With the recent disclosures from General David Petraeus — who resigned as head of the CIA after admitting to an extramarital affair with his biographer — stacked on top of all the other recent political figures who have cheated on their spouses, I'm asking the question, "What are men looking for when they cheat?"
Statistics indicate that cheating is much more common than we might like to believe for both men and women. Janis Abrahms Spring, author of "After the Affair," says that infidelity now affects one out of every 2.7 couples. Then there's the dating site for married people looking to have affairs, AshleyMadison.com, which boasts of having almost 17 million anonymous members. It's clear that something is missing in many marriages these days.
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Based on my own life and the conversations I've had with other men including my male coaching clients, I've assembled the top five things men are looking for when they decide to enter into an extramarital affair — unconsciouslyin many cases. It's really not just about the sex!
Five things men are looking for when they cheat:
1. Emotional connection. As relationships mature, power struggles tend to become more prevalent (as obvious as the "I'm Right"/"No, I'm Right" conversation and as subtle as the timing and frequency of sex). When a man experiences repeated power struggles with his spouse, his natural tendency is to "go to his cave", which really means get quiet and distant and grumpy! Which makes emotional connection that much more difficult. Over time he misses the emotional connection he previously felt with his spouse.
When he meets someone new and they accept him for "who he is" it's much easier for him to connect with his emotions and feel connection with this new and interesting person. Of course when the lust and honeymoon period are over and the power struggles start to arise in the new relationship he'll likely revert to his well-learned pattern and his struggles will start all over again.
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2. Appreciation. Men loved to be appreciated and like so many people they don't really know how to accept appreciation! Or how to ask for it or even how to give it to themselves (or to other people for that matter). So when it stops being quite so plentiful from their spouse and if the relationship contains a heavy dose of blame and criticism (as most do) or even possibly contempt, men start looking for positive affirmations from others. With the new love interest everything is wonderful — he is wonderful — in the first flush of a new relationship — then we all tend to fall into upping criticism and dropping appreciation.
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