Why Do I Date Men Who Are Cheating On Their Girlfriends?

Why Do I Date Men Who Are Cheating On Their Girlfriends?
I have trust issues with men, and it can be very difficult to decipher when my concerns are legitimate or due to my own paranoia. I’m attractive enough to draw a considerable amount of male attention and have enough personality to keep them to develop what I believe to be serious relationships. But months later, I discover I’ve been wrong.

In my last relationship, I spent 3-4 nights a week at his house for months. I had a key to his apartment. I even met members of his family. And yet I STILL found out that he was engaged to another woman! And only because he’d forgotten to tuck away his anniversary card.

Being cheated on is bad enough but worse is consistently feeling you weren’t good enough to be the only girlfriend, nor good enough to be the #1 girlfriend. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt. I don’t spy on phone calls or snoop through drawers, but I’m starting to feel it’s necessary.

And before you say you’re not making yourself available to the right guys, I dated against type. I’ve been wined and dined by alpha jock types, I’ve done the light studio sessions will fellow artists. Hey, I’ve even done the really effeminate straight hair dresser (He had the nerve to ask me to reassure his lady that we had been using protection when we hadn’t.)  And yet I am still the back up girlfriend. HELP!  —Sharon

Oh, Sharon.

Your problem is the simplest one I’ve ever encountered in 4 years of writing this blog.

Of COURSE you have trust issues.

You choose un-trustworthy men!

You have AWFUL taste in men.

You have seemingly NO sense of how a good man acts.

You probably wouldn’t recognize a man of character if he opened your car door.

Of COURSE you have trust issues. You choose un-trustworthy men!

So to properly address how to avoid this unseemly predicament in the future, it doesn’t start with spying on phone calls or snooping through drawers.

It comes with looking for patterns in your past, since you’re the only common denominator in your life and you’ve CHOSEN these men.

I’m no psychologist, but the obvious questions I have for you are these:

  • Are your parents still together? Did your father leave you? Do you have any role models or paradigms of successful relationships in your life?
  • Have you always gone for emotionally unavailable men or did you start after a specific event in your life?
  • How old are you and how long has this been going on? Everyone does stupid things in their 20’s. By your mid-30’s, your decision making should probably have improved.
  • What is the common denominator between the “different” men you’ve chosen? Is it possible that you go for hot, charismatic, and unpredictable men in all forms? Because if you chase exciting, interesting men, it’s little surprise that those same men will a) have that same effect on other women and b) have the ego to keep pursuing all those other women because he values excitement more than stability.

Which, I’m guessing, is not all that different than you, Sharon.

If I had your life experience and sample size, I, too, would come to the conclusion that men are liars and players and not to be trusted.

Instead of thinking you’re breaking your patterns by choosing men with different careers, why don’t you actually start choosing men based on ONE quality alone: integrity.

But if I were me (which, for the sake of today’s post, I am), I’d point out to you that there are over 50 million married men in the United States, and, logically, most of them are not cheating on their wives.

So that just means that you need to work on your picker.

Instead of thinking you’re breaking your patterns by choosing men with different careers, why don’t you actually start choosing men based on ONE quality alone: integrity.

If you make integrity as important as you make attraction, you will quickly discover that you have no impulse whatsoever to break into your boyfriend’s email.

Good luck.

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  1. 31

    Which brings me back to the original question… how do identify the wrong ones? I like the trust the bad feeling ignore the good. I like the don’t trust a man the guards his phone. Any other creep detection tips?

  2. 32

    Also, and please pardon the double post, but Evan, IMHO I can see where you, aka the nature of your business, would easily attract difficult or high-maintenance clients, whether you picked up on this right away or not is irrelevant.

  3. 33

    There are millions of people in the world who believe in all kinds of things you don’t believe in and vice versa.  It doesn’t mean those things haven’t resonated with them.   It’s obvious that that your advice and guidance has resonated with women who have realized dating success from working with you.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there that could give them a different view and also help them.

