This guest article from PsychCentral was written by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S
The issue of cheating is one of the most difficult problems a couple will ever encounter. A lot of blame and self worth is wrapped up in the issue of cheating. In fact it is incredibly important to understand the differences in both how men and women handle cheating and the reasons why they teeter off from the man or woman that they love.
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Why Men Cheat
1) He resents not getting more love, adoration, appreciation, time, focus etc. from his spouse (who is likely trying to balance her own priorities like kids and work). Often not fully aware of his emotional needs, he gets into the affair or liaison to temporarily validate and make himself feel better without resolving the underlying issues in his relationship.
2) He wants to leave his current relationship, but first wants another one on the sidelines to fill that void.
4) He is insecure about his age (young or old), physical image, his income, etc. He uses the affair or hook-up in an attempt to prove his value to himself.
5) He feels uninterested, overworked or otherwise entitled to get something ’special’ just for himself and is excited by the “mystery” and “intensity” of living a secret sexual/romantic life. His thinking is, ”As long as no one finds out, I’m not hurting anybody.”
Why Women Cheat
1) She cheats for the emotional validation. This tends to happen when she feels or actually is unappreciated, unattended to and undervalued by her mate, while at the same time is getting attention from someone else (usually at the workplace or socially).
2) Misperceiving her true value as being about her attractiveness, weight, or even how attentive her spouse is to her--she has affairs or liaisons to reassure herself that she is desirable and worthwhile.
3) She cheats to retaliate against her spouse for a perceived or actual hurt. For example, “He cheated on me, so I am going to give him a taste of his own medicine.”
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4) She has some suppressed early trauma (emotional neglect, sexual or other childhood abuse) that leaves her unable or unwilling to be entirely faithful to a spouse. She strays away from intimacy (and sex) with her partner, but looks to anonymous or intensity based experiences as a distraction.
5) She has unreasonable expectations of what her partner should offer her, expecting him to meet every single need. She undervalues her healthy need to maintain solid, supportive friendships with other women and her family once in a committed relationship. When her spouse inevitably ‘fails’ her, she feels justified to seek attention elsewhere.