By Ashley Papa
Although relationships come in various forms these days, in traditional marriages, there’s an understood vow between partners to be monogamous physically and emotionally with one another. Yet, data suggest infidelity is pretty common — a 2015 survey by YouGov found one in five Americans admitted to being unfaithful to their partners.
But why, really, do people cheat?
Fox News talked with Kelly Armatage, a cognitive behavioral therapist, relationship coach and speaker, to learn the top reasons why people are unfaithful. Armatage also shares how you can help save your relationship if you find yourself in one of these pickles.
1. They were conditioned to think cheating is OK.
It’s unclear whether there’s a so-called cheating gene, but some research suggests having a parent who had an affair leaves you at a greater risk of cheating on your spouse too. A small study published in the April 2015 edition of the Journal of Family Issues, for example, found that people who had at least one parent cheat on the other were twice as likely to commit infidelity compared to people whose parents remained faithful throughout their marriage.
Armatage said she’s seen similar evidence anecdotally. “A cheating belief system runs along the thought patterns [of] ‘It is ok to cheat.’”
Prevent it: If you’ve had a parent who cheated, you have to stay committed to changing this possible inherited behavior. “To dismantle a cheating habit, a whole new thinking and behavioral system needs to be installed into the subconscious of the individual,” Armatage said. “The emotional rewards and habits associated with consistency, integrity, faithfulness, truth and monogamy are to be trained in over time, so that the person loses any urge for their old ways of being.”
2. They have low self-esteem.
This trait is a known risk factor for cheating, and often for these people, cheating can be a coping mechanism and an attempted means to feel validated, desired and needed.
“If the partner gets to a place in the relationship whereby they are unable to fulfill that void any longer, the cheating individual continues to stay in the relationship (because they fear being alone) but gets the validation that is now missing from an extra-marital affair,” Armatage said.
Prevent it: It’s impossible to have a completely healthy relationship with someone who has low self-esteem, so that person will need to do the necessary work on him or herself before the relationship can get back on track. “As there is minimal happiness from within, all happiness and validation and worth is extracted energetically from whomever they are ‘with,’” Armatage said. “The solution is to a) deal with their fears of being alone and b) by raising their self-esteem through filling up their inner void with their own generated feelings of love and wholeness.”
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