People were asked why they were unfaithful and the answers are eye opening and insightful
"Validation is like a drug and intimacy is the ultimate validation."
Infidelity is devastating for relationships. When you find out a partner has been unfaithful it can feel like a bomb went off in the middle of your living room while you were just trying to drink your morning coffee. The carnage from an affair can be extensive, especially if there are children involved.
But no matter what circumstances the infidelity happened, the partner who was on the receiving end of the betrayal often wonders why? It can send some people in a spiral of shame and self blame for the actions of their partners which feel debilitating. Oftentimes, the betrayed partner never feels like they get a truthful answer from their partners but one Reddit user decided to invite partners that have strayed to explain why they cheated.
Surprisingly, many of the answers were extremely insightful seemingly showing extraordinary growth since that time in their lives. There was also a lot of remorse expressed for their previous harmful behaviors.
"When you grow up being in turn neglected and told you're not good enough, validation is like a drug, and intimacy is the ultimate validation. Sooooo much therapy to undo this," one person reveals.
"Insecurity. I was always on the look out for someone who would make me feel more desirable than the last. Once I grew up emotionally, I realised [sic] what a POS I was & the hurt it caused. Hard to live with tbh. Edit. Can I just make it clear I was not a serial adulterer… It was a youthful lack of judgement," another person writes.
"Unbridled ego, unsatisfying regular sex life, and a girl who threw herself at me. I was an idiot, I acted like an a*****e, and I will regret it the rest of my life," one commenter says before continuing. "It was a hard truth to face. It was a dark time in my life where my ego and my immaturity caused me to hurt several people I loved."
"Because I chose a cowardly and easy path. Instead of going to therapy and ending my toxic relationship, I cheated on them with someone who I had convinced myself I was in love with, and loved me. Turns out, breaking up with someone is a lot less harmful to everyone involved than cheating," someone else writes.
An interesting theme that someone who has experienced the pain of infidelity may notice is that there's no blame placed on the betrayed partner. The people that answered this prompt admit that the affair was completely within their control and most say they learned from it.
Dr. Kathy Nickerson is a licensed clinical psychologist that specializes in affair recovery, she's also the author of the book The Courage to Stay: How to Heal from an Affair and Save Your Marriage. Nickerson has teamed up with other mental health professionals to research why people have affairs and has been revealing the earliest results on her TikTok page.
One of the preliminary results falls in line with what many of the commenters were sharing on the Reddit post, a lot of people that cheat are in some sort of emotional pain.
"In our recent affairs survey, we asked over 1400 cheating partners, was an affair a painkiller," Nickerson says, revealing that 64.8% of women and 59.9% of men agreed or strongly agreed with the affair being a painkiller. When asking "did you choose the affair to cope with emotional pain," 68.2% of women and 70.2% of men answered in the affirmative.
In another video, Nickerson revealed that the saying, "once a cheater always a cheater" may actually be inaccurate based on the preliminary research results. According to the initial survey for cheating partners, 59.89% reported only having one affair.
If there's one take away from the eye opening responses in the Reddit post and the early research results from Nickerson, it's that cheating has very little to do with the person being cheated on and people don't always cheat again. You can follow along with Nickerson's research here, and if you're healing from infidelity while choosing to stay partnered, you can buy her book here.
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