Why Do Men Cheat?
The age-old question, why do men cheat, has some clear answers, and while answers might be what you think you’re looking for, it’s only part of what will help you heal.
While researching this article, I came upon a few other pieces that proved interesting, including this one, which takes an interesting spin on it.
I also conducted more scientific research and landed on the same things I think you’ll find enlightening.
Multiple studies I discovered said that while roughly eleven percent of women cheat, the number is closer to twenty-two percent for men. These studies also indicate that men are more likely to cheat from age forty on for men and between ages forty to fifty for women.
First, let’s look at the anatomy of an affair, then we’ll uncover the answer to the question of why do men cheat, and finally, we’ll look at some things you can do to avoid cheating or deal with its aftermath.
In This Article:
The Anatomy of an Affair
Affairs last different lengths and have different depths of feeling, depending on the reason for the affair.
When an affair is due to anger, feeling unloved, or needing variety, the affair is more likely to last longer than an affair of opportunity.
When a man feels a lower connection to his partner, he often feels a deeper connection to the woman he’s having an affair with. Still, only around ten percent of affairs use the “L” word.
Interestingly, more affairs involve kissing and cuddling than intercourse, bolstering the argument that some people seek affairs due to feeling less of an emotional attachment to their partner.
While most cheaters don’t want to get caught, those cheating out of anger want to get caught to punish the partner they’re angry with. Additionally, cheaters who feel neglected or who lack self-esteem are less likely to care if they’re seen on a date with someone else because it boosts their self-esteem. The final group who may want to get caught are those who want out of their current entanglement.
I bet you’re wondering how often cheaters confess. When the cheating is due to neglect or anger, the cheater is more likely to confess. Those who confess are more likely to form a committed relationship with the affair partner.
Why Do Men Cheat?
They Don’t Believe It’s Wrong
If a man grew up in an environment where one or both of his parents cheated on the other, he might not see anything wrong with cheating. It was the normal state of things in his own family.
While research indicates that nearly 80% of men believe infidelity is always or almost always wrong, twenty percent still think otherwise. The percentages are the same for women, by the way.
Some are Emotionally Immature
Boys, and then men, are encouraged to be stoic and not to be afraid or vulnerable. Men should be autonomous, independent, in charge, successful, competitive, and strong.
As boys grow up, they identify more with being action-oriented problem solvers than individuals who understand their emotions.
To further the problem, since men aren’t allowed to be in touch with their emotions, there are very few emotions that are more difficult for them to process: anger, fear, sadness, and shame.
Rather than deal with these difficult emotions, they seek a distraction, sometimes in the form of an affair.
In the case of some men, emotional immaturity comes from a lack of experience in romantic relationships. His past experiences haven’t taught him that his actions have consequences, especially if he didn’t learn it as a child.
Monogamy might be something he puts on and takes off like a favorite sports jersey.
They’re Experiencing Other Issues
Suppose a man is struggling with his emotions or has an addictive personality. In that case, he may be battling a drug or alcohol addiction, which lowers inhibitions and distorts his decision-making ability.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a relationship deal-breaker. Someone battling addiction must first acknowledge the addiction and spend months, if not a year or more, overcoming that addiction. There’s no room for a relationship in recovery.
If his issue is sexual addiction, his desire for sex is a compulsion he uses to numb the pains of his life and avoid dealing with them.
Why Do Men Cheat? They Have Low Self-Esteem
Even if your guy was a confident man when you first met him, things come along to chip away at that confidence and self-esteem. A job loss or loss of income is one prime example of how this can happen.
He might feel he’s getting too old or losing his looks. If he’s lost income, he may fear he isn’t financially stable or smart enough anymore.
To pull himself out of his doldrums, he might seek affairs with women so he can begin to feel wanted or important again.
They Want Out
Sometimes, a man wants out of a relationship but cheats rather than asking for a breakup, separation, or divorce.
Cheating accomplishes either getting the female to initiate the breakup or finding someone else to be in a relationship with before the old relationship ends so he isn’t alone.
Either way, it’s the cheap way out. Rather than owning that he’s done with the current relationship, he cheats and forces the issue.
Why Do Men Cheat? They Lack Male Companionship
It is healthy and arguably necessary to have friends of the same sex. Men should have male friends, and women should have female friends. These friendships form bonds you can’t have with a spouse or mate.
They also help you have an active social life outside your love relationships. For a man, having male friends helps him socially and sometimes with his emotional struggles. Another guy understands what he’s going through better than you. Sorry.
If he doesn’t have those male friendships, he relies on his female counterpart to meet the emotional needs she probably can’t because she isn’t a guy and doesn’t fully understand. Inevitably, she’ll let him down, and he’ll seek another woman, thinking she will understand.
