After almost three decades of working with couples decimated by infidelity, I can tell you that men who cheat on a beloved partner can be amazingly creative when they try to explain why. Typically, cheating men will minimize, rationalize, blame others, and justify their actions with statements like:
- Every guy wants to have sex with other people. And when the opportunity arises, he takes it.
- It’s a man’s biological imperative to have sex with as many people as he can. Why should I be any different?
- If I got enough (or better) sex at home, I wouldn’t need to cheat.
- I’m not doing anything that most of my buddies don’t do. If you don’t believe me, ask them.
- If my partner hadn’t gained so much weight (or if my partner was nicer to me, or more attentive, or whatever), I wouldn’t have even thought about going elsewhere.
But not of those statements cover the real reasons a man cheats. Instead, a man’s choice to cheat is typically driven by one or more of the following:
- Immaturity: If he does not have a lot of experience in committed relationships, or if he doesn’t fully understand that his actions will inevitably have consequences (like hurting his partner), he may think it is fine to have sexual adventures.
- Co-Occurring Issues: He may have an ongoing problem with alcohol and/or drugs that affects his decision-making, resulting in regrettable sexual decisions. Or maybe he has a problem like sexual addiction.
- Insecurity: He may feel as if he is too old (or too young), not handsome enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, etc. To bolster his flagging ego, he seeks validation from someone other than his mate.
- It’s Over, Version 1: He may want to end his current relationship. However, instead of just telling his partner he’s unhappy and wants to break things off, he cheats and forces his partner to do the dirty work.
- It’s Over, Version 2: He may want to end his current relationship, but not until he’s got another one lined up. So, he sets the stage for his next relationship while still in the first one.
- Lack of Male Social Support: He may have undervalued his need for supportive friendships with other men, expecting his social and emotional needs to be met entirely by his significant other. And when his partner inevitably fails in that duty, he seeks fulfillment elsewhere.
- Confusion about Limerence vs. Commitment: He might misunderstand the difference between romantic intensity and long-term love, mistaking the neurochemical rush of early romance, technically referred to as limerence, for love, and failing to understand that in healthy long-term relationships limerence is replaced over time with less intense but ultimately more meaningful forms of connection.
- Childhood Abuse: He may be reenacting or latently responding to unresolved childhood trauma – neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.
- Selfishness: It’s possible his primary consideration is for himself and himself alone. He can therefore lie and keep secrets without remorse or regret if it gets him what he wants.
- Terminal Uniqueness: He may feel like he is different and deserves something special that other men might not.
- Unfettered Impulse: He may never have even thought about cheating until an opportunity suddenly presented itself. Then, without thinking about what infidelity might do his relationship, he went for it.
- Unrealistic Expectations: He may feel that his partner should meet his every whim and desire, sexual and otherwise, 24/7, regardless of how his partner is feeling at any given moment. He fails to understand that his partner has a life, with thoughts and feelings and needs that don’t always involve him. When his expectations are not met, he seeks external fulfillment.
- Anger/Revenge: He may cheat to get revenge. In such cases, the infidelity is meant to be seen and known. He does not bother to lie or keep secrets about his cheating because he wants his partner to know about it.
Help is Available
Seeking Integrity hosts Weekend Workshops for Couples trying to heal after infidelity. These workshops are facilitated by renowned couples and sex addiction therapist Paul Hartman. Space is limited to four couples per session. Call Seeking Integrity at 747.234.4325 for information, pricing, and availability.