Statistics (on how many men are cheating) are hard to come by, because, let’s face it, most men do not want to come clean on this subject. However, figures range from 24% to as much as 60%. Any way you cut it, many men are straying from monogamy.
What are the reasons that men do cheat? Men appear from studies to be more sexually motivated to have an affair than women (who are more emotionally motivated). So, for instance, men are motivated by a desire for sexually experimentingand for having the rush associated with “new sex”. This is their way of prolonging indefinitely the early and intoxicating phase of infatuation in a relationship.
They also do it for control and power in the relationship. If he is an affair with no promise of commitment then he controls his level of vulnerability in that relationship. Some men cheat, in fact, to avoid any real intimacy. Intimacy scares them, so they distance themselves from their wives by cheating on them, and they also never get too emotionally involved with their lovers. This way, they never have to trust, rely on, feel hurt or angered by their partner. This kind of man probably also greatly fears conflict.
Many men strike up an affair when they start to feel the fear and loss that comes with aging. To run from the terror that they are not so young and invulnerable anymore, they have an affair to deny the aging, and all that aging means. They find something or someone “young and new”.
Biologists believe that men are motivated to cheat by the Darwinian instinct to spread their genetic seed to more mates (whereas women would choose one mate to get protection and support); however, the fact that women are slowly catching up to men in their participation in affairs gives this idea less credence and suggests that the differences have had more to do with society’s lack of comfort with women expressing their sexual desires. Psychologically, men who cheat are often the child of an adulterer. They are repeating what they know and looking to correct that feeling that no one ever loved only them.
Not all affairs are created equal. There is the one-night stand, the longer-term lover and the affair that is the method of exit from the marriage. Not all affairs happen because the marriage is bad or in obvious trouble. However, a conflict-ridden marriage will certainly be at greater risk. Many women mistakenly believe the mistress must be more attractive then she. Actually, this is often not the case. It seems to be the wish for newness and variety, as well as the particular man’s psychological needs and vulnerabilities that is more the motivator. While a marriage might not be bad, it can still lack a lot of honesty and active communication. Both of these factors can really be protective against an affair.
Adultery need not be the end of a marriage though it certainly is one heck of a wake up call. If you are contemplating an affair, then there is no question but you will be SORRY! Affairs hurt everyone, including in the end, the one who cheated. You cannot keep both women so you will be distressed at some point. Don’t leave yourself in susceptible situations, like alone or in a situation where alcohol is involved. If you sense your partner may stray, then get moving on protecting your union. Ask him more of what he wants with you, sexually and emotionally, don’t let him hang out with her without you, don’t stay at home angry and pouting and giving him both opportunity and impetus, and tell him what you really love about him.
If the affair has already happened, what can you do?
For the cheater:
- You must give up your lover. This will not be easy. You will have to grieve the loss of her as well as the loss of the feelings associated with having someone completely attracted to you and the excitement of forbidden sex. You can never restore your marriage and the trust of your spouse without immediately breaking off your affair.
- Apologize (profusely) for the hurt to your spouse. You have devastated her, ruined her trust and made her feel like she is nothing. Acknowledge her feelings and how sorry you are you did this.
- Figure out why you slipped. Is it old childhood hurts, fear of growing old, loss of communication with her? Work to understand how you ended up here in the first place so you can prevent it from happening again.
- Work to regain the trust. Now is the time for honesty, complete honesty! Be open, be true and give it a lot of time. Slowly you can make it back.
For the betrayed:
- You won’t forget, but decide to forgive. When you are wounded by betrayal it does stick with you. However, to save the marriage you must work toward forgiving him. After the apologies, understanding what happened and what needs to change you have to try to forgive him the betrayal and move forward.
- Get support from family or friends. It’s a bad time and the person you would usually turn to is the person who hurt you. So recruit siblings, parents and friends to be your shoulder.
- Tell him you love him. Don’t let him just go off with her but tell him he has to give her up, or there will be no you. Then let him know that you really do love him despite your anger and hurt, and that you will try to make it work.
- Don’t punish him forever. You want to spend a lifetime with him but it can’t be a lifetime of anger and guilt. At some point you must stop asking the details and telling him what a horrible jerk he was or it will poison any chance at happiness and he will find another lover.