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Why do people cheat when drunk: (3 Major Reasons)

Why do people cheat when drunk? Find out the psychological and biological factors that influence infidelity and how to prevent it.

Why do people cheat when drunk and What you can do about it

Infidelity is painful enough, but almost 60% of cheating occurs under the influence of alcohol. Imagine discovering your partner’s drunken indiscretion: the anger and humiliation can be profoundly devastating. This article explores the question – why do people cheat when drunk? We examine the psychological and interpersonal factors behind such betrayals beyond the simplistic explanation of intoxication alone.

Different types of cheating exist, from emotional intimacy to physical acts. Our focus is specifically on causes of drunk cheating that violates committed monogamous relationships. Why might intoxicated individuals more easily betray the trust of their partners? Understanding nuances around alcohol’s role can help make sense of such grief for those impacted.

We will unpack research on alcohol’s psychological effects, self-sabotaging human behaviors, and the unique situational risks drinking enables. Understanding the psychology behind cheating when drunk can provide meaningful insight into this profoundly painful issue impacting many relationships.

Why do people cheat when drunk?

Alcohol impairs judgment, lowers inhibitions, and affects decision-making, leading some individuals to make poor choices they wouldn’t make sober, like cheating on a partner.

The Psychological Effects of Alcohol:

Alcohol is a depressant that slows down neural activity and impairs cognitive functions. As a person drinks more, their ability to rationally consider consequences and risks diminishes. They become more impulsive, less inhibited, and often make poor or dangerous choices while intoxicated.

A brain diagram showing the effects of alcohol on different regions and functions-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
The Psychological Effects of Alcohol

“The parts of the brain that regulate our worst impulses start to turn off as drunkenness levels rise. This explains the otherwise bewildering decisions many who cheat while drunk report – they acted completely out of character for their sober selves.”

Beyond the Excuse:

While alcohol lowers inhibitions, it does not absolve personal accountability. Being drunk may help explain poor decision-making but does not justify causing harm to loved ones. People who cheat while intoxicated often have underlying issues in their relationship or personal life that alcohol exposes or amplifies rather than solely causing atypical behavior.

A man holding a sign that says "I'm sorry" while his partner looks away angrily-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
why do people cheat when drunk: Beyond the Excuse

Statistics and Research on drunk cheating reveal:

Exploring the Reasons for Drunk Cheating

1. Seeking Emotional Connection:

A couple arguing in a kitchen while a bottle of wine and two glasses are on the table-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
Seeking Emotional Connection

“Connecting to that momentary rush of romantic passion, flattery and positive attention from someone new often provides relief from feeling trapped in relationship problems during periods of intoxication.”

By Eli J. Finkel, Ph.D., Relationship Scientist.

2. Craving Novelty and Excitement:

The novelty-seeking behavior linked to alcohol consumption stems from biochemical reactions in the reward pathways of the brain. Under the influence, new experiences activate more dopamine neurotransmitters, reinforcing drinking behaviors. This is why intoxicated people often pursue thrilling situations and take more risks.

A group of young people laughing and drinking beer at a party-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
Craving Novelty and Excitement

“The rewards and pleasures of drinking alcohol stimulate the same dopamine neurotransmitter systems associated with rewarding experiences like food, sex, and recreational drugs.”

By National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

3. Avoiding Difficult Conversations:

Using alcohol to avoid uncomfortable relationship talks or numb emotional problems inevitably damages intimacy and trust. People may drink to cope with arguments, stress, or underlying issues their relationship faces. This avoidance while drinking can fuel tensions and resentment between partners.

A man holding a glass of wine and looking away from a woman who is trying to talk to him-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
Avoiding Difficult Conversations

“Self-expansion model suggests that alcohol provides temporary relief from relationship boredom, but it negatively impacts the long-term trajectory of intimacy and growth for couples avoiding real connection.”

By Journal of Family Psychology.

The Impact of Cheating While Intoxicated

Emotional and Psychological Consequences:

A woman crying and holding her phone, while a text message from her partner reveals his infidelity-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
Emotional and Psychological Consequences

Post-infidelity stress disorder shares similarities with post-traumatic stress symptoms, like flashbacks to the incident, withdrawal from friends and family, and inability to function normally in daily life. The pain of betrayal can also lead to clinical issues like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and alcohol abuse in the partner who was cheated on.

Relationship Dynamics:

Though some relationships survive infidelity with counseling and effort, most end after cheating occurs – especially without remorse and transparency between partners. Broken trust is tremendously hard to rebuild when it involves deliberate deception and betrayal. Victims feel unsafe expressing vulnerability when a supposedly faithful partner chooses infidelity.

