Why Do Cheaters Cheat?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

downloadI remember many years ago, early in my career, a colleague I babysat for and who was very happily married referred to his and his brother’s chronic infidelity as “the family curse.” I found out about his betrayal when he approached me for medical advice about symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. I was flabbergasted especially when he told me his wife and family were “the best” and most important thing in the world to him. I have been fascinated ever since by those who readily cheat and betray others and those who do not. So I started to explore during my own healing journey those qualities in people that would motivate them to betray a.k.a cheat and those that would prevent them from cheating a.k.a. be loyal. This is what I discovered about why cheaters cheat.images-1

Betrayal is Dependent on the Ability to Be Loyal

Betrayal and loyalty are dependent on the level of character and personal power that impact the ability to obligate and commit to another. Anyone can cheat and very easily. Betrayal takes no effort at all except to plot and scheme perhaps. Now, this applies to all forms of betrayal of relational trust including abuse, abandonment, cheating, fraud, lying, conning, manipulating, addictions, exploiting and benefitting at the expense of someone else. It even includes betraying and abandoning our own selves after the betrayers betray us such as in codependent relationships. To not cheat, to be loyal and faithful takes personal power, integrity of character, healthy self-worth. Why? What is the big deal? Why should we care? Well, you should care a lot because your life, relationships, happiness, self-worth, and those of your children depend on it.

Are you a loyal, committed, honest, obligated, trustworthy person? Well, I hope so because being one takes personal resilience, wisdom, and strength of character to not have to succumb to what is easy and may be gratifying in the short term, to know it will not sustain us in the long run, and to have the compassion and conscience it takes not to break the trust of someone we vowed not to or who trusts us. And it takes hard work to learn the difference and which one we and the ones who trust us are more worthy of. So being loyal requires not only the ability to commit in word or thought (e.g. invalidated promise) but the ability to act on and demonstrate the commitment promised (e.g. validate the promise). A promise is hollow and valueless until we deliver on that promise.

We, assuming we are emotionally healthy, believe we are agreeing to something we know we can deliver and are able to deliver and understand we are worthy of the same in return. This is why we have codes of ethics and oaths and vows where we commit in good times and bad, in sickness and health when our ability to act on that commitment of loyalty are challenged the most. We trust the other’s word based on what they say and faith that it aligns with their thoughts and actions and abilities. Hopefully, that is based on them earning that trust. Ah? Or so we thought.

Why Do Loyal People Trust the Untrustworthy

imagesThe strength of character that enables us to be loyal doesn’t come for free or have anything to do with how much money you have, or your looks, formal education, title, prestige, level of privilege. It is worked for and earned. The problem is that usually the most faithful people and the most loyal are also the ones with the higher level of compassion and lower levels of self-worth that make them vulnerable to emotional predators and pathological liars who are not able to source their power internally. So we think others have the same good intentions as we do and they have worked as hard as we have to develop the character strength to be loyal friends, lovers, spouses, family members and co-workers when in reality they have not! We expect enemies to betray, to intentionally want to inflict pain, not those we love and trust. What happens, then, when we are betrayed by someone who we not only trust but are driven by our love and loyalty to believe and protect and stand by when things get rough? This is typically how our reaction plays out.

Why Narcissists Lie and Why We Should Care More Than We Do

After the shock, disbelief, confusion as to why someone would do to me what “I would not do to them in a million years,” we typically blame ourselves. Sadly, the self-blame can turn into toxic shame. While we did nothing wrong except perhaps to rely on someone who is unreliable, we blame ourselves for the perpetrator’s lie(s), inability to commit, lack of compassion, unfaithfulness, treason, crimes, addictions.

Repetitive betrayals can cause trauma bonding and exaggerated fear of abandonment. We can stay too long in exploitive relationships and sabotage our own healing to avoid “betraying” even toxic people who are harming us. We can mistake trauma bonding caused by peptide addiction for love. We can even sabotage healthy relationships to avoid abandonment or betrayal that we fear more than the breakup. And for empaths whose lives have been filled with multiple losses and betrayals, healing challenges including learning the dynamics of healthy relationships can appear insurmountable when in reality they are not. Read more on the challenges of loss for empaths.

Learn more why and how people with too much compassion can be targeted by those with too little in Am I a Narcissist? – Being Narcissistic Versus Being a Narcissist

Why Do People Cheat When They Promise Not to

Cheating is an easy way to feel powerful, feed the ego of people who have nothing reliable in their tool kit of character traits, values, wisdom and coping and life skills to prevent them from cheating. Weakness in character, lack of moral compass, low self-worth, lower consciousness, lower resilience, lower levels of compassion, higher levels of narcissism and entitlement, and lower level of ability to delay gratification are the character traits that motivate a person to need more power, more immediate gratification and to seek out easy ways to achieve them at the expense of trust, family, vows, oaths to defend nations, society, lives, human rights, children, minorities, or whatever suits them. So weakness of character motivates a person to betray and facilitates the betrayal because they have no internal “brakes” to prevent them from cheating or exploiting. In essence, betrayers are wired for betraying.

Why Narcissists Lie and Why We Should Care More Than We Do

Dr. George K. Simon, a preeminent expert on manipulative aggressive personalities and author of the best sellers In Sheep’s ClothingCharacter Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome confirms that those with covert aggressive personalities like pathological narcissists lack the capacity to love because they lack empathy and the warning signs of such empathy deficits are in part in the attitudes they display toward obligation. Narcissists simply detest putting out effort that might, even in part, benefit someone else.

Dr. Simon’s research confirms that narcissists can work very hard and can spend inordinate amounts time and energy working purely to get something they want such as another love interest that would benefit them. As many of us very well know, they can put in extraordinary efforts to groom and love bomb a potential mate or spouse or as we have seen in recent news, commit fraud to enter college or government. But putting the same amount of energy into a personal relationship, taking care of a sick family member, demonstrating the loyalty and consistency they promise are completely different matters and very unattractive enterprises to them. They want all the benefits of marriage, for example, without having to work for them or earn them! Dr. Simon emphasizes that narcissists resist working to become better human beings more than any other kind of work. So even when it comes to respect and love and admiration or even college admittance and educating themselves, they want to come by them in the same manner as everything else  –  without having to earn them. And guess what folks? How do we build integrity of character? Competence? Problem solving?   You got it! By earning it through hard work to set goals, make a plan to achieve them, critically thinking, being successful, and learning lessons through mistakes we make along the way. If we don’t, we do not develop those human qualities that allow us to love, grow, and to integrate normally into society. We essentially remain stunted in our growth, rely parasitically on others, exploit resources, and spend our energy manipulating power and resources from others without returning the value.

Learn more why and how people with too much compassion can be targeted by those with too little in Am I a Narcissist? – Being Narcissistic Versus Being a Narcissist

Can the Betrayers and Those They Betray Heal

Can those who have been betrayed learn to heal, release the shame, grieve the loss, and improve the health of their relationships to benefit themselves? Of course. Remember? They are the ones with resilience and authentic power, the ones with the inner strength to be loyal and faithful, true to their commitment of trust, and have no need to cheat.

Can the betrayers heal? Not my call. No one knows. However, this I do know. Once a serial betrayer, forever a serial betrayer. And there is no cure for pathological narcissism. The more severe the betrayal and the more serious the level of weakness in character of the perpetrator, the more likely any promises and bit of perceived improvement will be faked, temporary, and unsustainable. Remember, the parts of their brains that plot and scheme and lie work perfectly fine. It is the parts that would prevent them from cheating, have remorse, and learn from their mistakes that don’t.

10 thoughts on “Why Do Cheaters Cheat?

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