Everything seems to be going smoothly, and then suddenly you discover the unthinkable. The love of your life is cheating. If you’re being cheated on, or have been before, you’re not alone. While most men are faithful, a sizeable number are not. But why do they do it?
Relationships require work, time, commitment, and energy. Sadly, some men approach life in a more short-term and reckless way, lacking emotional maturity. Sometimes they just don’t stop to consider if an affair is worth losing their relationship over or what the negative consequences could be.
They want an ego boost
We all feel undesirable sometimes, whether it’s because of aging or drinking too many sangrias, it’s a part of life. Sadly, when people feel insecure, they’re more likely to pursue people outside of their relationship that’s showing them attention to feel better about themselves.
Sometimes, the opportunity for infidelity appears because of circumstances, and men with less moral scruples take it. Men who socialize a lot and spend prolonged periods alone with women at work, for example, may be more likely to cheat and face the consequences.
A personal crisis
If a man feels bored, unfulfilled, sick of routine, or experiencing a midlife crisis where he wants to reclaim his lost youth, he might be tempted to cheat. Infidelity could be a fruitless attempt to rekindle his zest for life and realize any unfulfilled romantic or sexual ambitions.
Recurring or chronic problems might spur your man to seek fulfillment outside of the relationship. So, it’s vital to communicate openly and take action to address relationship issues. Letting issues fester or sweeping them under the carpet to avoid arguments won’t fix anything, and instead creates a breakdown in relations, or even infidelity.
In some social groups, masculinity is characterized by hedonistic behaviors and sexual conquests. So, men feel pressure to fit in by pursuing women and being sexually active, combine that with alcohol and reduced inhibitions, and they may fall back into his old ways.
Sexual variety and novelty
Are things getting a bit repetitive in the bedroom? Sometimes boredom can feel so frustrating, that people do things they ordinarily wouldn’t, like cheat. So, both parties need to take steps to keep the spark alive in the relationship if it’s to last the long haul.
Whether they have an insecure attachment style, a substance abuse problem, or some other issue, personal problems can increase the likelihood of infidelity for some men. That’s not to say that men with issues will always cheat, rather it’s the case that some individuals will be more likely to make bad choices.
They are emotionally stunted
Arrested development, either through trauma or a lack of consequences for behavior while growing up, can lead to unpredictable behavior later in life. When they lack the emotional maturity to stay in a committed relationship but feel ill-equipped to handle life on their own, they may cheat without considering how the consequences will affect them.
Some men are naturally less empathetic than others, and if they don’t seek to rectify this behavior they will continue being selfish into later years. It’s not that they’re cruel or destructive necessarily, and they can even be good partners to some extent. There are smaller ways their lack of empathy comes through, but the largest is cheating.
They have fallen out of love with you
Losing love or lust is something that happens to a lot of people. Some find it useful to work on their issues with their partner, as they’re often temporary and brought on by external factors like stress. Someone less emotionally secure would see this as a sign that the relationship is all but over, and cheat to end it.
They want to hurt you
A surprising amount of cheating is caused by a particular type of insecurity, where they are sensitive to perceived criticism and lack the communication skills to express that sensibly. Instead of clearing up misunderstandings, they blow up into misdirected arguments or a sense of resentment. To make things even, many men chose to cheat.
To ‘self-destruct’ the relationship
The existing relationship can be completely fine, but a new person they coincidentally get along with very well presents an alternative. They know emotional or physical cheating is a point of no return, and navigating the current relationship without doing it would be complicated. It’s simpler in a way to just do it and have that excuse just blow everything up.
They want revenge
Specifically, revenge for infidelity, whether it actually happened or they just think it did. The threshold for how much evidence they need to justify cheating on themselves varies from person to person. It could be their partner is acting a little differently, and instead of having a genuine conversation, both partners dance around the issue, which fuels the resentment.
They always intended to
Or rather, they never intended not to, if that makes absolute crystal clear sense to everybody. They lied, either intentionally or by omission, about their feelings and expectations when starting the relationship. They were in a place in life where they knew they weren’t ready to settle down, but still wanted the benefits of a relationship. Then they told a big fat lie.
They are polyamorous and didn’t realize
There isn’t a direct link between polyamory and cheating, since openly polyamorous people communicate their expectations clearly before taking new partners. Some will feel a sense of shame since the way they are is so at odds with how most people feel about monogamy. These repressed feelings can cause a lot of destructive behaviors.
They think they will get away with it
Some opportunities for cheating will present themselves on occasions where nobody would really find out. The TV show Friends already covered this of course: ‘there’s always a trial’. In reality, traveling for business, going on a holiday without your partner, or even a long-distance relationship all create opportunities. If somebody wanted to, they could cheat quite anonymously.
They don’t agree with your definition of cheating
If one thing is clear from every cheating story, it’s that people have different points where they consider themselves to have crossed a line. This will of course differ from what their partner’s idea of crossing a line means, both for themselves and others. The best way to avoid crossing boundaries is an open discussion with each other.
They change over time
Even in relationships where both parties feel satisfied, cheating can still happen. People continue to develop new feelings around sex as they age and mature, and sometimes these new emotions can be destructive to themselves or the relationship. A sufficient enough pull at a particular moment is all someone needs to choose short-term satisfaction over long-term accountability.
It excites them that it’s taboo
It’s fairly common for cheating to be a core part of adult entertainment, where it’s painted as intense, charged, and forbidden. It’s popular because the idea excites a lot of people, and consuming media is a way to indulge in a fantasy. For some, that won’t be enough, and they find themselves drawn to the thrill of infidelity.
