Menstuff® has compiled the following information on cheating -
why we do it -- and how to recover.
4 Best TED Talks on Love, Sex, Cheating & Desire
Why Men and Women Cheat
How Men and Women Differ
Flings vs. Long-Term Affairs
Her cheatin' heart
What Does A Woman Consider Cheating?
Why Men Need To Cheat
Cheating While Dating
So, youre in love with a married man
To Confess or Not to Confess?
Saving Your Relationship
Why Men and Women Cheat
So why do people do it? Experts say that the reasons fall into two
main categories. The first has to do with the relationship -- there's
either an emotional disconnect or the couple's sex life isn't
satisfying to one partner. The second reason has nothing to do with
the couple. Rather, one partner simply wants the excitement of an
affair, needs an ego boost, or just feels entitled to have more than
one sexual partner. "Sometimes, you find someone who has a good
sexual relationship with his or her partner and yet has an affair
because sex is so important to them that they look for it wherever
they can," says Mira Kirshenbaum, PhD, author of Too Good to Leave,
Too Bad to Stay (Plume, 1997) and The Emotional Energy Factor
How Men and Women Differ
Another trend: With more men and women working together side-by-side, as peers, there's an opportunity for deep emotional connections that didn't exist in previous generations. "You always had the boss who ran off with his secretary, but now I see many men who are in good marriages and are not traditional philanderers who form these deep friendships," she says. "They cross these lines and become more emotionally intimate than they are in their marriage. If there's some sexual attraction and chemistry, that's all you need for an affair."
Although affairs can and do happen to "good" marriages, in general
an affair is a signal that something is awry in the relationship.
"There are some cases when someone is just having sex with different
people out of a need for variety, but most people really think before
they go off in that direction. If you have a good relationship,
you're less likely to jeopardize it," says Lonnie Barbach, PhD,
co-author with David Geisinger of Going the Distance: Finding and
Keeping Lifelong Love (Plume, 1993).
Why Men Need To Cheat
Not only is it failing them, but it's a "socially compelled sexual incarceration" that can lead to a life of anger and contempt, or so says Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England's University of Winchester and author of the provocative new book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating (Oxford University Press, $49.99).
Cheating, however, serves men pretty well. An undiscovered affair allows them to keep their relationship and emotional intimacy, and even if they're busted it's a lot easier than admitting that they wanted to screw someone else in the first place, he writes.
In his study of 120 undergraduate men, 78 percent of those who had a partner cheated, "even though they said that they loved and intended to stay with their partner." Contrary to what we may think, most men aren't cheating because they don't love their partner, he says; they cheat because they just want to have sex with others. And society shouldn't pooh-pooh that.
Monogamy's stronghold on our beliefs -- what he calls monogamism -- brings ostracism and judgment to anyone who questions or strays from its boundaries. That doesn't make sense to Anderson, who wonders why we stigmatize someone who has a fling more than couples who divorce -- throwing away a marriage rich in history and love, upsetting their kids' lives -- over something like sex.
Monogamy isn't the only "proper" way to be in a relationship, and he says it's time that society finds "multiple forms of acceptable sexual relationship types -- including sexually open relationships -- that coexist without hierarchy or hegemony." It's especially important for today's young men, for whom monogamous sex seems more boring than in generations past because of easy premarital sex and pornography.
Dr. Anderson was kind enough to answer my questions by email:
Your study includes just 120 undergraduate men, straight and gay; isn't that too small a sample to really know what's going on for men?
If I were attempting to determine what percent of men cheat, then, yes. Large-scale surveys show us that cheating remains the norm... I wanted to examine the very notion of monogamy, not morally, but rationally. I wanted to know why men want monogamy but nonetheless cheat.
You say men want to be emotionally monogamous, but their "body craves sex with other people somatically." People crave food, drugs, booze, sometimes to disastrous results. If there can be self-control with other cravings, why can't men control their body urges?
