What is the Reason Men Cheat?
Research tells us that 54% of men and 46% of women cheat, or have an affair, on their partner. Many find this interesting. The problem with this statistic is it has failed to ask the correct questions, therefore, no presenting correct results.
From my 15 years’ therapeutic experience there is, of course, many men and women who cheat, however, the majority are men. The difference between the two is many men do not count having a paid sexual encounter counted as cheating. The trips at the end of year football where they have sex with a random female or prostitute they often don’t count either. If you ask the young men working in the red light districts of cities they tell you most of their clients are married men with kids, but men don’t count these as cheating or affairs either.
We then ask, what is the real number? Can we ever really know the real number? No, we can’t. Cheating is defined so differently by everyone. It is not just sex, it may be flirting on social media, it may be a relationship or a random sex act on a drunk night out. The definitions are many. When we ask questions about having an affair for statistic purposes, the responses can be quite inaccurate.
If we ask ‘why is it that men have these extra sexual activities?’ Is it because the wife becomes boring to them, they have lost interest in their partner, sex is unexciting or his sex drive is higher than hers. The many excuses or reasons continue.
What I have found is many of the men who do have sex with another person while in a committed relationship or marriage has a lot to do with the communication in that relationship and how the man feels about himself. Many men often state they do in fact really love their current partner however they often then comment they are unable to have the conversations they want or need to have with them. Conversations about emotions, needs, fears and all the other things we as humans sometimes go through. Conversations men often feel they are unable to have with their partner or wife.
This is not a blame thing on her or on him; it is something that can be corrected once we understand how. Many couples, loving couples, have difficulty discussing things openly and without judgement. The difference between the male and female is she can usually talk about it; she can discuss deep things with her girlfriends but he does not have this option. A man still usually holds the position of protector, leader, the backbone of the relationship or family and finds it difficult to feel vulnerable or judged when he needs to talk about something with his partner.
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I have an almost equal amount of men visit my therapy room as women. The reason is referrals. When a man feels safe and comfortable discussing their deepest thoughts and feelings, they know it releases so much burden off their shoulders. They feel validated, less weird, heard, understood and better about themselves. When you ask them if they have been able to speak to their wife or partner about these matters, the common response is ‘No’. Some men do indicate they have tried but shut down fearing they will seem less of a man or feel less respected if they disclose this emotion.
I find most men can speak frankly, openly and honestly to me as a therapist. I also find many are unable to speak frankly, openly and honestly to their partner for fear of vulnerability and weakness in their partner’s eyes. Men, after all, are the strong ones, the people who manage through all types of adversity, those who are robust, put-up, shut-up and get on with things. It is when they become overwhelmed they often commence to start finding a way to enable them to feel strong again, like a man. This is often where sex becomes an escape. Sex with another person does not mean an emotional attachment, it is sex and sex is often the prelude to feeling like a strong, sexual, attractive, desired and wanted man.
Cheating, therefore, has more to do with his sense of self rather than to do with his partner.
What are the main reasons men go outside their marriage or relationship sexually instead of addressing any personal issues within their relationship?
Men struggle to have open and transparent conversations with their partner. This is due to the fact they will feel vulnerable and less of a man in her eyes. He may feel judged or questioned about things he can’t respond to because he himself can’t understand what he is feeling or why.
His cheating has nothing to do with his partner but more what is going on in his mind. He feels insecure and needs to demonstrate to himself that ‘he’s still got it’ and ‘is still wanted and desired’ by other women. It is a self-esteem boost.
Men often try to avoid personal conflict. This does not mean he will avoid all arguments or disagreements; it means he may avoid any confrontation about his feelings.
Men often do not want to upset or disappoint their partner as they still have to live with their wife and after things are disclosed or said they can’t be unsaid and as we all know, women never forget anything that has been said.
I met a woman recently in my counselling room who was a past escort. She left this position to take a normal 9 – 5 job and leave that part of her life behind. She came as she was struggling fitting back into what she called ‘normal everyday life’. She explained she had lived in a world of money, no emotion, always wanted and desired and rewarded very well with considerable money spent on her every want. Settling back into every day life and trying to date was difficult.
This previous escort would discuss the many men that paid for her services. She advised most were married, not particularly wealthy and many wanted to simply talk, disclose, share, unload. Some had sex each time they were together while others did not. She advised they simply felt safe with her.
Sure enough, a few months later I had a couple visit my rooms with marital issues. As it happened the husband was caught out with an escort, the wife was naturally shocked, confronted and upset. He apologised and wanted to work on rebuilding the relationship hence they came for couple counselling with me. As the story unfolded, he advised he was seeing an escort who he often spoke with rather than having sex with each visit.
While I wasn’t sure if it was the same escort, as it didn’t matter, I remember what the escort had told me about a number of her male clients. They often wanted to simply talk and felt safe with her doing so. This couple and I unpacked the reasons he felt the need to visit and pay an escort as the wife indicated their sex life was good and he agreed.
Sharing is important but Acceptance and Understanding is Essential
After he started feeling safe and comfortable, he did disclose a few issues he felt about himself he had not previously discussed with his wife. She did not know he felt like this and was very supportive of him. While it would take time for her to rebuild the trust, the wife did begin to understand the reasons why he went down the road he took. Her husband was sincere, sorry and felt humiliated, not from being caught but from not being ‘man enough’ to talk to his wife about his emotional issues. He understood if he had attended counselling at the onset, the escort would not have been needed but in his mind, it was weak for a man to see a counsellor. He then beat himself up about this stupid thought as well.
We worked for a few weeks, made considerable headway on communication skills and how to ensure a safe, non-judgmental environment for both of them to privately disclose. They both agreed whatever they spoke about remained between them as he was fearful she may want to talk about his disclosures to family or friends. Once she agreed to this and said she would come along to me every few months to simply unload anything she felt she needed instead of speaking to others, his trust and hers both escalated.
The couple naturally had work to do together and as they were both being fully open and honest in a safe environment; they learnt safe communication skills. He needed to learn how to speak without the fear of hurting her feelings or causing conflict as she also needed to.
Communication within a relationship is the foundation. Equally important is the safe, non-judgmental environment we provide. The time we take to listen, to understand, to support, to seek clarity and hear what the other person is saying and recognising whatever feelings or emotions they are experiencing are right – for them. Once we can do this, we can speak about anything together. It makes a couple closer when we can fully understand our partner’s deepest emotions and fears and this can make us love them much more as we are the person they felt safe enough to disclose to. Having an enhanced understanding of how he thinks and communicates is just one more tool to help you protect your relationship and happy life together.
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