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Why would someone who cheats on their partner want to stay in the relationship? 

It doesn’t quite make sense at first glance, right? After all, if they wanted to be with someone else, why not just end the relationship and move on?

Well, it turns out, it’s not quite as simple as that. People, emotions, and relationships are complex. 

Cheaters don’t always want to leave their partners, even when they’ve been unfaithful. Their reasons can be as varied and complicated as the people themselves.

In this article, we’re going to try to understand what truly causes this behavior. We’ll talk about 10 common reasons why people who cheat may still want to stay in their relationships. 

Remember, I’m not trying to justify or excuse anyone’s actions here. Cheating is hurtful and wrong. It’s a breach of trust that can cause immense pain. 

But understanding why it happens can help us learn, and hopefully, prevent such situations.

1. Comfort in Familiarity

There’s no denying that humans are creatures of comfort. We love familiarity and routine. 

It’s one of the most common reasons that people who cheat might still choose to stay in their original relationship.

Comfort in familiarity comes with a sense of security and understanding. A long-term relationship often provides a certain level of stability – the shared experiences, common friends, perhaps a house or pets, or even children. 

These aren’t things anyone can simply dismiss or replace overnight. 

Moreover, starting a new relationship can be daunting, uncertain, and stressful, and not everyone is willing to give up their comfort for these unknowns.

This doesn’t absolve the cheater, nor does it condone their actions. But it’s a peek into their mindset – a craving for novelty coupled with an unwillingness to let go of what’s tried and true.

2. Fear of Change

why do cheaters want to stay in relationships
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Fear of change is another significant factor. Change is hard; hell, it can be paralyzing. 

Sure, a cheater might have strayed, but the prospect of completely uprooting their life to pursue a new relationship can seem overwhelmingly challenging.

This fear is not just about losing the relationship. It extends to other aspects as well — change in social status, change in financial circumstances, change in living conditions, and so forth. 

In many cases, the thought of facing these changes alone could be daunting enough to deter someone from leaving a relationship, even if they’ve been unfaithful.

[Related: What Causes A Man to Cheat?]

3. Guilt and Redemption

The act of infidelity, more often than not, is followed by a flood of guilt. 

The person who cheated may feel an intense need to make amends, to show their partner that they’re not defined by their mistakes.

They may believe that they can be better, that they can rectify their wrongs. Staying in the relationship provides them a chance at redemption – an opportunity to rebuild the trust that was shattered. 

This is often why you’ll hear cheaters confessing their actions and pleading for forgiveness, willing to do whatever it takes to repair the damage caused.

Bear in mind, however, that remorse doesn’t necessarily promise reform. It’s a long road to rebuilding trust, and not every relationship can, or should, weather such a storm.

4. External Expectations

Why a cheating man wants to stay in relationship

We can’t overlook the pressure of external expectations. How society views us, how our friends and family perceive our actions, these factors wield a powerful influence on our decisions.

To maintain an image, to avoid the label of a “cheater” or a “home-wrecker,” a person might choose to stay in their original relationship despite their infidelity. 

This isn’t about protecting their partner; it’s about self-preservation. They might not want to be seen as someone who disrupts the status quo, or they might be worried about losing their social standing or respect among peers.

But while these societal pressures can influence someone to stay, they often ignore the emotional wellbeing of the people involved. 

5. Love and Affection

Though it might seem paradoxical, love and affection are reasons, too. 

Cheating doesn’t always equate to falling out of love. Sometimes it’s about personal deficiencies and unmet needs, not a lack of love for their partner.

Someone can love their partner, cherish their shared life, and still cheat. This happens when they compartmentalize their actions, separating their infidelity from the love they feel for their partner. 

As a result, they might want to stay because they genuinely love their partner and don’t wish to lose them due to their misstep.

6. Economic Dependence

Why a cheating woman wants to stay in a relationship

It’s a grim reality, but economic dependence can often make a cheater not want to leave their relationship. 

They might not have the financial security or independence to step out on their own. They may fear the economic repercussions of ending the relationship.

From housing to monthly bills to potential alimony, the economic impact can be substantial. This financial entanglement often leads to people staying in their relationships despite their unfaithfulness.

This, however, raises another relationship issue on its own — a relationship should be based on mutual respect and love, not financial necessities.