    Advising women (from a man by the way) not to look within themselves to change their attitude and beliefs about themselves and dating and men seems to shortchange them.  They will be working on the symptoms and not the root causes.

    I just assume we’ll agree to disagree.

    (Hope this post makes it through 🙂

    1. 33.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Of course, this post made it through, Denise. Your lack of logic makes a far stronger case than I can make for myself. But I’m not going to agree to disagree. Not on this one.

      I will continue to insist that it’s not a woman’s attitude that ATTRACTS the wrong men, after all the wrong men are ALWAYS going to be there.

      It’s a woman’s attitude that ACCEPTS the wrong men in her life that is the problem.

      You’re blaming a woman for these men being in her universe at all. I’m blaming a woman for opening the door, letting him sleep on her couch and eat out of her refrigerator.

      I don’t blame you the next time you go out with a jerk, Denise. Stop blaming other women for something that they have no control over – who is attracted to them.

      Seriously, the more I think about it, the angrier I get at this cockamamie theory. I had a client today who complains she gets emails from 60 year old men when she’s only 45. You think she’s doing something to “attract” them? Are you kidding? They’re old, she’s young and pretty. So they write to her. She is not to blame. What am I missing here?

      Wait, don’t answer that. Please let me have the last word.

  4. 34

    Sharon, I think maybe you have quite a trusting nature and you show it to everybody. Two timers like unsuspecting girls. As somebody else said, there might have been things which doesn’t add up but you didn’t pick up on this.

    However, then you were suspicious, you went around the apartment and found the other woman’s stuff. So, it means you have analytical skills but just didn’t use them. 🙂

    Not to say that you should be suspicious of every guy that comes your way. But probably you might want to pay attention to small little things the guy says to see if he is an honest person.

    E.g. I have a male colleague whom I wanted to pass a discount voucher of a fashion store I know he frequent to him since I don’t frequent that store. He said he had enough clothing and don’t need to get any.  Maybe it is what he said it is, maybe he was sensitive about people thinking he is cheap, and doesn’t want to accept it. That is ok.

    However, a couple of weeks later, we were notified to go to Bangkok for a work assignment. He was so happy because he wanted to go buy some new shirts and belt because his clothes are old.

    Wait a minute, that doesn’t add up. So, he most likely lied when he said he doesn’t need any new clothes. Well, this case is not such a big deal. He could have done it to save face but this shows that he value honesty less than his image to others.

    Upon further observation, there were more occurrences like the case above. Other colleagues also noticed that he is not such an honest person in their dealings with him. This leads us to be more alert when we work with him as integrity is a big part of our job.

    If you practice this once in a while and highlight contradictory things that people say, indicate that you are uncomfortable and seek clarification, you will sift out the dishonest people you deal with. Because they don’t like to be exposed.

    But then again, if you do this too often and for things big and small, probably nobody would like to deal with you anymore.

    Hope my 2 cents helps. 🙂

  5. 35

    Maybe you are just not marriage material or wife material, or maybe they are not Husband material.  Do they cheat because they are players, or do they cheat after they meet you?  Date them for 3 months max, and then tell them you missed your period and might be pregnant, and see how they react?  Bring up marriage and questions about your future together to see how they answer?  ASk them about their ex-girlfriends.

  6. 36

    Thank you, Shay @37, for addressing what seems to be the real question here: how do you determine if a guy has integrity without driving him away by being overly suspicious?
    It doesn’t seem very helpful to just say, only accept men with integrity. So Sharon follows Evan’s advice and doesn’t blame the next guy for the faults of the last one, she doesn’t give up on men or dating, she leaves him as soon as she realizes he lacks integrity, she asks for advice and seems willing to accept it. What exactly, should she be doing differently?

    I want to know too. So I make integrity my first priority in a guy. How do I tell if he’s got it? How long should it take to figure out? Maybe I’m not being clear here, but I find this the most frustrating and least helpful answer I’ve read here. (And I’ve read A LOT because the advice usually is so helpful and spot on.)