Humans are largely lousy at controlling our bodies' desires. We say we don't want to eat that Snickers bar, but we also really do want to eat it. We eat it, we feel guilty about it, and afterwards we promise ourselves not to eat one again; but we nonetheless do. It is this same phenomenon, only with cheating, that I explore.
The men in your study experienced a sharp decrease in the frequency and enjoyment of sex after two monogamous years. Since no one can sustain the kind of thrilling sex couples have in the beginning of a relationship, isn't it a healthy thing that it decreases?
I wish young men got two years of good sex before it dropped off; it's a lot less than that! It may, however, be good that the sexual desire for one's partner weans; it means that we end up staying with our long-term partners for the socioemotional connection and not for the sex. If a couple is going to raise a family, it is the emotional connection that counts, not the sexual.
Our physical desires don't die; they just change from our partner to people other than him/her. We falsely believe that when the sex dies, the relationship has also died. The reality is the opposite; when the sex dies the relationship has just begun.
What about the idea that long-term relationships make sex become deeper, more intimate and more meaningful?
The diminution of sex is simultaneous to one's emotional bonds growing stronger. Long-term partners may have more intimate sex (most just have very little) but when men see a guy or girl who turns them on, it's not intimate and meaningful sex they are craving.
Honesty is a huge part of a relationship. How good a relationship can one have when there's deception, especially since you say after men cheat spontaneously, they are more likely to plan cheating?
Honesty is good sometimes, and horrible other times. There are good reasons to lie; it is an essential skill for keeping community and relationship peace. The reason men lie about cheating is mostly because they know that if they ask for permission to have recreational sex: 1) they will be denied 2) after they are denied, they will be subject to scrutiny and increased relationship policing; 3) they will be stigmatized as immoral, and most likely broken up with. Thus, honesty doesn't meet their desires of having both a long-term partner and recreational sex with others.
The way cheating men see it, it's either cheat or don't cheat, but telling their partners they want sex outside the relationship, or telling their partners that they actually cheated, is viewed as a surefire way of achieving relationship termination. When men cheat for recreational sex -- not affairs -- they DO love their partners. If they didn't, they would break up with them.
Wouldn't it be less harmful to relationships if we became serial monogamists -- marrying two, three or four times as our sexual needs change?
Rather than marrying 20 times or more in one's life via serial monogamy, we can keep one emotional lover and just have casual, meaningless -- and hot -- sex with strangers. This gives us the long-term emotional stability we desire psychologically, alongside the hot, carnal sex we desire somatically. It makes much more sense than lying and cheating , or the difficulty of breaking up with a loved one simply because you want someone else's body for an hour.
Infidelity breaks up many marriages, but often it isn't the act of sex that's so upsetting -- it's the deception and lying, clearly problematic for the emotional intimacy you say men want. So cheating for sex may be "just about the sex" for him, but not for his partner.
Infidelity does not break marriages up; it is the unreasonable expectation that a marriage must restrict sex that breaks a marriage up. One of the reasons I wrote the book is that I've seen so many long-term relationships broken up simply because one had sex outside the relationship. But feeling victimized isn't a natural outcome of casual sex outside a relationship; it is a socialized victimhood. I'm not advocating cheating; I'm advocating open and equitable sexual relationships. When both in the couple desire this, when both realize that extradyadic sex makes their partner happy, and they therefore want their partner to have that sex, a couple will have moved a long ways toward facilitating emotional honesty, while simultaneously withering at jealousy scripts, which can be very damaging to a relationship. But if one can't achieve this with a partner that's hostile to the idea, cheating is the reasonable action.
Most of the men in your study were OK with sex on the side for them, but not their girlfriends. That seems unfair and incredibly selfish.
Monogamy is culturally compelled, so the decision has been made for us. How much of a chance would a man stand to have a second date if on the first date he said that he was interested in an open relationship? At the point men enter into relationships they, too, think they want monogamy. It's only after being in a relationship for months or years that they badly want sex with others. But by this point, they don't want to break up with their partners because they have long-standing love. Instead of chancing that love by asking for extradyadic sex, they cheat. If they don't get caught (and most don't) it's a rational choice.
