Couples Academy

When Love Hurts: Understanding the Root Cause of Infidelity

When Love Hurts: Understanding the Root Cause of Infidelity

From a young age, the possibility of love and a happily ever after is seen everywhere. You believe that love should feel good, that it solves all the problems in the world. Unfortunately, love can hurt. It can bring you to your knees and fill you with grief. For those who have experienced infidelity, enduring the devastation of broken trust and wounded love feels impossible. You may wonder why and how your partner could do such a thing. Understanding the root causes of infidelity may not soothe your wounds right yet, but it could help you put things into perspective as you move towards recovery.

Here is what you need to know about infidelity and what causes it.

What is Infidelity?

Infidelity comes in many forms, but the most agreed upon definition is that it is a breach of trust within a committed relationship. In other words, infidelity may be a one-time drunken encounter or a long-term extra-marital affair. It may even be intimate emails or DMs to someone you have never physically met. The major component is that there is a loss of trust. This could lead to the dissolution of the relationship or marriage, especially if the hurt partner decides that the pain is too much to bear.

What are the Root Causes of Infidelity?

There are many reasons why infidelity in a committed relationship may occur. You may think that your partner no longer loves you or that they are unhappy in their marriage, but that is not always the case. Sometimes infidelity happens for reasons beyond the relationship.

Here are some of the causes:

1. Lack of Emotional Connection

Feeling disconnected from one another can leave you feeling like there is a black hole in your life that sucks the joy out of everything you used to love. Sometimes you do not even realize it happened between work and children and other responsibilities. However, your partner notices the distance, the absence of your attention and affection. Their loneliness and emptiness drives them to seek emotional intimacy elsewhere.

2. Unresolved Conflicts

When conflicts go unresolved, they can create a sense of emotional distance between partners. This can lead to feelings of resentment, anger, or frustration, making one or both partners more susceptible to infidelity.

This is why it is so important to develop strong communication skills. If you and your partner cannot speak openly about what your want, there is no way to repair the problems in your relationship. Avoiding conflict is unhealthy, as it leads to repressed tension and frustration that poisons your impression of your partner.

If unresolved conflicts drove you or your partner to be unfaithful, it is highly recommended that you sit down with a couples therapist or marriage counselor. A therapist can provide you with the tools to communicate with each other in a more constructive way.

3. Self-Esteem Issues

Some people require external validation to feel better about themselves. Unfortunately, this may lead to infidelity. Feeling wanted by someone else takes care of an unmet need—the feeling of being good enough for someone. Again, these self-esteem issues may spawn from changes within the relationship. Perhaps the unfaithful partner’s appearance has changed and they no longer feel desirable. And so, they look for validation from someone else.

4. Unmet Needs

You will find that unmet needs are a main motivator in affairs. Relationships and marriage are a constant give and take. Showing one another kindness, compassion, respect, and affection help build an enduring foundation. The moment you begin to take one another for granted, stop communicating your needs, or leave sexual desires unmentioned, you begin to chip away at that foundation.

5. Opportunity

Sometimes an affair happens because the opportunity was simply there. This could happen in situations like a work conference or a night out with friends where they meet someone they find attractive and the opportunity presents itself.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that cheating is a choice, and while there may be underlying issues that contribute to it, ultimately, the responsibility lies with the individual who chooses to cheat.

6. Dissatisfaction

Relationship dissatisfaction is a strong indicator of potential infidelity. Dissatisfaction is not always linked to unmet needs or a lack of communication, however. People may be unfulfilled in life, feeling stuck or that they lack something, and seek that fulfillment beyond their current relationship. Dissatisfaction may be linked to a need for novelty, social interaction, boredom, and other roots of infidelity mentioned in this list.

7. A Desire for Excitement and Novelty

Boredom can drive people to seek out new thrills and experiences in unexpected places. When you have been married for decades, the little sparks that made the beginning of the relationship so intoxicating begin to fade. This boredom within the relationship may lead to dissatisfaction, and as you have learned, that needs to be addressed in some way. In some cases, partners may feel that their partner is unable to meet their needs for novelty and excitement. So, instead of communicating their needs, they look to other potential partners.

8. Personal Problems

Sometimes, infidelity can stem from personal issues such as addiction, depression, or a lack of impulse control. For example, borderline personality disorder (BPD) may drive a person to believe that their loving relationship is a ruse, that they are going to be betrayed, and so they go out and betray their partner instead. If your partner is struggling with personal problems or mental health issues, it is important to recognize that some of their behaviors and actions may be beyond their control.

Go Beyond the Roots and Grow

Infidelity is a complex issue, and there is no single root cause that applies to every single case. Furthermore, infidelity is a choice. Someone who is bored or unhappy is not always going to cheat. As such, it is important to know why the unfaithful partner did what they did before moving on. In order to move beyond the roots of infidelity, consider teaming up with an empathetic and professional couples therapist, like those at Couples Academy. We specialize in infidelity recovery and can help you bring your marriage back from the brink. Give us a call or send us a message today to learn more about our services.