Why do people cheat in relationships?

By | January 15, 2023

It’s always interesting why do people cheat in relationships. Because when you’re in love, your brain will maximize all the things that you like about that person and minimize all the things that you dislike. This relationship is the love of my life. Nothing can ever go wrong. And when that story is broken. Your heart is built and that brings me to one of the first reasons why people cheat. I was in my neurology, opd. Across me was a forty year old lady. She had come as a patient. She was suffering from migraine. With her was her husband. And I was asking her a question that I ask almost all of my patients. Is something stressing you out. Because stress can trigger a migraine attack. And she gave me an answer that I was not prepared for. She looked at me very calmly and said yes, doctor, for the last one year my husband has been cheating on me and that has been a trigger. I was surprised at the calmness of our answer. But later on I started asking myself, why should I be surprised. This talk is the story of what comes next. Cheating is far more common than we think.

Cheating explained in science

Studies have shown that almost forty percent of couples have been affected by cheating in some way or the other. You compare that with something as common as owning a car and only eight percent of indian families own a car and yet we are much more surprised and shocked when it comes to cheating. Why is that as a neurologist? That is somebody who studies the brain. This question has intrigued me. So for the next fifteen minutes, we are going to talk about cheating under three headings. Why do we cheat. Why is cheating coming across as a shock and how do we deal with it to understand why we cheat, we first need to understand why do we fall in love and for that, let me take you back to my own. When I was seventeen, I was in junior college at satay in villa parlor. I met a girl who was sitting two seats behind me. As soon as I saw her, I felt attracted my heart. Started racing and I started looking forward to our conversations. We started exchanging books. We started having late night conversations and gradually we fell in love. Every time I would meet her, my heart would just. Be filled with so much joy and it wasn’t many, many years later that I understood what was going on in my brain. See, the brain has a primitive part called as the limbic system and an evolved part called as the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system is designed for you to find a partner. That fits with your perceived notion of what you are looking for and when you find that special person. Your brain immediately recognizes that this is who you are looking for. Now the idea of love at first sight is a story that we have all heard. This is where the prefrontal cortex comes in. The evolved part of the brain or the new part of the brain is responsible for creating a story around what the limbic system has just done. Now this is the story of falling in love when you fall in love, your entire body reacts as if you have won something amazing, the adrenaline in your body is going up. Your heart is beating. There are butterflies in the stomach, but this feeling doesn’t last because this is biologically energy intensive. Your body knows that while this is important to fall in love, that feeling gradually needs to subside over the next six to twelve months, our body gradually recovers from that initial high. Now a lot of couples mistake this for falling out of love and that brings me to one of the first reasons why people cheat because they feel that that love that they had that spark is now gone and because that feeling is so good, they want to chase that in someone else.

The reasons why people cheat

Let’s talk about another reason why people cheat. Somebody who’s not looking for anything, somebody who’s just caught in the moment. Here what happens is that the old primitive part of your brain is rewarding you for exploring. Imagine a caveman one million years ago he has made his settlement. He has his tribe, he steps out of the tribe, finds a new place to settle down in, and he is rewarded because now he has explored out of his comfort zone and he has found a new territory to farm to create a new family. Our brain is evolutionarily wired to reward you every time you take a gamble a risk. If you’ve ever been to a casino and you’re throwing dice and you want to roll that six and the dice falls on that six, if you earn that ten thousand rupees. The pleasure that you get is much higher than if somebody were to just give you ten thousand rupees because now you have gambled, you have taken a risk and you have won something. This is the same reason why gambling is addictive by people spend all day on the stock market because they want to take a chance and when the chance pays off you. This is also why some people cheat because when you are caught up in that moment, the old limbic part of your brain is egging you on to say take a chance. Explore and let’s see what happens now. Let’s talk about why is cheating surprising. When I was in college, a friend of mine fell in love with a boy. And for some reason, all of us didn’t really like him. We didn’t know why, but she would tell us amazing stories about him all the time. And it wasn’t till a few months later that we found out that he was hitting her. We spoke with her and the relationship ended. But that got me thinking, how could she not know? How could she not see it. It wasn’t till much later that I found out the reason why. When you fall in love, your brain does strange things to the way you see the world if you see a random person and you have a conversation with them, you will notice certain things that you like and certain things that you don’t like. But when you’re in love, your brain will maximize all the things that you like about that person and minimize all the things that you dislike. You are literally seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. You are holding that person accountable. You’re holding that person to standards that you don’t hold other people to. And so when that person, if that person were to cheat on you, you are going to be much more shocked because how could you do this to me, another reason why people are shocked when their partner cheats is because of optimism bias when you are in a relationship. Our brain is wired to consider only the positive outcomes. This is going to last forever. This relationship is the love of my life. Nothing can ever go wrong. And when that story is broken , your heart is broken.

How to fix a broken relationship after cheating

An interesting thing that I realized about love is that when you are in love with somebody that person no longer remains another human being, they actually become a part of you and this is something called empathy, not a lot of people talk about this, but everybody who’s been in love has felt it when you’re in love with somebody. They feel like a part of you and that is a third reason why cheating feels like such a shock because how can you do this? You being a part of me and that brings me to the third part of my discussion, how to deal with cheating. Let’s take a step back and think about love as a whole when we fall in love and we get into a relationship. What are we trying to do. We are trying to explore ourselves when we meet somebody who we think is compatible with us. We are actually exposing our own flaws. Our own personalities and we are growing as people. This is what freedom means, but as a society we have also evolved to form certain preexisting notions of how relationships should be and certain rules that are unspoken when those rules get broken, we come across cheating one of the ways to deal with cheating is to have a very open communication with your partner because if you think about it. Cheating is not something that you do with somebody else outside the relationship. Cheating is something that you and your partner experience together. In other words. Cheating is actually a breakdown of communication between you and your partner. So to wrap it. I would just like to say that a relationship is a journey that two people go through and it is a constantly evolving one. There is no right and wrong way for two people to have a relationship just like there is no right and wrong way for you to live your life. As you grow and as you evolve. You will keep coming across experiences that you want to explore and there is nothing wrong in that. That is what freedom is, but at the same time, if you have a commitment to another person, then it is part of that commitment to involve that other person in your growth after all relationship is just two people growing together in the best way.

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