A Couple Therapist's Thoughts On Why People Cheat

Here is an interview Melissa Ferrari  did with Co-hosts Paul Gale and Charli Robinson from Sea FM 90.1 Gold Coast when they asked her thoughts on why people cheat during Cheat Week on the their morning show.  

TRANSCRIPT:   

Charli:

It's pretty messy when, we're taking about Cheat Week this week, with cheaters, whether you're being cheated on, whether you have, whether you're the cheater, and all of us were discussing what makes someone continually cheat. We keep hearing of people that ... You know that old saying "once a cheater always a cheater?" We're hearing about guys and girls that have never been faithful in a relationship. It always ends in a cheat. What's the psychology behind that? 

Galey:

What's the point of staying with the person you're with if you're going to be trying to run off with everyone else? 

Charli:

Is it an illness? Is it a mental issue? We're speaking to, she's one of the best bloggers in Australia about relationships, Melissa Ferrari. She's a relationship therapist, a dating coach in Sydney, she's got all the credentials. Good morning, Melissa. 

Melissa:

Good morning, Charli, and hi, Galey. 

Galey:

Hi. 

Charli:

Love to know about this. 

Galey:

Yeah, and it's a serious week but if anything it's one of those things, two things. It's compelling because people always seem to be interested in knowing how other people tick when it comes to this, and it's also thought provoking in what we're discussing at the moment because at any given stage someone that hasn't cheated is interested in knowing why people would want to do that. People that listen that are cheating kind of get a reminder that they're playing with fire. 

Charli:

So tell us, Melissa, what is the theory behind it? 

Melissa:

Well, affairs or infidelity can happen in many ways. It can be as simple as sharing a personal secret between a couple with another, to a full blown extramarital kind of affair that's of a sexual nature. The first thing that does happen right from the outset is that the brain is always searching for novelty. We like exciting things. We like new clothes, new cars, new houses, and some people even decide that they'd like a new person. The reason why we do that is because how alive it makes us feel. We can feel very excited in the brain and the nervous system because we're with somebody new. 

Some people aren't good at managing that part of the brain that does search for that novelty all the time. Quite often these people who can't manage it well have often come from families where attachment to others has been a bit of a problem or has been disrupted. Sometimes that can be completely out of consciousness. We can all believe or think that we've grown up in a great family, which many have and many haven't, of course, but sometimes things can happen in an unconscious nature where there has been disruption in a childhood for somebody and therefore when they grow into an adult their way of soothing themselves is to go and find another. 

Charli:

Is that an excuse though? "Oh, well I've had a troubled past so that's why I'm cheating on you."

Melissa:

Well, when you come back to the brain and how it functions, it's not an excuse. We are run primarily by our brain and our nervous system and so people, of course, who do have an affair and don't have any regret or are sorry about what they've done, well then they probably are using that as an excuse. People who we know, and I know many because I work with couples who have that genuine regret and remorse, it's usually because there's possible been something happen, and even possibly sometimes a trauma that has caused this-

Charli:

Okay, can they beat that? Now that they're an adult can they get through that or is it always a crutch that they're going to be talking about?

Melissa:

It depends on personality. There are some personalities in the extreme that can't resolve these issues and do need to see somebody for help, but in every day couples you can create a buffer to being a person that can naturally be a cheater.

Galey:

Sorry. What about the deceit and the lies? Like at the end of the day, people that say, "I won't do it again," or, "No, I didn't do it," and deny it until there's proof and that sort of thing, but then they go out and do it again anyway.

Melissa:

Well, the problem is that what happens is for the person that's actually experienced the infidelity, been cheated on, it actually traumatizes them. It goes to the part of the brain that actually can feel quite traumatized. So for that person to feel better it really does require that the other, the person that has cheated, is engaged in the process of making it better.

Charli:

If you're listening to this morning and they're thinking, "Well, I'm a cheater," you know. If they're thinking, "I'm doing it right now to my wife or my husband," what can they do, Melissa, to break this cycle? It sounds like a very addictive personality type thing, whether it's drinking or looking for that buzz of life.

Melissa:

Yes.

Charli:

What can they do right now listening to you?

Melissa:

Work out what issues has caused it. Get going to a good, solid kind of psychotherapy and work through what's being happened repeatedly that's sparking this need to go out and search for somebody else, and why it's hard to control that experience of needing novelty.

Charli:

Okay, that's really good advice and that's, you know, to maybe go see someone because otherwise I think you'll be eternally lonely, I guess, if you're just going to break hearts everywhere you go.

Melissa:

That's the ultimate. That's right. That's the ultimate experience for someone who continues to do it. They're trying to soothe the loneliness but what they ultimately create is being abandoned by people around them.

Galey:

Wow.

 Charli:

All right. Well, Melissa, thank you so much. You can get in contact with Melissa Ferrari. She's online and we'll put you on our Facebook page as well. Thank you for that insight.

Melissa:

Wonderful. Thank you so much.

 

For more tips and information about love, relationships and happiness visit my Facebook page Key To Love  for those looking to find a life partner and are looking for some coaching.  Love, Life, Relationships & Transformation is my other Facebook page for parents and those in relationships already who like some daily inspiration. Also information about couple therapy and how it can help your relationships.