He was never really over his ex
A common thread in cheating is the involvement of a former partner. It might not be them that they end up cheating with, they just fit the role of a nurturing presence, with the added baggage of having been intimate with them. It offers an easy alternative, which is common for cheating anyway, and combines it with the attraction already present.
He’s motivated by jealousy
Some men hold their egos quite sacred and don’t healthily handle negative emotions. One partner being more naturally social and outgoing means they are going to have more close friends to confide in. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but someone who struggles to admit they have been hurt might act out to cause the same jealousy.
He has co-dependency issues
A partner who is so emotionally dependent on you that it can be detrimental to them can still cheat on you. It’s not that they were lying about their strong feelings, it’s that codependency makes it difficult to regulate emotions. Their actions could be self-destructive, dangerous, or a way to restructure the relationship to somehow protect it, in their mind.
They want you to find out
This connects with a couple of the points on this list but deserves its own entry as it can be motivated by a combination of factors. Very often, either because of neglect, anger, or jealousy, people seek out opportunities to cheat hoping their partner finds out and ends things. It’s a cowardly but ultimately easy way to not be the one who broke up the relationship.
It seems like the only logical option
This is a ridiculous argument. However, many therapists who work with unfaithful partners mention how, when recalled by the man, the sequence of events leads to cheating being their only option. They can’t simply discuss their issues as that would hurt the other partner. It likely will hurt them, but not as much as cheating will.
They believe it’s a man’s duty
Again, as unbelievable as this sounds, marriage counselors hear straight from the horse’s mouth exactly what the stud’s duty is. It’s doubtful they actually believe this and instead are deflecting responsibility onto everything they can. Some men’s attitude towards gender is genuinely driven by the idea that we never developed out of our caveman behaviors.
They have a personality disorder
These are some of the hardest to diagnose developmental conditions, as it requires some kind of monitoring or attention in both early ages and as an adult. It’s likely many people adopt traits of conditions like borderline personality or antisocial behavior without ever realizing it. The struggle with feeling empathy and thinking of consequences could lead to cheating.
They are abusive
Controlling personality types will use things like infidelity, or even the threat of infidelity to psychologically attack their partners. Control is a form of abuse, and like many kinds of abusive relationships, the victim is unlikely to leave even after cheating, which of course their partner will know. It could be to punish, manipulate, or simply hurt their spouse.
They think cheating is only physical
For as many men who go out and actually have sex with another person, many confine their cheating to messages or pictures. Thanks to mobile phones, the opportunity for these is always present, it also offers a degree of plausible deniability if they get caught. In their mind, as long as it stays confined to social media, they haven’t done anything wrong.
He’s an addict
Sex addiction is a complicated disease. Not everybody is going to try class-A drugs, but statistically most people are going to have, and very much enjoy having sex. It goes beyond that for addicts. While plenty of people without sex addiction cheat, the added chemical dependency makes it harder to resist. There are treatments, but they are lengthy and involve a lot of self-control.
To use women as ‘stepping stones’
Serial cheaters tend to operate a bit like scam artists. They like moving the relationship along quickly so they can extract as much as they can from their partner. This could be financial, emotional, or sexual. Once they get bored, they try to initiate another relationship they can eventually jump over to, once the groundwork has been laid.
Lack of positive male role models
As humans, we tend to adopt behaviors and attitudes based largely on social factors. A father who has regressive or disrespectful opinions of women is likely to pass that on to his child. Without an understanding role model to help navigate their problems and teach them empathy, they will act as they have been taught.
He confuses lust and love
To be fair, this is a lifelong struggle for men and women. Love is amazing, it changes your life, and makes you a better person. Lust is also amazing, it’s exciting and passionate, it’s fire and chaos, but it’s endlessly confusing. The two very often mix at the start of a relationship, but it takes a lot of work and effort to balance them.
This is an informal phrase used by psychologists to describe a particular kind of individual. One who believes themselves to be fundamentally different and unique from their fellow man. They might not be able to articulate exactly what makes them mommy’s special boy, but they truly feel it. They feel as though normal relationship rules simply shouldn’t affect them.
He has unrealistic expectations
Men with issues surrounding dependency or attention may have completely wild expectations of the relationship, and their partner’s role. They might feel entitled to 100% of their time and effort, or assume they will be the ones responsible for housework or emotional maintenance. When these impossible standards aren’t met, some will cheat feeling they have been wronged.
They made a mistake
Sometimes, it truly can be an honest mistake. They never went out to do anything, nor do they have any issues with the relationship. However, some combination of alcohol and new people leads to a moment of weakness, which is fine assuming it is just a moment. Some men, of course, start the mistake and think they may as well finish it.
He has commitment issues
These underpin most problems in a relationship and often combine with other factors that can lead to infidelity. Regardless of where they come from, men with commitment issues tend not to communicate with them until they have already cheated out of fear it would upset their partner to hear.
His friends cheat
It’s not necessarily just the social influence of another cheater that makes a man start wandering. Having unfaithful friends also offers a network of people willing to help cover your tracks and spin an alibi for your location. These will all be men as stunted and immature as him, which is only going to encourage bad behavior.
They are repressed
A lot of men feel strong pressure to conform to traditional and outdated ideas surrounding masculinity. A sad effect of this is that many will experience some kind of same-sex attraction, or a fetish they feel deviates from the norm, which will conflict with their ego. Without a healthy understanding of sex and sexuality, that conflict drives people to act out.
They have cheated in the past
Figures differ among sources and samples, but around one in five people admit to being unfaithful, which grows as age increases. Serial offenders are difficult to quantify since people tend to lie about guilty-intimate details. Marriage therapists do say that it’s not hard for cheaters to change, but it involves a lot of self-reflection, accountability, and humility to rebuild trust.