Contrary to popular belief, most unfaithful men do NOT cheat for the sex. In fact, speaking with a variety of relationship experts as well as psychologists, we learned some of the unexpected reasons men stray — prepare to be woke!
Let’s get inside the head of a man, shall we? While it may appear on the surface that men cheat for one reason and one reason only — hello, they want sex ALL the time, right? — there’s actually much more at play when a man decides to be unfaithful. Picking through the brains of two relationship experts and two clinical psychologists, we learned some very valuable information when it comes to why men stray from their relationships. First, however, we want to be clear that men are NOT the only ones guilty of cheating.
“The latest research — published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior — found that women are cheating at the same rate as men,” clinical psychologist Les Parrott told HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY. “With DNA testing, it has been found that a ridiculous amount of children do not belong to the father that they thought they did,” dating and relationship expert Hunt Ethridge added. “So that’s cast new light on the notion that men cheat more. What it comes down to is, men are less slick about getting away with it.” Now THAT we can agree with! So then why do men cheat in the first place? Turns out, there’s A LOT to unpack in regards to this subject. Sometimes, however, the reason is quite simple.
“It’s usually not for anything large. It’s usually boredom. It’s usually that they’re not having something in their life that make them happy to be with the person they’re with. And that is the fault of both sides,” Hunt told us. “That being said, it doesn’t give an excuse to cheat, but if the man doesn’t feel like he’s receiving what he needs at home, he may go out and find it elsewhere.” Something the man may be longing for is respect.
In fact, “respect” was a common theme in our interviews. “Most often it has to do with emotional disconnection. They are feeling disrespected, neglected, or unappreciated,” Les explained. Grant Langston, eHarmony CEO, couldn’t agree more. “If you do anonymous surveys of men, and ask why they cheat, only seven percent say it’s for the sex,” he said. Women want to be cherished in a relationship. Men want to be admired. When a man thinks that his partner doesn’t admire him anymore, his ego takes quite a bruising.”
Hunt went a step further and even shared the results of a study that was done of all men. “[Men] were asked, ‘would you rather be loved by everyone and respected by no one? Or respected by everyone and loved by no one?’ Seventy-five percent said loved by no one and respected by everyone,” the love guru said. Pretty telling, right? That only helps prove that men put A LOT more merit on respect in their relationships than women may realize; that’s number one. Sometimes though, men simply feel “checked out” of the relationship, or they’re looking for excitement in their life. According to Les, they can also be “motivated by the thrill of doing what is forbidden.”
“I think it’s also impulse control. There’s masculine and feminine energies, and risk-taking is a very masculine energy,” Hunt explained. “If it’s not channeled in a way that’s healthy, it can manifest itself in ways that aren’t healthy. If you enjoy risks, you need to be self aware enough to pick up bungee jumping rather than picking up other women in order to fulfill your adrenaline rush.” As a woman, it can also be hard to understand why your boyfriend or husband cheated, simply because males and females are very different.
“Men tend to be sexually driven by variety, and women tend to be driven by quality,” Grant said. Something that also can’t be ignored, according to Hunt, is libido! “I think that traditionally, the younger man has a higher libido many times than a younger woman. People do not put enough weight on having matching libidos. It’s a huge part of every relationship,” the relationship expert explained. Hunt also stressed that you can’t change something like that in a person.
“If there’s a guy who wants to have sex twice a day, every day, and you’re not that type of person, there’s going to be a much higher chance that he’s going to look outside to fulfill that desire,” he added. “I’m not telling women to have sex all the time or feel uncomfortable, but I am saying, you shouldn’t be with that person to begin with. [Libido] is a large thing — don’t just look over that.” Of course, it’s not always all about sex though — or even the attractiveness of their partner.
“I think a lot of men who cheat will tell you that the woman they’re cheating with is not better looking than their wife; it’s not as simple as wanting sex,” Grant told us. “People tend to take the other person for granted. There’s a lessening of emotional interest. The DAY that begins, it doesn’t matter, but over the months and years, people tend to feel like they’re missing something in their life. That leaves the door open so that when a person comes along and gives them that interest, they’re vulnerable and accepting of the chance to cheat.” Honestly, that makes SO much sense.
Hunt stressed though that we also can’t forget about the guy who simply “never intend on being faithful, never really intend on giving their all to a women.” While those guys are commonly referred to as “jerks,” Hunt offered a possible explanation for why they act the way they do. “[Men] are not taught how to understand their feelings, communicate their feelings, and communicate what they DO want,” he said. “This way we’ve been raising our boys I think is also a factor in what happens here — they don’t know how to be successful in a relationship when it comes to issues and problems.”
For Dr. Sheila Forman, clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica, CA, there are eight main reasons men cheat. Lucky for us, she broke them down in simple, super relatable terms! The first one is to avoid intimacy. “Men who resist intimacy will create distance from their partners while looking for sex outside the relationship,” Dr. Forman shared. Number two is low self-esteem. “Men who do not feel good about themselves may seek validation from a sexual relationship with another,” she said. Narcissism, which is Dr. Forman’s third reason, can also play a major role, as “men who have an inflated sense of self will cheat as proof of their superiority and power.”
While this is no surprise to most women, immaturity could also be a reason men turn to cheating. Why? Because men “who have not fully stepped into their adult role may not completely grasp the consequences their actions may have,” the doctor explained. They may also have “unreasonable expectations about what a committed relationship is.” Addiction, while often used by men as an excuse, can in fact play a role in being unfaithful. However, it is not a justification! As Dr. Forman puts it, it can simply “fuel” infidelity.
As mentioned earlier, sexual boredom is also a cause for cheating, as men “may feel bored with their partner and look elsewhere for stimulation. Finally, Dr. Forman puts “blame” as number seven on her list, stating that “men blame their partners for becoming less attractive, less attentive.” The saddest reason of all however, may be number eight: desire to end the relationship. Dr. Forman told us, “Men who are looking to end a relationship but don’t want address it directly will use an affair.” Yikes!
And as surprising as it is, cheating can also be contagious! “Surround yourself with the people whose values you want to emulate,” Hunt told us. “If you’re hanging out with your guys, and every single one of them has cheated, then to you, it makes it seem that this is completely and totally ok. It completely lowers the badness associated with it in their heads — you think they know something that you don’t know.”
Similarly, if one of your parents cheated on the other, it may end up effecting your own relationships. “If you grew up in a house where your parents cheated on each other, I think your models were pretty sketchy,” Grant said. “It doesn’t mean you’re destined to do it, but if that’s you, you need to think about that and how that may have affected your view of relationships. You may think relationships are disposable because that’s how your parents acted.”
Moral of the story, beware of cheaters! “You’ve probably heard the maxim ‘once a cheater, always a cheater.’ Well, research tends to back that up,” Les concluded. “Previous cheaters are 350 percent more likely to cheat again as compared to those who have never cheated.”
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — are you surprised by any of these reasons men cheat?