Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Why do happy people cheat?

(14 Posts)
Girlintheframe Thu 12-Oct-17 06:15:04

I’m quite a fan of Esther Perel after watching her on Ted. I found this yesterday and it’s quite interesting. What are other people’s thoughts?

MaisyPops Thu 12-Oct-17 06:23:44

I think that's an interesting article, though not tbat revolutionary (probably is for MN where any mention of an affair or friendship resulta in nasty insults).

I think common sense saythere are many reasons people cheat. Some are narcs and repeat cheaters, others are turning out of marriage for support for issues in the marriage, others it's a friendshio that crosses a line, some marriages will be struggling, other times it's a bizarre turn kf events and someone makes a choice they never thought they would.

It's not ok to cheat, but I do often find myself thinking it is a bit more grey than the black and white I see on some threads.

RainyApril Thu 12-Oct-17 06:26:26

My ex said he was curious about experiencing sex with someone else after our many years together, flattered by the attention and then, once the affair was underway, bowled over by the illicit excitement. He knew it was wrong and felt extreme guilt, but thought nobody would ever find out so it didn't matter. He was able to compartmentalise and see it as separate to our marriage. He compared it to a drug that he couldn't resist.

RainyApril Thu 12-Oct-17 06:31:37

I think it is black and white. I can see that the circumstances leading to an affair are many, and some more heinous than others, but at some point the choice is made to do something that crosses a line and has the potential to hurt your partner very much. It is supremely selfish, and more so when the cheater alleges they were happy. I do not understand anyone who risks everything for a thrill.

Girlintheframe Thu 12-Oct-17 06:53:48

I have always assumed that people who cheated did so because something was wrong with their relation ship (affairs not one night stands), but it's an interesting concept that it may have nothing to do with their relationship and everything to do with something missing within themselves. Not that this minimises the harm and pain but definitely a different way of looking at something that I initially thought was very black and white

User7628 Thu 12-Oct-17 07:14:49

I think few people who are truly happy with themselves will cheat if in a happy relationship also. However I think you can be in a generally happy relationship and yet not be happy within yourself and this could lead to cheating.

I think for some men though it is pure opportunism. I know men who have cheated because it was offered to them and they took it without any thought to their overall happiness, wife or family.

AuntieStella Thu 12-Oct-17 07:25:35

Because they're selfish and want a bit more, because they think the betrayed partner will never find out, because they don't realise the time/attention they put into the third party is making their primary relationship a bit less happy than it could have been, and because when push comes to shove they don't actually value fidelity.

It is a terribly selfish and damaging thing to do to people you (allegedly) care about (people plural because DC also get hit by the fall out).

Which is why on MN you will find many posters who point this out.

dontknowwhatcomesnext Thu 12-Oct-17 10:17:23

I think it is an exceptionally helpful counter-narrative to the tripe always trotted out that there must have been something wrong in the marriage for someone to cheat, which is insult upon injury for the cheated upon spouse. The older the get, and the more instances of this I see, it is almost always the person putting LESS into the relationship that is the cheater, the person with more personal, FOO-type issues.

None of this is an excuse for the cheating, but it is a helpful place to start to understand what might need to be worked on or understood before trying to "save" a marriage. Couples counselling can't save a marriage where the person who cheated has not come to terms with the fact that it may not have been anything in the marriage that "caused" it. The turning point of our recovery from an affair (we separated for about 15 months) was when my husband's own therapist told him straight out that she didn't think his infidelity had anything to do with me or our marriage. Once he really, truly took that on board, he was a different person.

thecatfromjapan Thu 12-Oct-17 10:39:55

I thought that was really interesting. I've often thought that a lot of affairs are more about 'finding yourself' rather than 'finding another person'. Not all, obviously; there are many reasons for having an affair, including reasons such as needing to build confidence for an exit, revenge, vulnerability, etc. The idea of 'falling in love' is massively complex, too.

I also thought the article was interesting in that it showed that there are ways back from an affair. An affair, although traumatising, does not need to be the end of a marriage. It's important not to lose the nuance of that.

rainbowlou Thu 12-Oct-17 10:42:12

I thought we were very happy, 2 wonderful children and apparently I was his best friend, our sex life was good and we were making future plans to move away.
I have no idea why and I’m still heartbroken and a completely different person 2 years on.
He has no idea what affect his need for even more ‘excitement’ has done to damage a once very happy and pretty good marriage.

thecatfromjapan Thu 12-Oct-17 11:18:03

Reading the article made it clear that it would take a lot of talking, ideally in some very neutral setting, with a lot of space (and help) to acquire self-insight, to get over an affair.

It's not surprising you're still struggling, rainbowlou .

A lot of the article drew on extensive work in psycho-analysis and psychology. I'm aware of a lot of that (the other, unrealised self; liminality) but the idea that creativity might be linked to the 'unrealised' or 'destructive' self was quite new to me.

Does anyone know if that is drawing on new thinking about how we 'think' (specifically, ideas around the two modes of thinking/knowing), cognitive theory and NLP?

yetmorecrap Thu 12-Oct-17 13:06:11

Both myself and my H discussed this subject with the same Ic , at separate appointments. One thing was very clear, his EA was nothing to do with me or our marriage specifically and everything to do with H being unhappy about everything else generally, big business issues, dying mother etc. It is clear to me his brain was looking for a big'distraction' from the crap --something pleasant to think on and along comes 21 year old co-worker who he has lots of trips with for work. Friendly, intelligent, smiley and no baggage and 'needs his help with computer' etc and makes him feel wanted and texts 'a lot' about everything and anything (something i dont do). I dont think he is the only one by a long way who really acts totally out of character and became a secretive dick (even if sex not involved) when part of him was very unhappy but not actually related to the marriage. I did ask if he was so generally down , why did he not talk about it with me, we have always been good communicators and he wasnt sure why it was the case, he simply 'doesnt know why' and cant understand himself why he didnt cut that level of contact for several years, apart from, 'she would wonder why and I didnt want to have to say why' as according to him, she had no inkling of his very bad crush/one sided EA.

Eolian Thu 12-Oct-17 13:13:57

I've never assumed that the main reason people cheat is that there is something wrong in their marriage. I think it happens because it is human nature to be attracted to other people and to want other people to find you attractive. Some people are simply worse at resisting it than others. That might sometimes be because they aren't that happy with their own partner. But it's probably mostly because they have poor impulse control, are inherently selfish, or just are in denial about the potential fall-out, or think it's worth the risk for the excitement.

Pidlan Thu 12-Oct-17 13:14:13

I think it's very difficult for a person that's fundamentally unhappy with themselves to be completely happy in a relationship. The people I've known who have had affair have tended to have either fallen in love with someone else, or limps from one relationship to the next, never happy because they're looking for someone who will make them a better person.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: