- 1. An Ex Walked Back Into the Picture
- 2. Revenge
- 3. Immaturity
- 4. He don’t want to be in the relationship any more
- 5. Insecurity
- 6. His Needs Aren’t Being Met
- 7. Selfishness
- 8. Natural instinct
- 9. A Legitimate Sex Addiction
- 10. Childhood Abuse
Most therapists find most of the reasons that cheating men use to justify their infidelity fascinating — because almost all of these reasons imply that cheating was the only logical solution to their relationship issues and other life problems. I often find myself thinking, “Sure, cheating is an option, but only one among many. How about taking up a hobby, or volunteering to make the world a better place, or actually talking to your significant other about what you’re feeling and how the two of you might be able to craft a more fulfilling relationship? Wouldn’t any of those choices be better than lying, manipulating, and keeping important secrets from a woman you truly care about?”
When therapist ask men why they have cheated, here are the ten most common excuses they heard:
An Ex Walked Back Into the Picture
It’s the tale of a million tails—the one that got away. “A lot of times when we’re in a rough spot in our current relationship,” says Shirey, “we tend to disqualify the good.”
And when an ex shows up, “we remember that spark.” So you’ve got a situation where he’s ignoring the good parts about his current relationship and ignoring the bad parts—the parts that likely led to the breakup in the first place—of his old relationship. That’s a recipe for disaster.
If you’re angry with your partner, cheating can feel like a powerful revenge (and pleasant, for a bit). In this case, you’re disrespecting two women at once. You’re getting back at your partner with a woman who you don’t think so highly of. Any potential new relationship that develops from the infidelity is tainted with a sketchy beginning.
If he does not have a lot of experience in committed relationships, or if he doesn’t fully understand that his actions will inevitably have consequences like hurting his partner, he may think it is fine to have sexual adventures. He might think of his commitment to monogamy as a jacket that he can put on or take off as he pleases, depending on the circumstances.
He don’t want to be in the relationship any more
She may think the relationship is all peaches and gravy; he may think otherwise—and not have the guts to confront her about it. “One of the reasons people cheat is because it’s an impetus for change,” says Kristen Mark, PhD, director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky. “Having that impetus is necessary for some people to get out relationships that they find difficult to get out of.” Think of it as the ultimate “it’s not you, it’s me”—something you shouldn’t do. Also: be sure to check out the.
He may feel as if he is too old (or too young), not handsome enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, etc. (An astonishing amount of male cheating is linked, at least in part, to a mid-life crisis.) To bolster his flagging ego, he seeks validation from women other than his mate, using this extracurricular spark of interest to feel wanted, desired, and worthy.
His Needs Aren’t Being Met
Get your head out of the gutter; we’re not talking sexual needs. “It’s something that little things lead to over time,” says Shirey. Perhaps Rachel complimented a new haircut, and his wife hasn’t done that in a while. “Things blossom from there.”
Maybe it’s been weeks of fighting. Or maybe it’s been too long since he and his partner shared a laugh. Maybe he feels ignored and neglected. Whatever the reason, there’s a deficit in the relationship that reinforced an emotional disconnect. And instead of addressing the problem head on, thoughts drift to, “Rachel does this for me, and my wife does not.”
It’s possible that his primary consideration is for himself and himself alone. He can therefore lie and keep secrets without remorse or regret, as long as it gets him what he wants. It’s possible he never intended to be monogamous. Rather than seeing his vow of monogamy as a sacrifice made to and for his relationship, he views it as something to be avoided and worked around.
There’s that old adage, where every man wants to sleep with as many women as possible—“spread his seed,” so to speak—and every women wants to find one mate—“lock him down.” We’re writers, not evolutionary psychologists, so we cannot possibly hope to speak about the truth of that thinking. We’ll let Shirey take it away: “There are some theories out of evolutionary psychology. The theory is that, because women only have a chance of reproduction once a month, they tend to be much more discriminating in choosing a partner. Whereas men can basically have a chance of reproduction every time they ejaculate.”
A Legitimate Sex Addiction
“In very few instances, there are people who have a legitimate sex addiction,” says Shirey. Sex triggers dopamine receptors—the pleasure center of the brain. And like anything else that triggers dopamine—see: cocaine, heroin—it can be addictive. For some people, dopamine activates more from sex than from other things. “A lot of people try to use it as a cop out, though,” says Shirey. Fellas, don’t do that. Remember: “very few instances.”
Some men cheat in response to unresolved trauma. In this case you either re-enact the childhood trauma or respond to it subconsciously. Attachment and intimacy issues are common symptoms of old trauma, and they leave you on shaky ground for monogamy. A secret sex life with other people is a great distraction from pain, but doesn’t resolve any underlying issues.