Why do people, especially men, cheat in a relationship? Cheating is an abuse of trust, it means you have been taken for granted, for a ride. Like many other artifacts of one’s personality, cheating is a habit too. It is a conscious act.

People cheat when they lack inner fulfillment. Although that is no justification, it remains the primary cause; they are seeking fulfillment in a pleasure outside of what is reasonable. One’s sense of fulfillment is rarely dependent on external factors; such factors may influence but inner peace remains a personal matter.

You can be the best partner in the world, you may be most caring, giving, loving, and faithful, that still does not guarantee any loyalty from the other side. If your partner is the restless type, like the monkey that hops from one tree to another, the baboon that flings to the nearby available tree, he is more prone to engage in extracurricular activities. Predominantly because that is part of his fabric. There is never a reason for cheating, only an excuse. So, here are the top three:

1. Opportunity overrides obligation

This is the foremost cause. They cheat because they can. Given time and opportunity, some can bend the truth and stoop down to alarmingly low levels. Getting into a relationship, specifically marriage, comes with certain mutual and individual obligations. When the opportunity is allowed to overtake obligation, the result is an act of cheating. It is not always about infidelity, it may well be about non-fulfillment of one’s social, moral, emotional, and financial obligations.

In fact, often a lack of understanding and commitment on these fronts causes a relationship to go stale. If your partner escapes the opportunity of fulfilling an obligation or uses the opportunity to escape an obligation, it is an indication of non-seriousness and deceit, of insincerity and non-commitment. Marriage and commitment are synonyms. You may want to read- The secret to a happy marriage.

2. Lust defeats love

This remains the primary cause. All living entities are made up of tiny units of atoms, of cells, of molecules, and so forth. The human mind is made up of atomic units of thought. Each unit is complete and independent in its own right. Love is like a movie — it is ongoing and spreads over a period of time whereas lust is like a snapshot.

Lust is innate. Just before lust turns into an act, there is the thought of lust. It takes a great deal of effort to drop the thought, the easier route for the majority is to slake their lust, to temporarily get rid of the thought by fulfilling it. However, since thoughts are ceaseless, before long, they experience an arousal of lust again. Here is a great article from wikihow on How to Overcome Lust.

It is a vicious cycle. Anything that ties you down, be it any habit, belief, religion, anything that narrows your viewpoint, limits you as a person, all acts that give you a sense of guilt, will weaken you. And when you are weak, your mind will easily override your conscience. Driven by lust, when one engages in immorality, it means he is weak. If anything, your love should propel lust and not the other way around. 

3. Habits die hard

They cheat because it is their habit. Only a certain degree of self-discipline, self-reflection can help one to discard their undesirable habits. The old saying of birds of the same feather flock together applies to habits too. If you observe carefully, you will find that a noble one can have many good habits and a cruel one, many bad habits.

The one who can lie comfortably, can cheat easily too.

You can never change anyone’s habits except your own. It is only when your partner decides to change and act towards it will he change. Change may be triggered by external factors, it is always an inner calling though. It is for this reason that meditation and other similar activities can give one the strength to change. Primarily because meditation is an act of turning inward; that invariably brings strength. Habits are habits, they move in groups. 

The definition of cheating can vary a great deal from culture to culture. There are certain sects, nations, cultures, even religions, that allow a man to have more than one simultaneous relationship.

Morality is not always an absolute concept. What may be moral for you, maybe immoral for them and vice-versa. So, how do you know whether your act is moral or immoral, whether you are cheating or if you simply made a one-off mistake? The answer is quite simple in fact. First and foremost, your conscience always guides you onto the path of light and truth. If you can follow your conscience, you will know right from wrong. Secondly, all else being equal, if you truly believe you did not do anything wrong or that it was an innocent mistake, you should be able to go up to your partner and confess.

Just like exercise, diet and a healthy lifestyle reduce the probability of diseases; harmony, understanding, transparency in a relationship greatly diminish the chances of adultery. Give each other some personal space so there is room to discover, sustain, and nurture a sense of individuality. Stronger individuality leads to better dependability. And, fulfillment in any marriage comes from how dependable it is for you emotionally, physically, intellectually, and financially.

No one wants to be the bad guy, be unhappy, people do not aim for disharmony. Tied by desires they cannot let go and driven by their habits, they engage in acts they may repent later on.

I may reflect more on the present topic going forward, especially when it may be prudent to call it quits in a relationship.

Till then, make each other feel important, fill each other’s cup up, be each other’s strength. Complete each other. The strength of a relationship is directly dependent on how important you make the other person feel.