Expert Explains Why Do We Cheat On Someone We Love

Why Do We Cheat On Someone We Love

Nellie (name changed to protect identity), a chef, used to think that people who cheated on their partnerswere awful, until she cheated on Tag (name changed again!) In several candid diary entries, which she was gracious enough to share with me, she has tried to explore answers to the emotionally wracking question, “Why do we cheat on someone we love?” Through pages and pages, she traces the path of her emotions that led to her cheating on Tag. However, she is yet to truly understand why do we cheat on someone we love.

Nellie feels her life was alright before she kissed someone else. It was just alright, and not exciting. “My life has been good. Tag and my son loved me and I loved them. It was monotonous though, almost stoic – I felt like I was enduring love. I sometimes felt trapped and whenever I mentioned this to Tag, he would get upset. It hurt me too. I spent years questioning my feelings. Ever since I cheated on him, I have been racking my brains to understand why do we cheat on someone we love. If there’s love in the main relationship, what leads us to stray?,” Nellie writes in her diary.

She tried to battle the attention from men and women for so long. One day, she gave into temptation with a co-worker, Brock, who had been, as she describes in her diary, “a genuine flirt”. 

“I kissed him, but never slept with him. I may consider it in the future. I do not feel bad about the decision, which was quite surprising as I thought I would feel terrible for cheating on Tag. Am I falling out of love? Or, can a woman cheat and still be in love? My experience has taught me that there is no one, single reason why we cheat on someone we love. It’s all very complicated,” Nellie writes. 

We could keep flipping through Nellie’s diary to understand how does it feel to cheat on someone you love, but, in my opinion, an expert might help us understand better. So, I talked to Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counselling.

Why Do We Cheat On Someone We Love: Expert Explains

When I asked Shazia how can a person cheat on someone they love, she said that more often than not, such individuals lacked emotional awareness. “They are not in a position to identify their emotions. In some other cases, they seek thrills outside of a relationship that has become dull and monotonous. In such circumstances, they cheat without realizing the consequences of their action,” she says. 

So, let’s explore the “cheat on someone you love psychology” to try and understand it better.

1. Why do we cheat on someone we love?: Self-exploration

Searching for a new sense of self is one of the answers to the question, “why do we cheat on someone we love?” For those who cheat, adultery is less of a problem and more of an extensive experience that promises growth and transformation. For many cheaters, infidelity could be an outlet to repressed emotions – it could bring them freedom. Blinded by the idea of self-exploration, one may not have thought it through and that could be why do we cheat on someone we love.

Men may be especially vulnerable to the emotional flooding as they are often told to “man up” when they are young. While growing up by these so-called “manly standards”, they could have stifled their joys and pain. Thus, to them, adultery is more of a release, an explosion of emotions that may obscure their present for a while and hold them back from realizing why do we cheat on someone we love. One may be blinded by the emotion and therefore not understand how does it feel to cheat on someone you love.

However, several men and women only want to escape their seemingly turbid relationship for some time to feel young and unburdened. More often than not they are not thinking about the repercussions of their actions or may not even have thoughts like “Why do we cheat on someone we love?” since they are onlylooking out for themselves. 

Certain regrets and the curiosity of exploring the “what ifs” can make an individual cheat in a relationship, regardless of how much they enjoy being with the partners. These people indulge in sex outside the relationship to see who they might have been if they had chosen a different path. 

Related Reading: What To Do When You Cheat On Someone You Love – 12 Helpful Tips By An Expert

2. Neglect is a reason why we cheat on someone we love

how does it feel to cheat on someone you love
When ignored or made to feel unimportant, it can give rise to emptiness within

How can a person cheat on someone they love? Ask a neglected person. When ignored or made to feel unimportant, it can give rise to emptiness within. To fill it, a person may seek love outside of their relationship. The feeling of finality in a relationship can create room for feelings for another person – as it happened with Gary, an accountant.

Gary cheated on his girlfriend of five years after he sensed that their relationship was hitting a dead end. “Cheating was a last ditch effort to get a reaction out of her and see if she cared. She really didn’t and I got my answer,” he says, adding, “I do not recommend cheating to find out if your relationship has run out of steam. This could end up affecting both people, especially your partner’s ability to trust again.”

A lack of intimacy is also perhaps why we cheat on someone we love. When needs go unfulfilled, an individual starts seeking intimacy elsewhere. In such a scenario, before giving into your pent-up desires, you could try talking to your partner – you could try to spice things up in the bedroom before plunging into adultery. 

