He cheated and why it’s your fault.

via Google

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 Either way according to the research cheating isn’t the real issue anyway; it’s society’s draconian and outdated view of monogamy, especially marriage, and the need for those perspectives to dramatically change.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.

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33 responses to He cheated and why it’s your fault.

  1. Hey Chopper Papa,

    Interesting take on Dr. Anderson’s book. I am not coming to his defense because I think cheating is extremely damaging to a relationship. But, he isn’t so much talking about cheating as monogamy. He questions if it is working for us and, given the rate of infidelity in this country and the percentage of divorces that result from infidelity clearly indicate that as much as we love the idea of monogamy (and hate the idea of infidelity), it seems that many of us just can’t help ourselves.

    I know that basing a study of monogamy on undergrads (and not many at that) seems to be lacking, but, let’s face it — Millennials are being studied for everything, from their buying habits to their feelings about divorce to their attitudes toward work — why not monogamy? As Anderson quite wisely notes, this is the first generation that grew up with widespread divorce, abundant porn and hookups and FWBs. Their attitudes about monogamy and cheating will influence our culture for generations to come. That’s huge! He’s not studying commitment — just their thoughts on monogamy.

    Not to pick on you or the Queen, but, honestly, you should not have to avoid lunches or car rides with women if you and she have a trusting, honest relationship. Eliminating women (temptations?) from your life in a way just proves Anderson’s point — that men are pretty much always thinking about having sex with other women, even if they love and adore their partner, and they have to put restraints on to keep themselves from acting on it. But, of course, not all men act on it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t desire it, and that’s what Anderson is saying.

    I asked my longtime (not live-in) BF if Anderson’s right about men and he said yes. Then I asked him why he isn’t cheating, and he said he’d never been as happy in a monogamous relationship before (although he has never cheated on anyone). However, he has alerted me that if Juliette Lewis comes calling, he’s going for it. Well, I’ll put it this way — I think we’re OK for now …

  2. Salute you for this piece. Seriously, it’s so refreshing to hear it from a man’s point of view…not from party crazed testosterone driven young guys. While I agree with you that it takes two to work of flop a marriage life. I had my shares of flaws in my marriage but even after “He wasn’t emotionally there for me”, “he was insensitive to my needs”, “he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore” I held my ground and did not look to fulfill what he haven’t been giving me. To me there’s a sanctity of being married. A sacred bond if you will, like you said – it may be old fashioned but that’s how I valued married life. Yes, there are women who cheated and I’ve seen some of them and I seriously cannot agree the path they are choosing.

    Thanks for this insightful post, Kyle!

    PS: The reason why mine said he did it was “You always said no to sex after you had the baby.” Mind you, the baby was almost 2 years old when he started the chaeting lol.

  3. Papa – Author

    Vicki, Thanks for the response and congrats again on the piece. I wanted to write quickly to part of your comment concerning my lunch and car policy. I think you’re assuming that I have those guardrails (in hindsight that may not have been the best choice of words) not because I don’t trust myself or that doing so will ultimately lead to something else. It’s the belief that doing so, while I’ve never cheated before, puts an every so fine crack into my relationship and I think that when given some thought we all would believe that no matter how ‘good’ our relationship is. “What is he doing at lunch?”, “I trust him, but I don’t know her.”. Lastly (and this is probably where the Leave it to Beaver comes in.) I just don’t think it’s appropriate…especially dinner. There’s something about two people eating together after the sun goes down…

    But your BF’s response proved my point exactly. And I’m even willing to bet that should Juliette Lewis actually come knocking she’d get the boot as well.

  4. Such a complicated issue. Our therapist said, in his experience, that men cheat for one basic reason…that they are overly criticized and under-appreciated by their woman.

  5. T

    I agree on many of these points. I think as humans we feel desire and attraction but, as you stated, if all is well with ourselves and our relationships, we won’t act on them. I’m only speaking from my own experience as a mistress of a married man, someone who cheated on my husband, and someone who was cheated on by her husband and subsequent boyfriend. The sad part of the experience, however, was that I didn’t dwell on or feel like anything was missing and sought out an affair. As you said, I don’t believe anyone decides they’re going to cheat in such an off-handed way. The opportunity presented itself and that’s when I realized I’d been ignoring a problem in my marriage for so long. Infidelity is only a symptom – not the problem. If I was aware of the issue (and I was but put it away because my husband didn’t think there was a problem), then perhaps I could have handled things differently. I was relationship immature and married to the same.

