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Why Do Good Men Cheat?

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Why Do Good Men Cheat?

“It is necessary to the happiness of men that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing or disbelieving it consists in professing to believing what he does not believe.” Thomas Paine

“No adultery is bloodless.” Natalia Ginsburg

As Jenny walked through the door, just back from a three day visit to see her sister, she felt something strange come over her as she entered the house. She brushed it off immediately and moved her luggage into the bedroom so she could unpack. Her husband Jack was still at work and would not be home until later. As she pulled out her clothes and was putting them away her little Yorkie popped up from under their bed with a shiny thing in its mouth. She ignored it at first but then something seemed peculiar; instead of it being one of Binkies’ toys it looked metallic. She snatched the item from her doggy’s mouth and suddenly it struck like a thunderbolt to her gut that the lipstick was not hers. At first she couldn’t quite comprehend it, she went into denial, perhaps one of her girlfriends had dropped it. She realized immediately that none of them wore glitter lipstick. Surely she must be mistaken.

When Jack got home she confronted him with the lipstick. At first he lied about it but he was caught red handed. Eventually he confessed to having a woman over when she was out of town. She implored him to tell her why but he could not give her an adequate answer. They had been estranged since the children were born when she became a stay-at-home Mom and they had fought often about a variety of issues, his long hours, her not feeling loved, his not feeling appreciated, the list had grown larger over time.

So why did he cheat? Is it inherent in men to cheat or are there environmental factors that contribute to this circumstance that destroys relationships and the trust that holds them together? Do men cheat for different reasons than women and is there anything we could know that would help save relationships if there is infidelity? Turns out there are some very profound reasons beyond just something new and exciting.

When Jenny and Jack came in to talk about their issues some very interesting ideas came out that have helped them reaffirm their relationship. Jenny was very angry not only about the infidelity but with Jack’s judgmental attitude toward her and his inability to take responsibility for how he was acting towards her. As we looked deeper into what was motivating Jack we discovered something that he was reluctant to talk about. When they were first married they both worked in the same industry and had lots to talk about, but after the children were born they lost touch with each other. He felt that she had abandoned him for the children and had let herself go. That she no longer cared about looking good for him. He didn’t feel that she appreciated how hard he was working to support the family and instead was angry with him most of the time. Both of them had difficulty talking about their needs and what was not working in their relationship without getting angry at each other. They had drifted apart and didn’t know how to come back together again without it turning negative. He had taken motherhood as a rejection of him and acted out as a form of revenge. She felt that he had abandoned the family for his friends and work and didn’t take an active role as a parent.

Dr. Gary Neuman interviewed over 200 couples for his book The Truth About Cheating. He discovered that 48% of men rated emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason for infidelity. Only 8% of men rated sexual dissatisfaction as the reason. “They want their wives to show them that they are appreciated, they want women to know how hard they are trying.” He goes on to point out that men have difficulty expressing these feelings because they believe it is “unmanly” to ask for a pat on the back. Most affairs occur because people are emotionally lonely.

Another reason why men cheat is the “birds of a feather” phenomena. Neuman offers that 77% of the men he interviewed said they had a friend who cheated. It appears that when guys get together and they all agree to cheat it legitimizes their behavior and diminishes their sense of guilt. If men are hanging out in bars where there are available women they are much more likely to fall off the fidelity wagon. If they socialize with other couples who are faithful they are far less likely to find themselves in compromising situations with a belly full of booze and even less inhibition. Neuman also points out that only 12% of men who cheated thought that their mistress was more attractive than their wives. This leads us back to the more intriguing aspects of marital infidelity, like the unexpressed underpinnings of emotional need.

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Dr. Bill Cloke

Dr. Bill Cloke has worked with individuals and couples for 30 years. He received a masterís degree in education from the University of Southern California and holds a PhD in psychology from California Graduate Institute. A frequent talk-radio and TV psychologist, he is also a contributor to PsychologyToday.com and other popular websites and has lectured at UCLA. Bill Cloke lives with his wife in Los Angeles. To learn more about Bill Cloke, and for more resources on creating healthy, happy relationships, visit happytogetherbook.com.

95 comments

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12:07PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Women cheat on men more than vice versa.

9:05PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

@Robert F: "Men are hardwired to want to have sex with as many women as possible and most men think about having sex with every reasonably attractive woman they see..So its only natural"

Men are also hardwired with a BRAIN, that allows us to make rational decisions for ourselves. I may be hardwired to be attracted to beautiful women, but I'm not hardwired to do stupid things. And breaking a promise (such as, a promise to be faithful to your partner) is a stupid thing to do. So, if a guy thinks it's only natural to try to bed every women he meets, then he shouldn't promise any of them that he'll be faithful. They deserve to know the whole truth about him before they get involved with him. (The same is true for women who think multiple sex partners is natural. If you don't promise to be faithful, it's not "cheating".) Nothing aggravates me more than a person who thinks it's OK for THEM to cheat, but NOT OK for their partner to cheat!

1:08PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

ALSO COULD YOU PLEASE CHECK OUT MY PETITION SITE CALLED "VOICES FOR THE SHARKS". I AM TRYING TO SAVE THE SHARKS, AND NEED 5,000 MORE SIGNATURES . I WILL TAKE THIS ALL THE WAY TO CONGRESS AND GET THE HELP TO PASS LAWS TO PROTECT THEM, AND USE THE INFORMATION LEARNED FROM SHARKS TO TEACH KIDS, AFTER ALL THEY ARE OUR FUTURE.
ONE MORE THING,.... THEY ARE NOT MINDLESS EATING MACHINES. AS FOR SHARKS THEY CAN EVEN THINK ABOVE HAVING OR WANTING EVRY SHARK THAT SWIMS BY SO KNOW HOW IS IT THEY CAN CONTROL THEMSELVES BUT YET THE COMMENT WAS MADE ALL MEN CAN NOT REFUSE AYONE OF THE OPPISITE SEX ???

11:59AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Your Welcome!

11:32AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Thanks

11:23AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Robert the comment you made:
"Men are hardwired to want to have sex with as many women as possible and most men think about having sex with every reasonably attractive woman they see. So its only natural"
Is that fully your opinion? I feel that comment is taking men back to cave men times, I still think I would give them more credit then that. All of us are born with free will and I find it very far fetched to say All men are wired that way.I have spoken to many men about your comment and they were shocked to be labled with you. I find your comment a good excuse for you to act the way you have stated. but deep down it's not the truth of the matter. I feel any man that would say this needs some type of sex therepy help ASAP.

8:29AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Men are hardwired to want to have sex with as many women as possible and most men think about having sex with every reasonably attractive woman they see..So its only natural

7:01AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Wow that was an excellent article. It's the most clear writing on this topic I've ever read and covers all the bases. Wonderful therapist, thank you.

5:36PM PST on Jan 16, 2013

There are alot of things that can be fixed in a relationship. The only thing that can never be fixed is TRUST if it is broken it is done.Also to cheat is a deal breaker! No going back after that, if it will happen once what would make you think it would not be easy for that person to do it a second or third and so on time? Why lose sleep over the person with worry if it is happening again? Have more respect for yourself, you can do better, that person would be losing out not you.

4:24PM PST on Jan 14, 2013

.....the same goes for women who cheat.

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