Why Do Men Cheat?

Why Do Men Cheat?
From Psychology Today, a smart and concise description of why men risk so much for so little:

Explanations (for cheating) are easy to come by, ranging from economics (He finally has enough money and status to be attractive to sexy young women at the peak of their reproductive power) to existential dread (he’s coming to terms with his own mortality by lashing out symbolically against his own impending old age and death) to the wife’s life cycle (she’s nearing menopause so he’s biologically driven toward the fertility of younger women). Each of these may have some measure of truth, but none answers the most pressing question: Why do men have such overwhelming hunger for variety in their sexual partners-not just at mid-life, but always?…

Researchers found that for men, sexual boredom was correlated with variety in partners (or lack thereof), while for women, it was more related to variety in activity. In other words, women were more likely to be satisfied by changes in the sexual what, while men (gay or straight) were more likely to respond to a changes in the sexual whom. It’s a simple, unavoidable truth almost everyone knows to be true, but few dare to discuss: variety and change are the necessary spice of the sex life of the male of our species.

I couldn’t agree more. Monogamy is very much a choice – a choice to build a life, raise a family, preserve a lifestyle, ensure security and sanctity of marriage. And because it does not mesh with men’s biological needs, it takes a strong man (or one who has lots to lose) to ignore his biological imperatives and remain faithful to one woman.

I wrote about my fear of cheating here, before I was married, and that fear remains the same today. I’m a pretty strong man, in a happy marriage, with an amazing wife. And yet I’ll never lose my desire to seek out other women. I just can’t act on it. Lots of men do, especially when time has passed, especially when things are rocky, especially when they don’t think they’ll be caught.

Acknowledging this doesn’t negate the strength of my marriage. Quite the contrary. Instead of pretending that we’ll only desire only each other for the rest of our lives, we call attention to it, laugh about it, diffuse it by bringing it to the surface. The fact that I can have these conversations with my wife – and that she understands and accepts me – is EXACTLY why I’ll never cheat on her.

It’s easy to find someone else you’re attracted to; it’s really hard to find someone who loves you for all that you are.

THAT’s what keeps men monogamous – not the silly idea that we’ll be so attracted to one woman that we’ll never have eyes for another.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Zann

    In a nutshell, I’m sick to death and downright weary of the energy expended to figure out why men cheat. Because even if we do somehow figure it out, prove it scientifically, then what? Would it curb the amount of male cheating or simply justify it further (“I couldn’t help it, it’s in my genes.” Or “Why fight mother nature?”) I prefer to treat the issue of cheating as genderless. Men may biologically be more vulnerable to straying, but women have their own boiling cauldron of hormonal demons to deal with. All humans develop a code of ethics, whether they acknowledge them or not. We make ethical decisions daily, and usually those decisions make living in a society more harmonious. We can choose to give up our seat on the bus to someone older or physically challenged, or not. It’s pretty uncomplicated, really. You choose to cheat or not to cheat, but there are always consequences. Personally, I prefer not to hurt people if I can avoid it, so if I know my partner would be hurt if I cheated, but I go ahead and do it anyway, I’ve violated my own “code” of ethics, and I have to live with that, whether I’m ever caught or not. Because I always have to live with me. It really is that simple. It might also have something to do with maturity. As a woman, I can drool over, crave, and downright crave a nicelooking guy, but my maturity tells me I can’t always have what I crave, nor should I.

  2. 32
    downtowngal

    starthrower68 #30, good points. But I wonder if you’d be as willing to move on if you had kids? A lot of women who’ve stayed home w the kiddies face this issue of dealing with a cheating husband vs. going through the trauma of divorce.

  3. 33
    starthrower68

    Downtowngal @30,

    I did leave my marriage and struck out on my own with three children. It was due to verbal abuse, but I digress. Your point is valid. It would depend on my husband’s remorse, ability to take responsibility for his actions, repent of it, and not repeat the behavior.

  4. 34
    Steven

    Lance @ 27

    “Question: How do you explain swingers and ployamorists, of which there may be 100k to millions of in the country?”

    To the extent they need to be explained I’d simply say they’re confused, disenfranchised souls failing to reach their potential.

  5. 35
    Steven

    Zann @ 31

    What she said…

  6. 36
    downtowngal

    starthrower68 #33, I commend you! And you did the right thing. I know of someone who’s in a situation worse than what you left but has put up with it because of the kids and financial security. So in that way she’s allowing his behavior to continue.

    As for swingers (Lance #27 and Steven #34), from what I understand, according to a marriage counselor I know, these aren’t happy marriages. It’s usually the guy’s idea and the wife goes along with it. It’s a guy’s way of trying to legitimize his unfaithfulness. “Oh, if I include her in, it’s ok”.

    Women tend to be more accommodating than guys and as a result put up with a lot of crap.

