The Causes of Infidelity
The causes of infidelity are complex and vary greatly from couple to couple. Troubled marriages are not the only ones affected by affairs�happy marriages are at risk as well.
Glass, in a report for the American Association for Marriage and Family, explains that relationships that are particularly vulnerable to infidelity may be hindered by marital problems (such as a lack of communication or fear of intimacy) or life cycle changes (including transition to parenthood). For some, extramarital relationships serve as a way to end dissatisfying marriages. Glass says that more often, however, �the history of a marriage is re-written in order to justify infidelity.� She points out that a forbidden love affair consisting of romantic idealization is not a fair comparison with the �routine familiarity of a long-term marriage.�
Glass cautions that �serial affairs of infidelity may indicate an addiction to sex, love or romance.� As a result of their actions, addicts are often consumed with �feelings of shame and worthlessness.� In contrast, someone who sees extramarital sex as �an entitlement of gender or status� feels free to pursue relationships involving infidelity outside their marriage without the hindrance of guilt.
According to Lusterman (1998), men and women tend to seek different types of fulfillment when turning to infidelity. �Research shows that women are more likely to link sex with love and emotional connection, while men's involvements are more often primarily sexual� (p. 19).
Peterson (2003) outlines the many risk factors that lead to infidelity:
�Proximity at the office�. Attractions are a fact of life when men and women work side by side.�
�Family patterns.� As indicated by Lusterman, parents who cheat can warp their children's view of relationships, producing �sons who betray their wives and daughters who either accept affairs as normal or are unfaithful themselves.�
�Biochemical cravings.� The excitement of infidelity can produce changes in brain chemistry that cause the experience to become �almost addictive.�
A �biological need for connection can result from �severe stress, loss or separation' that often can be traced back to childhood.�
�Internet temptations.� Cyber-affairs are more and more common, as the Internet provides �anonymity and convenience� and �escape from the stresses of everyday life.�
�Increasing premarital sex.� Before premarital sex became so common, most women were far less comfortable about committing infidelity with anyone but their husband.
�Child-centered marriages.� When both parents work, they tend to �give what time they have to the children.� Spouses are then more likely to go outside the marriage and commit infidelity to get the connection and enjoyment they're missing from their partner at home.