There’s a bit of buzz going around regarding a new book written by a sociologist at England’s University of Winchester titled The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating.
I’m not going into detail concerning Eric Anderson’s hypothesis surrounding why men cheat, only to say that he came up with his findings from studying 120 undergraduate males. His observations found that 78% of them admitted cheating “even though they said that they loved and intended to stay with their partner.” The subject base alone warrants a complete disregard for his entire argument. A 19-year-old undergraduate boy can appreciate the importance of ‘commitment’ as profoundly as I can grasp string theory in quantum mechanics.
Yet from the research he was able to assert the reason men cheat isn’t that they don’t love their partner. They cheat because they want hot freaky sex with someone else.
The fact Oxford University Press published this garbage with such limited evidence makes me seriously question the quality of the educational materials today. I’m not certain if Mr. Anderson was hoping to provide a better understanding on the inner workings of men’s minds or if he just needed a peer reviewed excuse to step out in his own relationship. Either way according to the research cheating isn’t the real issue anyway; it’s society’s draconian and outdated view of monogamy, especially marriage, and the need for those perspectives to dramatically change.
Contrary to popular belief men do not think with their penises. We have a brain and we occasionally use it and whether admittedly or not men experience many of the same emotions their fairer partners do. We are acutely aware of rejection, undesirability, disrespect, and loneliness. We know what it’s like to look in the mirror and hate what we see. Men have felt the sting of being unappreciated for their contributions. They too have wondered if they’re even in love with their partner anymore and have asked “where is the person I married?”. But just because he doesn’t curl up on the couch with a bottle of merlot and box of tissues crying his eyes out for hours to a buddy doesn’t mean he’s totally insensitive or oblivious what’s going on around him. While men don’t express emotions exactly the way women do doesn’t mean we don’t have them – and it’s high time that worn out brush gets put away for good.
I’ve known several men who cheated on their wives and girlfriends. Some were in relationships for years while for others the ink on the marriage certification wasn’t dry yet. From the outside each of these men would be considered “a really good guy’. They are awesome dads, great providers, and responsible neighbors and quality friends. But something remained absent within each of them. One had become so detached from his wife due to his constant business travel they had grown to be little more than roommates. For another the children became the wife’s entire world. He sat on the backburner so long he didn’t even feel he mattered anymore. And one felt so unappreciated he started seeing himself as nothing more than a cog in a wheel.
I say all of that to state this fact – emotionally stable men in happy, wholesome, fulfilling relationships will not cheat. I’ve yet to find even one instance of a guy who cheated because he could and it was put in front of him. In each case these men had created a rationale, regardless of how wrong, for their actions. Yet there’s this notion whereby men don’t need a reason to cheat, all that’s required is a warm body and five extra minutes. And this propensity to stray starts on our wedding day when it’s believed we’re sizing up which bridesmaid to bag in the restroom during the reception. But I’m here to tell you that a man in healthy relationship possessing mutual respect, admiration, love, and understanding will not run the risk of ruining it for a tawdry roll in the hay.
Because the man in a strong relationship will not put himself in a position to even be tempted to cheat. And I’ll give you two examples from my own life. I’ve been in an amazing relationship for three years with the love of my life. To respect her and what we’ve got I’v placed barriers, guardrails if you will, in my life. One is that I never ride alone in cars with women. The other is never going to lunch or dinner alone with a woman. When I travel for business I either have lunch with a man or in a group. The reason for both is quite simple; I never want to give the Queen a cause to ever question my actions. Some will immediately roll their eyes and say that’s way to Leave it to Beaver for 2012 – but she’s never once had the slightest reason to doubt me. Who doesn’t want that level of assurance in their relationship? Just to note, this isn’t a habit she suggested nor have I expected it in return it’s just two of the ways I’ve chosen to honor our relationship.
But let me ask this, would I go to such extreme measures if our relationship was unhappy or unfulfilling?
I find it interesting to read stories from women who’ve been cheated on and pour over the reasons why their husbands had an affair. While each man is different his motivation always seems to be the same. In a nutshell, he’s a loser who had the chance and took it. But have you ever paid attention to the reasons women give for why they cheat? – “He wasn’t emotionally there for me”, “he was insensitive to my needs”, “he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore”.
Let’s put it out on the table right now – there is no more of an acceptable rationale for women cheating than men and we all know it. So if the man is to shoulder blame for his wife’s affair why is it any different for her? I think it’s become far to easy to make excuses and assign blame when doing so absolves the victim of any and all responsibility. But if the person being cheated on, man or woman, thinks they don’t have a part to play when their partner has an affair – they’re delusional, in denial, or both
The point to all of this is twofold. First, Mr. Anderson is getting nowhere in his quest to explain the logic behind cheating and men, though he may have finally scored that threesome with the waitress at the cafe. While the second point is to understand that infidelity never happens in a vacuum. Men and women don’t simply wake up one morning and decide to start having an affair over their Fruit Loops and coffee. Circumstances, events, and environments always precipitate and at the least greatly influence such decisions. If you’ve ever read accounts of cheaters and the reasons why they did it more often than not they express how much they agonized over their decision often for months and even years before they actually committed that first fateful sin.
People cheat; it’s terribly wrong and arguably the most horrendous breach of trust that can take place between a couple. But reducing infidelity to no more than the fulfillment of some bestial urge or a self centered attempt to put another notch on a belt is completely wrong and says little about men and arguably less about the women who love them.
To read a more detailed article about the book you can go to The Huffington Post.