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The impacts of cheating? A psychologist’s take on adultery

impacts of cheating? A psychologist gives her take on adultery

Kindness and generosity are the things that can make a relationship last, according to a local clinical psychologist. | Photo from Unsplash (by Priscilla Du Preez)

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A report on adultery involving a married nurse and his mistress 16 years younger than him on June 13 broke out on social media, consequently, the issue on cheating has resurfaced.

What is cheating?

Cheating is when you’re no longer loyal to the person, when you find someone else to share your life with, whether it’s physical, sexual, or emotional, this is how a local clinical psychologist explains cheating.

Dr. Anna Kathrina Oaminal-Watin told CDN Digital that cheating had a lot of definitions.

“Lain-lain man gud ang definitions sa uban [sa cheating]. Like when they say ‘Nagtext-text ra man, nagchat-chat ra man, it’s just conversation, but you are already sharing the intimacy with someone. That is still cheating,” Dr. Oaminal-Watin said.

(Others have different definitions (on cheating). Like when they say that ‘they are only having a text conversation with someone, that it was just a chat conversation, but you are already sharing the intimacy with someone. That is still cheating.)

From the perspective of psychology, she said, the triarchic or triangular theory of love is composed of intimacy, passion, and commitment.

“Intimacy means sharing yourself to someone [when] you have sad news or exciting news. You have passion, you are physically attracted to this person. And there is what we call commitment. It is a decision to stay in the relationship no matter what,” Dr. Oaminal-Watin explained.

Cheating happens, according to her, when the person decides to stray away from the relationship.

She said, for some people, they wanted to stay in the relationship especially in their marriage but they wanted something else.

Meanwhile, there are also people who choose to leave the relationship and look for someone else.

“Depending on perspectives [still] then it is cheating,” she said.

READ: A priest’s take on why adultery happens: It’s a symptom of a bigger problem

Why do people cheat?

Dr. Oaminal-Watin has provided reasons why people cheat by comparing it with a “business model.”

She started by asking the question: “Why did you not continue subscribing to a product or service? Or why did you continue?”

These were the reasons provided by the clinical psychologist:


People don’t continue [the relationship] because they are no longer satisfied. Just like in a relationship when one’s needs do not satisfy the needs of their current relationship, then that is why people try to find someone elsewhere because they are no longer satisfied.

Not enough investment

“Naay uban relationship moingon sila nga murag napul-an na sila gamay. Wa na kaayo sila kauyon. Di na kaayo sila satisfied, but they would want to continue the relationship because they were so invested in it already,” she said.

(There are other relationships where one will say that he or she is already a little bored with his or her relationship. They don’t like it anymore. They are not satisfied, but they would want to continue because they were so invested in it already.)

People might find it a waste to leave the relationship if they have already invested their time, money, attention, and affection.

But for some who did not have enough investment in their relationship, it would be easy for them to leave, she added.

Presence of quality alternative

Cheating can also be because of an opportunity, Dr. Oaminal-Watin said.

“But ato sad huna-hunaon nga dili pasabot nga ang tanang tawo presented with an opportunity [to cheat] kay will grab the opportunity,” she noted.

(But we will also consider that not all people when presented with an opportunity (to cheat) will grab the opportunity.)

However, she said that a person could also cheat even if there was no problem with the other party.

Sometimes, it’s not about the partner. It could be because that person is incapable of observing love, respect, and fidelity.

READ: Bill adds more grounds for legal separation

Psychological incapacity

Furthermore, she also provided another reason in relation to nullity of marriage, “on the ground of psychological incapacity.”

“Kung moingon gani ta’g (If we say) psychological incapacity, the person is not capable of serving love, respect, and fidelity,” she said.

In other words, it is not about the partner, but the person who is incapable of observing those things mentioned above.

She said that “this is not learned as an adult.”

“These [love, respect, and fidelity] are learned sukad sa imong pagkabata. Unsa’y makit-an nimo sa families. Wa sad ta magingon nga kung ang imong ginikanan magcheat, magcheat sad ang anak. But these are also risk factors,” she told CDN.