But it is indeed selfish for men to want sex with others but not to want their partners to do the same. This however is not just a "man" thing. Women also cheat; they also lie about it; and they also want to be able to cheat without their partners doing the same. Monogamy is a problem for all sexes; it builds in an ownership script regardless of gender.
You say love is a "long-standing sense of security and comfort." So, wouldn't open relationships potentially pose a threat to that security since, even if couples play by their own sexual rules, there's always a chance one could end up preferring a new lover over one's partner?
People in open relationships structure their engagements as to reduce emotional intimacy. But, yes, of course it can happen. What I find from those in open relationships, however, is that once they have had sex with that person they fancied, they tend to get over them.
If we really want to prevent our lovers from developing the lust
of others, or worse, emotional intimacy with others; if we really
want to prevent men and women from cheating, we would be best to
sex-segregate our jobs, our classrooms and social arenas, too.
Emotional intimacy is the real threat to a relationship, not a
one-off hour with a stranger from Craigslist. Ultimately, there are
no guarantees that one's partner won't find love elsewhere. But
controlling one's partner to prevent it only makes matters worse --
it makes them want to leave you. A better strategy is to be open,
emotionally and perhaps sexually, too. (Editor's note: Check out this
Myth of Monogamy")
So, youre in
love with a married man
Pros and friends will also suggest you walk awayfor many valid reasonsand encourage you to find someone who can share their whole life with you, out in the open, for all to see. And that is good advice because being the other woman can lead to isolation, frustration, and devastation. It can also eff with your karma, break your moral compass, and wound some innocent people.
But what if youre crazy in love? What if you know that you two will end up together and beat the odds? What if you really trust him? What if youre all-in and who cares if anyone gets hurt?
Well, to be honest, if youre saying stuff like that, there really isnt anything left to discuss. Because youve made up your mind and the relationship could work out, gently fizzle with no casualties, or crush your soul with dire consequences. None of us can know the outcome in advance (even if the odds are stacked against you). We can only stand by youthrough the good, the bad, and the birth control.
And should you find yourself involved in an affair with a married man, just remember this: Every time you date someone with an issue that you have to work to ignore, you're settling. -Andre Breton (French writer and poet)
We hope you never settle,
Source: E-Mail from Bedsider
Flings vs. Long-Term Affairs
Cheating While Dating
The problem, of course, is that many unmarried couples don't ever sit down and declare a relationship exclusive, or not. And that omission can be the cause of serious pain. "Infidelity can have just as devastating an effect when one person thinks they are committed and one doesn't," says Barbach.
An affair in a dating relationship is also more likely to be the
beginning of the end. "Some people cheat as a way of leaving a
relationship. They set up the next relationship before they leave the
last," says Barbach. "That's different from the person who cheats
while maintaining the dating relationship -- this person is much more
likely to cheat during marriage."
To Confess or Not to Confess?
But once a confession is made, Glass says, absolute full
disclosure is essential, and the cheater should own up to all affairs
that have occurred during the relationship.
Saving Your Relationship
"The affair is a symptom," says Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, author of Adultery: The Forgivable Sin (Hastings House, 1993) and Make Up, Don't Break Up (Adams, 2000). "But the good news is, it's a symptom you can fix. It's a wake-up call."
Building back trust is a long, slow process, but it can be done, says Kirschenbaum. "It's like carrying a bowling ball upstairs one step at a time. One slip and it rolls all the way to the bottom again."
Where to start: Stop playing the blame game. As difficult as this might be for the betrayed, he or she has to stop labeling her spouse as the bad guy. Instead, both partners need to understand what was going on for the other person. They should look at what precipitated the affair, and what each partner needs to do to make it different.
That's not to say that the cheater is off the hook. The cheater needs to do everything possible to make the other person feel safe -- whether that means handing over all credit card statements, providing cell phone and beeper numbers, or making frequent check-in phone calls. "The best thing that a cheating spouse can do is give his partner as much access as needed," says Glass.
