Ultimately, nobody knows exactly why a relationship goes south. Both parties could be feeling emotionally starved, misunderstood, or hostile. They could simply have become distant over the years due to neglect, their mutual interests dwindling down until there’s nothing left but the ashes of indifference.
At the end of the day, however, the age-old question of why people cheat might not be as convoluted as the scientists or the couples involve make it sound. In fact, it could be reduced down to one word: dopamine.
What is dopamine?
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that our bodies crave. It has to do with novelty and with excitement, with being fully engaged in the present moment. When this pleasant chemical is released in our brains, we feel a surge of adventure and presence. But when you’re “starved” for this chemical due to lack of interest in your life or an inability to feel challenged, you tend to seek out activities and people that will trigger it—and you might do so in ways that are not helpful, productive, or licit.
And guess what? That’s where cheating plays a role.
How can it be avoided?
Of course, I don’t mean to be overly simplistic about it. People cheat for a wide variety of reasons, and every relationship is different, with its own struggles and history. But often, one of the main reasons given by the guilty party for cheating is because they got “bored.” It doesn’t have as much to do with lust or falling in love with someone else as it has to do with simply feeling “stuck.”
For one reason or another, their relationship started to feel stale. It stagnated, and once it no longer offered anything new or challenging for them, they turned to someone else to fulfill this craving for excitement. Of course, this isn’t the right thing to do, and boredom is hardly an excuse for giving up on a relationship. But it has its roots in nature and the way our bodies are chemically designed.
So, when push comes to shove, how can we combat nature and fulfill this dopamine craving without ruining our lives or hurting others? How can you avoid landing yourself a cheating spouse, or avoid being a cheating spouse yourself?
The number one solution: Make goals together!
A great way to get started is to create common goals together as a couple. Sound simple? That’s the beauty of it! Make these goals motivating and exciting so that you become fully engaged in this game of life together. It’s like having your own little partner in crime, someone to lean on, someone to help you map out new paths and strategies.
By weaving a really cool lifestyle for yourselves, you release that dopamine and have that craving satiated, thus building a stronger and happier relationship. The couple who plans together, stays together!