What drives infidelity?
Why would you or your partner stray?
What creates an opening for a 3rd person to become more attractive?
Cheating is pretty common. Our divorce rates wouldn't be around 50% if it wasn't. I personally have experienced what it is like to feel the pull of strong attraction towards another person And for that pull to be felt as valid enough to cheat on my partner.
It's a devastating blow to a relationship, and many people walk away from a person that has broken trust. Other people will never know that it has occurred.
I've been privy to many divulged secrets of infidelity in relationships.
What causes us to seek fulfilment outside of our primary relationship?
There can be quite a few reasons. I'm going to address one today.
We are driven by a number of needs that feed our life force. These are, the need for security, the need for connection and the need for significance.
It is these three base needs, that support us to feel safe, secure and loved and help support us to thrive enabling us to go on to higher needs of contribution, growth and variety.
We come to our relationships with very unique backgrounds of the nurturing we received from our caregivers and the environments that we have spent our foundational years developing our sense of self. This creates our pattern of behaviour that can modulate what we give and how we receive.
Love is potent. In the first 12- 18 months of our relationship, we are on a chemical high of the endorphins created from the attraction created between a couple. We are in the love bubble. Our partner feels like a godsend, we have feelings of one-ness, they can't do anything wrong in our loved up state.
But over time as familiarity kicks in, the quirks of our unique neurology and psyche begin to be revealed. And we begin the awareness of our separateness and that we are actually very different individuals. The rose tinted glasses come off, our crazy bits slowly reveal themselves.
We become aware and can feel quite disturbed by this new view of our partner. We begin to witness that they operate in the world from a different view point, they have needs and wants we didn't quite expect and with rules to support these values.
In some way we begin to experience separation anxiety and this can be done in a healthy or unhealthy manner, it can largely mirror, the separation we undertook during our formative years as a toddler. We either rebel and feel affronted by it, we cling to in anxiety, or ideally we maintain a healthy sense of autonomy and yet still maintain a bond to our partner. This behaviour appears to mirror the way in which our sense of security was formed, as a result of our childhood nurturing.
A key driver and basic human need is our sense of significance and our need for connection.
We oscillate between requiring that affirmation to be alive and well in our partnership and for that to be pre- existing in ourselves. We could do life alone, but we are largely social creatures that thrive on the connections we form with others, both in community and with intimate partners. It makes life a hell of a lot more fun when we have someone to share it with and studies show that companionship is imperative to mental health.
Why do we then stray, from someone who was once our number one, even when we have made a strong commitment to be monogamous?
It can be that we have not been met at the level of significance that we need to feel like we are important, appreciated and valued.
One of the differences between men and women, is that we gain significance through different means. In general women require larger quantities of understanding than men. And the way in which women are most likely to feel understood is by being heard through deep presence and eye contact.
A partner that offers a woman, his time put aside to hear about her day, listen to her feelings by being present and simply listening, (not fixing) will gain big brownie points. You are saying through this action, you are important to me, I'm here for you.
Men, are different, they thrive on being appreciated. And their access point to being appreciated is through the body. They are biologically driven to have been hunters, to be protectors. Their biology responds less through their thinking and emotional cognition but through action! So their sensory body is alive to feedback. Unfortunately some males have fallen to the gender bias that young boys are young men and need to be toughened up and less nurtured, so they may have been raised by either parent with these attitudes and may have experienced less soothing, less eye contact and soft nurturing touch. So whilst you may be offering physical connection they are not believing in it.
Unfortunately not all of us has had home environments that have been nurturing and safe. We may have had parents that were extremely occupied, or brutal in their words or behaviour and so our sense of Being has been undermined. We may struggle to feel of value, we may not like what we see in the mirror and doubt that we are worthy of our partners love. We begin to reject the person we love in our life, because we are rejecting aspects of ourselves. The inner restless creates the outer restlessness. And this can play out as lack of attention and care to our loved ones.
We may fail to view our partner through the eyes of love. Our projection becomes our perception.
So, we have an inner emptiness, a hunger to feel love and yet a rejection of love when it is offered to us. So we get driven to chase significance from short lived material sources. We value ourselves from how much we achieve, and if work becomes a struggle we feel overwhelmed by our sense of failure or we won't stay still long enough to be embraced by our partners and we busy our selves with doing. We might never feel good enough, so we keep working out, we reach for substances to feel better, we have more botox treatments, we seek approval outside of ourselves. And we don't value our significant other by offering the care or attention they need and want. And it is here that we might turn to infidelity to feel good enough.
To bring greater joy and pleasure to our relationships and to feel a sense of significance, we need to offer ourselves to the relationship with fullness.
The act of being in a relationship is a 50/ 50 exchange.
We offer ourselves with a full sense of aliveness, in the offering we open our partners to receive and reciprocate with the same aliveness.
We are 50/50 in our relationships. We must develop a healthy sense of significance through our own self capacity and knowing thyself and your shadow parts, but we do this better by being supported 50% by the love and appreciation of our partners. Whilst it is not expected that our partners be the one's to lift us up and define our reality at nauseam, we do best with the love and support of our partner. We can co-regulate our nervous systems and we thrive in an environment where we care and affirm each other's wellbeing.
So checking in on what makes your partner feel loved? If you don't know ask what makes them feel good. Perhaps it is that you tell them they are loved and appreciated, and you share what it is that you enjoy about them ? Or perhaps your man needs to be kissed and told he has done a great job at finishing that bookshelf he just put up. Regular feed back to provide a sense of appreciation.
For me I was craving to be listened to, to have someone hold me with deep presence with care and attention and to enquire into my world. It doesn't sound like much but it was the masculine presence that I lacked in my world and in my childhood. It was enough to make me stray.
So, be sure to feed your partner with the things that make them feel significant. We not only think these things about our partner, we DEMONSTRATE them regularly.
We need to know that we are significant. An action done with attention, words delivered with eye sight, a favourite meal cooked after a long days work or a short note left before you head to a workshop helps create connection and will support your lover to feel important, and they will be less likely to want to seek that outside of the relationship.