Why Do Men Cheat?

why men cheat
Source: George Hodan

When men are suspected or found out to be cheating, the shortest yet deepest question any woman asks would be: WHY? Women tend to ask themselves, “What else, what more does he want from me?”,  “Why would he cheat on me?”.

Probably, what drives both parties temporarily insane with grief and remorse is the lame but not-so-uncommon excuse of “It just happened.” There you have it, the cat out of the bag. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t choose to. Plain and simple, it just happened. As an Esquire writer admits, “It’s about random collisions.”

That’s about as much as most men would admit to. But, as you are about to see, there is usually more to it than that. It will require women, however, to get real with WHAT IS and WHAT ISN’T in their relationship with these men. Otherwise, we’ll never understand why men really cheat.

What gives men the license to cheat?

On different levels, men are aware that cheating is wrong. Indeed, it’s one of the lowest things you can do to the one you love. It makes cheating men feel like a liar, a traitor, a bottom-dweller and so much more (or so much less) in the eyes of the one they’ve betrayed. But when men cheat, are they being untrue to their partner, or are they being true to themselves? In their mind, who’s betraying who and who’s being true to whom?

To get to the bottom of this, we’ve got to figure out how a man’s body and psyche work. Based on the general consensus, when a man cheats:

– He is just being himself in all his masculinity. He was born and raised to be strong and aggressive. He’s a highly sexual being with an appetite that can only be described as insatiable. For him it’s not just about quantity and frequency. It’s also about VARIETY. In the opinion of Manhattan-based psychiatrist Dr. Mark Epstein, “It’s more like an appetite thing for men, more oral in a way; their partners are more disposable. And the experiences are more disposable.”

– He is simply confirming what we already “know” about men – that they are, by nature, POLYGAMOUS creatures who don’t have it in them to stick to one partner. Consulted on the non-monogamous nature of men, here’s what Dr. Louanne Cole Weston, marriage, family, and sex therapist has to say. “That non-monogamous urge persists in many men — though many manage serial monogamy despite that urge.”

– He is proving all the more what a strange and mysterious creature he can be, difficult to satisfy and impossible to figure out! Men are just too complicated for women to understand. In contrast, men see themselves as uncomplicated creatures, but they do have a way of complicating their own lives by not talking it out or by maintaining their silence.

What gives when a man cheats?

A major issue in any relationship, cheating is more than an act of infidelity. It’s a betrayal of trust. It rocks the very foundations upon which a marriage is built and a relationship lasts, and these are love, trust, and respect.Above and beyond losing that “loving feeling” – and that’s a lot to contend with – it’s just as much a loss of friendship. It’s particularly painful for couples who have been long-time mates and so-called best friends.

Yet, whatever gives in the middle or near the end of a relationship, only a couple would fully know. The only thing for sure is that, when infidelities occur repeatedly, it’s a big warning sign pointing to a bigger problem.

Why do men really cheat

So basically why do men cheat? Experts say, blame it on the BASIC PRIMAL INSTINCT – that urge to hunt and gather within one’s immediate community (meaning his own circle of friends and associates) or even scavenge in the far reaches beyond one’s territory (bringing him across town or beyond the state) – wherever there’s prey and fair game to be had.

Okay. Given the benefit of the doubt that men are just acting out of MALE URGES calling, and not from some deep, dirty penchant for lying and deceiving, then what in the world could these primal instincts be? The mere fact that they’re called “primal” means that they reach back hundreds of thousands of years, or more.

Of primary importance among all basic human urges would be hunger, thirst, sexual drive, competition, aggression, and survival. (Port, 2000). In line with the possible urge of a male to cheat, here’s how it’s seen:

1.    A hunger for excitement

Hard-wired for excitement, who isn’t? Why else would we men and women have so many nerve endings for pain and pleasure, warmth and cold, light and hard pressure within us if it weren’t to feel everything in the fullest sense?

Being human is all about passion for life and longing for adventure in all of its many forms. There are men who find adventure in books, music, arts, carpentry and anything to do with creativity. But there are also those who venture into skydiving, car racing, white-water rafting, and Wild Hogs bike runs just for the blood-pumping action.If it’s just for the novelty and thrill, it’s no big deal. Most spouses love to see their men tinkering with their stuff until they go looking for other girls.

Some charge philandering to a search into variety, but most agree it’s more of a search out of BOREDOM. Boredom is the very antithesis to adventure and excitement. Referring to cheating, author Steve Santagati says, “Ninety-nine percent of the time, there’s a simple reason why: boredom.” Without a doubt, boredom sucks the life out of any man. It makes him tired, restless, and angry, all at the same time. It dampens and drains any enthusiasm about anything that’s routine and familiar. Dread the very day when this boredom with life turns into INTEREST in a lively, mysterious creature.

This primes him to become the hunter in search of a new game, as many men claim to be. And as for the spouse, where does that leave her? Desperately, she becomes the stalker, spying on her husband’s online activities, waiting to key-log on her husband’s private emails and webcam chats, hoping to uncover some good, hard evidence.

