If I had a dollar for every time a coaching client asked me, “Adam, why do men cheat?”, I’d sadly be worth millions by now!
If you’ve been cheated on once — or God forbid, multiple times — you might be feeling like all men cheat, and might be scratching your head as to why. Well, I’m here to tell you that in no way do all guys cheat, but diving into this subject might help you heal the pain of being cheated on and help you move forward to find a genuine and loyal man.
First, Let’s Get the Story Straight
To be fair, a decent amount of women cheat, too, so let’s not put men in the doghouse alone. Still, more men seem to be cheaters than women. According to the General Social Survey, 20% of men have cheated, while just 13% of women have. And age matters: the older men get, the more likely they are to cheat. About 14% of 30-year-old men cheat, while 24% of 80-year-old men (can you believe it?) are cheaters!
But why do they feel the need to cheat at any age? Let’s explore the question: why do men cheat.
Why Do Men Cheat? 14 (Sad) Excuses
Every man who cheats on his girlfriend or wife may have a different reason for doing it…or not have a clue why he misbehaves. But here are some common reasons (not excuses, per se) that might explain why he cheated.
1. They Want To Get Out of The Relationship
Some men aren’t good at confrontation. They may be unhappy in their relationship but don’t know how to just man up and have a conversation about their feelings. Instead, they stray. By wooing and sleeping with another woman, they are sabotaging their relationships, and in fact, want to get caught. Once they are caught, it’s a quick end to the relationship.
I know; it’s a strange way of ending a relationship, but I’m not saying men who cheat are always thinking with their brains!
2. They Don’t Realize What They Already Have
It’s the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” syndrome: men see other women and think that they’re what they want. They’re overlooking what’s right in front of them: you! Maybe they feel like you don’t appreciate them, and so they find a woman who does.
Sometimes the act of cheating makes them realize that they’ve got it pretty good at home. In that case, they might confess their indiscretion…or simply put more attention into nurturing their relationship with you.
3. They Believe it Makes Them More of A Man
I don’t know where this misguided idea comes from. Guys don’t sit around saying, “Woo doggie! I feel like a real man. I’ve been cheatin’ on my lady for years,” and get fist bumps all around. We don’t encourage other guys to cheat, so I’m not sure why some men think it makes them more manly to cheat.
If your guy needs to feel like a man, he should chop wood, not be unfaithful to you!
And actually…it might even be based on their genes. In a study from the University of Queensland, people were more likely to cheat if they had specific types of oxytocin and vasopressin receptor genes. Vasopressin is a hormone related to social behaviors including trust, empathy, and sexual bonding.
4. They Do It Because They Have Low Self-Esteem
Who doesn’t like feeling attractive? When a woman flirts with or shows interest in a man with low self-esteem, he may feel so good that he acts on it.
A healthy person doesn’t seek his own self-worth and validation from others; it comes from inside. If you think your man has low self-esteem and seeks validation elsewhere, realize that you will never be able to make him feel better about himself and that he’ll continue to seek it from other women.
5. They Are Bored With What They Have at Home
I see this with couples who have been married or together for a long time. It’s a fact: things can get stale in a relationship. It takes work to keep feeling about your partner the way you did when you first met them. And for some men, that boredom is an excuse to find excitement elsewhere.
It’s not your job to entertain your partner. Certainly, you should put effort into making the relationship happy and healthy long-term. Show him that you appreciate him by complimenting him or giving him physical touch. Schedule date nights, even if you’re both busy and exhausted. But realize: if he’s going to seek stimulation with another woman, there’s no amount of effort you can put in that will keep him happy at home. Get rid of this guy.
6. They Believe They Deserve It
In a similar way to how you think you “deserve” a glass of wine after Pilates, some men think they “deserve” to have their cake and eat it too…in other words, be in a serious relationship with you while having a side piece.
Maybe they travel for work and justify needing companionship to counter the stress…
Or you just had a baby and aren’t giving him the sexual attention he thinks he deserves, so he seeks it elsewhere…
You see these justifications are bulls#%^, right? In no way does he “deserve” to have multiple women. He deserves to be single and lonely!
You, on the other hand, deserve to be happy, and if you’re Googling “why do men cheat,” I’m thinking you’re not.
7. They Are Narcissistic
I have coached thousands of men and women on dating and finding love, and it’s interesting: I tend to see more male narcissists than female.
While narcissists can be incredibly charming, they’re also only looking out for Number One. They tend to think they’re superior to everyone and that normal rules do not apply to them. That makes them prone to cheating.
Not only do narcissists lack emotional empathy, causing them to not understand that they’re hurting you, but they also don’t have whole object relations and object constancy.
People who do have whole object relations understand that people have both positive and negative qualities and that no one is perfect. A narcissist may think you’re not enough for him because you’ve got flaws he doesn’t like, so he might seek out another woman who he thinks is perfect, at least for a few weeks.
Object constancy means you can maintain your positive emotions even when you’re angry or hurt.
Elinor Greenberg, PhD, an expert on narcissistic disorders, says:
“Object constancy helps you rein in your impulses to hurt someone during a fight. Lacking it makes people more willing to emotionally and physically damage their mate.”