Sometimes, the person you love doesn’t love you anymore. It just happens. And instead of trying to fall back in love with you, they look for it somewhere else. Once the love has faded, it can be difficult to bring back that loving feeling.

3. The adrenaline rush could foster a desire to cheat

Temptation has been called a sin for reason. When someone tells you not to do a thing, you may have felt the desire to do it even more, to seek the thrill – such a thought would feature in the catalog of the “cheat on someone you love psychology”. For thrill-seekers, the very act of extra-marital affair or sex is exciting and forbidden, which answers the question, “Why cheat on someone you love?” Such adrenaline seekers who look to break rules are often thrilled by the prospect of it. 

“Temptations will always exist in an individual’s life. Other people may have things – like a better car orhouse or lifestyle – that you may want in your life. But, if you keep comparing and giving in to temptation, how will you lead a normal life? There is always going to be a person who is more attractive than your partner. Self-control is required to battle temptation. You need to ask yourself how well can you manage your emotions. It is all about self-awareness,” says Shazia. 

4. The need to feel wanted or desirable is why a person could cheat

Why do we cheat on someone we love? It could be because of low self-esteem. When people do not feel good about themselves, they attempt to achieve validation from other sources to feel confident. When your partner does not respond to your feelings or makes you feel miserable about yourself, looking for that reassurance could prompt you to cheat.

Dylan (name changed to protect identity), a graphic designer said that he cheated on his partner, Sean, because he wanted to feel desirable. “Sean is very successful – to the extent that when we attend social events, he is the center of attention. It always seemed like it’s all about him and I felt like I was in his shadow. I believe I cheated because I started feeling less wanted. It was a clear cheating guilt sign for me. It was also probably selfish of me, but at the same time I felt free after a very long time,” he says.

Dylan says that cheating showed him that he had plenty of insecurity and self-doubt to deal with. In a way, he said it helped him see how unhappy he was with himself and that in itself was hurting his relationship with Sean. However, he was also saddled with many complex questions. “Why cheat on someone you love in the first place? And, is it possible for someone to love you and still cheat on you? If you cheat on them, do you love them?” he can’t help asking.

Related Reading: 10 ways to make your husband feel wanted

5. Why do we cheat on someone we love? Maybe, for revenge 

Love is supposed to be a beautiful and safe feeling, right? So why cheat on someone you love? A person who is a relationship, but feels lonely and scorned may be able to answer your question. An ignored partner or a partner who is cheated on could be burdened with a lot of hurt and resentment. In this blind rage, they may resort to cheating as well – to use it as a weapon to hurt the other. They also feel cheating is a way to quell the resentment. “Hurting is certainly among the reasons why we cheat on someone we love,” says Shazia. But her advice is to control that urge to hurt back before it takes over the rational sense of mind.

on cheating

6. Some people cheat as they separate sex from love

Is it possible for someone to love you and still cheat on you? A person who separates love from sex might answer “Yes” to this question. There are several types of cheating – emotional, physical and long-term affairs – so when it is all about the physical aspect for an individual, when it is just about the sex, they might see it as a separate activity from the love they share with their partner. 

Some people believe that sex and love are two different things that are not to be mixed together. So, for such cheaters, the commitment of the heart is what matters. Thus, the they could enter into a sexual relationship with someone else outside of their existing relationship and not consider it a violation of their commitment to their partner.

Whatever is the reason for cheating, it hurts. Are there some reasons for cheating that are better than others? Is it possible for someone to love you and still cheat on you? For a person who has been betrayed, the answer is “No”. For them, the main question spinning around in their minds is: how can a person cheat on someone they love? 

Similarly, if you are a man who has been cheated on you could wonder, “Can a woman cheat and still be in love?” And women could wonder what to do when you cheat on someone you love.

Shazia says that cheating is a choice and the person who cheats should be able to take responsibility for their actions. However, she says it is the cheater’s choice to reveal they committed adultery. Such emotional complexities make it important to understand the reasons behind cheating. Once those issues are resolved perhaps a person can work on improving oneself and in future, avoid making impulsive decisions in life.


1. Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

Yes. If a person is remorseful and wants to mend their ways, they can attempt to make things right again in a relationship that has gone awry in the aftermath of infidelity. It might take some time to rebuild the trust, though. 

2. Is it possible for someone to love you and still cheat?

There is no one answer to how can a person cheat on someone they love, but yes, an individual can love their partner and still cheat. They could be insecure or bored in their relationship or there could be a lack of intimacy. Cheating also happens for the sake of fun or a sense of thrill and not necessarily because one hasfallen out of love.

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