    1. 36.1

      I totally agree with you Jessica. It sounds like a platitude without a practical way to execute to it. I have commented on what I do to determine integrity right out of the gate but it’s a shame that there are so many liars, flakes and con artists out there that one must assume guilt until proven otherwise, but that’s just dating reality.

  7. 37

    Denise is 100% spot on.

    I’ll rephrase.

    We attract people, who have the same mental state that we do.

    This does not mean, that oppoiste poersonalities, do not atrtact. They do. But for that to occur, the same mental state, is required.


    A narcissist, will respond and be in a relationship with another narcissist.

    An insecure person, will have relations with insecure people.

    A control freak, will have relations with a control freak

    A hater, will date another hater.

    We may exhibit our qualities in different way’s, but the mental state, is what is required.

    Denise, is 100% accurate. I cannot prove it, but it is the best thing you can ever do for yourself, is understand that one thing.

    You WILL attract and be attracted by people with a similar mental state, regardless of personality, looks, money or any other criteria. If you date people with a certain make-up, it is because you are the same. If you don’t like them, then I guarentee, you are the same as them.

    Denise get’s it.

    1. 37.1

      A narcissist would not survive a day with another narcissist. Narcissists look for good, emphatic people they can manipulate.

      The next combinations you mention are also questionable.

      A control freak would go easier with a carefree person. Two control freaks would drive each other crazy. No compatibility whatsoever.



  8. 38

    I think Denise is trying to say don’t have these guys in your life in the first place and Evan is saying it’s inevitable to have them there, just deal with them when they turn up. So definitely arguing about Law of Attraction without mentioning it 😀
    I think Sharon is attracting these guys who are already taken, because everytime she thinks of having a new relationship, I’m willing to bet she is also constantly thinking of how she got screwed over before.

    Whether it’s called Law of Attraction or not, Evan does an awesome job getting women to believe there are better guys out there and feeling good about relationships…which is the ultimate premise of the Law of Attraction anyway.

  9. 39

    I agree with Evan… Plenty of crazy women have crossed my radar but that does not reflect on me… Just drop the dorks and look for what really matters…

  10. 40
    Joe Amoia

    “But what’s the criteria for a date when you’ve already stripped away physical attraction and chemistry?”
    The purpose of dating is to find out if the person sitting across form you has the important qualities & characteristics that you need to be in a happy & fulfilling relationship with them (which is ultimately what most women are looking for). Yes, physical attraction & chemistry are important but they are only two pieces of the relationship puzzle. Individuals who base the quality of their relationship solely on chemistry & physical attraction learn the hard way that a healthy and fulfilling relationship requires “more”.
    SO, if u want to learn from u’r past u might want to get clear on what those other  qualities and characteristics are. This way it will be easier to recognize a guy who has them.

  11. 41

    @ Annie #41
    I think you are completely wrong. Control freaks, for instance, do not date fellow control freaks. They date people who either don’t mind having decisions made for them, or outright doormats who are easily controlled. Narcissists don’t date fellow narcissists either – two people who are in it for themselves don’t usually last more than a few dates.
    Takers need a giver, not a fellow taker.

  12. 42

    Denise- Just wanted you to know, I get what you are trying to say.

  13. 43

    I still can’t help but wonder if there weren’t signs that Sharon didn’t pick up on or chose to ignore about her boyfriend, especially after 2.5 years. Even a consummate liar slips up now and again. For example, when she met his family did they seem evasive or distant around her? Did he ever mention his family background or his beliefs about monogamy? If she had dealt with so many past cheaters, how come she never asked about this? 
    I’m with those who say we don’t attract certain people to us, we accept them. For example, while it’s true that a crazy person may be attracted to, and accepting of, another crazy type, a compassionate person is just as likely to get stuck with a nut because he or she wants to help them. It’s simplistic to think that “like simply attracts like”.