The cheater must also be willing to discuss the situation as much
as the betrayed spouse needs. Typically, the adulterer doesn't want
to dwell on the incident, but the partner can think about little
else. "For the betrayed partner it's so traumatic, and they
frequently have flashbacks," says Glass. "So it's important for the
unfaithful not to be impatient or think they are doing it to punish
To provide more security, she also instructs adulterers to say "I have had no contact" to their partner every day. This provides a clearly articulated answer to those vague fears that nag the wronged spouse.
Finally, Weil tells cheaters that they must do penance by taking on a chore that is normally not their responsibility, like washing the spouse's car or cooking dinner each night. "Penance should last for as long as the betrayed spouse needs," says Weil.
Of course, credit card statements and clean cars are only part of the equation. To really build trust, the betrayed needs to know that the partner definitely won't cheat again. But how to know? There's no guaranteed sign, but our experts agree that the overall pattern of the spouse's behavior is a good indicator. "The issue is, 'Am I married to a liar?,'" says Glass. "People who have affairs lie about them, but the majority of these people don't lie about other things."
Kirshenbaum agrees. In her 25 years as a couples therapist, she has discovered a reliable rule of thumb: "If someone cheats once, a couple can definitely recover if they both sincerely want to rebuild trust. More than once? It's a lost cause."
Most couples do recover -- and usually emerge closer than ever. "Couples who learn how to work through it together really have a special relationship because it's like going to hell and back," says Glass. "This is a couple who know each other on a very deep level, and that can make the marriage very strong."
Source: Sara Eckel, aol.lhj.com/lhj/story.jhtml?storyid=/templatedata/lhj/story/data/Cheating_03142003.xml
What Does A Woman Consider Cheating?
So when it comes to what women consider cheating, I wondered, do women and men differ all that much when it comes to what we perceive as cheating? Apparently so.
cheating is different
I always told my guy friends that to figure out whether or not they're crossing the line with another girl while in a relationship, they need only picture their girlfriend doing the same thing and admit whether or not that would upset them. Unfortunately, what women consider being unfaithful goes far beyond poking another woman with your penis.
How would you feel if your girl was confiding in another guy about her sexual likes and dislikes? What about if she was dirty dancing in a nightclub with a guy? Would you consider that cheating? Believe it or not, a lot of women do.
Most guys -- 74%, according to an AskMen.com Dating survey -- think that cheating starts with a kiss; that is, sexual contact constitutes cheating. For women, however, a kiss doesn't even have to be part of the equation.
I talked to 100 women and here's what some of them consider cheating:
Confiding in other women
Apparently, connecting with another woman on an emotional level is worse that connecting with her on a sexual level. "If he allows himself to connect with another woman, if he talks to her comfortably about the things that we should be sharing with each other, if he makes that kind of connection," says Tina, 34, a chartered accountant, "that's more hurtful to me than if he has one night of torrid sex with an anonymous woman he meets."
How many women think it's cheating: 36%
If you're at a nightclub and start rubbing your crotch against another woman's ass, your girl might consider that being unfaithful. "When I dance with my guy, it's like we're virtually having sex," confesses Alicia, 27, an administrative assistant, "so if he does that with someone else, he obviously desires her the way he desires me, and that's unacceptable."
How many women think it's cheating: 41%
If you joke around with the receptionist at your office, that's one thing; if you have an ongoing sexual conversation with the barrista at Starbucks, in which you describe what you want to do to her in private, then chances are you haven't told your girl about it because she might consider that a form of betrayal. "I don't mind innocent flirting, I do it all the time," admits Jennifer, 39, a dentist, "but if he's flirting with the intent of eventually getting a piece of ass, then it's over."
How many women think it's cheating: 35%..
Getting private dances at strip joints
There are some women who think that going to a strip joint in and of itself constitutes cheating, but not every woman in this survey did. The problem, however, surfaces when a guy pays to touch a stripper. "Logically speaking, he might as well go to a whore, because at least then he can get his rocks off. But I digress," says Helen, 23, a student. "I think that if a guy has to go to a strip joint to touch a pair of [breasts], then there's a problem within the relationship. It's cheating, no doubt."
