Question: Elaine, why do some men cheat when they have a good woman? Are they never satisfied with what they have?
Answer. Obviously, we know that women cheat, too. But as the question refers to men personally, and statistics prove they are the main culprit in this action, they will be dealt with here.
First, people cheat for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it is simply because they can do it, or the opportunity is available. But cheating is done primarily by three types of men:
a. those with low self-esteem
b. those who are unhappy at home and
c. those who are afraid of commitment and are seeking ‘fun’.
Low Self Esteem,
Cheating tends to be done by men with mixed, conflicting, or weak values. They are not firm in their commitment or in their identity of themselves, neither are they sure of what they really want in life. They tend to have low self-esteem and a lack of trust in others. No matter how ‘good’ or faithful the partner is, having one woman is seldom enough. In their eyes, there is always someone better outside. Perhaps being deprived of expressive love when they were younger, particularly from their mothers, there is always a doubt in their minds as to how worthy they are to women. Add to that, the competitive nature of their world, where they are always trying to impress their peers, and the usual answer is also to try to impress as many women as they can to uplift their feelings of self-worth, regardless of the quality of life at home. But that merely causes heartache for the chosen women, while reinforcing the men’s low self-esteem as ‘bad’ guys or ‘bastards’ in a never-ending circle.
The serial philanderer is marked by a strong desire to ‘prove’ something, though he is not quite sure what that is. However, it is usually about his virility, control of women, or ability to attract women. Men who go from one woman to another are also the worst at having that done to them, always feeling indignant at their women daring to fancy someone else because that is all part of what they are trying to prove, that they are the best lovers. Yet they are likely to be very poor lovers because it is always about them, no one else, and so they tend to take instead, finding it very difficult to truly give of themselves.
Married men, and those in long term relationships, cheat mainly because they believe that having a short-term affair will temporarily resolve any problems they have at home and prevent them from ‘hurting’ anyone long term. The fact that their partner is already being hurt by their lack of attention and affection – and being prevented from finding love, too – does not seem to come into the picture. There are three problems with this approach.
First, it stops the major conflicts in the relationship being acknowledged, explored and addressed. Second, it makes the situation worse because any liaison only proves starkly what is already missing at home, especially sexually. Third, it deliberately ignores the fact that the man is taking his affections elsewhere which begs the question: How does giving one’s self to someone else shows love and affection for the person left at home and, above all, accord her due respect for her love and support?
Finally, men in unhappy relationships stray through a conflict of perception. What their women perceive that men want from them might not be necessarily what those men actually desire, and women seldom seek to find out because they are afraid of the answers! So after the honeymoon period is over, when their heartfelt desires haven’t been fulfilled, spouses soon seek it elsewhere. In the meantime the women who are affected turn on the men and blame them for their ‘bad’ behaviour instead of looking into themselves to see where they have missed a connection and, at worse, getting out of their demoralising situation.
It is always easier to vilify others because it stops us looking at ourselves, but women aren’t tied to philandering men. They can actually make a life for themselves on their terms by CHOOSING to act differently. Each person is responsible for their lives. It is fear which keeps them stuck while they wait in vain for the men to change.
The next major group of ‘cheating’ men are the ones who fear commitment. They want a ‘secure’ home, with all the trimmings, one they can return to at the end of the day, but they do not like to perceive themselves as ‘married’ or long-term partners, stuck to one person. They like to keep their options open and so they seek ‘fun’, which carries the implication that marriage, or being in a relationship, is ‘serious’ business so one has to get the fun outside! They miss the supreme irony that if they are in a really great relationship, it would be automatic in fun and enjoyment because any relationship is supposed to make them happy. Not make them feel so terrible that they need to have ‘fun’ elsewhere. This category also contains ageing men who are worried about getting older and believe that starting again with someone else, usually someone younger, will give them a new lease of life and make them feel better, while they preserve the status quo at home to ensure the benefits from both sides.
Women as ‘Victims’
I believe women also condone such cheating by their behaviour in sustaining it through fear of the consequences of their own reaction, and the pay-off they get from having the men with them. Women who put up with such soul-destroying behaviour by constantly ‘forgiving’ the offenders, have no self-love or respect either. They are prepared to forgive for their own benefit, too. There is always some pay-off for doing that, otherwise they would not be living in denial hoping the men will change, when only self-change guarantees real alteration in such situations.
Many times it is also to ‘punish’ the men for their actions, but they only end up punishing themselves through ongoing bitterness, resentment and pain, while becoming less attractive in the process! Negativity only destroys, it doesn’t build anything. So if your man is a serial philanderer, you really are only hurting yourself and need to get out of there. Everyone is entitled to a second chance. But if he is on his third affair, he has had two chances too many, and will merely continue doing it because your continued acceptance teaches him that he can get away with it.
Women in these situations usually believe that they ‘love’ the men who perpetuate such gross disrespect to them, and they are loved in return. But it has nothing to do with love. Love does not seek to hurt. Love appreciates, is unconditional, and at its heart is respect for the individual. Where there is no respect for a person and their feelings, there is no love. And wherever someone will continually put up with something that is detrimental to him/herself, while they keep blaming another for their predicament, you will find firm evidence of the absence of their own self-love and respect.
There will also be the deep-seated belief that they do not deserve anything better. They are likely to believe that their man, as ‘bad’ as he is, will be the only one to love them. And so they stay put, trying to ‘love’ their partner, while dying inside from exclusion, hurt and neglect. Yet only they have the power to change their situation by seeing it for what it really is: simple, relentless emotional abuse which will damage them in the end.