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How Do People Make the Decision To Cheat?

posted on 29 August 2016 | posted in How Do People Make the Decision To Cheat


Human sexuality is incredibly complex. Decisions about sexual behaviour are typically not planned in advance. Few people intentionally plan on cheating on a partner (at least not the first time it happens).

When making promises to be faithful, most people are serious and have every intention of keeping their word in a monogamous relationship.

While people generally have the best intentions when making such promises, human behavior is not always governed by the fact that vows were taken and that promises were made. Relationships need to be worked at and sometimes that spark fades and the relationship becomes lacking for one spouse/partner who then start to look to fill that void.

When it comes to making decisions about love and betrayal, logic and reason have a difficult time competing with our emotions for control. Sometimes emotions influence our actions and lead us down paths we had no intention of traveling.

In fact, three separate emotional systems are involved in cheating—sexual desire, romantic love, and attachment. And often these distinct emotional systems pull people in different directions .

Most infidelity occurs not because it is planned, but because people find themselves in situations where their emotions overwhelm them.

What types of situations influence our emotions and bring out the worst in our behaviour?

• Being too close or dependent on someone other than one's spouse


• Being around someone who is sexually interested


• Spending a lot of time one-on-one with someone else


• Not feeling close or connected to one's spouse e.g., feeling lonely, being angry or upset with your spouse's actions


• Situations that create the sense of opportunity, the feeling that one will not get caught e.g., meeting someone in private, out of town trips etc.


• Situations involving alcohol or drugs, inhibitions and common sense can go out the window
When placed in these types of situations, emotions often prompt people to act in ways which are contrary to what they know is right. Sometimes we make poor decisions.

Unfortunately, for many people, it is very difficult to always be in control of your emotions when one is placed in these types of situations.

What about "will power" or "self-restraint?"
Research shows that will power or self-restraint alone does little to change or influence our behaviour.

Individuals are supposed to exercise their self-restraint and have the will power to control their emotions and their actions. Unfortunately, for many people this does not work. Additionally, we expect people to behave appropriately.

Overall, cheating, like many other human traits, is difficult to control. Being faithful to a spouse is more complicated than simply making promises to do so.

Being faithful to a spouse often requires avoiding situations which bring out the worst in our behaviour....

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