Most relationship experts agree both partners bear the responsibility to foster mutual care, intimacy, and openness. If one repeatedly seeks emotional or physical solace outside the relationship, it indicates unaddressed issues impacting the foundation of that partnership. This requires deep examination by both people to adequately heal and potentially reconcile.

Societal and Ethical Considerations:

A group of people holding signs that say "Stop Drunk Cheating" and "Alcohol is not an excuse".-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
Societal and Ethical Considerations

Legally, intoxication is never a sufficient defense for committing criminal adultery in a military or civilian court in most countries. Privately, even one-off drunken lapses can profoundly rupture bonds of intimacy. Most relationship experts underscore communication, emotional work, confession, and amends as necessary for surviving betrayal under the influence.

For the Cheater:

For the Partner Betrayed:

Counseling aids in managing overwhelming emotions, gaining impartial feedback and possibly reconciling if cheating patterns change and amends are made over time.

Setting Boundaries and Preventing Future Mistakes

Steps individuals and couples should take to prevent drunk cheating include:

  • Openly communicating relationship needs and values frequently.
  • Setting clear boundaries with friends, coworkers, and alcohol use.
  • Making positive relationship enhancements like date nights.
  • Attending therapy or counseling to build intimacy skills.
  • Avoiding slippery situations like heavy drinking without one’s partner.
  • Making contingency plans ahead of events with alcohol.
A couple holding hands and walking away from a bar, with a sign that says "Drink responsibly".-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:
Setting Boundaries and Preventing Future Mistakes

Building transparency rather than distrust also helps. Partners demonstrate loyalty by showing care and consideration even when apart socially. Accountability for both helps limit potential betrayal by maintaining intimacy in the relationship.

Seeking Support and Resources:

Many excellent resources exist, like couples counseling, support groups for cheating recovery, addiction treatment centers, and individual psychiatry or psychotherapy for managing emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, etc. Local community health centers also offer relationship resources. Recovering from drunk cheating requires non-judgmental support and proper help.


While alcohol impairs judgment, it does not absolve cheaters of responsibility for the ensuing trauma. Understanding why do people cheat when drunk involves acknowledging the complexity of human behavior and relationships.

An image illustrating the concept of infidelity influenced by alcohol consumption-(why do people cheat when drunk) image source:

Key Takeaways:

  • Recovery is challenging but involves regaining self-worth, establishing boundaries, seeking counseling, and potentially reconciling if the cheating partner demonstrates changed behavior over time.
  • Preventative measures like open communication about needs and values, accountability when drinking apart, prioritizing intimacy, and date nights can help protect relationships from drunken threats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions related to the topic “why do people cheat when drunk”:

Would you remember if you cheated while drunk?

Alcohol can impair memory formation, making it difficult to recall events that occurred during heavy intoxication or blackouts. Some may not remember cheating while drunk.

How to stop yourself from cheating when drunk?

Strategies to avoid drunk cheating include setting personal boundaries, avoiding excessive drinking, being honest with yourself and your partners, and surrounding yourself with supportive friends.

Why do people cheat on people they love?

Even with loved ones, some may cheat due to unmet emotional needs, feeling undervalued, seeking validation, or struggling with commitment. Individual and relationship issues contribute.

What happens when someone cheats while blackout drunk?

Cheating during a blackout can lead to shame, guilt, ruined trust, and relationship damage. Alcohol isn’t an excuse; both partners must address underlying issues.

Is being drunk an excuse for cheating?

Alcohol isn’t an excuse for infidelity. Though it lowers inhibitions, adults are still responsible for their actions and must face the consequences of drunk cheating.

Can alcohol and cheating statistics provide insight into this behavior?

Research indicates a correlation between alcohol consumption and increased rates of infidelity, suggesting alcohol may be an influential factor in unfaithful behavior.

Is drunk cheating forgivable?

Forgiveness depends on the individuals involved and the circumstances. Trust is fragile; drunk cheating requires open communication, accountability, remorse, and a concerted effort to rebuild trust.

Why do alcoholics cheat?

Chronic alcoholism and addiction can contribute to patterns of infidelity due to impaired judgment, inability to control impulses, and prioritizing alcohol over relationships.

How to rebuild trust after cheating occurs under the influence of alcohol?

Rebuilding trust requires honesty, establishing boundaries, professional counseling, demonstrating accountability, and consistently nurturing the relationship through open communication and actions.


Hi, I am Asif, a relationship expert and blogger who loves to share practical tips and advice on how to improve your love life. I am an author on, a blog that covers topics such as dating, communication, intimacy, and breakups. I believe that everyone deserves to find happiness and fulfillment in their relationships.

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