If you’ve ever been cheated on by your partner, you’d know the overwhelming feeling of being betrayed and having your trust broken. So why do people stay?
It’s a question people have wondered for years, and now relationship expert Louanne Ward is shedding light on why people stay in relationships with partners who’ve cheated on them – and date people they know have cheated.
“More often than not a woman might stay with a man after he’s cheated on her due to having low self-esteem. The thought process is generally, ‘I can’t do much better’, and lacking self-confidence while being emotionally invested,” Ward tells 9Honey.
Cheating can happen in any relationship, and for the same reasons. Whether someone is not satisfied, or they think they can get something better elsewhere, it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or woman cheating, the motivations are often the same.
Plenty of high-profile couples have weathered cheating scandals, with stars remaining in relationships with partners who’ve been unfaithful – like Kevin Hart, who cheated on his wife Eniko, Offset and wife Cardi B, and Jay Z and wife Beyoncé.
So while Ward says people can stay with a partner due to lack of self confidence, you have to wonder when it comes to stars like Beyoncé and Jay Z, what were the other reasons?
Once the cheating is discovered it can have physical, mental and, of course, emotional effects on you. The feeling can be quite overwhelming and take a while to process.
“If we choose to stay with somebody who has cheated on us, that is because we still are stacking up that there are more advantages to this relationship than disadvantages,” Ward says.
“We have a certain hierarchy of values and depending on what our values are, whether they be, social status, physical, financial and family, if this person is still fulfilling more of your values than less, you’re going to decide to stay with them and you might have decided they’re never leaving me.”
There is also more than one type of cheater.
There are men who will do it once on a drunken night out with the boys and be ever so remorseful and do whatever it takes to make it right, and the serial cheaters who tend to present quite psychopathic behaviour and continue to cheat and not care who they hurt in the process.
“These narcissists, even if they get found out, they’ll downplay how many times it happened and will make it the other person’s fault. They’ll either blame their partner and say you’re not giving me what I want, so I have no choice other than to go get it somewhere else,” says Ward.
Ward says the reason women date men knowing they’ve been unfaithful in past relationships is due to some women being competitive.
“A woman that chooses to have a relationship with that sort of person, a lot of times is because she has the mentality that she can be the one to change him,” Ward says.
It also goes without saying that many people believe a person can change, and that can be true.
For example, giving someone the benefit of the doubt. If a man or woman has cheated on his partner when he/she was 21 years old and it’s been 10 years, people do change, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cheat again.
“I tend to think that just because someone’s done it in the past doesn’t mean that they’re going to do it again,” Ward says.
It may vary for each individual as to what reasons they have to continuing to stay with their partners after an infidelity in the relationship.
There can be many things a person might take into consideration before choosing to stay or leave, and this situation is often compared to animals in the wild to having a freeze response rather than a fight or flight.
“If you have a zebra that sees a lion is stalking them, they’re not going to run away straight away, they’re going to freeze and think about what their best option is,” she says.
“It’s just like a relationship, the woman might not freeze for a couple minutes, before making a decision, but she’ll still freeze and think about her best options.”
Just because infidelity has soured a relationship, it doesn’t mean it has to be over.
Just look at the Clintons or Beyoncé and Jay-Z – two couples who have persevered to make things work.