Why Do Married Men Cheat? (Or Anyone For That Matter…)

Why Do Married Men Cheat?

Cheating can be one of the most detrimental events to occur in a relationship. It is a violation of trust and disregard for the emotions and feelings of the other partner. It is often the reason for a breakup or divorce. No amount of love, affection, apologizing, or forgiveness can erase the damage caused by this kind of violation. While some couples are able to work through the issues that often result from cheating, many do not, either by choice or incapability.

The definition of cheating can seem cloudy as popular opinion typically refers to cheating as any form of sexual activity a person may engage in with someone other than their committed partner. However, emotional or verbal affairs can be absent of physical contact yet still cause harm and damage to a relationship. Engaging in a romantic relationship with someone other than your partner, while not a physical violation, is likely to be referred to by professionals as cheating.

In marriages, both men and women are equally capable of cheating on their spouses. Each person has a different reason why they choose to engage in a relationship outside of their marriage. Below are several reasons why a man, in particular, may choose to cheat on his spouse.

1. Dissatisfaction

One of the most common reasons for why a man chooses to cheat is dissatisfaction within the marriage. This can take on many different forms. A man may be dissatisfied with the physical affection and intimacy in the relationship. Likewise, he may find the relationship lacks some of the qualities it once had. Every relationship goes through cycles – dissatisfaction, if not immediately addressed, can create a downward sloping path to the dissolution of the relationship.

2. Mental health

While mental health concerns are not an excuse for cheating and may not explain why a man has chosen to cheat on his spouse, it can provide some answers. A man experiencing mental health problems may experience sudden changes in interests or an inability to engage positively with people he is close to, including his spouse.

3. Lack of positive communication

Not having the ability to communicate effectively with a spouse can be difficult. People change and grow throughout life, and sometimes this means they will change and grow away from one another for a short period of time. If a man is unable to make adjustments or does not feel his partner is willing to, then he might seek that positive communication with someone else. It is not uncommon for a person who cheats to indicate that the person they chose to be with was someone who was willing to listen when their spouse was not.

4. Selfishness

Sometimes the simplest and most correct explanation for why a man cheats is selfishness. While this may sound harsh, it is not an unfair assessment. Men who put their needs above those of their spouse are likely to feel disconnected. If the spouse is not shown affection, there is likely to be little affection given in return. This imbalance can foster feelings of resentment, bitterness, and selfishness, creating a smoothly paved path to engaging in relationships outside of the marriage.

5. Poor self-esteem

Many couples who face the challenge of repairing a marriage after a man has cheated often face the added task of overcoming poor self-esteem. If a man with poor self-esteem does not feel loved and appreciated by his spouse, he may seek that fulfillment in someone or something else. Some men find it in sports, some in friends, and some in hobbies or activities outside of the home. It is often easy for a man to become further disconnected from his spouse if he begins to seek the praise and affirmation he desires from someone other than his committed partner. The temporary boost of self-esteem can leave the door wide open to cheating.

6. Distractions

Lastly, some men struggle with distractions in marriage. These can come in a variety of forms, but finding satisfaction in spending time in relationships outside of the marriage is possibly the most harmful. It is not the responsibility of the spouse to keep a man entertained; it is the responsibility of a man to remain focused and faithful to his spouse despite the difficulties that may arise as a normal part of marriage.

Sometimes there is a good reason for feeling disconnected from your spouse, but that does not excuse or explain the damage it causes to the relationship. Cheating, even in its most basic form, is still cheating. That violation, though it may be forgiven, can never be forgotten easily and definitely takes time to heal.

Elizabeth McCormick is a Licensed Social Worker and mental health counselor at the University of Evansville. She has worked for several years with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families and has pursued continued education in the fields of suicide prevention and community awareness. She is an advocate for learning and has had the opportunity to teach college courses in the fields of Human Services, Sociology, and Communication Studies.

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