The vast majority of relationships are monogamous. While relationships are monogamous, the hyper-sexed pop culture world reflects a worldview of sex constantly. Sex is used to sell any type of product, there is a more open and inquisitive attitude to sex in our media and entertainment, and even accomplishment is sometimes judged by one’s level of sex appeal. This adds to the pressure of maintaining monogamy in a relationship. While it is not a primary cause of cheating, the constant neon world of sex in the media, flashing its lights relentlessly, can blind people to the alternatives available when a relationship falters.
Cheating in a relationship is devastating. Bizarrely, even open relationships can have problems with cheating if someone strays from the agreed set of rules between the couple. A couple that accepts, for example, the much-higher sexual drive of one of the partners may agree to an open relationship with ground rules like ensuring condoms are used outside the relationship, that the sex not be regularly with the same person, or that sex in the bed at home should only be shared amongst the relationship partners. In an open relationship, a partner breaking one of these rules may cause as much hurt and anguish as a cheating partner in a monogamous relationship.
Sometimes the cause of cheating cannot be found in analyzing the relationship. Any sort of relationship requires sacrifice on some level, as partners are making choices constantly to be with another person and this means giving up personal desires or interests.
The reward can be a profound sharing of intimacy. This can include enriching, mind-blowingly deep sex between the couple. However, some people are not emotionally mature enough to withhold immediate sexual gratification for this longer-term pleasure. One (or both) partners may be unable to commit because they do not weigh up their choices when presented with an opportunity to have sex outside the relationship. They may be merely acting unconsciously from the groin, and this is a sign that they are not ready for a relationship and the responsibilities it involves.
In a more equal relationship of mature people, cheating is a surefire sign that the relationship has some difficulties. Lack of communication, boredom and monotony, not investing in the relationship and emotional withdrawal may each be the root motivation behind the cheating. It may be possible for some couples to discuss the underlying cause and move on from the experience together if this is talked about.
Cheating can also be used as a penalty or punishment served on the other partner. Cheating may be done to cause the partner to feel the pain. One partner may feel they have the right to serve punishment for something. This can be done subconsciously. The subconscious goal is to create a dramatic, emotionally charged situation so that the partner who cheated can release steam for whatever it is they are angry about. Sometimes, after a partner cheats, the other partner has sex outside the relationship to even the score!
Cheating does not need to be the end of a relationship, although it can be a difficult event to move passed. Looking into the causes of the cheating can help a couple discuss and resolve the problems, even if this just leads to a more amicable breakup when emotions are resolved.