    I loved your take on this and Vicki’s comments as well. Thanks!

  6. Goodness and Grit

    ” – but she’s never once had the slightest reason to doubt me. Who doesn’t want that level of assurance”

    Without mutual trust and respect you have nothing. It really is that simple.

    Klem, (hugs på Norsk)
    Kimberly

  7. Good post! Up until you said Froot Loops & coffee. Gag.

    It always amazed me at the level of justification my ex went to about her extraneous relationships. Nothing about them was her fault. It all hinged around my failure as a husband. I had my short emotional affair and that’s just what she said, that I was thinking with my penis. What I didn’t say was, “Baby, if I was thinking with my penis, you wouldn’t be able to handle this genius.”

    But I digress. A little.

  8. In my experience, both men and women are unfaithful sexually for so many reasons, and different reasons at different points in time, that these attempts to package up the problem seem pointless.

    As to the statement that “people cheat,” I’d say that covers it. Sad but true, or possibly – simply human. And we need to be more realistic about what we expect from our partners.

  9. Natasha

    I think there are many reasons why men/women cheat. Sometimes it is because “they can”. Undoubtedly, anyone in an unsatisfying relationship will be tempted. This study is hardly indicative of men as a whole. It doesn’t account for people with a sex addiction os narcissists. The media glamorizes cheating. It is portrayed as exciting. Men cannot help themselves. Women bear the guilt of not being pretty enough, sexual enough or compliant enough to “keep their man” I think the bigger issue is media and the message it sends to youth about sex and relationships.

  10. “And we need to be more realistic about what we expect from our partners.” Big Little Wolf

    An institution which makes so many people so miserable isn’t working. We demand too much of marriage, and it can’t bear the weight of all our expectations, particularly expectations of romantic love. Suppose that emotional fulfillment were not considered a part of marriage. Suppose marriage were regarded primarily as a vehicle to create a family and provide for the rearing of children. Suppose marriages were arranged, and sexual fidelity was not part of the deal. People would be a lot less ashamed of themselves.

  11. Papa – Author

    “Mind you, the baby was almost 2 years old when he started the cheating”

    He really should have been more creative in his excuse.

    Thanks Maureen.

  12. Papa – Author

    Your therapist is absolutely right.

    When and why did women become so critical? (I think that’s a forthcoming post)

  13. Papa – Author

    ” Infidelity is only a symptom – not the problem”

    Couldn’t have said it better and think intrinsically people know that but it’s so much easier to simply focus on the “ACT” than to look at what possibly drove the person to that act.

    In my own situation I am aware that I had a part to play in my ex’s affair. That clearly doesn’t condone her actions nor does it get me off the hook. it’s just a fact of the matter.

  14. Papa – Author

    I the most surprising thing is why more people don’t understand that.

    Thanks Kimberly!

  15. Papa – Author

    Digress indeed.

    Sounds to me like she was feeling the guilt plenty enough and was looking for anyway possible to pass some of that on to you.

  16. Papa – Author

    “And we need to be more realistic about what we expect from our partners”

    Interesting point of view, is fidelity an overly realistic expectation?

  17. Papa – Author

    ‘I think the bigger issue is media and the message it sends to youth about sex and relationships.”

    Very salient point and one that I wholeheartedly agree with.

    Thanks for joining in the conversation Natasha!

  18. Papa – Author

    Wolf, Are you implying that the current aspects of marriage, such as fidelity, need to be reconsidered?

  19. If a relationship is not doing well, yes most of the time both people in the couple share the fault. But NO cheating is NOT the cheater’s partner’s fault. If you’re unhappy with your relationship, then 1) face it and talk to your partner so you can work on repairing the relationship, or 2) leave. If you decide to cheat instead THAT’S ON YOU. And I don’t care if the cheater is male or female. Either way, that’s on YOU and not your partner. You may be unhappy bc your husband/wife isn’t attentive to your needs. But you cheated *because you chose/allowed yourself to stray.*

  20. My good friend cheats on his fiance any chance he gets. She is an amazing woman and treats him really, really well. He will tell you this. There is nothing lacking in any department of their relationship. He cheats because he likes having sex with other women. I just wanted you to know that yes, in some instances, some men do cheat because they’re thinking with their other head. But for the most part, I agree with what you’ve written.

    I have read so many blogs where the men aren’t getting sex anymore from their wives. There are a number of reasons and none of them seem valid. These men don’t really get any attention at all from their wives, actually. And it really bothers them. Some of the men are cheating while others just write about how much they long for the love and affection of the women they married.

