Cheating is never OK ... But needing this is entirely normal.
Well, it turns out — that's not true at all.
There's something else quite remarkable going on behind all of that cheating. For the most part, men don't cheat because they want to trade up for a younger, hotter, thinner, blonder babe than you. And even if craving better sex is a motivating factor for him, it's still further down on the list than you'd ever imagine.
The number one reason why men cheat is ... a lack of emotional appreciation.
Yep. That's right. Call the guy a sex-obsessed, superficial, cheating jerk all you want. He mostly just wanted to feel appreciated ... by YOU!
To appreciate him means recognizing the full worth he brings to the table and openly expressing gratitude to him for his efforts and contributions.
Think for a moment when you've feel unappreciated. You probably also felt resentful, overwhelmed, angry, rejected, or even sad. In this state, imagine someone coming to you and saying, "We need to talk," pointing out a way you could do something better, or a way you're messing up.
How would that make you feel? How would you likely respond?
Now, think of a time when you felt truly appreciated. You probably also felt confident and proud, like your tail is wagging. Perhaps you felt like you're doing your thang really well; that what you contribute makes a difference, and that you uniquely matter. In this state, imagine someone coming to you and saying, "We need to talk," pointing out a way you could do something better, or a way you're messing up.
Now how would you feel and respond now? It's a big difference, right?
The truth is — If we, men and women alike, each had a bank account that contained appreciation from others (instead of money), most of us would have to file for bankruptcy!
That's the sad state of things. Most of our bank accounts are empty, or even in serious overdraft. And, few of us show up as our best self for others when we feel that depleted.
So, is this what's going on for someone right before they cheat? Their emotional appreciation bank account is in overdraft?
As a broad generality, yes! Men want and need to know they're doing well by the people they care about. They feel like they're winning, not losing. How do they know they're doing well and winning? Well, their partner is happy in general, happy with them and expresses it openly. Men with partners like that feel deeply, truly, and consistently appreciated.
When men don't feel appreciated — when they feel their efforts make no difference, that they're unable to make you happy and provide what you need, they begin to shut down, tune out, and leave — or, cheat.
Appreciation is a vital emotional nutrient for men. If they don't get that nutrient regularly from you, they find a place (or person) that will supply it. Whether that's long hours spent at work, hanging out with their buddies, or ... finding another woman.
So, does showing appreciation mean painting on a saccharine smile, endlessly stroking his ego and pretending to like something you actually don't? No. That's not sincere appreciation at all.
The power of genuine appreciation is deceptively simple. Perhaps you've heard the saying, "What you celebrate, you get more of."
Pour your attention into pointing out what sucks — about him, life, the relationship, you — and you'll get more suckiness. Pour your attention into pointing out what you appreciate, enjoy, find satisfying and fun for you, and that's exactly what he'll give more of.
You probably don't set out to make your man feel like a loser.
I'm sure when you mention things he does that displeases you, you're really trying to help things change for the better. Most of us think and do the same. We focus on it! Make sure he knows! Unfortunately, this backfires big time, every time.
So, what's the remedy? Start making regular deposits in his "emotional appreciation" bank account:
Make a point of noticing and commenting on what your man does that's good, right, delicious, fun, satisfying, pleasurable, moving, humorous, or inspiring, etc.
Try doing this at least once a day. Or, if that's easy for you, 5 to 10 times per day. And make sure his appreciation bank account is full before bringing up something hard. A good guideline is around five appreciations for every request you make.
(Hint: this works not only with partners and lovers, but with colleague, brothers, fathers, sons and friends).
But it has to be real for you. If you're faking it, he'll know and your words will bounce off him like a bounced check!
Of course, I know there are real impasses and conflicts you need to address and deal with. Not now. Dealing with them and getting anywhere with them (rather than driving you both deeper into "stupid" fights) is not possible without his appreciation bank account feeling full.
Maybe you feel like he hasn't appreciated you very much lately either, so why should you appreciate him? Maybe your emotional bank account is empty and you're not sure where you'll find the appreciation bone in your body.
Appreciation isn't the whole picture in building extraordinary relationships, but it is the foundation. Without it, the relationship crumbles. Good will erodes. Tempers easily flare, like a match on a dry forest floor. Resentment builds up. You feel like opponents, rather than allies.
So, no. You can't get the big, hard stuff that's not working to change with appreciation alone. However, appreciation changes the feeling between the two of you. It helps you soften, reconnect, and lower your defenses so that it's actually possible to work on and shift the big, hard stuff that's not working.
Need some signs you're appreciation is filling him up in a good way? Look for these signs of change in him:
- His mood improves
- You notice a little light come on in him
- His chest puffs up a little
- He smiles or grunts approvingly
- You two have more sex (and higher quality sex)
- He starts to appreciate you, acts more thoughtful, and starts doing "little things" (that matter so much somehow!) for you
Alternately, you may not get any feedback for a while. Keep doing it anyway.
If his bank account is really low, he'll likely wonder if you're for real or trying to get one over on him. Keep showing appreciation anyway. It will pay off! When you practice appreciation authentically, those you're showing appreciation to will rise in value and worth in your eyes. And a secret plus is that you'll also feel better.
Simply put, appreciation makes everyone feel their best — men and women alike. When we feeling at our best, our most highly-prized values come tumbling out. We can't help but lavish our best selves on those around us.
LiYana Silver, CHC, RYT, MaNLP, is a relationship expert, master coach and advocate for switched-on women world-wide. She maintains a private practice as a Relationship Coach, speaks nationally, has appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows, and writes for various magazines and blogs — including YourTango.com!