Why Infidelity Can Happen in Happy Relationships

Why Infidelity Can Happen in Happy Relationships

It is generally though that someone who cheats when in a committed relationship is either in a problematic relationship or has a problem of their own. It is easy to make the assumption that the cheater has an odd pathology or some other unresolved dysfunction or trauma. We may even consider that they are simply emotionally immature which led them to cheat. However, if we blame the relationship, we tend to focus on some significant flaw that has not yet come to light or a need for external intimacy and sex. Regardless, infidelity seems to point to underlying problems. Cheating just happens to be the result.

The majority of the time, the above reasons are true. This may be related to an attachment disorder, childhood trauma, or a lousy relationship that leads to cheating. That being said, this is not always the case. Some people cheat even while saying they love their spouse, enjoy one another’s company, and have an overall great, respectful relationship. They may even have a physical attraction, have good sex, and no real relationship problems. The issue is the cheating and no ability or desire to stop.

Infidelity is often a symptom of a flawed relationship or even a personality issue, but this is not always the case. Some people, both men and women, cheat even though they are reasonably healthy emotionally and are in great relationships. There are four basic reasons this may be the case. Even though cheating risks a happy marriage, a home, family, and community standing.


One powerful reason for cheating in a happy relationship is to search for a new sense of self. The cheating is actually a symptom that is more about exploration, growth, and transformation. For the people in this category, infidelity is about exploration of the new or repressed parts of oneself. It is a form of freedom even though they may not really want to change who they are. Instead, they are simply trying to escape some of the constraints for a short time and feel unburdened or feel to experience life in new ways. These individuals are not looking for someone new, but for themselves.

Seduction of Transgression

Sometimes people cheat because it is alluring and fun. Sneaking around, having sex with someone new, can make them feel young again. Since it is forbidden, it is exciting. Something about the forbidden makes it extra enjoyable. Just like a child who is told no and immediately does whatever they are not supposed to, a cheater enjoys the thrill.

Lives not Lived

In another form of self-exploration, some cheaters cheat to live out a life and opportunities they think they have missed. They may be focused on that one that got away or what could have been and start feeling limited in a current relationship. If they indulge their curiosity it is a way to see what life would have been like with someone else.


Finally, people in happy relationships sometimes cheat to feel something new. Focused again on self-exploration, this form of cheating is about opening up and feeling things that may have been repressed over the years. For those who cheat for this reason, regardless of it is a man or a woman, it is about an emotional release, not sex. This is a way to explore the inner self in new ways, but is still painful.


No matter why someone cheats, the underlying cause, or who its with, it hurts. The partner who has been cheated on will never see a good reason for it to happen and trust will be severely damaged. However, knowing the reason behind cheating from a therapeutic standpoint, can be helpful in trying to correct any underlying issues. A person who cheats due to childhood trauma or emotional immaturity will be treated in a different manner than someone cheating as a way of self-exploration.

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