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Cheating in Relationships: What happens after an affair?

Updated on September 19, 2016

“I discovered he had been cheating on me. I asked him about it, but he kept lying. I found out he had been texting another girl. I was furious.”


It is commonly said that men cheat because of bad sex while women cheat because their husbands show a lack of affection towards their girlfriend.

But at the end of the day, disloyalty and engaging in extramarital affairs are not gender-specific and not exclusive to one sex.

However, it should be noted that sex in an “affair” is never the same as it is in a long-term relationship. In an affair, both parties solely meet for the purpose of sex; intrinsically, they are driven by an animalistic instinct—the primary instinct to have sex and reproduce. This drive is the underlying rationale for contact between said parties. In a long-term relationship, however, this isn’t the case. You already are in contact with your partner and have been for a long time. Now, what mainly differentiates long-term relationships from affairs? It is quite simple, actually: the aspect of living together.

With said differentiation, we can now take a closer look as to why men and women engage in extramarital affairs.

Why men cheat

A man tends to stray whenever they feel their spouse is becoming his mom, causing him to lose his sense of independence, autonomy and freedom. Cheating simply functions as a means to an end: to either regain or strenghten his sense of self and his own identity of a strong male. One could say that a lowered sense of self and worth (particularly in males, that is) directly affects the likelihood of a man cheating.

Another reason why men might cheat is because they believe they have the “right to do so”; he might also cheat because he is not in touch with his feelings. As such, sex could potentially be a way to experience these feelings; feelings can be sexualized.

Furthermore, a misunderstood and unloved husband or boyfriend will most likely cheat to gain a sense of recognition, usually granted by another female; this behavior can be destructive, however, as it can lead to a “slur of meaningless flings”, in which the man seeks temporary, short-lived stimulation from another female.

Why women cheat

Women can cheat with married men, simply to find a solution to internal conflicts. Oftentimes these women end up even more torn-apart as soon as the extramarital affair is over, while the internal conflict is still very much present.

Young women who cheat with older (married) men could engage in the act of cheating because they desire a heightened sense of maturity in themselves. Young women who have a tendency to “please” also are more prone to extramarital affairs; they flutter from man to man, married or not married. If a woman generally feels a need to please her man abundantly, it might indicate she has been abused sexually in a previous relationship or possibly even her childhood.

On the other hand, there are also “strong and independent” woman—those who live for their careers and are in a sensible marriage—who can cheat because they are instinctively aware her “weaker” husband will never leave her. In extramarital affairs, she tends to seek equally sexual men of greater value.

Now what?

The affair is over, and the feelings gained from prolonged cheating start to extinguish. It has started to become an annoyance as soon as the sex becomes repetitive, making you realize your interests, common ground and future aspirations do not intertwine with your extramarital fling.

Danger lies therein, that you will start comparing long-term relations to extramarital relationships (i.e. affairs), whereas they could not be any further apart. Post-cheating, the cheater as well as the so-called ‘victim’ needs time; it may be so the cheater has feelings of guilt towards the third party, if the cheater suddenly returns to his or her own partner.

As soon as an extramarital relationship is finished, it is essentially not a good time to ask yourself about the future of said relationship. Before deciding and taking the leap of faith, it is necessary to be able to allocate your emotions and feelings. The faithful as well as the unfaithful spouse still have a plethora of unresolved emotions. It is strongly recommended not to alter the course of your relationship, voice your concerns and altogether make not any rash decision as long as these unresolved emotions are still present in either partner.

Overcoming cheating in your relationship may prove to be difficult at first sight, and it is; but it needn’t be. The process of forgiveness is not easy, but if both partners are willing to invest in a renewed relationship, then there might prove to be light at the end of the tunnel, however:

Forgiveness can only be granted if both partners can once again live in harmony, based on the principle of equality, mutual understanding and willingness to let bygones be bygones. Collectively reaching this plateau of reciprocated and inherent equality , however, is what makes reinvigorated relationships so difficult to last.

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