You’ve had an affair and you’ve confessed or been found out. You’re trying to save your marriage but you keep getting stuck on one question. It comes up over and over again: why? Your partner wants you to answer: why did I cheat?
You could easily be asking yourself the same question because it will shed light on what to do next and stop talks about the affair, going round and round in circles. Unfortunately, it can seem there is no adequate answer and trying to answer “why did I cheat” just makes your partner angrier.
The problem is you’re probably answering the question in one of the five worst ways…
1. I don’t know
This could well be true. You never thought you’d be the sort of man or woman who would cheat. When you look back and realise all the stupid mistakes you made, it seems so out of character that you don’t recognise yourself. So it’s true, you don’t know why.
What your partner will be thinking: This simply is not good enough. My partner has destroyed my self-confidence and peace of mind, our marriage and our children’s future and he or she is stonewalling. There must be something to cause this much carnage.
It is either that he or she is still in love with the affair partner or he or she doesn’t care enough to tell me the truth, or probably both.
2. I needed an ego boost
You’ve had a hard time recently, you lost your job but didn’t handle it very well or there’s been family problems which have really pulled you down. Perhaps your partner has been tied up with the kids or with work and you’ve felt neglected and therefore vulnerable to flattery.
This answer might be part of the overall picture that sparked affair but it’s going to make your partner very angry.
What your partner will be thinking: Don’t you think I would like some flattery and attention too? Instead I’ve been made to feel like a piece of dirt that you’ve walked all over.
Worse still, what’s going to happen the next time you’ve got a problem and the next flatterer comes along? And actually I don’t think I want to be with someone who puts their interests about everybody else’s.
3. I was unhappy
The two of you haven’t been getting on very well. When you stop and think about it, you haven’t been happy for years. You felt nagged, taken for granted and ignored. The sex was dull or non-existent. All of this could well be true but your partner will feel you are blaming him or her.
What your partner will be thinking: You’re making unfair comparisons between me and your affair partner. How can I compete with something shiny and new when we’ve been married for years? And why is it my job to make you happy?
I did my best to be a good husband or wife and this is the payment I get. What’s more… this is just an excuse, you could have told me about the unhappiness and we would have done something about it.
4. For goodness sake
Getting angry might not be your first response to “why did I cheat”, you are patient for what feels like hours but eventually you get frustrated, snap and says things you regret. You might apologise and beg for forgiveness but the damage is done.
What your partner will be thinking: This is proof that he is she doesn’t care about my feelings. It proves that he or she is not really sorry. Nothing is going to change and I need to get out of this marriage.
5. We need to move on
In your logical brain, you’ve been through this before—hundreds of times. It’s making your partner upset. You feel full of shame. You’ve said you’re sorry and promised it won’t happen again.
Doesn’t it make sense to put things behind you and move on? However, your rational response will trigger a very emotional one from your husband or wife.
What your partner will be thinking: My partner is trying to sweep everything under the carpet, he or she is not taking responsibility for his or her behaviour and what’s to stop it happening again?
Furthermore, I’m stuck with all these painful feelings and rather than dealing with them as a team, I’m having to cope on my own.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve fallen into all these traps – it goes with the territory. Fortunately, I have five positive responses to ‘why did I cheat’ in this video and a new book called ‘Why did I cheat: Help your partner (and yourself) recover from your affair.