Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor
One of the main reasons couples break up is because of cheating. Cheating in relationships means sexual involvement with someone other than your partner.
The popular song written by Eddie Floyd, Stealing Love on Side, speaks to the issue of infidelity. "You don't belong to me ... I don't belong to you ... still we're together ... if that's enough for you, it's enough for me." Floyd's song speaks of the passion associated with unfaithfulness. "You held me in your arms and made love to me, fuelled my heart's desire ... your lips caressed me ... now I'd keep you if I could ... ."
Reasons for cheating
Why do partners cheat? The reasons are numerous, but from my informal survey, boredom with the relationship was the main reason. The reality of infidelity is a growing phenomenon as partners become more involved in other activities outside the relationship. These can include work, social clubs, church activities and extended family obligations, which may cause the couple to spend less time together. There may also be partner burnout, which leads to routine and limited intimacy. Medical complications may lead to poor sexual performance, resulting in bedroom boredom. When one partner becomes dissatisfied with the relationship, the more likely it is he/she will seek sexual satisfaction outside the relationship.
Thomas, 58 - "Me just bored with the loving ... . My wife is always too tired."
Junie, 36 - "My partner of six years just take the sex thing for granted ... . He refuses to try anything out of the ordinary."
Paul, 46 - "I try to make my spouse happy but she does not recognise my worth and I feel rejected and lonely."
Marsha, 29 - "I am only married for four years and the intimacy in our marriage is routine ... . This leads to temptation when you find a nice guy who wants you."
Jimmy, 39 - "When you have a woman you want to get some sexual variety in the same way you get variety in your meals ... . When you don't get a change in the bedroom, man mus' look elsewhere for excitement."
Dorothy, 52 - "You need a little variety, and so stealing a little on the side is helpful in making one feel good."
Other reasons for infidelity include feeling unappreciated by a partner; hostility and aggressive behaviour; limited communication; and partner dissimilarities.
How can you tell if your partner is stealing love on the side? Catching a cheating partner may be difficult, as cheaters usually have the advantage of controlling situations in which they could be caught.
That love is blind is another reason why you may not think that your partner is lying. It is really a case of some partners believing a 'pleasant lie' rather than acknowledging the devastating truth. Cheaters may exploit their partner's desire to trust by telling them exactly what they want to hear. Usually the spouse who is being cheated on is the last to know.
Telltale signs of cheating vary from relationship to relationship, and the explanations for any type of behaviour are never precise. It is easy to get suspicious if the cheating partner's behaviour changes. Suspicions actually help cheaters by signalling their partner's doubts when accusations are made and when overly anxious and inquisitive behaviour surfaces. Since cheaters fear getting caught, they will monitor their partner's suspicions and adjust behaviour accordingly to prevent being caught.
Coming home smelling of perfume, cologne or soap (from having a bath).
Wants too much sex or shows little interest in sex.
Spends long hours at work or at the salon.
Races to answer the telephone.
An increase in the number of wrong-number calls when answering the phone.
Answering calls in private, outside earshot.
Lying about insignificant things.
A new burst of self-confidence for no obvious reason.
Suddenly wearing a new perfume, cologne or sexy nightgown.
Discovering a secret post office box.
Your partner seems paranoid and starts inquiring if you have been snooping on him/her.
Your partner suddenly acts cold and distant, may become inconsiderate.
Catching a cheating spouse
If you want to find out if your partner has been unfaithful, you have to find proof before a confrontation. A cheating spouse will deny infidelity unless confronted with evidence, and even then, some partners continue to lie. Today, there are sophisticated surveillance techniques, products and services to monitor and get evidence of the cheating behaviour of a spouse. Some may argue that it is unethical to monitor a cheating partner without his/her knowledge, but the methods are effective in countering the arguments your partner may bring, such as claiming a misunderstanding, flirting or just 'being friends'.
Resources for catching a lying, cheating partner include:
Computer monitoring software which allows you to see and keep a record of everything your partner does online.
GPS tracking devices - a global positioning satellite device which can track a vehicle's exact location 24 hours a day.
Forensic infidelity tests which are able to test samples of your spouse's clothing for biological evidence of cheating.
Home surveillance equipment - cameras are hidden and these have voice-activated recording devices in micro sizes and shapes so they can be easily hidden.
Comprehensive background checks - to determine if your partner is lying about his/her life - past and present.
Private investigators - hiring a licensed private investigator for quick and reliable results.
According to Floyd, in his song, "There's no explaining the love we share,
It's just between us two,
You can't stay away from me and I can't stay away from you,
Honey, we belong, and right now, we're stealing love on the side ... .
Real names withheld
Send feedback/questions to Heather Little-White at: firstname.lastname@example.org.