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  • Dean Smith

A Different Side to Cheating: Looking for Another Self

We typically talk about the most obvious reasons that people are unfaithful to their partners, such as lack of sex, lack of emotional support, revenge, among plenty others. This time around, we want to highlight another reason that people cheat according to psychotherapist and sexuality and relationships expert, Esther Perel.

At a recent TED Conference, Perel noted a much deeper explanation (not a one-size-fits-all explanation, by any means) for stepping out on your marriage. She said that, “people who cheat often believe in monogamy, but they find their values and behavior in conflict when they actually have an affair. That’s because cheating isn’t necessarily about sex or even a person’s partner — it’s about a more complex desire. When we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t always our partner that we are turning away from, but the person that we have ourselves become.” Interesting. The cheater’s focus seems to not be on finding another partner, but another identity, perhaps? Perel adds, “And it isn’t so much as we are looking for another person as much as we are looking for another self.” Learning of medical issues, experiencing a death in the family, even unexpected career changes or job loss can be huge blows and often traumatic experiences as we navigate through life. Perel notes that these situations often led her clients to cheat and not necessarily problems in their relationships. They are looking for something more to life, because they’re having a hard time with the realization that “This is it.”

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