An affair is the ultimate betrayal of trust, which is why nobody wants to admit that he or she may be capable of crossing that line. However, the facts about affairs say otherwise. Any marriage is vulnerable to the temptations of extra-marital relationships, but not for the reasons you might think. It's easy to make assumptions about people who cheat; it's also easy to write off any relationship that's damaged by infidelity. To truly understand infidelity requires a closer, more careful look at the issue, and a good first step is to debunk some of the most common myths about people who cheat.
It's easy to think that cheaters are cheaters, and that good people would never cheat. Problem is, this isn't true. Most people who have affairs aren't trying to break their vows. Most affairs are between people who start off as friends and gradually grow closer. Affairs can result from marital problems, personal insecurities or genuine feelings of love for another. The reasons for affairs are deep, complex and often uncomfortable to face head-on, but affairs are hardly ever intentional.
Some people who cheat are guilty of having repeated affairs, but many people who cheat only do it once, then never again. Although infidelity is painful and traumatic for the person who is cheated on, for the person who cheats the experience can result in tremendous personal growth. Most people who cheat never wanted to harm their spouses or their marriages, and they'll never again consider being the cause of so much hardship. It's a bad way to learn a lesson, but most cheaters never regress after crossing the line once.
An affair can devastate a marriage, and many unions are ruined when people cheat on their spouses. However, more than half of all marriages survive infidelity. It takes a lot of work for a couple to overcome an affair - not only must trust issues be resolved, but factors which helped to allow the affair must also be addressed - but it's been done time and time again. All marriages have their hardships, and the strongest marriages are those in which spouses are able to work through their issues and learn from their pasts. Many couples that survive infidelity ultimately become closer.
The reasons why people cheat are varied and complex, but age and appearance often have little to do with it. Again, most people who cheat aren't looking to have affairs; they're not targeting their sexiest office mates or the hottest people at the bar. Extra-marital affairs usually happen between people who already know each other. It's this kind of bond, not looks, that allows affairs to happen.
It's true that many people who have affairs probably shouldn't be married. However, many people regret their affairs and don't want their marriages to end. Women are more likely than men to describe their marriages as "unhappy" following an affair, but more than half of men who cheat say they are happy with their marriages. Most men and women who cheat say they'd prefer to make their marriages work.
What would your spouse say if you were up all night, several nights per week, exchanging racy texts or emails with a friend, coworker or former lover? Cheating is cheating, whether it's physical or emotional. The proliferation of smartphones, social media and Internet access make emotional cheating easier than it has ever been.
All marriages have their problems, but not everyone who is married has affairs. Why is that? A marriage could be fine, but one spouse may feel the need to seek an emotional connection with someone else. Under the right circumstances, this can lead to an affair, even if the initial goal was far more innocent than that. That said, some affairs are definitely the result of marital problems, but most cases of infidelity happen where you'd least expect them.