    Usually, there is always a REASON why a person decides to stray and that reason has to do with something they’re not getting from their partner. Does that make it right? No. I think communication is lacking in many marriages. Not just communication itself, but HOW to effectively communicate. In many cases couples never really learned how to effectively communicate with each other. (I learned that from one of the counselors I work with)

    As far as what Vicki wrote, I think saying, “it seems that many of us just can’t help ourselves” is a load of crap! (no offense to you Vicki) People make the CHOICE to cheat. That is certainly something one can control. I will be 100% honest, I have cheated on everyone I’ve ever been in a relationship with. EVERYONE. I really thought that I was one of those people who just couldn’t help myself. Like there was something wrong with me and I was unable to be sexually satisfied with one person for an extended period of time. Then I met my current husband. Something was different. I feel this level of completeness, satisfaction, love, trust and happiness that I’ve never experienced before. And I have no desire to have sex with anyone else, EVER. The thought alone makes me think of how much I’ll lose.

    So, yeah, I don’t believe that people can’t help themselves. I think that’s just an excuse for people to cheat. Do I think monogamy is for everyone? Absolutely not. But I think that is something that needs to be laid out on the table prior to entering a relationship so both people are on the same page. I’m just not buying that we have this generation of men who are incapable of monogamy. Cheating has been around forever. It just wasn’t talked about as much back in the day as it is now.

    I will say that I do agree with Vicki about the lunch/dinner/car rides limitations you have set for yourself. While I find them admirable, I find them unnecessary if you’re in a 100% trusting, healthy relationship. Car rides and lunch/dinner with a person of the opposite sex do not equal anything other than car rides and lunch/dinner. I’ve heard women say, “I trust him 100%, it’s other women I don’t trust.” Well, that’s BS. Because if you in fact trusted him 100%, then it wouldn’t matter if the skankiest woman on the planet was naked in front of your man offering him the time of his life, you would still trust that he would turn her down. The fact is, that it shouldn’t put a ever so fine crack in your relationship because she trusts you. I bet if you asked her, she would tell you that. Not that I’m saying you need to take away your rules or anything, I’m just saying that I think you should give Queen a little more credit. I just read your 2nd anniversary post and she sounds absolutely amazing! I bet if you were having dinner or lunch or rode in a car with a woman, she wouldn’t be wondering anything because she knows that you adore her more than anything. She knows where your heart is.

    Ok, this comment is hella long. The End!

  21. Papa – Author

    The act of cheating, yes, that certainly isn’t on the partner. But what drove them to the point of actually cheating. They totally own part of that.

    And’ I’ll tell you a secret, from a guy who has been there, the only way to get over an affair behind your back it to accept that you played a role in its creation. I know of no other way to move beyond it than that.

    Thanks !

  22. Papa – Author

    Your friend is mentally unstable and doesn’t deserve marriage.

    As far as the car and lunch thing. She personally thinks it’s stupid. I don’t care. It’s my deal and the way I roll. I’ve never cheated in my life. I don’t see that I ever will. I just like it that way.

    Thanks as always April!

  23. I don;t disagree with either his hypothesis not his bravado. I do not think, however, that cheating is anyone’s “fault” other than the cheater and his whore.

    I was in a horrible marriage. It was a nightmare. It was mostly sexless, and definitely intimacy deprived. Yet, I never cheated. I talked to to two different women while I was separated, kissed one. I felt so much guilt and failure from that, therapy and my Faith had alot of work to do on me to get me somewhat “right” for the next relationship.

    My new wife and I have three rules – no lying, no cheating, and never let the house run out of toilet paper. We don’t have sexual needs issues, but when things do slow one of us is in the other’s face talking about it.

  24. “amazing relationship for three years with the love of my life.” 3 years? please, you have no idea,3 years in if this is the love of your life.

    “I’ve yet to find even one instance of a guy who cheated because he could and it was put in front of him”. Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Hurley? Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky? Men will take it where they can get it.

  25. I’m talking about a different world altogether, but it would be an interesting experiment, no? The romantic myth, which leads most of us into marriage, contains no blueprint for what a successful marriage is. So people have to make it up. That puts a great burden on a couple.

  26. Papa – Author

    MBT,

    Been bitter long? I would encourage you to re-read the post.

  27. Ellie

    I must admit I ruined one relationship because I tried to change my boyfriend…he wasn’t perfect enough for me. How sad and stupid of me.