So if a man can’t empathize with your feelings and he is unhappy because you have flaws (you’re human, after all), he may decide to help himself to an extra helping of loving elsewhere. It’s sad, I know.
8. They Are Not Built For Monogamy
Monogamy is not the natural order of things. Think about it. Cavemen spread their seed far and wide in an effort to populate the world. There was no “couple for life” concept back then.
But as we as humans evolved and became more stable with reliable food sources and shelter, people began pairing up, finding emotional support in having a partner.
So while you might assume everyone wants to find one magical person, the fact is: not everyone is cut out for monogamy. In fact: 1 in 5 single adults have been in an open relationship before.
That being said, there is a difference between being in an open relationship and cheating. In the former, both partners are aware that the other may date or have sex with other people. It’s consensual. Cheating is not. If your guy thinks he’s not made for monogamy, he shouldn’t be in a relationship!
9. They Think They Can Get Away With It
If you found a wallet filled with money in the middle of the desert and no one was around, would you take it?
For some guys, it’s the simple fact that they can cheat and get away with it that compels them to do so. If there are no consequences…why the heck not?
A man who cheats because he can isn’t a man with morals. If you’re looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with, you want a man who does the right thing, who factors in your feelings when making decisions that impact you both.
10. They Like The Thrill of It
Cheating is illicit. The forbidden fruit. Watch a movie like Unfaithful with Diane Lane, and you see sneaking off for a little afternoon delight as sexy, not hurtful.
Some men like taking risks and the rush that comes with them. For them, the idea that they could get caught (even if they don’t expect to) creates an endorphin rush.
My advice to these men? Buy a motorcycle. Better to risk your life on the open road than hurt a wonderful woman.
11. They Have The Opportunity To Do It
Maybe Becca from Accounting has been flirting with him at happy hour after work. Maybe an old girlfriend called to catch up. For some men, simply having opportunity compels them to cheat.
There’s a little thing called impulse control that these guys lack! When you buy a dozen cupcakes, it’s the little voice in your head that keeps you from eating all 12 in one sitting (okay, maybe just 2). It’s the voice that says (or is supposed to), “hey, this attention is flattering, but I have an amazing wife at home. Time to go.”
12. They’re Not Getting Sex at Home
This is a tough one because sex is such an important part of a healthy relationship. Men who aren’t having sex with their partners may seek it elsewhere. But if you’re not having sex with your partner, there’s a bigger issue at play. Likely one or both of you simply don’t know how to communicate what’s wrong, and so you’re subconsciously expressing your frustration by disconnecting physically and emotionally.
If your sex life is drying up and you worry that he might cheat, start a dialogue about what’s really wrong. Make an effort to get back on track. The longer you are with someone, the more effort you have to put into nurturing your sexual relationship because you’re no longer jumping one another’s bones twice a day the way you did at the start.
13. They Reconnect with a Past Love
Ah, the one that got away. You probably have a man in your past who things didn’t work out with, though you wish they had. You might even still love him on some level.
Things get tricky when those people from our past show up again. It’s all too easy to rekindle old feelings, even if who you are now is vastly different from who you were when you dated in college.
Sometimes these reunions result in cheating, and they’re so much worse than just a casual affair because there’s history and emotion involved. The question is: was this a one-time “I needed closure” type situation, or is he nurturing a permanent reunion with this woman? Either way, you don’t need to stick around to find out.
14. They’re in a Long-Distance Relationship
Long-distance love is difficult. You barely see one another, and you subsist on FaceTime calls. But what about your physical needs that aren’t getting met?
You might have no trouble going without sex or touch for the months that you’re apart, but often guys cheat because they have no willpower in a long-distance situation. Plus the likelihood of being caught is low.
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, consider opening the conversation to discuss seeing other people. It may not be what you want, but if you think he might seek the company of women regardless, isn’t it better to know and give him permission than for him to sneak around? And you never know: you might like having the option to see other men yourself!
So…why do men cheat? For no good reason.
But the real point here is that you need to look at the situation and realize that in no way will it get better for you, and you deserve so much more.
If your partner has cheated, you will never really be able to trust him again. Every day you will wonder if he’s actually cheating when he says he’s going for a run…or to meet friends…or to sleep. Trust is an incredibly fragile creature, and once it’s been broken, it’s not easily mended.
It can be hard to let a cheater go if he’s super sorry and promises you the moon to make up for his indiscretion. He may promise to fix problems that have been in your relationship for years, if only you will give him another chance.
And certainly, there is the possibility that he learned his lesson and will never cheat again. But with that shadow of doubt looming over your head, you will probably never be happy in this relationship the way you were before it happened (or before you knew).
Prioritize yourself and be honest about what you need. You need a partner who respects you enough to be true to you, and for whom you are enough. You are fabulous; never settle.
Have you been cheated on? What’s your perspective on why men cheat, and how did you survive the heartbreak? Leave a comment below.
You don’t know why he cheated, but now you’re nursing a seriously broken heart. My Heal Your Heart program was designed with you in mind and will help you find the strength to move forward. Sign up today and start healing!