What Is It That Makes You Cheat?

Psychologist Martyn Stewart believes you can spot a man that is likely to be unfaithful. In his book, ‘Why Men Really Cheat’, he divides ‘cheaters’ into three distinct categories and describes in detail what makes them do it.

Contrary to common belief, Stewart claims sexual gratification isn’t always the main reason. Some men do it out of low self-esteem, or a desire to prove that they are ‘somebody’, while others do it out of a fear that they might be missing out on something better. More often than not, men cheat, because they are motivated by irrational compulsive drives.

And modern technology is facilitating infidelity. Social networking, instant messaging and online dating have made it much easier to cheat. According to Stewart, our society is built on ease. Its aim is to facilitate selfish needs.

In his book, he describes the five types of men that women should avoid if they are looking for faithfulness:

  • The Lad’s Lad – Easily swayed when drinking, this gent sees cheating as a way to show off his manliness, as much as to gain sexual thrills.
  • The Manipulator – Calculating, secretive and dangerous.
  • The Stupid Mistake – Acts first, thinks (and regrets) later.
  • The Disdainer – A misogynist lacking patience or empathy.
  • The Opportunist – A carefree individual who takes any and every opportunity presented.

Stewart devised his definitions by interviewing 547 men in gyms and pubs. But while he tends to perceive men as compulsive cheaters, surely they’re not all the same? In fact, psychologists say that most men aren’t hardwired for infidelity. For example, circumstances at home could be difficult and they slip up when sharing many hours with a co-worker who happens to be female. Other explanations include feeling inadequate, so the affair fulfils a sense of neediness and this fantasy situation means he feels less diminished than when he is at home.

But what about women? Although cultural stereotyping might suggest that men are worse at staying true to one partner, studies suggest that equal numbers, 10% to 20% of both sexes, will cheat in a monogamous relationship.

However, the reasons women cheat are often very different to those for men. While many men look for a purely sexual experience, women tend to seek an emotional connection. In a survey by an extramarital dating site, 57% of female cheaters said they loved the person they were having the affair with, while just 27% of men said the same.

The five main reasons given by women looking for an extramarital relationship were:

  • Feeling underappreciated or ignored – This was often the case for women who felt they were viewed as a housekeeper or child-minder rather than a partner.
  • A craving for intimacy – Women need non-sexual emotional interaction, such as touching and kissing, more than men and sometimes look elsewhere if those needs aren’t met within their main relationship.
  • Boredom – Women who are alone for long periods of time, perhaps when the children leave home, can feel a sense of emptiness that they attempt to fill with a romantic affair.
  • Unrealistic expectations – Some women enter long term relationships expecting too much after seeing ‘perfect’ relationships at the movies or mistakenly believing that their friends have ‘perfect’ partners.
  • Intimacy disorder – Childhood trauma and/or sexual abuse can lead to problems in later life, such as addictive sex or serial cheating.

Of course, some women cheat for exactly the same reasons as men, because they feel unhappy with their sex lives and look for fulfilment elsewhere.

In both cases, the person doing the betraying is nearly always unaware of how deeply their behaviour can affect their ‘permanent’ relationship. Secrets, especially sexual secrets, destroy trust regardless of gender, and some couples are never able to rebuild the trust and emotional security needed to continue their lives together as a result.

Comments are closed.