I've cheated (although my partner and I were in an open relationship at the time) and I've definitely dated a cheater, too. In the first relationship, I wasn't sexually satisfied, and so, when I traveled for work, I dabbled in extracurricular affection. He knew about it most of the time, but I broke our agreement when I started seeing one man over and over again.
When I dated a cheater, he wasn't cheating on me, but he was cheating on his girlfriend who lived across the country. I can't say what was going on in their relationship, but I can say, it obviously wasn't working. Without justifying my actions, for better or worse, I wouldn't do either again.
Having been there, done that, I have thought a lot about the whole cheating issue. People in power seem to cheat more (or is it get caught?), but when it comes to regular folk, 23 percent of men and 19 percent of women will cheat at one time in their relationship. Why does this happen?
I believe the primary reason why men and women cheat is because they are NOT able to communicate. In other words, cheating happens because we can't talk with our partners about how we really feel. Maybe it's that we can't tell them that we don't feel the same love that we once did, or that our needs aren't being met, or that we find our new boss extremely sexy -- whatever the reason, cheating happens when talking stops.
When one person in a committed relationship -- and I don't believe committed relationships can just be assumed, they need to be discussed, negotiated, and understood -- goes outside of their verbal agreement, that's cheating. It's not about how many people you sleep with, or about how many photos of your wiener you text to various women. Cheating is a lack of communicating honestly and openly with someone you've vowed to be honest and open with. Charm, googly eyes, and body language can tip you off to a flirt; but it's not so easy to spot a cheater.
So, how can you tell if you're dating a cheater?
According to a University of Guelph study, personality is the key predictor to a cheating man; for a woman, it's satisfaction. Men who take risks are more likely to risk their relationship as are men who suffer from sexual performance anxiety. The happier women are in their relationship, the less likely we'll want to hump another human. Unless the unhappiness has to do with sexual incompatibility, then we're more than three times as likely to cheat.
The study, while being criticized for its flaws, has also summed up the key factors in cheating. In fact, the above factors are more relevant than the ones we assume would matter: Gender, religion, marital status, and education mean less than a guy's personality and a woman's happiness.
Before you rake me over the coals in comments for cheating, I know what I've done and have spent a lot of time thinking about my actions. I've learned a lot and can take what I've learned into further relationships.
That being said, have you ever dated a cheater?
Image via denharsh/Flickr