WHY MEN CHEAT
And what to do if you’re the other woman
Early last year, an American study called The Normal Bar polled 100,000 people about their romantic relationships and results confirmed that men cheat way more than women. In fact, 33 per cent of the male respondents admitted to getting it on with someone they shouldn’t while only 19 per cent of women did likewise. Aside from the fact that women are actually incrementally closing this gap, the inescapable question to which everyone eventually returns is: Why would a man in an ostensibly loving relationship risk it all by sleeping with someone else?
It’s something Ellie, 26, has asked herself frequently. “I’d read countless articles on infidelity and thought, ‘Not my Tom’,” she says. “Turns out that he slept with a colleague after a boozy team bonding exercise at a work conference. I didn’t realise how literally he would take team bonding. It’s not like I caught him in the act or anything. He was just so wracked with guilt in the following weeks that when I asked him what was wrong, he broke down, confessing everything. We didn’t break up immediately afterwards but the relationship was fatally damaged.” At the core of this brain-and-balls explosion on the part(s) of men is some striking data recently uncovered by researchers at Texas A&M University. They used a rapidresponse test on 326 men and 274 women who were shown photos of potential partners and asked whether or not they’d like to enter into a romantic relationship with that person. Participants were exposed to images of attractive, or “desirable” people as well as unattractive, or “undesirable” people along with information on whether each person was a good or bad romantic fit. Bad, for example, being you’d be cheating on your partner to be with them. Men were more
Three of the most alluring traits in a woman are hesitancy, unattainability, and indifference.
likely to accept attractive people, regardless of whether the computer deemed them a good or bad match. In other words, the potential consequences of their actions are barely acknowledged in the way that women would. The specific motivations behind male infidelity are somewhat more varied.
Wanting To Be Wanted
Perhaps the most common reason men cheat lies, not surprisingly, in the male ego. For many guys, being loved and nurtured gets a little boring after a while. The feeling they crave is to be desired. Putting aside for one moment the thrill that comes with exploring a new body, what he is really getting off on is the validation of his enduring desirability. Although the allure here is certainly corporeal, it is often not exclusively so. Many a man has climbed into bed with a woman partly motivated by the fact that she who loves all the quirks and passions that his wife/ partner simply tolerates. “So let me get this straight,” he might enthuse, “you want to have sex with me WHILE we watch football.”
In The Hunt
There’s also the thrill of the chase. Three of the most alluring traits in a woman are hesitancy, unattainability, and indifference. None of which would readily appear in his already established relationship. Encountering an attractive stranger with some or all of these attributes is a powerful aphrodisiac for any man.
A Different Stroke
Our next reason for cheating: Sexual boredom. Some men sleep with certain women on the suspicion that she will do stuff in bed that his faithful partner just won’t. Is it worth jeopardising something of great intrinsic value for a doggy-style shag or some enthusiastic oral sex? Of course not, but when the penis is in charge, any decisions made are not, shall we say, level headed.
You Hurt Me So I’ll …
Expanding on the theme of the purely physical, another underlying cause of infidelity adds an emotional facet to the volatile blend. What we’re talking here is revenge sex. Let’s be clear: He’s not sleeping with someone else because that’s what you did. The more common motivation is that woman A did or said something to hurt Man B’s feelings. To even the score, he sleeps with someone else. Is his reaction wildly disproportionate? Definitely. Does this occur to him? Unfortunately not.
C’mon, She Had A Vagina
Far more simple but probably no less hurtful is opportunistic cheating. Certain men, when placed in a position where illicit thrills are on offer and there’s little chance their significant other will find out, literally grab the opportunity with both hands. It becomes their little secret; an act by which they can mollify their conscience with, “It only happened that one time and she will never know – so there’s no harm done”.
The Buddy System
Most of us eventually outgrow peer pressure. It no longer matters that the cool kids are all getting tattoos or drinking tequila because being a cool kid is totally overrated by the time you’re 20. A small minority of men, however, take longer to escape this tribal dynamic. So when that buddy he kind of hero worships brags about “banging this model ” behind his partner’s back, he can’t help but think, “I’d like me some of that action”.
Early Release Programme
In purely biological terms, sex is a stress-reliever. At times of immense stress, some dudes will be up for a little release from someone who either feels the same way or will view the act as a strictly financial transaction with no emotional investment whatsoever. The man involved has no problem with either.
Which brings us to the most despicable of a litany of despicable acts. Some men – and please let it be reasserted that we’re talking tiny fractions here – figure they can kill two birds with one infidelity stone. By sleeping with another woman, they not only get their rocks off, they also either confess or get easily found out. Thus ensuring the girlfriend/ partner/wife they’ve wanted to break up with for a while anyway does all the tough work for them. Classy.
A Final Word
That’s not the end of the story though. This is: It’s all too easy to become fixated on the scary statistics about male infidelity. The overwhelming majority of men in committed relationships find the idea morally repugnant. Just as it would be naïve to pretend cheating doesn’t happen, you need to know that there are far more good men out there than not.