Cheating is wrong. That is, if you are not in an open relationship, where you and your partner have agreed upon extramarital escapades. In an average relationship we expect loyalty and monogamy. Still, infidelity exists on a large scale. So, would there be advantages of cheating? NBRplaza dived into it and we discovered six advantages of cheating that can actually improve your relationship.
What is considered cheating?
From our own, not scientific Dutch research, it appeared that about two third has ever cheated in a relationship. About half says to have cheated more than once. The number of men is the same as the number of women, that practiced ‘love thy neighbor’ several times, by the way. On the other hand it is striking that especially women cheat only once. One in five women have cheated once, oposed to one in ten of the men. This also implies that about 40% of men has never cheated, against 30% of women.
Everyone appears to have different definitions of cheating. Some people believe that ‘thinking about someone else’ constitutes infidelity. Others believe that is wrong to send each other erotic texts (sexting). But most people believe physical contact, such as kissing or oral sex, is needed to cross the line. Our research tells us that 40% believes that it is only cheating of there is intercourse. A nice definition of cheating is ‘all the things that you would not do if your partner knew you were doing it‘. This means that cheating is something that is done secretly, behind the back of our partner.
Some people are able to separate physical and emotional contact. They love their partner, but have sexual contact with others nevertheless (“it was just sex, it didn’t mean anything”). But for a lot of people it is mostly very painful to discover their partner has cheated. For them, it is all the more painful when feelings of love are in play.
According to blogger Michael J. Formica of Psychology Today, people can be unfaithful in many different ways. Not just on the subject of sex, but also by dodging their partner by getting a new hobby. Or by discussing marital problems with someone else.
Why do people cheat?
There are a lot of different reasons for people to cheat. Some do it because they are discontent in their relation, out of revenge, or because it is exciting. We don’t want to condone cheating, but just because it happens, it means that there are apparently some advantages.
- Satisfying sexual needs. No matter how much you love your partner, it may well be that you have certain sexual needs that your partner doesn’t want to or simply cannot fulfill. For instance when your partner has a tongterm illness, or uses medicines that make them physically unable to have sex. But it may also be that over the years you have developed the desire to push boundaries, while your partner has absolutely no desire to do so. In that case a purely physical relationship (a fuck buddy) can remedy the situation. The fact that your physical needs (temporarily) do not fit, is not enough reason to get separated. But in order to get sufficient satisfaction, you go out looking for physical contact. Your frustrations will decrease, which makes you more able to focus on a well balanced emotional bond in your relationship.
- Gaining experience. It might seem strange, but some people cheat to gain experience. They are for instance still with their first love and are curious what else is out there. Or, there is a big difference in experience between partners. Say, you have a partner that has a lot of experience, but you are practically a virgin. By cheating you want to learn and discover what ways there are to satisfy your partner, or what it is you like most yourself. This will improve your sex life and that or your partner.
- Find yourself attractive (again). If you are in a long term relationship, things might become a routine. Besides that, gravity will take place if you get a bit older. It’s not like you still have the body like you used to. Your partner has less attention for you. Everything becomes a bit ordinary. By cheating, you will experience the tension and excitement again. Someone is loving your body. Suddenly you feel desirable again. It is great to get compliments and become sexually attractive to someone else. If there is just one thing that makes you more confident, it is that someone tells you you are attractive. Cheating makes you more confident. It gives you renewed energy, you feel comfortable in your own skin and you will get in the mood for more sex (with your partner).
- Evolutionary advantages. Animal species often cheat. Female primates for example, often go to other groups to ‘cheat’ with males of that group. Males of several species have sex with as many females as possible. The most important reason for this behavior, is that it spreads genes. Large scale DNA research in The Netherlands, showed that 10% of all children are extramarital conceived. And according to research of the UCLA, women are more into a one night stand when they are ovulating. After the occasion, they have sex with their own partner, that will then take up the responsibility of raising the child with the foreign (stronger) genes.
- No regrets. What is worse: regretting something you’ve done, or regretting something you haven’t done. Many people question whether they will regret it if – on their death bed – they will come to the conclusion that they’ve missed out in their live. Just like many people have a bucket list (a list of things to do before you die), some have a fucket list. They want to have experienced a threesome at least once, or joined in an orgy, or have sex with a complete stranger, or with someone of the same sex. The desire to fulfill a sexual fantasy can become so strong, that the person decides to cheat (if it is a fantasy that cannot be fulfilled by the partner). Getting things off your fucket list, can bring you closer ton accomplished person. It takes away the stress (‘been there, done that’), which enables you to focus more on the emotional bond with your partner.
- It helps seeing your relationship in perspective. You know things are odd between you and your partner, but you just don’t know exactly what’s wrong. Cheating can contribute seeing what is the matter. It helps you evaluate and analyse and visualizing what should change. You start to see what it is you miss and you can work on that together with your partner.
You might say that we are just making up excuses for cheating, but nothing could be further from the truth. The good thing about cheating is not the cheating itself. The consequences of cheating can be desastrous, especially for your partner and even for the kids you have with your partner. Cheating can be an element you need for personal growth and self evaluation. By a better insight in how you roll and what you find important in a relationship, can contribute to build a better authentic and honest relationship, even if that is with someone else.
What we can learn from swingers
Some research suggest that relationships where people are cheating with the knowledge of their partner, are stronger than those in which partners cheat secretly. Swingers divorce less. That has to do with the fact that swingers are abstract thinkers, that believe that they don’t want to do things secretly. Sex outside of the relationship does not damage the trust between swinging partners. Emotional intimacy can lead to a disrupted relationship and a breach of trust that is beyond repair. And that is a shame, because sexual attraction outside the marriage, often has nothing to do with the marriage itself, but everything with changing sexual desires, or the need to experiment.
Research by Bergstrand and Williams (2000) showed that swingers have a stronger bond in their relationship than monogamous couples. Over 60% of the swingers say that it has improved their relationship. Only 1.7% say that it has worsened the relationship. Even the couples that were happy before swinging, say they have become even more happy after. Of those couples that were unhappy in their relationship, 90% say swinging has made them more happy.
So, should we all cheat on massive scale?
No!! If the escapades go bad, and oddly the chances for that are 100%, it can lead to repairable damage in your relationship. If possible, try to achieve the six advantages within your relation. Try to seduce your partner to do new tricks, experiment together, invite a third person to the bedroom, buy a sex toy, act put a role playing game. But above all: talk to each other!