Black girl with Afro haircut texting her lover on cell phone while her jealous boyfriend, suspect of her betrayal, trying to read what she is typing, looking over his shoulder with curious expression

Why do people cheat?

By Sarah Moses July 27, 06:00 am
If you've ever been cheated on – or were the one doing the cheating – you probably want answers. Here are three science-based theories on why we cheat.

Most people would agree that cheating on a romantic partner is wrong and harmful. Yet it still happens pretty often – and hurts like hell when it does. Why is it so hard for some people to remain faithful to their partners?

Sexperts who study cheating have come up with three theories that might help explain why people do it. In a video put together for the series Love, Factually, evolutionary biologist Dr. David Barash and anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher discuss the science behind cheating.

Humans aren't naturally monogamous

Biologically speaking, monogamy might not be natural for us humans, explains Dr. Barash, co-author of the book The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People. Humans are not alone in this, he says, almost all mammals out there aren't 100 per cent monogamous.

But just because monogamy isn't natural for humans, it doesn't mean we can't learn to do it, Dr. Barash emphasizes. Hey, playing the violin isn’t natural for anyone, he points out, but you can learn with practice and it’s great if you can do it! Fidelity is something that takes effort, he argues.

So if it's not natural for humans to have one sexual partner, what are the reasons for them to have several? For men, it's pretty simple. According to the theory of evolution, the more women they have sex with the greater the chance they'll pass on their genes.

Women, on the other hand, wouldn't exactly benefit from getting pregnant every time they cheated on their partner. Even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be desirable: a whole lot of energy and resources goes into pregnancy and raising kids. But a woman could obtain support from the man she’s got on the side if her current partner were no longer in the picture, for whatever reason, says Dr. Fisher. Her lover could be there as a sort of back-up to help her out and provide for her kids if needed.

Cheating is in our genes

But if monogamy isn't natural for anyone, why do some people seem to be better at it than others? Well, one explanation is that it's in their DNA, Love, Factually's host explains. Researchers who study cheating have found two genes linked to infidelity.

The first, DRD4, has to do with the hormone dopamine, which is involved in pleasurable things like having an orgasm. The DRD4 gene comes in different sizes and one study found that people with longer versions were more likely to be into non-committed sex, whether that meant cheating on their partners or having one-night stands.

The other gene is called AVPR1A and could help explain why some women struggle with monogamy. The gene codes for the hormone arginine vasopressin, which is connected to feeling empathy and bonding with a sexual partner. Women with one version of this gene may be more likely to cheat, research has shown.

Our brain systems make us do it

Another theory on cheating has to do with the separate systems in our brain that are involved in romantic relationships and sex. Humans have evolved one brain system that's related to their sex drive, another that has to do with feeling romantic love, and a final system linked to attachment to a partner, explains Dr. Fisher.

This becomes problematic when the three different brain systems are not directed towards the same person, she says. So someone could be sexually attracted to the guy who serves them a cup of coffee every morning and at the same time feel a sense of deep attachment towards the long-term partner they sleep next to every night.

Source: Why Do We Cheat ? | Love, Factually

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Did you learn something new?

Love Matters
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 02:09 pm

Nobody is born a cheater! A person may be non-monogamous and are unable to vocalise it. But cheating is not engraved in anyone's DNA.

Sat, 01/23/2021 - 12:33 pm
My current situation, like 2years back, i was caught cheating but it wasnt my fault, i went in search of job and somebody decided to take advantage and since i was desparate i gave in,my then bf noticed it but forgave me and i decided never to fall back in search a trap, i decided to love him and promised never to cheat on him,2018 we got married officially nd av never broke my promise to him, i love him,the problem is when i found him with any makosa, instead of apologising, he keeps saying"do you know how much you have passed me through, he uses the previous situation as his protection,now like 3mnths ago, he have been having an affair with a certain lady but when i ask,he bcomes angry, the last time i asked him abt the lady, he repeated what he have been telling me,what i did years back, am in great pain since i didnt do it with intentions,now am confused wat to do,wen i rem what went on that time my heart pains and since he promised to forgive me,i took a journy to heal but now my wound is fresh, please help

Hi Shantel, thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry to hear that you have been through such a hard time. When trust is broken it can take a lot of time and work to get it back. From what you are describing it is possible that the trust broken was never quite regained. You have admitted your mistakes and tried to make amends but the issue is used to attack you.
Communication is an important part of any relationship. Have an open and honest conversation with your partner. Explain how their actions are affecting you and the relationship. Try not to be confrontational because that would put them on the defensive and the resulting conversation would not be productive.  Be ready to listen to their fears and feelings and respond to them as well.
This article has some pointers that could help you learn how to better communicate.

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