  14. 44

    This girl sounds like a big drinker/party girl/420 user who chooses other partiers who are fun and exciting, but not the most reliable people.  She is certainly not meeting Men at Church or in small town usa.  People are young and not ready to be monogamous.
    Maybe she should be willing to share her boyfriend with other girls, if that what he really wants.  Unless there is a marriage contract, every man and woman has free will to sleep around, as long as there is a mutual understanding.
    Cheating does not mean you have to break up if you have found your Soul Mate.  Besides, maybe he is not ready for monogamy or marriage now, but will be in 5 years.  Dating is a journey and life is a journey, you can meet as many guys as you want and learn from these guys about life and grow yourself.  Be independent, smart, and successful.

  15. 45
    Karl R

    Lily said: (#42)
    “I think Sharon is attracting these guys who are already taken, because everytime she thinks of having a new relationship, I’m willing to bet she is also constantly thinking of how she got screwed over before.”

    It’s your belief that a person’s thoughts determine what occurs in their lives … even to the point of influencing the actions of other people.

    Evan and I believe that a person’s actions (and the actions of the people around them) determine what occurs in their lives. Our thoughts are influential only to the extent that they affect our actions, no further. Our ability to influence others is limited to the reactions that our actions create.

    I don’t care how much you believe in your ability to win a marathon. If you don’t train, you’re unlikely to finish.

    When my girlfriend and I started dating, we both thought it was going to be a fling, not a relationship. But we also know how to act like a good boyfriend/girlfriend … even if we didn’t expect it to end up there.

    Who would you rather end up with, the guy who thinks he’s the best boyfriend you’ve ever had, or the guy whose actions demonstrate that he’s the best boyfriend you’ve ever had?

    Most of the time, people’s thoughts and actions are similar, so the outcome will match their thoughts. But if there is a discrepancy between thoughts and actions, the actions will be the deciding factor every single time.

    Annie said: (#41)
    “A narcissist, will respond and be in a relationship with another narcissist. A control freak, will have relations with a control freak”

    You’re absolutely wrong on both of those. You’re undermining your point far better than I could.

    If you want another example that fails, abusers don’t attract abusers. They attract people with low self-esteem who will tolerate being victims.

    Jessica said: (#40)
    “I want to know too. So I make integrity my first priority in a guy. How do I tell if he’s got it? How long should it take to figure out?”

    There is no fixed timetable. Especially if someone is as dishonest as Sharon’s ex, they may take steps to conceal their dishonesty. Eventually the facade slips, however.

    There are a few things to look for:

    1. Honesty/truthfulness is an important part of integrity. If you notice someone lying, that’s at least a yellow flag. (There is a difference between lying and being mistaken. For example, I believe Denise, Lily and Annie are mistaken, not lying.)

    2. People with integrity recognize the potential consequences of their actions (or inaction). If I have unprotected sex, I run the risk of catching an STD or fathering a child. Since I want to minimize those risks, I always used protection. A person with integrity may take risks, but they’ll weigh those risks against the potential gains.

    3. People with integrity accept the consequences of their actions. When my girlfriend got a ticket for speeding, she accepted that was the natural consequence of driving above the speed limit. She wasn’t angry at the police officer. She was a little upset at herself.

    That’s not an exhaustive list of things to look for, but it’s a good start.

  16. 46

    Totally off the point of Sharon’s original question, but as someone who has a masters in a counseling field I can say that there is a theory held that people are attracted to each other at their same level of differentiation.  Doesn’t that sound like a lot of psychobabble? lol.  What it means is that we form relationships, both romantic and platonic with people who have the same level of maturity or sense of self as we do. It has nothing to do with anything else other than that.   It does not mean that a control freak attracts a control freak.  As Karl, correctly pointed out it is the opposite-the control freak wants someone to control.  And will seek out that type a person who, for whatever reason will allow themselves to be controlled.  Addicts and enablers are another example.   I will say I’ve seen addicts who have paired up, but there’s usually more of an enabling tendency in one than the other.  None of these people are well differentiated, no matter how mature they seem to you and me.  When it comes to spousal abuse there’s so much more that can play into it than simply He’s a control freak and she has poor self-esteem.  To an extent I’m simplifying the whole issue and there are a host of other factors that may or may not play into who we seek out or don’t.