  28. […] have to find what's at the root of it in your own heart and work through that issue. Hope it helps!Hes not even mine to be jealous over, i used to really like him… I want to get over him, hes seein…er him can be because you have a deep-seeded insecurity about yourself and you may be relying on him […]

  29. Perhaps the most illuminating thing for me in writing this book is just how many journalist, bloggers, and others espousing viewpoints/opinions and learned thinking do so without reading! I’m amazed at how much people (the author of this piece included) think they know about my 120,000 word book from a few hundred word review. It’s not that they read these news pieces and find them interesting enough to inspire a read of the book; just the opposite, they write ‘informed’ blogs about my book without reading.

    It’s like being convicted without a trial. So, my comment, read the book, and then tell us what you think. If not, your only reproducing blobber-babble – ill informed dribble.

    For example, while I use 120 interviews of young men, I supplement it with the work of tens of thousands of surveys.

    So read the book, and then comment, please!

  30. Lisa

    As a society we prioritize sexuality over love and commitment and a lot of that has to do with how relationships are portrayed and people are objectified in main stream media. And almost everyone in control of our media is a man.

    I am not a fan of the biological idea that men are wired to be unfaithful or ogle women or any of that. Most of these “studies” take social conditioning out of the equation and are therefore bad science. The fact that people are products of nature and nurture, and are extremely adaptive creatures, can’t be overlooked.

    I would like to think that a man in a happy relationship, one that has a combination of deep love and good sex, (which are both equally important in a long term relationship regardless of what Mr. Anderson says) isn’t sexually sizing up every woman he sees. And if he is, it’s not because it’s biologically hardwired. At least not completely. It’s because he’s been programmed to objectify women and automatically see them as sex objects throughout the course of his life.

    Various activities often thought of as harmless in our modern culture like girl-watching, porn use, and strip clubs are a big part of this social conditioning. And that’s the more blatant variety. We can’t forget that there is a half naked woman on just about every billboard trying to sell beer, bras, jeans, cologne, or whatever advertisers can make the public feel insecure about this week.

    One of the favorite phrases I often read in reference to male sexuality is that “guys need sex like they need food and water”. Well I argue that is true for the bulk of humanity. People need sex, but not the vacant empty kind. That just leaves you wandering for more. You might have scratched that physical itch, but the emotional scab is still there and seeping pus all over your good shirt.

    And as for women. Oh, we love sex. In fact, some people have argued that women are the more sexual creature compared to men. I might agree. But then why are there so many stereotype women out there who claim not to want it? She wants it. Just not with the schmuck lying next to her who has only paid attention to her long enough to cop and feel and beg for sex. She wants to be wanted and loved for who she is, not the size of her breasts. She wants his attention and wants to feel precious and treasured. But he can’t do that because he doesn’t know how. And now we’re back at men being programmed to see women as sex objects and we can see where this vicious cycle will take us.

    The bad news is this way of thinking is learned and perpetuated by young culture in colleges and bars all over the world and in the media. It’s like a scourge that comes just before an apocalypse. The good news is, if it was learned, it can be unlearned.

    Anderson, and vapid pseudo-scientists like him are missing the big picture. People need emotional intimacy. In fact, intimacy is the first things our brains are wired for. Newborns who do not create an intimate bond with a caregiver often fall ill and even die. Even with adequate basic care and food and water. So you see, love is essential for life itself. An intimate bond can successfully be created between one man and one woman. And when it happens and when it’s maintained, a person can be healed of all their pains and truly be happy. That’s worth a million meaningless sex partners and more.

    Our society was built on monogamy. Attraction is fleeting. Desire needs to be fed and maintained. It’s work, just like anything really worth having. Infidelity is never the answer. And social behaviors that objectify and prioritize sexualization only tear our society apart limb from proverbial limb. And while everyone wants to think we’re just sex crazed animals, (and exploit that baser instinct in order to sell us products) we also have rational brains that are capable of loving to extremely deep levels. Find me another animal that can do that.

  31. Mimi

    Actual scientific research does not show a direct correlation between the state of a marriage and infidelity. Serial cheaters, rapists, etc. can be involved in very “happy” marriages. Although I suppose that the key is emotionally stable men, in a happy relationship. Unfortunately, there are quite a few emotionally unstable men and women in our current society.

  32. Kyle Bradford – Author

    ‘Actual scientific research does not show a direct correlation between the state of a marriage and infidelity.’ — I’d be skeptical of any research that shows that. If happiness isn’t the right word then maybe ‘fulfilled’ is better.

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