According to a recent survey in the UK, more than 55% of people are unfaithful to their partners. The rise of the mobile phone, Internet dating sites/chat rooms and greater work freedom for both men and women, ensure that it is far easier to have an affair, or start a new relationship with someone, without current partners knowing about it. It is also very easy to get indignant when our partner strays, to condemn them in vitriolic terms and accuse them of being 'bastards' 'whores' or 'terrible cheats'. But sometimes getting self-righteously angry, without acknowledging our part in the process, simply delays the inevitable: the final break-down of the relationship.
There are many reasons why partners cheat, each specific to that relationship, but four main ones seem to cause the most damage: 1. Loss of Attraction and Communication, 2. Lack of Gratitude and Appreciation, 3. Lack of Affirmation, and 4. Loss of Significance and Value. No matter why the partner finds someone else attractive, that infidelity will be tied to at least one of those major causes.
1. Loss of Attraction and Communication
When we fall in love, there is no law which says we will remain attracted to that person forever. In fact, mutual attraction and communication depends heavily on the other three reasons being positively embedded into the relationship. Without feeling appreciated, wanted and valued, or being positively affirmed by someone else, we soon lose our feeling of significance, that we actually matter, and go off that person rapidly. In those circumstances, we are bound to find others more attractive because we would stop communicating at home and communicate to others instead.
Often, partners change in unexpected ways, like physically getting bigger in size, or getting more mean and selfish in their actions, which were not there at the beginning. That might cause attraction to wane because it is then tempting to compare others to our partners and find them wanting. In those situations, we tend to find it hard to express our feelings as we are not quite sure what to say. Nothing tangible has caused the discomfort and unhappiness with our partners, but it is there like a bad smell, constantly making us unhappy. We cannot make someone find us appealing if they don't. So the only certain thing with this reason is that, once attraction goes, communication quickly follows and the relationship is doomed. It is likely to disintegrate gradually or continue in a very unhappy and resentful way after that.
2. Lack of Gratitude and Appreciation
Most relationships buckle under the weight of this reason. We all like to feel appreciated, being shown gratitude for our efforts and the trouble we take to fulfil our partnership role. When we perceive (and it is a matter of personal perception) that the person is not being very thankful or appreciative, it makes us resentful. We then start to pay more attention to the negatives than the positives in the relationship, which is likely to make both parties feel that they cannot do anything right.
There are many relationships in which one party might withhold praise, expressions of love or verbal thanks. BAD MISTAKE! Never assume the other partner should 'know' how you feel. We all want to hear it, see it and be the physical recipients of any appreciation. If we have to wonder about that gratitude or value, the rot has already started to set in. Sometimes gratitude is perceived to be missing because of how we express such thanks. For example, one party might love to give gifts like flowers, chocolates, clothes, etc., because they believe giving gifts show their love. But the other party might just want to be hugged or TOLD they are wonderful. They do not wish for gifts. Just having the presence and ATTENTION of their partner regularly is thanks enough, and that's their way of showing of love. In this mismatch of expectation, the parties are hardly likely to please each other unless they discuss their needs!
3. Lack of Affirmation
The greatest glue in any relationship which holds it together is mutual affirmation. The worst thing is to tell someone how much you value and love them, but to have nothing coming back at you in a similar fashion. Soon one gets tired of affirming that partner without being affirmed themself. Very soul-destroying and demotivating. Wherever resentment begins to take over, look no further than a lack of appreciation and affirmation. It means one person is taking far more than they are giving and this increasing imbalance will be the death knell of that relationship. This is a pity, especially when many people are not used to being affirmed and find it hard to affirm others. But we all have to learn sometime and appreciating our partners by affirming them regularly and letting them know how much we value them keeps them attracted to us.
4. Loss of Significance and Value
The final nail in the coffin of that relationship will be driven in by this cause. Everyone wants to feel they matter, especially to the person they love. Once one begins to feel insignificant and unworthy, they will seek that significance somewhere else. Anyone they meet who makes them feel the least bit valued will draw them away from their home. It is not rocket science. People go into relationships to be loved, affirmed and wanted. If that is not happening, what is the point of staying in it? Marriage and relationships are not supposed to be life sentences. They should be enjoyable and fun; to bring out the best in us, especially in love and fulfilling our potential. We then feel significant; that we matter as people. Take that away and you rob your partner of his/her confidence and self esteem; the reason for their purpose and identity. There is nothing left to hold that person to the home, especially when they are being put down all the time.
So, which of those reasons are lurking around in your relationship just now? Which ones are you neglecting while you please yourself? Which ones are missing from your life and how does that make you feel? If your relationship is broken, which of those caused it?
If someone strays from home, you can bet your life that at least one of those four elements is the culprit. Taking time to answer those questions honestly might save your current, or next, relationship from becoming another statistic. Often people cannot talk about what is missing in their lives for fear of 'upsetting' their partners or having arguments. Rightly or wrongly, they take what seems to be the 'easy' way out and get what they seek outside instead, causing much pain and deception for the partner left at home. A tiny minority of people will stray, no matter what you do, because of their own low-esteem, insecurity and desire to prove themselves sexually. But paying close attention to those four factors could save an awful lot of heartache in most relationships.
Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH)
Emotional Health Adviser
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"