worth fighting for. In that case, it might be less painful to halt the affair and have an honest discussion with your partner about going your separate ways.