How many women think it's cheating: 79%
Engaging in cyber sex
Getting on the Net and talking sex to other women ranks high on the "cheating" scale. Masturbating while doing so is even worse. "If I discovered that my guy was yanking away to other chicks on the Internet, I'd be so hurt," says Tammy, 34, a housewife. "I pride myself on making sure my husband is sexually satisfied, so first, I'd ask him why, and if the answer is complete crap, I'd leave him."
How many women think it's cheating: 80%
Engaging in any sort of sexual contact
I'm pretty sure you expected to see this here, and, well, here it is. If you kiss, caress, lick, suck, or have sex with another woman while you're in a monogamous relationship, you're cheating. "A boyfriend once tried to convince me that receiving oral sex was not cheating," says Rita, 46, a real estate agent, "so I told him that I was glad he didn't think so because I let a colleague go down on me the week before. Let's just say, his tune changed a little bit."
How many women think it's cheating: 100%
are you or aren't you?
In the grand scheme of things, you'd think that if you couldn't accept your girl doing something with another man, then you probably shouldn't do it with another woman. The difference lies in what each gender considers cheating, however.
So now you know what many women think; now it's up to you to figure out what your girl would consider cheating.
And hey, if you're not happy with your sex life for any reason, rather than find another girl to give it to, focus instead on trying to fix what you have. If your girl still won't give you any play, then perhaps you should move along and give your goods to a woman who's worthy.
The bottom line is that we all want to feel safe in a relationship and having to worry about whether or not our significant other is going to cheat does not equate that feeling. Then again, if women consider being friendly with other women cheating, what's to say we'll ever feel safe?
Source: By Vanessa Burton firstname.lastname@example.org
Her cheatin' heart
Ive been seeing my girlfriend for two years now. I love her and I believe she loves me, but last night, she dropped a bombshell: She told me that shed cheated on me that morning with a co-worker. She said she was extremely sorry and cried all night, saying she was stupid and that she didnt want to lose me. I tried to calm her down when she told me (I really thought she was going to do something to hurt herself if I broke up with her), and then I told her I needed a week to think things over. I didnt say much after that, and she asked me why I was so quiet and I told her I was so mad I didnt want to say something I might regret.
She has never done anything like this before and she confessed right away, and if you saw how she was crying and shaking you would know that she is sincere. The problem is, I dont know how I will see her in the future, or if I can trust her again. I do know I still have strong feelings for her and seeing her the way she was last night was almost as upsetting as what she did in the first place. So should I leave her, or should I give her another chance?
-Pained in Pennsylvania
Regular readers know I usually start off my weekly columns with a glib little joke, but youre raised a serious issue, P.P., so therell be no silliness this week.
One of the primary keys to any relationship be it lovers, or friends, or spouses is trust. You have to believe in the person the same way youd want them to believe in you. If youre afraid they wont do what they say theyre going to do, youll question their every word, and dissatisfaction and/or anger will inevitably creep in and sour things. It might a slow souring, but a loss of trust is the surest way to put the kibosh on any bond, regardless of how solid that bond may be.
Now your girlfriend betrayed your trust big-time, but on the plus
side, she owned up to her grievous error immediately, so theres
hope for her. Her confession doesnt mitigate her cheating, but
at least it demonstrates she wants to try and repair what she broke.
Yeah, it might be a case of too little, too late, but at least the
thought was there. Bottom line, if you think you two can fix it,
dont do it halfway. Put your hearts 100% into it and rebuild
that foundation as best you can, and if you need to go to a couples
therapist for help, Im all for it. Bear in mind that if you
stay with her, do it because you want to and because you love her,
not because of any desire to protect her. In this situation,
its not the least bit selfish to put your feelings way ahead of
Source: Alan Goldsher, msn.match.com/msn/article.aspx?articleid=3187&menuid=6&TrackingID=516163&BannerID=558930
Opportunity makes the cheater.