  17. 47

    I’m with Evan and Karl on this one: although I think everyone on here seems to be in agreement that someone’s attitude towards themselves will affect how they behave in relationships, I agree with Evan and Karl that there is no convincing evidence that ‘like attracts like’ at an internal/personality level. The research just isn’t there.

    Also, on a broader cultural level, I think the ‘like attracts like’ idea has damaging implications, as it suggests that the blame for a damaging relationship lies with the affected person’s personality/self. Evan’s idea that it about how Sharon responds to such men gives Sharon more autonomy and agency.

  18. 48

    @ Joey #49,

    That’s quite a conclusion to leap to without having any more information than what Sharon has given.  I’m 42 yr old single parent, working full time, earning a Master’s in Public Administration (online), member of a faith community, I’m well behaved, respect myself, etc.  I still have cheaters cross my path every now and then.  It doesn’t matter how they got there, be it law of attration, the gods must be crazy, or whatever.  When you see what kind of person they are, you dump them and move on.  It may hurt to walk away it may not, but either way it’s unacceptable behavior after a certain period of time elapses in the relationship.  And making such value judgements about Sharon partying and drinking really doesn’t solve her issue.  Even a girl who drinks and parties can cut a bad dude loose.

  19. 49

    Joey #49
    How do you know who goes to church and who doesn’t? Church-going men and men living in small towns can cheat too, as can men of any age.

  20. 50

    In this situation, I see it as a simple cause and effect thing.

    Sharon is a trusting, probably a non confrontational person. So, her friends and people around her like her that way. They feel comfortable around her. Some have good intentions, some have bad intentions. Unfortunately, she might not have identified who has good and who has bad intentions and just happened to chose guys who are two timers. That’s it.

    I might be wrong. Or I might be right.

    It is more constructive for Sharon to test what I said above is indeed true in her situation. Theory is fun to discuss but ultimately, Sharon needs to know what works for her. I know it should be devastating for this to keep happening to her.

    So, Sharon…maybe you would like to test it out with some people around you. What happens when you no longer take what people say at face value? How do they react if you’re a bit more confrontational? Do they explain to you patiently, not trying to hide anything? Do they walk away from you?

    What happens when you do this to old friends? What happens when you do this to new friends? Over time, you would know. Because only genuine people with no bad intentions would stick around. They genuinely wanna be friends with you. Those who don’t, walks away.

    Notice that I didn’t say that you should experiment with just new guys you meet. This should apply to all people, so you would know if it is indeed the way you treat people that is having this cause and effect relationship.

    And of course, you should pick your battles and not to begin behaving like a time bomb waiting to explode at every opportunity. 🙂 

  21. 51

    Oh sorry…(and double sorry for the double posting).

    I re-looked at the letter from Sharon and noted that she said she has trust issues with men.

    Sharon, were you trying to suppress your trust issues and attribute it all to your paranoia? Therefore, you don’t want to confront all your previous boyfriends?

    I think a healthy dose of doubt is ok in relationships. Ultimately, the boyfriend who gets to be very close to you started off as a total stranger.

    There cannot be total trust at the initial stages of the relationship. Yet there must be some level of trust. So, some confrontation is unavoidable and necessary. It depends on how “friendly” you do it and on what issues/matters.