  7. 37
    starthrower68

    Thanks for the kind words, downtowngal; without going off on an entirely different tangent, I will just say that the ex and I have both grown as people, he’s happily remarried, I’m happily living life and we’re friends and working together for the kids. They are much healthier emotionally because they don’t have to deal with dad and I fighting all the time.

    With regard to women being more accomodating, I agree that for the most part we are. Or at least maybe we are when we we’re younger. You’ve seen the posts on here where older women are called “judgemental”. I would respectfully submit that older women know what we’ll put up with and what we won’t and are better at enforcing our boundaries. Of course that’s not true in every case, but as a general rule.

  8. 38
    Michael

    If, variety and change are the necessary spice of life for the male of our species how is female infidelity explained? Which some studies have suggested is on the rise.
    Maybe the same is true for women too.

  9. 39
    downtowngal

    star68 #37, I can’t agree more. I’ve been called ‘picky’ when in fact I’ve learned not to put up with unsatisfactory situations, i.e. guys who are rude, condescending, demonstrate stalking behaviour, play games, send mixed messages, never follow up after a terrific date, too pushy then get defensive/angry after I push back, txt me at midnight instead of making a proper date…you get the idea.

    The ones calling me ‘picky’ are my single friends who put up with this crap. My married friends call me smart.

  10. 40
    downtowngal

    michael #38, “how is female infidelity explained?”

    A husband who is never home and/or ignores his wife’s emotional needs. and refuses to do anything about it

  11. 41
    downtowngal

    Evan, rather than state why someone may or may not cheat, what would you advise someone to DO if they found out their other half was cheating?

  12. 42
    Joe

    A husband who is never home and/or ignores his wife’s emotional needs. and refuses to do anything about it
    So…analogous to a wife who ignores her husband’s sexual needs?

  13. 43
    starthrower68

    This is a timely post; I have a friend who was flirting with me big time, which I found very puzzling, so I asked him what was going on in his marriage. Turns out things have not been good at all. I told him to rent the move “Fireproof” and do “The Love Dare” on his wife. Could he cheat? Sure, but to what end? It will give him short term satisfaction without really getting to the root of the problem. I asked him if he loved his wife and told him that it was more of a decision than a feeling. He said he believes his wife knows he’s the type to stay with her for the sake of the kids and grandkids. I told him that maybe she needs to know he’ll do it for her sake. I’m hoping that healing is brought to that marriage.

  14. 44
    Sometimes

    @ downtowngal
    I truly believe that anyone can cheat – anyone; the right place, the right time, the right curcimstances, or rather the wrong place, time, and curcimstances. So I forgave and forgot after his1st affair. Only to have to repeat the painful, heartwrenching experience and the divorce years later.

    If I knew the 1st time what I know now – I would have cut the ties then. I didn’t save myself (or my kids) anything.

  15. 45
    Sometimes

    And FYI – Much happier now. Someone who cheats is someone who really only thinks of themselves – not a good quality in a partner.

  16. 46
    Steve

    I’m amazed by the number of people I come across who are cheating. Everywhere I go and these are not otherwise scummy people.

    I agree with Evan, cheating is a choice.

    I think those who cheat are moral cowards. I came very close to having an affair with a married woman. My emotional needs had gone unmet for a long time. I wanted what I wanted, badly.

    You know what? It was tough to do, but I ended the friendship. I just sucked it up, took responsibility and did it.

    I’m not a master of self discipline. If I can do it, anyone can. I think people just rationalize not doing it because they have sense of entitlement to anything they want to have.

    Having said that I think Evan and his wife are ahead of us by accepting the realities of relationships and doing what they can to manage those realities to give their relationship the best fighting chance they can.

  17. 47
    Anisa

    @ downtowngal # 32

    The most cheating occurs when the kids are little……

  18. 48
    downtowngal

    Joe #42, probably true. I was responding to someone who asked what would drive a woman to cheat.

  19. 49
    Linda

    I read this with interest. I’m in a situation like this now with my guy. No matter how one tries to explain this as biological, whatnot, the bottom line is that it HURTS and it’s hurtful and it’s an easy cop-out from not working on things when necessary…and it’s so superficial and there is no way to maintain the initial thrill anyway, and all the crap just comes back no matter who the new person is, so why do it?  Is this what we have become as people.  Just throw someone away because you feel like it?  BTW, I’ve never known or heard of one damn couple that made it and lasted with an open relationship. Not one. And not one thought in the end it was fine and ok.  The guy that wanted the arrangement sure as hell doesn’t want that kind of arrangement when he really loves and cares for a woman.  I feel people who do this are weak and spineless.

