Couples Academy

Why Infidelity Happens: Common Triggers and Warning Signs

Why Infidelity Happens

Infidelity is more common than you might believe. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have had extramarital affairs. Yet, while it seems that infidelity happens often, there is no single cause for it. Instead, there happen to be several triggers and warning signs that contribute to affairs. Today, we are going to explore some of the reasons why infidelity happens, including some signs to look out for. Let’s get started.

What is Infidelity?

Infidelity, also known as cheating, is a betrayal of trust in a committed relationship. Just as there are many reasons infidelity may occur, there are various forms of cheating that can take place. How one person perceives infidelity may be different to another. For example, micro-cheating may not be a form of infidelity to you, but someone else may see these actions as being unfaithful. It is important to discuss your personal definition of infidelity with your partner so that there are fewer misunderstandings.

What are Some Common Triggers of Infidelity?

People have various motivations for the things that they do. Cheating on their partner is no different.

Here are some common causes of infidelity to keep in mind:

Relationship Dissatisfaction

One of the most common triggers of infidelity is relationship dissatisfaction. When a partner is unhappy with the relationship, they may seek out a new romantic connection to fill the void. This can be due to various factors such as lack of intimacy, poor communication, unresolved conflicts, or feeling unappreciated or neglected.

Lack of Intimacy

Intimacy is one of the building blocks of a solid relationship. Without intimacy, you cannot adequately share thoughts and feelings. If you and your partner are not emotionally and physically intimate, it could push you away from one another. That disconnection between you two may drive a wedge that leads to an affair.


Another common trigger of infidelity is opportunity. Given the chance, some people would engage in unfaithful behavior when away on a work trip or social event.

According to a survey conducted by YouGov in 2021, 20% of Americans said they would cheat on their partner if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. However, it’s important to note that this survey relied on self-reporting, which may not reflect actual behavior. Another study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that approximately 25% of men and 15% of women reported having cheated on their partner at some point in their lifetime.

Does this mean you shouldn’t trust your partner? Not exactly. There are some warning signs to keep a look out for that are coming up.

Emotional Connection With Another

Emotional connection with someone else, even if it is not physical, can also trigger infidelity. In this digital era, it is not uncommon for two people to develop a strong relationship through social media, game, or other outlet. When these emotional connections become so powerful that they become intimate, it could lead to something called “emotional infidelity” or “emotional cheating.” These deep bonds are among the most devastating forms of betrayal, because they take time and energy to develop and keep hidden.

Boredom or Lack of Novelty

Over the years, partners begin to grow comfortable with one another. Sometimes this leads to feelings of boredom and emptiness. In order to bring some excitement back into their life, people may seek out new relationships with different people.

What are the Warning Signs of Infidelity?

Now that you have seen some of the common triggers of infidelity, let’s take a look at some warning signs. It is important to note that these signs do not always mean your partner is begin unfaithful or hiding something from you. If you notice your partner acting strangely, the best way to figure out what’s wrong is to communicate your concerns with them.

With that said, here are some signs of a potential affair:

  • Behavioral changes: If your partner was once open and jovial then suddenly becomes distant, quiet, defensive, or angry, they may be having an affair.
  • Increased focus on changing appearance: A sudden increase in focus on appearance, such as going to the gym, changing their hairstyle, or buying new clothes, can also be a warning sign of infidelity. A partner may be trying to impress someone else or boost their attractiveness to others.
  • Diminished intimacy: A sudden lack of sexual or physical intimacy is a red flag. It means your partner’s needs are getting fulfilled elsewhere.
  • Decreased interest in the relationship: Losing interest in the relationship or becoming critical of their significant other is another sign. Your partner may also start to withdraw emotionally, avoid spending time with you, or become less affectionate.
  • Guilty or defensive behavior: A partner who is cheating may feel guilty about their actions and become defensive when confronted. They may also become angry or dismissive when you try to discuss your
  • Unexplained expenses: Is your partner spending money on hotels, dinners, gifts, and other things and attempting to hide it? This could be a sign of an affair.
  • Alterations in routine or schedule: Sometimes when a partner is having an affair, they will change around their routine to accommodate their affair partner. You may notice this as more frequent travel and more activity on the phone and computer.

Build a Strong Relationship Together

Infidelity is a puzzle, one with a picture you can only see completely when looking back. There are many reasons for infidelity, as well as a plethora of signs. Learning the reasons behind infidelity can offer some closure, especially when you are trying to heal. If you are trying to rebuild your relationship after an affair, the next step is to speak with a couples therapist, like those at Couples Academy. Our team helps you understand your partner’s motivations, opens up smoother communication, and also teaches you how to heal the wounds caused by the betrayal. Together, you can move on and build a stronger relationship. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services.