  22. 52

    For those of who were offended by Joey comment #49, I suggest you read Joey circa comment #40. Either the man has a biting sense of sarcasm or some rare breed of redneck. Regardless, I got a good laugh.
    excerpt Joey #40:
    “Date them for 3 months max, and then tell them you missed your period and might be pregnant, and see how they react? ”

  23. 53

    A thought that Joey (#49) could be member of some weird religious cult flashed across my mind. 😀

  24. 54

    Karl, you are confusing differing behaviour, with a persons mental state.

    People who abuse have low self-esteem. They will attract other’s with low self-esteem, the other simply having the victim mentality. The behaviour is different, the underlying issue is the same.

    I’m not talking about first moments of attraction, I’m talking about relationships. This is why if you continue to end up in poor relationships, you have to look at yourself. If you end up with some-one who is dishonest over and over again, there is a good chance that you yourself, are dishonest no matter what you want to believe about yourself.

    Narcisist will alway’s attract narcissists. They will display it in different way’s, but anyone who is highly lacking in narcissistic tendacies, will not be around some-one who is this way for long.

  25. 55


    Actually you are correct(imo lol), about control freaks. Being a control freak is a behaviour rather than a mental state. It wasn’t a good example.

  26. 56

    @Karl R #50

    Good feeling thoughts inspire action that is in alignment with creating more good feelings…when a person takes uninspired action (action based on a person’s uncomfortable thought or feeling, the outcome will be undesired.
    The person who wants to be an athlete is inspired to train; training is something they want to do.

  27. 57

    Annie #59
    <<Narcisist will alway’s attract narcissists.>>
    Really? Why couldn’t a narcissist attract his opposite: a person with low self-esteem? 
    <<If you end up with some-one who is dishonest over and over again, there is a good chance that you yourself, are dishonest no matter what you want to believe about yourself.>>

    I think if you continually end up with someone who is dishonest, it’s because you’re not clearly reading the signals about your partner, or are rationalizing or accepting the dishonest behavior. You may OR may not be a dishonest person yourself. 

  28. 58
    Karl R

    Lily said: (#61)
    “when a person takes uninspired action (action based on a person’s uncomfortable thought or feeling, the outcome will be undesired.
    The person who wants to be an athlete is inspired to train; training is something they want to do.”

    My father improved his eating/exercise habits because he wanted to avoid another cardiac bypass (or worse). Based upon your description, that would be an uninspired action based on uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

    His pulse, blood pressure and cholesterol have improved despite his “uninspired” mindset. He’s taking all the correct actions to improve his health, so his health is improving.

    On the other hand it doesn’t matter what good thoughts are inspiring an action, if you take the wrong action, you’re going to fail.

    Annie said: (#59)
    “People who abuse have low self-esteem. They will attract other’s with low self-esteem, the other simply having the victim mentality. The behaviour is different, the underlying issue is the same.”

    If the underlying issue is the critical determining factor that causes the attraction, then abusers should end up with other abusers as often as they end up with those who have a victim mentality. How can abusers be less similar to other abusers than they are to victims?

    Annie said: (#59)
    “Narcisist will alway’s attract narcissists.”

    I’m curious how you can believe that two people with these behaviors could possibly get along with each other in a relationship.

    Can you find any evidence that narcissists attract narcissists?

  29. 59

    @Karl R #63

    Those things are working for your father because he believes they will. You have misunderstood what I have said. Your father is taking action that makes him, and thus his body feel good. Your father’s mindset has obviously been inspired in another direction after the cardiac bypass…eating in a way that he believes in unhealthy would make him feel bad. Whether you like it or not, my argument is more logical than yours. Action always comes after thought. Mood is totally dependent on thought. When you are angry you can choose a thought that makes yourself feel better, and it is very likely you would take a different course of action (if any at all).

  30. 60

    Annie #59

    You are wrong about the narcissist attracting another person just like themselves. It is more likely someone who would allow a narcissist (ie someone who sees themselves as a victim) into their experience would show up. You attract that which you are vibrationally in alignment with, ie what thoughts and feelings about the thought you are offering.

    Apologies for the double post!

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