They Don’t Understand the Difference Between Lust and Commitment
At the beginning of a relationship, there is a chemical heat that can also be called romantic intensity. That initial heat, or lust, can be confused with love. While there are certainly instances where that chemistry and heat lead to long-term commitment, that intensity transitions into a less intense but more meaningful connection.
If he’s always seeking the heat, not waiting for the next stage of a relationship, or not understanding that he’s transitioned to that next stage, he’ll continue seeking the heat.
They Have Attachment Issues
There are traumas in childhood that cause both men and women to have attachment and intimacy issues. If someone has suffered abuse, for example, he may be unwilling or unable to commit to just one person fully.
Additionally, rather than dealing with those wounds, sexual excitement might serve as a distraction from the emotional pain of his youth.
They’re Selfish or Narcissistic
If your guy cheated, you might have snagged a guy who’s too selfish or narcissistic to be in a committed relationship.
In this case, a guy cheating has little to no regard for how his actions impact you. All he cares about is how his actions are affecting him. This type of guy sees monogamy as something he does not want.
His selfishness might also lead him to believe he deserves a life different from that of other men. The usual rules don’t apply to someone as special as him.
Why Do Men Cheat? Opportunity Knocked
In several studies I read, men were more likely to cheat on someone from work if the workplace had many women to create the possibility. If the workplace only had a few women, the odds of cheating were lower.
A man might never consider cheating until that opportunity arises, and then he finds it irresistible.
They Have Unrealistic Expectations
This might sound like the selfish or narcissistic guy above, but that doesn’t always fit. If a man grew up in a home where his mother took care of his or his father’s every need, twenty-four-seven, he might have unrealistic expectations of a real relationship.
Someone doting on him from day one of his life sets him up for the belief that that’s how his life should always be.
He doesn’t understand that you have a life of your own. Your life should only involve doting on him and meeting his every need.
They Weren’t Committed to The Relationship
A man may claim that he was never very committed to the relationship, thus justifying his infidelity. This occurs more often in a dating scenario than in a marriage. He may argue that while you thought you were a couple, he wasn’t there yet, and maybe he wasn’t.
Why Do Men Cheat? They Feel Neglected
Women often think that men don’t have feelings because they don’t express them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If a man feels neglected in his relationship, he’ll cheat. He will seek out the emotional attachment and sense of belonging he misses with his wife or partner.
While it’s essential to have a life outside your relationship, it’s also important to nurture your partner and your relationship.
The challenge is in finding the right balance. Encourage him to develop and maintain friendships with other men, and you establish and maintain female friendships. Spend time together, but don’t be disappointed when your partner wants to spend time with his friends.
The Sex Isn’t What It Once Was
There are stages in a relationship when sex becomes hotter or cooler. When couples are young, and there are young children, sleeplessness might diminish sexual desire. If you’re experiencing challenges at work or with your children, the stress might make sex less desirable.
Still, taking time for that special aspect of your relationship is essential. Sex isn’t just about having an orgasm; it’s about spending quality time with your partner and sharing a physical closeness. It’s the heat and the chemistry, but it’s also the time after when you’re snuggling or talking or even drifting off to sleep.
If a man feels your relationship is lacking sexually, he’ll look elsewhere. The best way to combat this is to keep things exciting between the sheets. Be sure to set aside time for one another. Find some sex games to play or read sexual fantasy books together. Don’t allow your sex life to become mundane, for your own sake, as much as his.
Why Do Men Cheat? They’re Angry
Yes. Cheating may be the result of your guy being angry with you. Whatever has occurred between you, he’s decided that cheating on you is his best way to seek revenge. In this case, he’s unlikely to hide his cheating. He wants you to know he’s cheating so you can hurt as much as he does.
What’s the Aftermath of Cheating and How Can You Deal with It?
The Affair Partner
The affair’s impact on the partner who is part of the cheating relationship depends on the reason for the cheating. In cheating due to anger or neglect, there is a greater likelihood that the relationship will last longer.
However, if the affair is opportunity-based or due to a lack of sexual variety at home, the affair is less likely to continue.
In only one in ten affairs, the relationship transitioned into a long-term committed relationship. In nearly sixty percent of the affairs, there was either occasional contact or a residual friends-only relationship. Roughly one-fourth of affair partners are entirely shut out with no contact whatsoever.
The Primary Partner
I was surprised to learn that only twenty percent of all relationships that suffer through an affair end in divorce. Another twenty percent remained together despite knowing about the affair, and almost thirty percent of the relationships stayed together because the primary partner never discovered the affair.
Of course, as you’ve read, an affair based on anger or neglect will be more likely to continue than the other types. An affair out of opportunity lasted the least amount of time and was less often discovered.
After you discover that your guy has cheated, you can do a few things to determine your next steps.
