Cheating has been around for millennia, but the repercussions of infidelity are heartbreak, family disintegration, possible violence, and even financial ruin. And yet, people still cheat!
Why do Men Cheat?
What exactly is considered Cheating or Infidelity?
If you asked a hundred people to define their definition of cheating we would probably come up with a hundred different scenarios of what actually constitutes cheating. Is flirting cheating? Is a one night stand cheating? Is emotional bonding or attraction with someone other than your partner considered cheating? No matter what the definition of cheating is, there is one thing most of us can agree on: cheating or infidelity is a destructive force that breaks trust and can compromise the health of the relationship.
So why do people cheat in the first place? Well, while there are differences in the ways that men and women cheat, research has found that men cheat more than women, so today we’ll discuss the psychology of cheating when it comes to the fellas.
Sexual vs. Emotional Cheating
It should be no surprise to note that men and women respond differently in their reaction to sexual vs. emotional infidelity. In a comprehensive research study conducted by Chapman University, researchers found that men were more upset over sexual or physical cheating than women. Women were found to be more upset over emotional cheating than men were.
This comes as no surprise to me since women tend to value the emotional connection with a partner more highly than the physical one. The thought of their spouse falling in love with another woman triggered strong feelings of jealousy for most female participants.
This could be interpreted in the following way: a woman needs to know that a man will be there for her and her children and invest all of his emotional, physical, and financial resources into the family unit and not the lover or the lover’s children. In a way, it’s a matter of the preservation of the family.
This is probably why a man may often dismiss a casual affair by explaining to his wife that he was never in love with the mistress as a way to justify the indiscretion.
Who is Most Likely to be Unfaithful?
A man who feels insecure or needs validation and affirmation from the opposite sex is a prime candidate for cheating. A man who feels less than, not supported or valued will seek affirmation outside the marriage. It doesn’t matter how much the wife supports him and stands by his side because, in his insecure mind, he feels that there must be something wrong with her in order to love a man like him. So in his eyes, she is devalued and not good enough for his fallen ego. It’s like that Groucho Marx joke: I wouldn’t want to join a club that would have me as a member.
According to infidelity statistics, men are more likely to stray if they are financially dependent on a woman. However, they are less likely to cheat if they make MORE money than their spouse. But here’s where it gets dicey again: If they earn more than 70% more income in relation to the woman, the likelihood of a man cheating increases again.
Age plays a factor in identifying potential strayers. Older men are more likely to cheat than younger ones. Baby boomers who grew up during the sexual revolution tend to cheat more than millennials. Also, when a milestone birthday is coming up, a man may feel compelled to go out there and prove he’s still got it. (Remember, they need affirmation and they go and seek it outside the relationship.)
And you’ve heard of the old adage: once a cheater, always a cheater? Well, unfortunately, this is more than a trite cliché. Psychologists have found that men who have cheated in a previous relationship are more likely to repeat the pattern and cheat on the new partner than men who have never cheated before.
The Opportunistic Nature of Cheating
Why does he cheat? Because he can. Many men confess to hooking up while on a business trip. The opportunity, the ease, the anonymity all lend themselves to create a perfect scenario for a cheater. He’s in a strange town, knows nobody–no harm no foul, right?
This is similar to online infidelity, although, online cheating has a more insidious nature. Because the proliferation of online hookup sites and the private nature, again the anonymity of online activities, the internet presents a host of opportunities for a cheater to find what he’s looking for. What’s more, online affairs can start out as playful escapades, or “innocent” emotional affairs but a great percent of them turn in to real affairs.
Can a Relationship be Saved Once Cheating Has Occurred?
So now what do you do? Can you save your relationship after the shock of infidelity? Most men do feel guilt, remorse, and shame over their peccadillos, so this is good news, especially to those who want to demonize men by calling them pigs and dogs. By comparing them to animals and alluding to their lack of feelings and emotions we trivialize the complexity of cheating and infidelity and why it happened in the first place.
By understanding the cause of infidelity in our relationship, we can possibly put our relationship in a place that’s strong, solid, and protected from the temptations that swirl around us daily. Preserving and maintaining the love in a partnership takes work and a lot of forgiveness, patience, and perseverance.