Every time somebody finds their heart broken due to cheating or infidelity, they only think of one word, why? The impact of infidelity can be diverse ranging from emotional to physical to financial to mental on the partner, just like the reason behind it. The weight of the reasons is concealed under the different faces that infidelity wears. Before we delve into that, let’s understand – WHAT IS INFIDELITY?
As per the widely accepted definition, “infidelity, or cheating, is the act of being unfaithful to a spouse or other partner. It typically means engaging in sexual or romantic relations with a person other than one’s significant other, breaking a commitment or promise in the act.” As I said, there are different faces of infidelity that seem to emanate from a different understanding and reasoning altogether.
Knowing why your partner cheated would not lessen the pain you might be feeling, but it will help you channelize your emotion in rationalizing your behavior and help in lessening your confusion. It might help you work on your future relationships and yourself better. Having said that, let’s explore what can be the various faces of infidelity.
1. Opportunistic Infidelity
This is a kind where one has feelings of love and attachment towards their partners but gives in to the sexual desires for someone else. This type of infidelity is caused by opportunities or situational circumstances or by those individuals who have a tendency to take risks or are involved in alcohol or drug use. As social psychologist Theresa E. DiDonato says, “Not every act of infidelity is premeditated and driven by dissatisfaction with a current relationship…Maybe they were drinking or in some other way thrown into an opportunity they didn’t anticipate.”
Thus, not every infidelity is caused when individuals fall out of love; it can be premeditated when the person is drinking or is unable to control themselves when posed with an opportunity they didn’t anticipate. In fact, when you are still in love with a person, you will feel guilt for your sexual encounters. However, these feelings are buried under the weight of the feeling of fear of being caught.
2. Obligatory Infidelity
Just as the name suggests, it’s a kind of infidelity emanating from obligation. It is premised on the idea of fear- fear of being rejected if one decides to resist someone’s sexual requests. In this case, the person might feel love, sexual desire, and attachment for their partner but may still end up being infidel because of the driving need for approval. Due to this, they may act in ways that are in contrast to their feelings. That is to say; people cheat not because they want to cheat but because they like the attention and approval they get from others.
3. Romantic Infidelity
This type of infidelity happens when the person cheating has little or no affection, attachment, love, or sexual desire towards their significant others. They may want to work for their marriage or relationship but still look for longing and intimacy with someone else.
The partners might not leave their respective others because of their long commitment to marriage. It essentially leads to pain and heartbreak for the other person since spouses hardly leave each other. They leave only when there are major cracks in the relationship. Moreover, it might or might not turn into a long-term relationship. As DiDonato says, “Sometimes (but not always) a deficit in an existing relationship leads people to have extradyadic affairs.”
4. Conflicted Romantic Infidelity
It’s conflicted because there are conflicts of emotions that characterize this kind of infidelity. In this, the person may feel genuine love and sexual desire for more than one person at a time. The notion of one true love can be very idealistic especially given this scenario, as it is very much a reality that people experience intense and passionate love for more than one person at the same time.
While this can be an emotional possibility, this type of conflicted infidelity leads to an enormous amount of stress and anxiety, which can be emotionally taxing. In this, the partner who is cheating may unleash immense harm on themselves in their effort to not hurt their significant others.
5. Conflicted Romantic Infidelity
This is a kind of infidelity that happens when the person is involved in a long-term committed relationship, but that relationship has no love or understanding. The person has no feelings whatsoever for their respective others; that is to say, there is no feeling of love, sexual desire, or attachment. They are tied together due to some sort of obligation of not leaving each other. This may motivate them to seek love outside the relationship. As DiDonato says, “Lacking love and lacking commitment to a current romantic partner are both tied to general feelings of relationship dissatisfaction.”
These people who commit commemorative infidelity justify their act of cheating by saying that they have a right to love. And if they aren’t feeling it in their relationship, they can very well lookout for it. Unfulfilled sexual desires bolster such kinds of infidelity. DiDonato adds, “Maybe in their established relationship, individuals aren’t engaging in the frequency of sex, style of sex, or specific sexual behaviors that they want; this can contribute to their reasons to cheat.”
Moreover, the reason why they don’t break up from their existing relationship despite it lacking any feeling or emotion is hidden in their obligation. Just for the sake of appearances, that is to say, of not being seen as a failure or a bad person, they stay in the relationship even if that makes them unhappy while looking for happiness outside the relationship. They want to show they are working towards the relationship, even though they aren’t.
These different faces of infidelity might not be the straightforward approach to understanding why people cheat. However, it does help in understanding the nature of the act that in turn helps you rationalize your behavior. In fact, understanding what are the various faces of infidelity may help you get a sense of why people do what they do. It can help you work not only on yourself but also on the relationship.