Infidelity: Why Do People Cheat?

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates

Volume 7, Number 6

Happy summer to all. School is over, vacations are upon us, and it’s a good time to let go from our stress and enjoy the season. How many of you know that June 22 is Take You’re Dog to Work Day as well as National Chocolate Éclair day? Did you know that June 29th is Camera Day and June 30 is Meteor Day? It seems like there is something to celebrate every day. Again, it is a good time to let down from the stress we face all year. On a more serious note, we are officially in Hurricane season and time to check out our emergency supplies.

In this June E-Letter, we present information about Infidelity and why people cheat, our Ask the Doc question relates to a daughter going off to college, and our email of the month is about why you are special. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback.

Practice News

Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s school placement for the next school year, this would be a good time to have them evaluated. Recent questions from parents have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at school. Our practice does different types of evaluations to help answer those questions and information about these evaluations can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel who would be happy to answer them.

Qualified Supervisor. Dr. Joel Kimmel has been certified by the State of Florida to supervise mental health counselors seeking supervision to meet the licensing requirements. If you or anyone you know needs a qualified supervisor to meet these requirements, contact Dr. Kimmel for further information.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. We have been certified by the Department of Children and Families, State of Florida, to offer the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, this 4 hour class is state mandated for divorcing parents of involved children. This course is intended to teach parents about the effects divorce has on children, to lessen the impact of difficult transitions, and to improve the ways they communicate with each other and their children. Our course is provided live and in small groups. Please contact our office at 954 755-2885 for further information.

Low cost counseling: Denise Champagne, M.S., is offering low cost counseling as a mental health intern. She is currently seeing patients and is available to take on new patients. This allows those individuals who cannot afford treatment to obtain it and allows her to get the required training. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling but just cannot afford it, please call the office and ask for Denise. All treatment provided by Denise will be reviewed and supervised by Dr. Kimmel.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.

Infidelity: Why Do People Cheat?

Our e-Letter this month focuses on infidelity in relationships. Recently, a friend sent us an article from Scientific American about evolutionary reasons why people cheat. This led to our deciding to spotlight the behavioral and emotional reasons for infidelity.

Infidelity happens when a person who has committed to a relationship violates this commitment by seeking a sexual or emotional relationship with another person. It can occur without sex but basically the other relationship becomes more important that the committed relationship. There is a breakdown of trust and intimacies and experiences that are shared with the other person become more important and desired than the committed relationship. Unfaithful partners often act selfishly when they decide to seek fulfillment from another person and decide to do this in a secretive manner. Lies, deception, manipulation, and withdrawal often occur in the committed relationship to enable the unfaithful partner to pursue the other relationship. According to David Barash and Judith Eve Lipton, for evolution reasons, men cheat to make sure their genes live on by fertilizing as many women as possible. Women have to care for their children so it is in their interest, to find the one man, often powerful and wealthy, who will help her take care of her children. Culturally, there are great differences in what constitutes infidelity within and across cultures. What Americans perceive as unfaithful may be quite different in France or China or in some polygamous American sects. In addition, the changing mores of our society has made infidelity more tolerable, if not acceptable, and with some celebrities, seems to have risen to the status of a sport.

There are common factors in why people stray from their committed relationships and look to others. Mostly it is because people fail to recognize that relationships require effort and attention. Just because one gets married or commits to another person does not mean that they do not need to keep working on their relationship. What makes a relationship work is Mutual Trust and Respect. When one takes their partner for granted, doesn’t treat them as being important, deceives them, or starts to put others or activities before them, the relationship is headed for trouble.

The following are common reasons why people cheat:

  1. Excitement seeking occurs when people are bored in their relationship and take each other for granted
  2. Lack of intimacy, attention, and feeling neglected leads to looking for others to make the person feel important and wanted
  3. Falling out of love occurs when people live parallel lives and do not communicate or do things together
  4. Unbalanced lifestyle where one person spends his life working and forgets the value of their relationship and the other person seeks out those who will give them time and attention
  5. Low self esteem and unmet ego often lead a person to seek out an affair to feel confident, desired, and important.

Infidelity on the internet has exploded in the past decade because of accessibility to chat rooms, web sites, and opportunities to hook up with old friends and lovers. It is also very inexpensive to meet others for virtual or live intimacy. Finally, the internet allows for secrecy and anonymity so that a person does not have to divulge who they are. Online infidelity can be just as devastating to a relationship as in-person encounters as they involve deceit, secrecy, and a “hidden life”.

So what can you do? To prevent infidelity, it is important to make your relationship a top priority. Make sure you make time for your partner and talk, not just about the day’s events but about your feelings and concerns. Make time to be romantic and intimate. This reinforces your bond but also allows the other person to feel important and wanted. Around others, behave appropriately. Do not flirt or act sexually. A work, act professionally. Strive to make your partner better in some ways. Try new experiences and activities. Show affection and thinking about your partner. Balance your work life with your relationship life. Be aware of destructive people and do not allow them to enter your relationship. Basically, remember why you committed to the relationship and make your partner feel special.

