It’s Not You, It’s them: Neuropsychological explanation for Infidelity in relationships

Relationships have their boundaries and maintaining these is often perceived as a sign of love and respect for your partner. While these boundaries differ from person to person, one common boundary that is rigid across the board is ‘loyalty’. Romantic relationships put ‘being faithful’ as one of the most important values in their partner. 

Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful to you makes it seem like the world is falling apart. People often reach a stage where they may start nit-picking what they might have done wrong. with thoughts like ‘hey! If I had been perfect for him, he would not have strayed’. That is the furthest from the truth as it can be. Infidelity, cheating, unfaithfulness is a choice- a decision made after conscious effort- by the cheating partner. Some very interesting neuroscientific studies indicate why infidelity is surely a ‘them’ problem.

The brain is a wonderful organ. It thinks, feels, and also controls our behavior. To perform each activity to the best of its ability, the brain had different zones controlling different functions, the neurons and its employees, and some special intradepartmental and interdepartmental memos.

The Memo of attraction. A specific memo called PEA (short for phenyl-ethyl-amine) is in charge of the ‘high’ that you feel at the start of a relationship or around your crush. It is most active during the initial stages of the relationship and slowly decreases with time. Research has indicated that one of the main reasons for infidelity is chasing this ‘high’ feeling. This is also why most break-ups occur between 6 months to 2 years.

Poor brake-system. The limbic system is a brain area that focuses on behavior (both good or bad )that earns us rewards, aka makes us feel ‘nice’. And to control this area, we have the ‘brake-system or the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). When the PFC is weak, ‘bad’ behaviors with negative consequences occur more i.e being unfaithful. 

The high of Testosterone. While infidelity isn’t a gender-specific phenomenon, it is a behavior most commonly exhibited by males. While there are many evolutionary arguments for this disparity, neuroscience argues that a higher amount of testosterone in the body increases the chances of indulging in being unfaithful towards their partner. 

Neuro-imaging studies have indicated that the brains of cheaters and non-cheaters are different.

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.


MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Namita Sankar is a psychologist at You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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