(These [love, respect, and fidelity] are learned since childhood. What you see in your families. We are also not saying that if your parents cheated, then the child will also cheat. But these are also risk factors.)

READ: Marital infidelity is punishable under the law – SC

Impacts of cheating


Dr. Oaminal-Watin said that cheating would have severe impacts.

“You may have seen that on the news nga kon ang bana or ang asawa makasakop siya sa iyahang spouse [or wife] nga magcheat, grabe gyud ang repercussions. Ang uban makabuhat og crime, ang uban naay magkuha’g video magpadayon gihapon og syagit, magpost sa Facebook,” she said.

(You may seen that on the news that if the husband or the wife will catch the other spouse [0r wife] cheating, the repercussions are great. Others can commit crime, others who get a video will continue to shout and post in Facebook.)

She added that when the partner would cheat, the other party would endure the betrayal and the pain. It would make the other party ask themselves if they were good enough for their partner.

“What is being targeted there is self-esteem and self-worth when the person is being betrayed,” she said.


When parents would cheat, Dr. Oaminal-Watin said that children would begin to question, “Are these the kind of parents that we have?”

According to her, people have the idea that parents know what is best. So, when children see their parents cheating, they begin to question what is best for them.

The children are under the guidance of their parents. If cheating happens, they also start to question the competence of their parents, she said.

Moreover, it could also affect the stability and security in the family. A child would feel the insecurity which would lead them blaming themselves for the infidelity of their parents.

READ: Netizens on cheaters and their ‘kabits’: Pray for them

Mental health

Anxiety and depression are possible things that can happen to the person being cheated on, according to the clinical psychologist.

“Moingon ta’g anxiety, you are not in control. So, moingon ka nga nagcheat imong partner, you are not in control,” she said.

(When we say anxiety, you are not in control. So when you say that your partner cheated, then you are not in control.)

She said that the other party would have the tendency to ask their partner’s whereabouts because they would want to know where they were going and what they were doing, all because of the fear that the cheating might happen again.

“It would cause anxiety because it gives you the realization that you are not in control. It makes you so anxious,” she said.

She added that when one would be anxious, the manifestations would be kind of similar to depression.

But she clarified that people who would experience anxiety and depression would not mean that they would already be suffering from anxiety disorder and depressive disorder.

“One can be anxious, not necessarily with anxiety disorder. You can be sad but not necessarily with a depressive disorder, but ang uban mapadung gyud didto, mao nang kinahanglan gyud ta’g mental health professional (but others will be headed there, that is why they will really need mental health professionals),” she added.

Healing takes time

She shared with CDN that she also had clients who underwent similar situations and that healing would take time.

“Dugay man gud kaayo maayo. The healing of relationships nga naay cheating, dugay kaayo [maayo],” she stated.

(It will really take time to heal. The healing of relationships where there is cheating, it really takes time (to heal).)

According to her, there is no duration of when this healing lasts.

“For some couples, they still continue with their relationship but naa gihapo’y mahabilin (there is still something left). They still want to continue their relationship but the esteem of the other person, the self-worth, has already been shattered. So, even if nahinay-hinay niya og heal, dili siya totally mo-heal kay (that person will slowly heal, that person will not totally heal because) it can become traumatic,” she said.

When giving advice to the one who have been cheated on

She said that when giving advice to people who have been cheated on, people should not question their feelings.

“Sometimes our friends moingon gani, ‘Ah move on na lang dayon. Kalimti na lang na.’ I find that quite rude,” she said.

(Sometimes, our friends will say, ‘Ah you just move on right now. You just forget it.’ I find that quite rude.)

She said that the person would need to express his or her feelings and people should acknowledge what they felt.

“We let it be kung mao iyang gibati (We let it be if that is what he or she feels),” she said.

To the party who have been cheated, according to her, grieving is present after the cheating incident because there is a part of the relationship that died at that moment.


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