And what to do if you’re the other woman

CLEO (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Pure Cowardice

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.

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