According to a Playboy survey, more than one in four women (26 percent) and almost one in four men (23.9 percent) in Germany admit to having been unfaithful in their relationship. But cheating is still considered a moral wrong. If it comes to light, it is usually a reason for separation. But why do so many people take this risk for an adventure, perhaps even a trivial one?

Why do people cheat anyway?

It is not another person who seduces, but “the tingling sensation of crossing borders,” writes the American couples therapist Esther Perel, according to the newspaper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” (NZZ). She wrote the book “What Love Endures: Rethinking Infidelity.”

The affairs would open doors to other worlds where beige everyday life would suddenly become colorful and colorful again. “Deceitful love takes place in its own universe, isolated from the rest of the world.” That is precisely what makes it so attractive. Because: the magic is only preserved as long as they are not dragged into the light of day, Perel emphasizes.

Furthermore, individual factors would always play a role. This is also demonstrated by three case studies.

Magdalena, 46 years old: “I recommend an adventure to everyone, especially women”

“I got married young, I had only been in Zurich for a short time and I barely had any contacts,” Magdalena (name changed) tells NZZ. “Most of the time I was home alone with our baby while my husband worked full time. At that time the baby was sleeping very poorly and I was constantly exhausted. We argued a lot and I no longer felt valued as a woman by my husband.”

She felt more and more alone. “I started reading ads on platforms of men looking for women. I soon met someone during the day who I found interesting while chatting. I arranged a babysitter. When something came up between us, we met at a hotel to have sex. He was also married.”

Magdalena was pleased with matters. “I soon realized that I could get what I was missing from my marriage abroad. Then it happened to me, I wanted more and I got it in the next ten years.”

No one would have known, not even her best friend. “Of course she had a bad conscience about it, but it was above all a pleasure. It was good to realize that my body was still desirable after pregnancy. In bed with these men I felt attractive again, I got to know my body, I learned what it likes.”

Although she still had sexual relations with her husband, she lacked emotional closeness: “I also discovered that outside, I fell in love with someone else.” She separated from him. Today she says: “Although love affairs were not the reason for my separation from my husband, they had an influence. Because they were proof that I can get what I want. By challenging the norms instilled in me as a child, I became a more confident version of myself.”

And he concludes: “It may seem immoral, but I recommend an adventure to everyone, especially women.”

Daniel, 49 years old: “During 15 years of my marriage, I met 35 women, sometimes for one night, sometimes for months”

“The first time I cheated was when our first child was one year old,” Daniel (name changed), 49, tells the Swiss newspaper. “At first I missed sex with my wife, and at some point I missed the emotional closeness.” He would have communicated it too, but she would have referred to the stress with the baby, home and work. “That was it then. Unfortunately, deep conversations have never been our strong suit. “So I created a profile on Tinder and met like-minded women.”

In 15 years of marriage he would have met 35 women: “sometimes for one night, sometimes for months.” He says: “It wasn't just about sex, otherwise I might have gone to the brothel. The attraction was the before and after, the conversations, the hugs.”

He never had a bad conscience. “The love affairs took place in a parallel world, which was a useful mindset. When I was driving on my business, I went from being a family man to this other man in the car who was cheating on his wife. Thanks to this trick I never had a bad conscience.” At home he was “a good father.” “I was more balanced. He had it all: sex, emotional closeness, my family. “He allowed me to be a good father and maybe even a better person.”

His wife would not have realized his double life, but the two separated when the children were teenagers. Today she is in a relationship with the “longest fling” of hers. She was also kidnapped at that time. “Of course, we both know exactly what we're getting into. Although we can never trust each other 100 percent, we know what the other needs to keep things interesting.”

Johnny, 57 years old: “At that time I was having an affair with a young married mother”

“When I became unemployed twice in a row at the age of 50, I fell into a midlife crisis,” he reports. “Suddenly I couldn't get confirmation at work anymore. “I get along well with my wife, who I have been married to for more than twenty years, we even have sex, but for some reason things don't work so well anymore.”

That's why he's been anonymously searching for adventures on cheating portals for a year. “I meet women in bars or parking lots. For me it's not just about sex, but about encounters. Like when he was thirty, when he was single and he was constantly meeting new women. At the time I was having an affair with a young married mother.”

The demands of the issues go deeper, he says. Even today she still prefers to look for women who are in a relationship: “that's less risky.” Because: “I am aware that cheating is wrong. If my wife finds out about this, she will first throw things at me and then she will file for divorce. With my behavior I run the risk of losing everything: my wife, my marriage, the condo. But I can't help it: I will run with my eyes wide open toward doom and get a few adrenaline rushes.”

Couple crisis: The 4 horsemen of the apocalyptic

In addition to an affair, there are other warning signs that something is wrong in a relationship and even a breakup is imminent. The “four apocalyptic horsemen of the relationship” defined by the American couples psychologist John Gottman are known:

Criticism: This doesn't mean criticizing your partner or complaining about something. This is an ad hominem criticism, that is, an attack on the core of the character.

Example: “You never think about how your behavior affects other people. I don't think you're that forgetful, you're just selfish. You never think about others! You never think about me!

Contempt: This is even more difficult when one person openly demeans the other or feels morally superior. This shows in very derogatory words, but also in body language, such as rolling the eyes. The couple is insulted, imitated, mocked.

Example: “Are you tired? I was with the kids all day, running around like crazy and taking care of everything. All you do when you get home is lie on the couch and play those stupid video games. I don't have time to take care of another child. Could you be more pathetic?

Gottman warns: “Contempt is the leading predictor of divorce. “We have to eliminate it.”

Defensive position: Protect your own reaction because it is supposedly just the response to your partner's bad behavior.

Example: “No, I didn't call the pediatrician. He was too busy today. You know how full my schedule is. Why did not you do it?

Walls: It's normal to withdraw from a relationship from time to time and need some peace and quiet. What is meant here, however, is that a partner isolates themselves, isolates themselves, acts busy, or exhibits compulsive and distracting behavior.

Example: A problem is raised and the partner responds with “I don't have time for that”, leaves the room and never talks about it again.

The antidotes against the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse

However, it is not the appearance of conflicts that determines the success or failure of a relationship, but the way in which they are managed. Experts emphasize that relationships can also grow during crises. Therefore, in a first step it is essential to recognize the four horsemen; In a second step, countermeasures must be taken, Gottman emphasizes.

A gentle nudge instead of criticism: Formulate messages in the first person and express positive needs. Example: “I feel completely exhausted from the long day at work. If you could take the call to the pediatrician, that would help me a lot.”

Appreciation instead of contempt: Create an atmosphere of gratitude. Remember your partner's positive qualities and show gratitude. Example: With all the stress, your partner remembered to go shopping, but forgot his favorite ice cream. So it is better to thank them for the purchase and not complain because something is missing.

Responsibility instead of defensiveness: Accept your partner's perspective and also offer an apology for your own wrongdoings. Example: “Sorry, I forgot to call there. I should have asked you this morning because I knew how busy my day was. My mistake, I’ll call right away.”

Short rest instead of walls: If you feel like you are putting up obstacles during a conflict, ask for a short break. Take about 20 minutes to do something alone that calms you, like reading or going for a walk. Then return to the conversation.

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