These are the real reasons why people have affairs

Why do people suddenly cheat after years of marriage?

Dr. R. Scott Gornto, a licensed marriage and sex therapist, explains the most common reasons why people have affairs. It is estimated that one partner has an affair in around 60% of couples. Of course, this percentage is probably higher ‘considering the secretive nature of affairs’.

After 15 years of experience and research, Dr. Gornto has discovered why people have affairs and he explains that there are three common reasons:

 When affairs begin, a person typically doesn’t fall in love with the other person, at least not initially.

1. They fall in love with the idea of the person. 

It is not actually the person that they fall in love with but rather a fantasy that they have created inside their head. They have painted a picture of what life would be like with this person and it is this fantasy life which they fall in love with. Dr. Gornto writes that ‘the affair partner is simply a construct, a made-up image—someone, they imagine, who will meet their every need’.

Affairs, at their core, are about longing and a deep need for external validation.

2. They seek external validation.

Often, people who have affairs tend to search for validation outside of themselves and their marriage. This means that they derive satisfaction and fulfillment from hearing that they are attractive, valued, etc. In this case, similarly to falling in love with the idea of a partner, they fall in love with a new image and version of themselves. The version which is attracting people and receiving praise.

Many people, in their initial encounters with an affair partner, become intoxicated by the feeling they get with each new encounter. 

3. They get addicted to the feeling.

Dr. Gornto explains that the beginning of a new romance gives ‘positive external feedback’ and a person can become addicted to the feeling they get as a result of it. This feeling is brought about by the release of three chemicals in the brain as Dr. Gornto writes: ‘Three main chemicals are released during the initial stage of affair – dopamine, which is also activated by cocaine and nicotine; norepinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline; and serotonin, one of love’s most important chemicals’.

Therefore, affairs are rarely brought on by the other person. More often than not, affairs begin as a result of a deep need to feel noticed and valued. 

With this in mind, before taking a step toward having an affair, take a step back and reflect on your own inner longing or need. Consider meeting that need or inner longing in healthy ways, rather than unhealthy ones. – Dr. Gornto

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