The Psychology of Justifying Adultery, According to an Expert


As harmful as infidelity is to relationships, it's no secret that people are unfaithful sometimes. No one wants to be cheated on, but there may come a time in your life when it happens to you. If it does (or already has), it might help to understand what could have been going on in your partner's head when they cheated.

One thing most cheating partners do before or after committing adultery is attempt to justify their actions. Adulterers know what they're doing is wrong, but they manage to convince themselves it's okay for a number of reasons. Some may say, "It's just going to happen once" while others could think, "It's with a stranger, so it doesn't mean anything." Cheaters are excellent negotiators and will tell themselves just about anything to lessen the guilt of betraying their spouse.

"The biggest one I hear is, 'I wasn't getting my needs met in the marriage,'" says Rachel Sussman, a relationship expert, licensed psychotherapist, and author of The Breakup Bible. "Both men and women say they feel they weren't getting the emotional connection from their partner that they were looking for," she says. Despite what they may say, however, you are not to blame for your spouse's affair. While the cheating partner's feelings may be justified, the action of cheating is not a valid response to those emotions. "The problem with infidelity is that it causes pain to someone else," says Sussman.

Meet the Expert

Rachel Sussman, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert, writer, lecturer, and founder of the New York City-based therapy practice Sussman Counseling, where she focuses on treating individuals and couples with relationship issues.

If your partner cheated and you want to understand how they were able to go through with it, keep reading to learn six things cheaters tell themselves to justify their behavior.

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