Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why men and women cheat

I'm often curious about this because it seems to be so prevalent, even amongst couples who say they are happily married. Do 1 in 2.7 men really cheat? Why? Is it because of problems in the relationship, a lack of self-esteem, or is monogamy just unnatural? All of the above. Here's what I've read:

Not feeling appreciatedThis one strikes a nerve because I dislike feeling obligated to thank my partner for every little thing he does for our family. It's his job after all! However, I can see how a complete lack of appreciation can build resentment over time and even start to affect your perception of self-worth. Everyone wants to feel like they are making a difference, especially when they are making sacrifices. We certainly don't intend to hurt each other like this, so how does it happen? EXPECTATION is the culprit. At the beginning of a relationship you do nice things for each other and before long you begin to expect that it will always be that way. When it's not, you start to feel let down. I've even told my partner as much -- that he was a big disappointment to me (Gawd, I still feel the shame for saying that). Someone else starts to take notice of how great you are or says a few kind words and suddenly you've formed an instant emotional connection with someone who is not your partner.

BoredomFamiliarity breeds indifference. The routine (kids, bills, chores) dominates any communication you have with your spouse. The things you once talked about -- aspirations, fantasies, even current events are rarely discussed because you are so busy running the family. If it continues long enough, the intimacy that comes with regular emotional connection eventually dies. Routine in the bedroom is also a contributor. Once you've figured out how to touch each other and what the other person likes, you stick to what works, especially when you've got a limited window of opportunity to work with. I'll admit when my partner suggests trying something new, I immediately think of how awkward it would be to sustain that position. So I roll my eyes, remind him that we're not in our 20s, and tell him to just 'give me the usual'.

CuriosityWe are sexual creatures and for most of us, there is a deep-seated desire to have a taste of the forbidden. An ex-boyfriend of mine is a self-proclaimed intimacy junkie. He craves the emotional highs from new-love and can't bear to stay in a relationship once the spark has dwindled. I can relate to how seductive and addictive that can be. However, I know that the euphoria of new love is not sustainable. I wish to gawd it was, but it's not meant to be, otherwise society wouldn't work. We'd all be walking around completely drunk off love and not be able to get anything done. Those feelings are there to bring people together, not keep them together. It takes a lot of discipline to not give into your impulses. The key is in focusing on the long term effects of an affair. No romantic interlude, however mind-blowing it is, is worth the destruction and pain it will cause your family when the affair is exposed.

Not enough sex
Apparently this is what causes more men to cheat. Surprisingly it's not the complexity, but the frequency that men want. Luckily for me, my libido is as strong as my partner's and my philosophy is usually 'just say yes', because even if you're not into it initially, you will always feel better for having done it. Bonus is that the more you do it, the more you want it. My problem is when I use it as a weapon ... NOT a good idea because you both end up frustrated and nobody wins.

Ego boostI admit, it feels good to feel desired by many men (to a point). But then I have to ask, why is one man's love not enough? Why do I need validation from others anyway? Ugh ... don't feel like saying any more about this one. We all want to know that we still have 'it' and I think that crushes and innocent flirting should give you this fix. The danger is in taking it too far.  You will lose everything in the process.

There are other reasons for committing infidelity too, these are just the ones I find are prevalent. Why even blog about it? It starts with awareness. I just don't believe people who say they 'didn't see it coming'. We might not be able to affair-proof our relationships, but we can be aware of when we are entering the danger zone and decide to keep ourselves in check. This doesn't mean that every relationship is an island. In fact I think it's dangerous to expect your partner to fulfill all of your needs. Figure out with your partner where the line is and make your relationship a priority. That should be enough to keep infidelity at bay. I guess?

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