Ep. 11: “Why Do Men Cheat?”
It’s the age-old question; does he cheat just because he can, or because something’s missing from his relationship?
Not every man wants to cheat or will cheat. I believe that just because a man (or a woman for that matter) has the urge to cheat, doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll act on it.
In my research, I found very few men who cheat just for the hell of it. In fact, of the one hundred and eleven men I’ve interviewed thus far, only four told me they cheated when absolutely nothing was missing from their relationship.
For most men, if they’re receiving emotional and sexual intimacy at home, they have no reason to cheat and generally won’t.
Because so many women repeatedly asked this question of us, we decided to include it in the original set of interviews. So many women wanted to know, “Why do men cheat?”
So we asked the question:
“Have you ever cheated on your wife or girlfriend?
I realized this was a loaded question. If he answered yes, then I followed up by asking him why? I not only wanted to understand what makes him decide to cheat, I also wanted to know what keeps him from doing it in the first place?
A 37-year-old single business owner from Fort Lauderdale told me the following story: “Yes I cheated when I was very young and there was definitely something missing from my relationship. My girlfriend and I didn’t have a strong emotional connection. A woman from my past, who lived in LA, happened to be in Miami for the weekend so I decided to go see her. My current girlfriend worked for the bank where I had my credit card through and she looked up my transactions for the weekend and saw that I was in Miami. I had told her that I was going to Naples with friends and she clearly called me out on my lie. I had no idea at the time that she could look up my records but now I know how wrong that was. It was awful and she totally caught me in the lie and I felt terrible about it. I decided at that time I would never do it again and I haven’t.”
Another 52-year-old divorced business executive from Philadelphia explained: “No, I can honestly say that I’ve never cheated on a girlfriend or my wife. My father was the biggest cheater ever and he cheated on my mother his whole life and it destroyed her. I grew up seeing the effects of cheating and I could never do that to another woman. So I end it immediately if I feel like I’m going to cheat or if something is missing from my relationship. If there is nothing missing, then there’s no reason to cheat in the first place.”
Some men cheat simply because they can.
“I always cheat because there is always opportunity and why would I waste that opportunity? I can think of one time when I didn’t cheat and it wasn’t worth it, I wish I had. I guess the only time I don’t cheat is when I can’t find a woman to cheat with.” -A 28-year-old single Engineer from Columbia.
Some men aren’t willing to live a life without sex or intimacy.
A 58-year-old Artist from Miami who has been married 21 years shared: “Of course I’ve cheated. When you’ve been married a long time, sex inevitably becomes more important for one spouse. When I had my first affair, I was shocked at how disappointed I was in myself but it allowed me to have great sex and I ended up not feeling as guilty because it was less stressful to cheat, than to have a dying sex life with my wife. If I didn’t cheat, my marriage would not have lasted this long. I love my wife and we have a great marriage, but she has zero interest in sex and I’m not willing to live the rest of my life without it. I will tell you though, if my wife had sex with me, I would have no reason to cheat but that’s just not an option.”
And some men won’t cheat because they wouldn’t want it done to them.
“I don’t cheat because someone cheated on me once and it was terrible so I wouldn’t do that to another person. If I feel a strong urge to cheat, I end the relationship.”- A 46-year-old married sales manager from Albany, NY.
Of the men who admitted to some indiscretions, it appears they primarily cheat due to a lack of physical or emotional intimacy within their relationship. I should also note, affection appeared to be almost as important to men as sex.
Men crave affection as much as women do and they miss it if it slowly disappears from a relationship.
“There was a time that I cheated and nothing was missing, and that was my fault, not hers. There have also been many times when I didn’t cheat because of the commitment I felt toward the woman and I also know how it feels to be cheated on. Sometimes though you’re just not sure what keeps you from cheating; you just know you don’t want to. Usually though if a man is getting sex and affection at home, you can be pretty sure he’s not out looking for it somewhere else.”-A 58-year-old Yoga Studio owner from NYC.
Then there are those men who are married and won’t cheat, even if there is no longer intimacy or affection left in the marriage.
I asked these married men, “What keeps you from cheating?
They told me they wouldn’t cheat because they loved their wives even though they were no longer having sex with them. They also couldn’t imagine hurting their wives and possibly spending the rest of their lives without them. However, they did not underplay the impact that little affection has on them and they expressed how difficult this is for a man of any age.
Others admitted that it’s their children that keep them from cheating because they wouldn’t want to destroy their lives.
A writer in his 40’s from the Midwest explained some of this clearly: “Most men who have been married for a long time probably wish their wives knew just how much they miss the girlfriend they married and that they’re secretly hoping she comes back someday. We miss the intimacy that was there before children and we miss the sex; it’s very difficult for us. Some men can’t cheat on their wives because it goes against everything they believe in, so instead we live a life of quiet desperation and hope that the woman we married will return someday. I can’t cheat, it would ruin my wife’s and our family’s lives and that’s completely selfish.”
The four men who did cheat when nothing was missing couldn’t tell me why they did it. The only logical reason they came up with was that they couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I actually found their honesty to be a bit refreshing.
Sometimes we don’t know why we remain faithful or why we choose to meander off the path (let’s face it, women are just as capable of infidelity as men), but we do know that just because he’s a man, certainly doesn’t mean he’s automatically going to cheat.