  20. 50
    Jadafisk

    I was going to say… most male cheaters wouldn’t agree to an open marriage. That means that she can do whoever she wants, too. If what people say about the genders is true, she’s likely to have a lot more potential playmates than him, and his tolerance/ego would be tested big time if she agrees and *really* means it. Also, sometimes men set themselves up for sexual compatibility with their Madonna/whore issues – he wouldn’t even consider putting a ring on or having his children raised by a woman who would agree to an open marriage or polyamorous setup. If he suggests it, he knows that the type of woman he chose to marry will unequivocally see it as a call for an end to the marriage.
     
    “After a few years of monogamy women should get a makeover, men should take hatha yoga classes and buy a copy of the kamma sutra.”
     
    A makeover can’t make a person 15 years younger, Asian, 70 pounds heavier, a DD cup, or a virgin. The vast majority of female variety will not be available to a faithful married man, and there’s absolutely no way around that. If you have pizza every week for 10 years, how excited can you get about  being served Canadian bacon instead of hamburger, really?

  21. 51
    NonExist

    I agree with starthrower68 # 28.
    If people had the guts to be honest about their preferences then cheating would be less of an issue.
    As others said people who cheat would not agree to an open relationship because they are selfish.

    I would agree to an open relationship as long as she and I had seperate living quarters and separate finances.

    However if we are going to live together and share everything, I expect fidelity. Mainly because I would feel cheated even in an agreed upon open relationship because the outside guys do not have to deal with the day to day issues and vice versa.

  22. 52
    Man's Psychology 101

    Only men can truly understand what it feels like to be a man. Vice versa for women. There is no denying the excitement of sexual variety. The ancient king David was serious adulterer. There is also no denying biology. Monogamy is only a few thousand years old. That can not and will not change the bilogical program of men and woman. As a man who has cheated, I can only speak of my motivation. It was driven by the excitement of sexual variety and a feeling of entitlement. I am no way condoning my actions, what is right is right and wrong is wrong. I feel alot of men especially young ones are pressured to marry too early. Some men like a dear friend of mine married his woman because she became pregnant withi his child. After 30 years of marriage in his 50’s he just could not take it anymore. He was pressured to marry out of an obligation to raise his child.  Him and many others miss out on all the sexual conquest during their prime years. Men and woman are different in that major regard. The ideaof sexual conquest for Women seeking men is a realtivley new phenomenon which dates back to the sexual revoultion of the 1960’s. However,  Men do not attach emotions to sex and very rarely do. You can hate me for saying it but I am man and I have lots of male friends, family etc and years of knowledge to back this up. we have emotions but it is applied in different ways and in different areas.  Love in my eyes and to many eyes is to protect, provide, care and make your woman feel like she is sexy and worthy. but most important of all it is to fulfill her needs and help her capture her dreams Not enough men do this especially now that we live in a me first society in the U.S. I know many men who are married and have a woman on the side. Some are confused but most would tell me that having 2 brings them balance. In reality it only brings heartache, headache and worse things to come. The worse thing a person can do is break someone heart! A good man would not engage in behaviour that will break a women’s heart. With that said Biological reasons have stood of millions of years there is no denying it, but we are the ones who make the choices and if you make a vow both most hold up to it.

  23. 53
    Sockpuppet

    Personally, I don’t believe men don’t attach feelings to sex.  That is simply not true. Men are certainly more sexually driven than women in general, but even many men admit sex is better when they actually care about a woman.  And many men who cheat become emotionally attached to the other woman.  So to suggest the majority of men are going through the world boinking everything that moves with emotional impunity strikes me as specious. People cheat because they want to, because they’re selfish and they put sensation over the heart of the person they pledged their love to.  Some do it because of a deep compulsion born of mental illness and in some cases sociopathy. Some fall into it because they feel underappreciated at home or they form an emotional attachment to another and don’t have the guts to tell their significant other that they want out, sometimes they are ambivalent.  Whatever the reasons it’s a weakness of character and judgment lapse and an unfortunate part of being human.

  24. 54
    Helen

    Thank god I ‘ m divorce!

  25. 55
    dangerouscurves

    Men aren’t the only ones cheating.  I guess people like the rush of being with someone new and I can see that.  You’re with one person for any length of time and the tingles you experienced initially go away.  If you absolutely need that feeling you will cheat.  I liked the feeling of being in love and sexually excited, but I’m not willing to risk pursuing that with anyone I know or even a random stranger.  It’s just not worth it to me. The fall out would be AWFUL, plus I enjoy being able to look at myself in the mirror everyday knowing that morally I’m for the most part beyond reproach.  I don’t know how cheaters live with themselves.  I guess those orgasms are worth risk.

  26. 56
    Karin

    What about cheating of a nonsexual nature?  My ex was signed up and dating thru a matchmaker, and online dating behind my back.  I consider thus cheating too and can really mess your partner up emotionally.  We were in a serious, monogamous relationship, I thought.   

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