Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why do people cheat?

Why do people cheat?

The recent post on “Do all gay men cheat?” resulted in a cross section of great responses. In summarizing the conversation, I highlight three themes from the conversation.

Cheating is not limited to gay men.
The phenomenon of cheating is not limited to gay men as I was reminded in the conversation.

What is cheating depends on the rules of the relationship.
The responses highlight how many individuals successfully negotiated relationship guidelines and expectations.

Monogamy remains a strong expression and desire.
The key for monogamy is an open and honest conversation between partners regarding their interests, desires and hopes in the relationship.

A follow up to the question of “Do gay men cheat” is the question “why do people cheat.” As you might expect, there is no easy answer. The answer parallels why do people have sex. A recent journal article identified 237 reasons why a person may have sex. After analyzing the data, their research identified four groups of reasons of why people have sex.

Physical reasons
The guy is looking for some type of physical payoff. This can include getting off, but it can be about seeking different experiences. Another theme is that the other sexual partner is physically desirable. Finally, there are physical payoffs such as stress reduction or boredom that leads to sexual behavior.

Goal attainment
In some cases, people have sex to obtain a goal. Sexual behavior is a means to an end. This might be around survival sex (I need a place to live.) It can include the “badge of honor” when a person can brag “I had sex with him.” In some cases, it is about getting revenge. Finally, it is about getting resources such as money or drugs.

Emotional reasons
For many people, sexual behavior is about love and commitment. It is the expression of intimacy shared between two individuals. In our society, monogamy emphasizes this reason for having sex. The lack of a satisfying emotional relationship may lead to sexual contact outside the primary relationship. To be fair, in some cases, the emotional connection isn’t limited to monogamous sexual relationships.

Insecurity reasons
The final cluster of reasons people have sex is around insecurity/self-esteem. “I feel so insecure, I will have sex with anyone.” “Or, this hot guy wants me.” “I couldn’t so no.” I may also think that I have to have sex because it is expected. The recent blog on dating myths highlights how expectations play into dating and sexual behavior.

Why do you think people cheat? If you cheated, why do you think you did?

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