Since the Charlie Sheen "thing," people, pundits, news anchors, everybody has likened that situation to Tiger Wood's infidelities. Is it just me, or are cheating on someone and assaulting someone TWO different things??? If I had the choice, I'd rather he cheated on me than put a hand on me. That's just me, maybe I'm wrong," (Joy Behar-love her!). Anyway, here's what the experts say about why guys cheat.
Tiger WoodsÂ has it all: talent,Â fame, money, and a beautiful family. Yet with everything to lose, he cheated withÂ a number of women. Why DO men stray? And could it happen to you?
Approximately 40% of men seek sexual satisfaction outside their relationships, estimates Kat Hertlein, Ph.D., professor of human development at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas and a marriage and family therapist.
That number hasnâ€™t changed much since 1950, when the famous Kinsey sex study found that 50% of U.S. men cheat at some point in their marriages.
Why They Cheat
The No.1 reason: Men crave sexual â€œvariety,â€ according to David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas and author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (BasicBooks).
â€œTheyâ€™ve evolved the desire to be with different women,â€ he says.Â
Thatâ€™s because itâ€™s very simple for men to reproduce (one act of sex versus nine months of pregnancy for women), so to create as many offspring as possible theyâ€™re biologically programmed to mate with many women.
â€œThe â€˜payoffâ€™ in reproductive currencies [kids] of a short-term mating strategy generally has been higher for men than women,â€ Buss says.
So after thousands of generations, â€œthis has forged in the male brain a desire for sexual variety.â€
Other top reasons men cheat? Theyâ€™re unhappy with their mates - and extramarital sex is cheaper and easier to get these days, Buss says.
And "power wives" beware: Being married to a high-profile guy ups the odds heâ€™ll wander.
â€œWomen are attracted to men who have power and status, so public figures usually have plenty of opportunity,â€ Buss says.
â€œNinety-nine percent of the time, thereâ€™s a simple reason why: boredom,â€ says Steve Santagati, author of The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date and Mate â€“ and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top (Crown).
Whatever the reasons, cheaters give monogamous men (the majority) a bad name.
Why They Say They Cheat
Here are 9 excuses guys give for doing the extramarital mambo:
1. She ainâ€™t what she used to be.
Like Adam, the typical man canâ€™t resist the temptation of riper fruit, especially if the woman in his life has let herself go.
â€œIf she got lazy or gained weight or just doesnâ€™t take care of herself, a guy will start looking at other women,â€ Santagati says.
Women who want to keep their men on a short leash need to take a â€œgood, hard look in the mirror,â€ he adds.
And men should do the same. He might be a complete slob and still be demanding perfection from her. â€œItâ€™s the typical double standard.â€
For their part, guys should also make an effort to rediscover the spark at home.Â
â€œMake her feel pretty, even if youâ€™re lying,â€ he advises. â€œTell her how beautiful she is and how much you appreciate it. It will make her feel sexy and sheâ€™ll want to make you happy.â€
That attention can lead to a more satisfying sex life, agrees Sue Johnson, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa and author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love (Little Brown and Company).Â
â€œAll the evidence shows that when [women] feel safe and connected, youâ€™re better at taking care of your partner.â€
Perhaps nothing will drive a married man into the arms of another woman faster than a nagging wife.
â€œSheâ€™s like a mosquito,â€ Santagati says. â€œHe doesnâ€™t want to have sex with her; he wants to [swat her away].â€
The more viable option: hot sex with a more â€œunderstandingâ€ woman.
Hogwash, says Steven Solomon, Ph.D., author of Intimacy After Infidelity: How to Rebuild & Affair-Proof Your Marriage (New Harbinger).
â€œ[A woman] didn't do something that excuses cheating." Whatever the relationship dynamic, itâ€™s not that healthy to begin with if it leads to infidelity, Solomon says.
3. She just doesnâ€™t â€œgetâ€ me.
Men who cheat say they donâ€™t feel understood by their mate. But itâ€™s not always the woman. Mostly theyâ€™re either angry or afraid to connect.
â€œItâ€™s easier for men to go outside the relationship than work it out with their partner,â€ says UNLVâ€™s Hertlein. â€œWe see this â€˜triangulationâ€™ a lot.â€
A deep-seated fear of intimacy can be hard for some guys to overcome. And theyâ€™re more likely to cheat again, especially if they donâ€™t go to couples therapy, Hertlein says.
4. Itâ€™s the thrill.
Most guys who have affairs are getting in touch with their inner caveman: They like to play with fire.Â â€œIt adds a level of danger,â€ Santagati says, â€œand danger adds to the excitement.â€
By keeping surprise and sizzle in your sex life, a woman can keep the home fires burning so hot that her man wonâ€™t have any reason to cheat.
