Seven reasons why people cheat, according to psychologists

Did someone order a side of canoodle soup?

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 17 January 2018 10:27 GMT

What drives someone to adultery?

As it turns out, there’s more to infidelity than simply sowing your illicit oats.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research, there are seven primary reasons why people cheat - and they’re a bit more complex than falling for the milkman.

A team of US researchers surveyed 495 adults with an average age of 20, each of whom was asked if they’d ever cheated on someone and if so, why.

There’s love lost

After analysing the responses, they concluded the main reason why people cheat is down to “lack of love”, with 77 per cent of respondents citing “I had fallen out of love with my primary partner” as motivation for seeking an illicit relationship.

However, this is more likely to mean the cheater no longer feels their partner loves them, rather than the other way around, relationships expert Chelsea Leigh Trescott told Bustle.

They want more sexual partners

Perhaps our mating habits are more akin to animals than we think as the second most common reason for cheating was that people wanted “greater variety of sexual partners”.

As feral as it may seem, this may have little to do with the person being cheated on and everything to do with the insatiable cheater who cannot satisfy their multifaceted sexual urges with just one partner.

Low commitment

41 per cent of people said they cheated because they didn’t feel particularly committed to their primary partner, ouch.

Situational factors

While “I was soooo drunk” may seem like the oldest excuse in the book, it really is a legitimate excuse for some adulterers, 70 per cent in fact.

However, that’s not to say alcohol stands up as a sole motivator.

No matter how hard you try to blame the G&Ts, being drunk may cloud your judgement but it doesn’t make you an entirely different person.

Adultery is nothing if not a cocktail of emotions.

To boost self-esteem

More than half of those surveyed (57 per cent) cited insecurity as a reason for cheating, choosing “I wanted to enhance my popularity” as a motivation.

High school never ends.


Yep, sometimes infidelity can be as simple as an act of pure rage, with 43 per cent of people saying they cheated on someone out of anger.

Either they wanted to get revenge on that person for already cheating on them or perhaps they just had a really infuriating day at the office and erm, fell into the arms of, say, an amorous colleague.

Just for sex

Roughly a third of participants said they cheated purely because they wanted to have sex - yes, really.

The majority of those who selected sex as their main reason for cheating were male.

Meanwhile, women were more likely to cite feeling neglected or ignored in their primary relationship.

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