2.    An instinct for self-preservation

To balance that thrill of the hunt, a majority of men are more discreet and less reckless in their cheating. After all, nowadays, most men have learned a lesson about being obsessed-over by another woman. Wary about Fatal Attraction, it’s a classic nightmare for any man who ever cheats. Caught in a bad situation, it’s quite natural to turn to an instinctive reaction. This is the fight-flight-or-freeze response which prepares and protects males from stress.

To avoid conflict, most men also justify cheating as an instinct to compete – a personal declaration that they’re still in the game. It’s nothing serious, though, this playing around. Light and non-committal, it’s often dismissed as just another affair, that is, until it does get serious and complicated!

3.    A drive to pair up in bonds

Men and women naturally pair up and mate, not necessarily to procreate but to create bonds of INTIMACY. Sexual intimacy matters in terms of quality and quantity. This mean often and a lot!

why men cheat - couple
Source: Bobbi Jones Jones

Although men and women may deny that sex (or the lack of it) has anything to do with cheating, in many cases it definitely does. Reading between the sheets, SEX counts. In fact, sexual intercourse counts a lot. Above and beyond copulation, intercourse allows an amazing meeting of bodies and minds. There’s no his or hers, no yours or mine; it’s just a happy mess and tumble of us.

When this connection is broken, couples get lost and disoriented. With a loss in connection, communication follows as the first to break down even before an engagement or a marriage breaks up. Sometimes, though, the connection isn’t broken but the signals aren’t clear. When it comes to sex, does she or doesn’t she want to? These mixed signals from her can be very frustrating. Thus, in part, men can cheat out of frustration with the relationship they’re in. But inasmuch as they want out, maybe they just aren’t ready to break the bonds.

4.    A thirst for attention and/or affection

By nature, men can be extroverts (outgoing and sociable) or introverts (shy and sensitive). It’s quite natural for someone who’s sociable to seek a little ATTENTION and someone who’s sensitive to thirst for a bit of AFFECTION, at home if not elsewhere. After all, men are people too. They may feel lost and lonely. They may feel useless and taken for granted. Some of them even feel unloved.

Thus, being desirable intellectually, socially, and sexually has a way of boosting a man’s ego. Even for a moment and even with the ego aside, it’s a man’s basic SELF-ESTEEM which is being fed, fired, and fueled. All revved up, he starts to relax, open up, and just be himself knowing he’s that likeable chap. It’s not so much that hot, sweaty feeling of being in the limelight as that reassurance of being seen, read, and appreciated once more.

It’s reassuring for a man to be with a woman who finds him attractive, and yes, even sexy. Here is someone who laughs at his jokes, and pokes back in return. It’s such a welcome relief which makes him remember and say to himself, “Hey. I used to be FUN.” The fun for men is not so much a matter of reliving their past glories but rediscovering themselves in the eyes of another. Whichever comes first, whether her glance connects with his eye or his eyes connect with her body, it’s the look which they’re given that triggers men’s interest. With a little motivation and when the conditioning is right, there goes the excuse of “It just happened.”

5.    A lust for life

In a marriage that tolerates and consents to cheating, it is not just about a relationship which is deadening; so are the two people involved. Unknown to everyone but him, a man may be dying inside… And unfortunately, someone else may be the first to notice and she, the spouse, the last to know. But then, who knows? She too may be dying inside… Hard as it is to get, some people say that repeated cheating is a plea of help. It could be an obsession, or worse, an addiction. At any rate, it could be the sign of a man drowning in misery. Deep inside, he lusts for the feeling of being ALIVE again!

At the onset, it could just be the little things. A man can feel drowned out by household responsibilities and family priorities that his voice can hardly be heard. He starts to feel invisible, even optional. Before she knows it, he’s been seeking out other options available.
But then again, it’s the little things which grow big that are often the issues of cheating. It could be the everyday, love-hate relationship when a woman nags and finds fault, making a man feel like crap. One more time, give him the feeling that he screwed-up his life and hers, and he’d be more likely to seek emotional and physical comfort with someone else.

Even without someone else in the picture, the problem’s usually from within. Most men admit that cheating’s easier than initiating a breakup or admitting to falling out of love. This is the dilemma of prolonging the inevitable. Before the inevitable happens, wake up! Remember how you used to get each other? Maybe, just maybe, that’s one of the primary elements that has been missing… and not the primal urges he’s been getting.

If you hardly get what’s going on in the other person’s life, then maybe it’s time to do something else besides getting used to cheating. It IS hard to get over the cheating part when that part isn’t over yet. You can’t make a go of a twosome all on your own – not while he’s still wandering and she’s still wondering why her man cheats. Get it?

Further reading

Dr. Phil – Advice for Cheaters and Their Partners

Psychology Today – Relationships
UT Counseling and Mental Health Center – Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start
Womenshealth.gov – Help Lines