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‘Feeling Desired For The First Time In a Long Time’: NZers On What Lead Them To Cheat

We asked NZers to share their honest cheating stories and lift the lid on what drives someone to do it. 
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Cheating doesn’t exactly have a great reputation – ask anyone who’s been cheated on. 

But this doesn’t mean that people who have cheated should be treated as a homogenous mass of evil-doers and bad decision makers. The desire to cheat can stem from so many different places: from the surface level to incredibly deep insecurity or misunderstood desires. 

And what better way is there of understanding the instinct than to ask the people that have done it. VICE spoke to Xavier, Harvey and Joe about what led them to cheating and what advice they’d give to people who’ve made the same mistakes. 


Here’s what they had to say.



Cheated at 22

VICE: Can you describe the relationship you were in when you cheated?

Xavier: I was in an exclusive relationship at the time, we had been together for two and a half years.

And how did you cheat? 

A coworker and I kissed at a staff party when I was very drunk, then we didn’t discuss it until a few weeks later when she and I were walking home together.  We ended up making out and having sex, then hooking up a few more times over the next few months. It was entirely about the sex as both of us were in relationships.

What led you to do it? 

I’d say the main factor behind it was feeling desired and wanted by someone for the first time in a long time. [In my relationship] I wasn’t getting any physical attention. And also that the cheating wasn’t an emotional commitment. The relationship I was in was very draining for me, mentally.

I think a large part of what led to my own cheating was an inability to communicate with my then-partner, and also suppressing my own feelings about things that were happening in our relationship for the sake of their mental health, which obviously ended up backfiring.

How did you feel while it was happening? 

Afterwards I felt guilty, but I mostly repressed how I was feeling about it. My relationship at the time wasn’t healthy which made it easier to ignore what I was doing was wrong.


Did you ever do it again?

I did sleep with another person again a couple of years later and this made me end my relationship, although I didn’t tell my partner about that. I ended up speaking to a therapist, who helped me realise that I didn’t feel like I was in a relationship, I felt like I was having to emotionally care for another person and their mental health, and that that was a large reason for my behaviour.



Cheated at 19 

VICE: Could you describe the relationship you were in at the time?

Harvey: It was your classic, like, dating during high school and then finishing high school and going to different universities. So we were together for two years, but a year of that was long distance. And we were in a closed but honest relationship. And the cheating was… It was with one person. It was emotional and physical and happened multiple times over a good couple of months.

Could you explain what led to you cheating? 

While I saw him pretty regularly, I guess I was craving that connection with someone in the same city as me.

How did you feel after it happened? 

It was really difficult because I still really loved the person that I was with. I felt really conflicted, because I wanted it to be okay. I wanted to be able to still be together, because in my eyes I still loved them, I just wanted more. I wanted someone in the same city that I could spend time with, and also be with them.


I felt really guilty because I hurt them so badly and betrayed their trust. But I also felt like I didn't understand why it couldn't just be okay. But, obviously, I'd gone down the wrong path of getting that. 

How did your partner find out?

I’d been asking for an open relationship and he knew I'd made new friends, so he was putting the two things together. He was quite suspicious and I was always denying it. And then he found out because he went through my Facebook messages.

Did you or would you ever do it again? 

I didn’t. I wouldn't do it again because now I have more language for relationships and ability to communicate and exist within like, open relationships. I’m more capable of being able to have multiple relationships and not needing to be deceitful. Morally, I would rather talk about that sort of stuff than need to go behind someone's back. 

Do you have any advice to anyone who has cheated?

Yeah, I think what I found really difficult about my experience was that the general stereotype of cheating is pretty harsh. That whole, once a cheater, always a cheater thing… 

And obviously I'm not saying I sympathise but I definitely know that it's a lot less black and white than a lot of people treat it. Mine didn't come from a place of vindictiveness or trying to hurt someone. The reason I cheated was because I was still in love with my partner, and I didn't want to leave them. But I wanted more.


I just felt so dirty and wrong and bad but I also felt like no one understood what I had gone through on my side of things. It's just like, all cheaters are bad people. 

I was just trying to navigate still being in love with my partner, but also wanting to be with someone else. I took the bad route of cheating, but I was just trying to navigate those feelings. And so I think… don't be too hard on yourself. There's a lot of nuance and you're not a terrible, terrible person, you just made the wrong decision about something that's really difficult. 

Maybe you're just someone who is capable of being in love with multiple people and you're taking the route of cheating instead of actually discussing it.



Cheated at 26

VICE: Tell me about the relationship you were in at the time? 

Joe: I’d been seeing a girl on-and-off for probably about a year or so. I’m pretty sure she wanted more from the relationship than I did. And I was stringing her along probably too long. I feel quite bad about that now and she didn’t deserve that. 

How did you come to cheat on her? 

I was in a bar with a friend and we started chatting to a group of girls. At this point I had no intention of doing anything. We hung out with them most of the night and at some point one of the girls added me on Facebook. 


There was definitely a spark between us but still no intention of doing anything. We went our separate ways, but exchanged a few flirty messages and then a week or so later she messaged me and asked me and my friends for drinks. This happened a few times. 

Then one night we were walking home in the same direction and we kissed, and one thing led to another.

I split up with the other girl the next day. I should have 100% broken up with her before but I was just too cowardly.

How did it make you feel? 

I was feeling pretty awful and also realising I didn’t want to be with her.

Did you tell her about the cheating?

I didn’t tell her I’d cheated, I felt like that would just hurt her more, especially as I ended up getting together with the other girl and we were together for 4 and a half years. Ironically, she ended up cheating on me, so I guess that’s karma. I don’t really speak to either of them any more but that’s just cause we’ve drifted apart. If I saw them I’d definitely say hello to both.

What are your thoughts on cheating now? 

Being cheated on is fucking horrible. It all depends on the circumstances but if you're cheating on someone multiple times then you’re in the wrong relationship. And if you think you’ve been cheated on then there is already a trust issue and the relationship is probably f****d anyway if you don’t talk about it. 


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Rachel Barker is a writer / producer at VICE NZ in Aotearoa. You can find her @rachellydiab on IG and Letterboxd and see her film criticism on Youtube