Why Men Cheat

If you are a woman who has been cheated on, you may be asking yourself "how did I contribute to this?". Rest assured knowing one thing lady:

While both partners usually contribute to most issues in a marriage, when a man cheats he is making a conscious choice to do it. There is always some point in time where that man makes a decision to betray the trust and commitment in relationship. This fact cannot be denied nor rationalized away.

One of the most surprising reasons for a man's infidelity is more about love then about cheating. Every relationship has an evolutionary process in which each partner goes from passionate love, to romantic love, and ultimately to companionate love. This is the time where couples begin to settle down, have kids, and solidify the life being built together. It is usually in the phase of companionate love that a man will go outside the marriage to seek something he feels is missing with his partner.

These are men who become unhappy because they miss having some kind of romance going on in their lives. They cheat to keep the relationship together, which is why many men say they were happy in their marriage at the time of the affair. They are feeling fulfilled in other areas like being a provider, having a family, being taken care of. They have it all! We more often think of the woman complaining about a lack of romance in the relationship, but men feel it to.

They are less likely to recognize this is what they are missing, and often suffer in silence getting to a point where they truly believe they cannot get what they want from their partners. Women feel satisfied with companionate love and are often shocked to learn that their partners weren't happy with the way things were. Of course this is not a blanket statement about all men, just the ones who long for that feeling that comes in the earlier stages of a relationship.

Another explanation on infidelity can be drawn from anthropologist Helen Fischer who talks about evolution and how we are designed to find a partner with the sole purpose of pro-creating. Once this is accomplished couples stay together to raise their offspring. We are not evolutionarily wired to be with just one person for life. This doesn't excuse infidelity, but it certainly helps us to take a more realistic view of monogamy.

Infidelity can be prevented by each partner becoming aware of the reality of how human beings are designed for love. Falling into the trap of thinking that marriage means forever and that it equates with monogamy is a set up for disaster in may situations. In the book Mating in Captivity, author Esther Perel talks about maintaining the passion or Eros in a marriage. She postulates that partners need to realize that they can lose each other to another at any point in time. By not thinking that you possess your partner, you are able to appreciate that person and work to ensure that the present relationship is fulfilling and passionate. This is where I see infidelity as a two way street. No one should be expected to maintain the passion and real love in a marriage on their own, or to presume that being marred is a guarantee of everlasting love and happiness.

Of course there are chronic types of infidelity that involve sex addiction, narcissistic personality disorder, and other mental health issues. In these situations women need to ask themselves what they can live with. Some problems can be worked on and healed while others are more long-standing and become more of a character issue in the cheater. These are the cases that require a woman to say enough is enough, and to decide if she wants to remain in something that might not change. This is often conflicting for wives who feel like they are abandoning their partner when they are sick. Therapists can help a couple understand the level of dysfunction and whether the marriage can be salvaged.

Photo by LoboStudio Hamburg on Unsplash

Psyche & Salt