Evolutionary theory, gender differences, stereotype, media myth and cultural expectations invite us to recognize that men have more sexual desire than women both in frequency and intensity, are wired to have many partners, have more difficulty with monogamy and that as such, married men are more likely to have affairs than married women. The reality is that while married men have more affairs than married women –The difference is not that great.
The other reality is that while extra-marital affairs by definition involve a romantic and emotional relationship that has a sexual or sexualized component, research suggests that sexual drive is not the primary reason married men have affairs.
Based on interviews with 200 cheating and non-cheating husbands, M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating, reports that only 8% identify sexual dissatisfaction as the reason for their infidelity.
A Rutgers study reports 56% of men who have affairs claim to be happy in their marriages, are largely satisfied and are not looking for a way out.
An Overlooked Reason
I suggest that one overlooked reason that men find themselves in the midst of an extramarital affair is that men don’t talk!
The rationale I have heard from men and found corroborated in the research is that:
As such, many married men are emotionally alone. Unlike women who turn to other women to vent, garner support, and hear other perspectives and feelings— men too often “ suck it up”, remain locked in their perspective and can’t find a way to speak about what they need. This leaves them vulnerable to the attention, affirmation and complication of an affair.
Do they look for the affair?
Some men never stop looking for the affair – they are serial cheaters whose affairs have nothing to do with relatedness to another, intimacy, sharing, pain or silence–They connect as conquest to bolster a well hidden but fragile ego.
Over 60% of men who have an extramarital affair, however, say they never seriously imagined themselves doing it until it actually happened.
Men Cheat with Women They Know
The Sexual Fix
In many cases, once the sexual interest is acted upon and the infatuation tripped, there is such a flood of neurochemistry that judgment is clouded with denial. There is the illusion that the affair can go on forever and exist side-by-side with marriage and family. Nothing will have to change–It always does.
But if Only My Wife…
Men often wish to hold on to their marriage by trying to find in their partner what they are finding in the affair. Given they are not sharing what they feel or need, their partner has no idea that the rules have changed. What the man often misses (true also of women in affairs) is the fact that he is acting differently to this outside person in a way that he has not been able to do in his marriage.
Affairs End Painfully
Repair and Renewal
If a man can find the feelings and words to engage with his partner in a process of apology and forgiveness,if he can speak and listen, reconsider the mutual rejection and anger, clarify the sexual needs and trust the love —he may well have a marriage he can speak about.
On Tuesday October 15, 2013 at 7PM EST, Dr. Suzanne Phillips will be offering a free Psych Central webinar on “Understanding and Enhancing Sexual Desire in Your Marriage.” If you would like to hear this, the link for registration is https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/390203343
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Last reviewed: 1 Oct 2013