Involve a Counselor or Unbiased Friend
The first thing to uncover is what caused the cheating to occur in the first place. Knowing why he cheated will help you understand what steps to take next. Involving a counselor is recommended if you both decide to repair the relationship.
A counselor can help you work through the issues that caused the cheating, rebuild trust and develop a deeper understanding of one another.
Do Either of You Want to Continue This Relationship?
Ask your partner what he wants to do. Is he committed to his new relationship, or does he regret his mistake and want to return?
At the same time, however, you must examine your feelings. Can you trust him again, with time? Rebuilding trust takes time, and if he’s genuinely remorseful, he understands he has a lot of work ahead of him. However, if you feel you can’t trust him, it’s time to end things.
Do You Still Want the Relationship?
Another difficult question is whether you still want a relationship with this man. Are there underlying issues that you’re willing to work on? Is he willing to work on them? Is this relationship worth fixing, or would you rather start with someone new?
Why Do Men Cheat? What Can You Do?
While everyone automatically assumes that the answer to why do men cheat is that they do it for sex, the truth is in the numbers. In the anatomy of a cheater section above, you read that many affair relationships involve cuddling and kissing, but not necessarily sex.
When anger and neglect aren’t an issue, men cheat because they’re missing an emotional connection in the relationship.
While I’ll never go as far as to say an affair is your fault, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to help prevent an affair in your relationship. Let’s look at a few.
Encourage Date Nights
One great way to avoid an affair is to set aside one evening a week for a date night. This gives you and your partner a chance to reconnect and discuss anything that might be going on.
Make your date nights technology-free times, except for needing your phone for a babysitter or in the event of one of you being on call for work.
While I don’t encourage you to discuss complex issues on date night, discussing them while you’re both in a good mood is always better than discussing something while you’re angry.
Learn How He Loves
I wish I could tell you how many women reach out to me because they think their guy doesn’t love them. There is a massive disconnect between how men express love and how women want it to be expressed.
There is every likelihood that your guy is showing you his love every day in the little things he does for you, yet because you’re waiting for three words, you miss the cues.
The next thing you know, you’re angry because you think he doesn’t love you, and he’s feeling neglected because you shut off the sex tap out of that anger.
Pay attention to those little things he does, like:
- Fixing something for you
- Doing chores to help you
- Getting you your favorite cookie or cup of coffee
- Sending you to the mall with his credit card to get that dress for your sister’s wedding
Those are just a few. Your guy may show it by appreciating that you cooked his favorite meal. He might give you a back rub or massage your feet after a long day. Men are action-oriented, and they show their love in actions.
Spice Things Up
Get a little risqué in the bedroom from time to time. Don’t always have sex in the same way. Try new positions or places. Read up on different ways to spice up your relationship. Find sex games to play if you feel stuck.
A man with sexual variety at home is much less likely to seek it outside the home, but this is as much for you as it is for him.
It isn’t just men who become bored with sex. Spice things up for your own sake too!
Let Him Chase You
Just because you’re in a committed relationship doesn’t mean he can’t chase you from time to time. Men love to chase after things – promotions, better cars, women. If he’s chasing you, he won’t try chasing another woman.
To get him to chase you, try some of these:
- Maintain a healthy social life outside of your relationship
- Be happy, playful, and receptive to his advances
- Make him think about you when you aren’t together by giving him a good long kiss before you leave or sticking a note in his briefcase
- Be mysterious; stop trying to prove to him that you’re the right one – let him figure it out on his own
- Do activities together; develop a mutual hobby or combine a hobby you each have into a new hobby to share
- Send him a flirty text
- Let him be the one to reach out after a date
- Be the first one to…; find out something he’s fantasized about or has always wanted to do and be the first one to do that with him
- Don’t force the relationship; let it develop naturally
Trigger His Hero Instinct
All men want to be your hero. Even though you don’t need a hero, he still needs to be your hero.
Ask him for help sometimes, even if you don’t need it. Don’t just ask for the sake of asking, and don’t be fake because while he’s a male, he’s not stupid.
Give him the chance to help and then appreciate his effort.
Also, don’t always be available when he asks. If you have other plans, keep them and suggest a different time to spend together. This makes him work for the relationship, which makes it that much more precious to him.
And finally, challenge him. Superheroes don’t show up for every problem, just the major emergencies, so challenge him with a competition of some sort. Split the grocery list and see who can get their items the fastest. Challenge him to a game of tennis or see who can take the furthest run.
Why Do Men Cheat?
While most men will cite lame excuses for cheating, a few reasons resonate, as you’ve seen above. Answering the question why do men cheat provides insight and knowledge on how to avoid the problem.
Working to avoid cheating isn’t just something you do for him; it’s something you do for yourself and your relationship. While I would never blame you for having a man cheat on you, I can suggest ways in which you can hope to avoid cheating altogether.
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