Woman leaning her head against a window

Why Do People Cheat? Here’s What We Know

Despite the many cheating scandals that reach the tabloids – from Queen B and Jay-Z to the English royals – cheating is a topic that causes much surprise and uproar. 

The question most of us are left with is: why cheat? 

A question mark floating on a black background

There are many different ways to answer this question, and although psychologists have put forward their expert opinions on this topic, we wanted to hear your thoughts. 

So, we turned to Twitter and here’s what we found out.

Why do people cheat?

As mentioned above, asking “why?” is probably the first question that comes to mind when confronted with a statement such as “I cheated”. Followed by a potential wave of other questions: Why didn’t we talk about this earlier? Why didn’t you say you’re unhappy? How could we have prevented this? 

If cheating was merely about whether a person is happy or unhappy, the solution could be pretty straightforward. As @RajiaAboulkheir puts it:

Tweet showing: "Why do people cheat? Just tell him/her you are not happy and leave. Simple!"

Simple, right? But somehow, that’s not the case for most couples. Unhappiness may only be part of the reason, as @Goaldorak2 points out another argument in response to @RajiaAboulkheir original question:

Tweet showing: "Quite simple: to increase their self-esteem."

Having low self-esteem and feeling insecure about oneself are often linked to unhappiness. 

We want to lead happy lives where most of our needs are being met – where we feel loved and secure. But, if the opposite keeps occurring, we may be dissatisfied, as our needs aren’t being met.

Tweet showing: "lack of satisfaction"

So, going with what we have so far, people cheat because they’re dissatisfied and their needs aren’t being met. 

Two reasonably straightforward problems that should be simple to solve, right? But, of course, we’re talking about human nature and love, where the solution isn’t as simple as we would like it to be. 

As Woody Allen said: “The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to those things. You meet someone, and you fall in love, and that’s that.” – by the way, he said this in relation to Allen cheating on his then-girlfriend, Mia Farrow, with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Not quite the meet-cute most people imagine, but the two – Woody Allen and Soon-Yi have now been married for over 20 years. So maybe, he’s got a point? 

“The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to those things. You meet someone, and you fall in love, and that’s that.”

Woody Allen
Image of a couple from the back. A woman resting her head on a man's shoulder.

If we can’t choose what the heart wants, maybe it is in our nature, as @oddnavee suggests below:

Tweet showing: "Nature"

Combine human nature and Woody Allen’s argument with @Subomi_1 and @mister_ade5’s points of view – choice and that “we all crave different vibes at different times”, it becomes clear that finding a reason as to why people cheat isn’t very straightforward and depends on many different factors and circumstances.

Tweet showing: "Choice"
Tweet showing: "People give different vibes Na we all crave different vibes at different times."

To further emphasise this point and leave you with a final note, here is an extract from the @breakfastclubam’s Twitter video, where @THEAJZONE talks about why she thinks we cheat and neatly summarises many of the above points:

“I think there are different reasons why women cheat and why men cheat… but it still goes back to what is going on within me…

As we said, people cheat for all kinds of reasons [insecurity, revenge…], but very seldom does the reason have to do with the other person.

The cheating has to do with how I feel about myself. Now, you can help me not feel good about myself – you can help me not be courageous, not be confident, not be confirmed – but you can’t validate me. I’ve got to validate myself.

So, if I’m cheating looking for validation, attention, love, honour, respect, that’s something that I’m looking for somewhere else. So, now I have to deal with you, and why am I with you as a life partner, and I’m not getting what I need.”

All in all, this discussion shows that there may be some overarching ideas on why people cheat, but the reasons will often vary between individuals due to their specific circumstances.

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