7. The Fear of Hurting their Partner

A cheater might be consumed by guilt and regret and believe that leaving their partner will cause them more pain. They might hope to shield their partner from the truth, to protect them from heartbreak.

But while this fear comes from a place of concern, it can do more harm than good. It robs the partner of their right to know the truth, to make decisions based on reality, not illusions.

8. Seeking Multiple Forms of Satisfaction

The human heart and mind can be complex and confusing. A person might be seeking emotional comfort and stability from their current partner, while seeking physical satisfaction elsewhere. 

In some cases, the cheat might be seeking intellectual stimulation or shared interests that they do not find in their primary relationship.

This is like trying to piece together a perfect relationship from multiple sources. 

Again, while this perspective might provide insight into the mindset of a cheater, it doesn’t in any way excuse or legitimize the behavior. 

A mature and respectful approach would be to communicate your needs to your partner and compromise in the small areas where he/she cannot meet up. After all, our partners cannot be everything we need them to be. 

9. Self-esteem and Validation

When a cheater wants to remain in a relationship

Self-esteem and validation are powerful driving forces in human behavior. And cheating can sometimes be a misguided pursuit of these aspects. 

The attention, the thrill, the feeling of being desired – all of these can boost a person’s ego and make them feel validated. 

Yet, they might not want to let go of the deep emotional connection, stability, and shared history that their current relationship provides.

The need for validation often stems from deeper self-esteem issues. However, using infidelity as a means to boost self-esteem only results in harm and deception. 

Healthy self-esteem should ideally come from personal achievements and self-growth, not from the secrecy and thrill of an affair.

10. Avoiding Confrontation and Conflict

For some people, confrontation can be anxiety-provoking and overwhelmingly uncomfortable. 

The dread of having a difficult conversation about their feelings or the state of the relationship might push them towards infidelity rather than addressing the issues head-on.

They might hope to continue the affair secretly while maintaining their primary relationship, thereby avoiding the conflict that would inevitably arise if they were to come clean. 

It’s a way of escapism, an avoidance of dealing with their problems directly. 

However, truth, as they say, has a way of revealing itself. And when it does, the damage is often much greater than it would have been had they chosen to confront the issues at the outset.

As Jordan Peterson put it in 12 Rules For Life, 

“Don’t hide baby monsters under the carpet. They will flourish. They will grow large in the dark. Then, when you least expect it, they will jump out and devour you.”


1. Can a relationship survive after cheating?

It’s a question that rings in the minds of many who have experienced infidelity in their relationships: Can it survive? 

The answer, though complex, is yes, it can. However, the journey to healing is often long, painful, and requires a significant amount of effort from both partners.

Forgiveness doesn’t come easily, and trust once broken, is incredibly challenging to rebuild. 

The person who was unfaithful must show remorse and a commitment to change, while the person who was cheated on must find the capacity to forgive and rebuild trust. 

In some cases, couples emerge stronger, having worked through their issues, while others may find the damage too extensive to repair.

2. Why do people cheat even when they’re in love?

Contrary to popular belief, cheating isn’t always about the lack of love. People can still love their partner and cheat on them. 

This happens due to a variety of reasons – from unmet needs and a desire for novelty to self-esteem issues and dissatisfaction.

The act of infidelity often stems from personal deficiencies and unfulfilled desires, rather than a reflection of the feelings towards the partner. It’s important to remember, however, that love should never be an excuse for betrayal. Love demands respect, trust, and honesty.

3. Is staying in a relationship after cheating a good idea?

Whether staying in a relationship after cheating is a good idea or not depends largely on the individuals involved and the specific circumstances. 

In some cases, the cheater is genuinely remorseful, willing to change, and the relationship can heal over time.

On the other hand, if the act of cheating is part of a recurring pattern, or if the hurt caused is too deep, then staying may not be the best course of action. 

Also, if the decision to stay is driven solely by fear, guilt, or external pressures, without any real intent to rectify the situation, it could lead to further emotional damage in the long run.

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Destiny Femi

Destiny Femi is a dating coach whose work has helped transform the love lives of countless people. With a writing style that is both insightful and relatable, Destiny has amassed a following of hundreds of thousands of readers who turn to him for advice on everything from finding the perfect partner to maintaining a healthy relationship. Through his articles he has inspired people around the world to become more confident, authentic, and successful in their dating life.

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