But that's not the whole story. Solomon says men also cheat because of fear, loneliness or anger.
â€œThe betraying partner's failure to deal with these feelings is what causes him to be unfaithful," he says.
Often, married men who cheat canâ€™t quite explain their motivation. They just find themselves compelled to bust out of their day-to-day routine in search of something new. Itâ€™s a primitive instinct that dates back to their role as hunter and gatherer â€“ only this time, theyâ€™re hunting and gathering new women.
â€œMaybe he got married too young,â€ Santagati says, â€œor he just feels as if he hasnâ€™t seen everything.â€
Women can protect themselves by getting wise to this behavior early in the relationship â€“ and getting out.
Santagati suggests you can find out more about a manâ€™s dating history by watching how he acts in a room full of gorgeous women.
If you canâ€™t rein him in when your romance is new, youâ€™ll never control him down the road when your life together is more settled. â€œThe first three months are critical,â€ he says.
6. Biology, baby.
â€œItâ€™s our biological nature to be with as many females as possible,â€ Santagati says.
â€œOnce weâ€™ve seen a woman naked several times, it becomes commonplace. It doesnâ€™t matter if youâ€™re Jessica Alba or Sienna Miller, we become accustomed to your body and want to experience something different â€“ different lips, different body types. Weâ€™re only monogamous because we realize that love and friendship are more important than getting laid.â€
But Juliet Williams, associate professor of womenâ€™s studies at UCLA disagrees. â€œNo matter how stunningly high the number of male cheaters, we know itâ€™s not biological,â€ she says. â€œThere are still a higher percentage of men who are monogamous.â€
Whether itâ€™s evolution, biology or simple novelty, infidelity researchers agree that men do seek different sex partners. However, the decision whether to cheat is entirely in a manâ€™s control.
â€œMost men donâ€™t act on those desires because they donâ€™t want to jeopardize social reputations or marriages,â€ says University of Texasâ€™ Buss.
â€œFormer President Jimmy Carter, for example, told an interviewer that he had â€˜lust in his heartâ€™ but as far as we knew, he never acted on it,â€ he says.
7. Itâ€™s just sex.
For most guys, sex and love are two entirely different things.
â€œWe really believe, â€˜I can still love my wife and want to have sex with other women.â€™ We separate it in our brains,â€ Santagati says.
That rationale allows guys to cheat guilt-free, with one notable exception:
â€œAny guilt that a man has after sex isnâ€™t about the sex itself, itâ€™s about the consequences,â€ Santagati says. â€œWill she be a stalker? Will my wife find out?
"If a guy is in a committed, monogamous relationship, he should ask himself one question before he cheats: Is it worth it? He should consider the worst-case scenario, meaning that his wife finds out and is now brokenhearted. Is it worth it?â€
8. Not tonight, dear.
Letâ€™s face it. Men want more sex than women.
So when their partner is tired from wrangling kids all day and unwilling to try new things, even the most loyal hubbies get bored and go looking for nookie.
More sexually permissive men who donâ€™t have equally adventurous partners are also more apt to wander, says UNLVâ€™s Hertlein.
Their sexual values are just not compatible.
9. Because we can.
Ok, weâ€™re guys, remember? Itâ€™s hard to resist temptation, especially when itâ€™s at our fingertips.
Thanks to the Internet, itâ€™s easier for men to cheat anytime, anywhereâ€¦ while theyâ€™re watching TV or on the laptop in bed next to their sleeping wives.
â€œThat includes â€œsexy communication and flirting thatâ€™s kept secret from your partner.â€
Forgive and Forget?
Whether your man is having sex online or in a hotel room,Â should you take him back?
â€œWe think of people who betray us as cads, bad people, immature,â€ Solomon says. â€œBut most are normal folks who get lost in not taking care of themselves and their marriage.â€
â€œThe utterly bumbling confessional by [South Carolina Gov. Mark] Sanford is a reminder that these are humans, regardless of their stature,â€ adds UCLAâ€™s Williams.
And if you forgive and forget, could he cheat again?
Despite guysâ€™ excuses, the decision to cheat or stay faithful isnâ€™t something women can control.
â€œEven if youâ€™re the worse spouse on Earth, your partner can find better ways to deal with his unhappiness,â€ Solomon says. â€œYou can't make someone cheat any more than you can make someone drink or abuse you.â€
Will He Cheat? Rate the Risk
It's thought that about 60% of men cheat on their partners - and 70% of wives don't have a clue. Is your guy ever-true... or a sneaky cheat? Take our cheating quiz to find out.
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