We offer the following information on Infidelity and why people cheat:

When I think about cheatin’, I just think about you leavin’,
And how my world would fall to pieces, If I tossed your love away
— Gretchen Wilson

What to Know!

  • Infidelity occurs when a person violates the marital commitment either physically or emotionally and decides to seek fulfillment with another, often secretly
  • Roughly, it is estimated that 30 to 60% of married Americans will become unfaithful during their marriage
  • Acts of infidelity vary within and across cultures and depends on the types of relationships between people
  • Infidelity is about sex or emotion outside the marriage and includes deceit, betrayal, lying, secrecy, distrust, manipulation, and splitting
  • Emotional infidelity is about focusing time, attention, and emotion on someone other than the spouse and can be very destructive and painful
  • In evolutionary thought, males are thought to cheat to make sure their genes live on by fertilizing as many females as possible; Women, who often care for the children, cheat to find a man who is powerful or wealthy and will take care of her and her offspring
  • Men tend to have more one-night stands and are less likely to leave their wives while women tend to have emotional affairs and may end their marriages
  • Because of online communications, infidelity has exploded due to the inexpensive opportunity to visit many sites, reconnect with old relationships, or be anonymous
  • Even though some media have attempted to encourage romance, most celebrities, movies, and television shows reinforce infidelity as being the norm for relationships
  • Cheating is more common for people under the age of 30 due to previous multiple sexual partners, having greater opportunity, changing mores, and it being more acceptable
  • 2 to 3% of all children are born from unfaithfulness and are raised unknowingly by men who are not their biological fathers
  • The five main reasons people cheat include:
    1. Feeling neglected which occurs when more attention is given to others and activities rather than the spouse
    2. Excitement seeking which often happens when one or both partners take the other for granted and married life becomes mundane
    3. Unbalanced lifestyle including too much work and not enough fun leading to the spouse looking to others for understanding and company
    4. Falling out of love which occurs when there is no longer sharing, close communication, interest in the other, or intimacy
    5. Low self esteem/lack of appreciation which causes the spouse to feel unwanted and undesirable and looks to others to be wanted and feel valuable

What to Do!

To Prevent Infidelity:

  • Make your relationship your top priority; find time to be a couple
  • Relate to your partner as if they were special and act to make them better
  • Ensure that there is intimacy, affection, and communication
  • Behave appropriately and do not be secretive or flirtatious
  • Seek professional help if your relationship is in trouble

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

DE writes: My daughter is 18 and just graduated high school. I have raised her on my own as her father has been in jail and has provided no support. I have done all I could to make sure she grew up healthy and did well in school. She will be leaving in a few days for college and I feel very sad. It has been just her and I and I know I need to make a life for myself. Am I feeling normal and what should I do to stop crying?  

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: It sounds to me from your email that you are feeling pretty normal for the situation. You have dedicated your life taking care of her and making sure she grew up well and unaffected by her father’s behaviors. However, your job of raising her is just about done. It now is the time for her to take over managing her life. Your sadness comes from the end of this job and the perceived loss of the years spent together. You will still relate but it will be different. But this is the way it is supposed to be. Your job as a parent was to instill in her your values and to raise her to be a mature, responsible adult who can make her own decisions. Your sadness will pass once you both make the adjustment to her leaving home.

However, there is more. What about you? You focused your life on her but she has also fulfilled many of your needs. She has given you importance, attention, affection, and purpose. While you were taking care of her, in a way, she was taking care of you. It may be that you subsumed your role of adult to that of being a mother. And if you did, you may now be faced with making a life for yourself. You may face having to define yourself as an adult not a parent. And how will you get those needs for affection, attention, purpose, and importance filled?

You can transition through this situation if you look upon it in a positive manner. Rather than feeling sad about missing your daughter, take pride in her and see what you have done as an accomplishment. You did a good job and she is now off for her own adventures, prepared with what you taught her. As for yourself, look upon your future also as an adventure where you can learn and experience much. Look forward to the future rather than cry for the past.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank the Disabled American Veterans for the following message which was printed in their magazine:

You are Special. Don’t Ever Forget It.

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $100 bill. In the room of more than 200 people, he asked, “Who would like to have this $100 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $100 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple up the $100 bill. He then asked, “Who still wants this $100 bill?” Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the floor and started to grind it with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson today and one that hopefully you will never forget. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value,” he said. It was still worth $100.

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen in this life, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you.

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who we are.

We are Disabled American Veterans, we are special, and let us never forget it.

Yes, Let us count our blessings and not our problems.

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

Till July…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.