The Counterintuitive Reason Happily Married Men Cheat On The Women They Love

Why infidelity happens even in the happiest marriages.

couple in bed Dmytro Kapitonenko / Shutterstock

It's been scientifically proven that men cheat more than women. And while this may come as cold comfort to the girlfriends and wives scorned by cheating husbands, they don’t seem to do so with the same intention as women.

Why do men cheat, even when they are happily married?

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Male cheaters, specifically serial cheaters, tend to be opportunistic and capable of emotional compartmentalization. Some men may cheat because they are unsatisfied, but, as a rule, men don’t cheat because they are unhappy. Men cheat because they think they can get away with it and because they’re willing to let themselves get away with it.


Here is the counterintuitive reason happily married men cheat on the women they love:

Cheating is, strangely, a behavior that can make it hard to be a good father and husband, but also a behavior that isn’t actually correlated with familial love or care.


“They think, well I just did this but in every other way I’m reliable, I’m responsible, I’m committed, I show up, I’m a really good guy. It’s just the cheating,” says Dr. Robert Weiss, therapist and author of Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating. ”What they don’t understand is that women don’t think that way.”

In his experience counseling couples who’ve been devastated by infidelity, Weiss has found that despite being stereotypically seen as good at fixing things, men are almost universally terrible at repairing the damage done by cheating.

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Because the sex didn’t mean much to them and was simply available, they severely underestimate how devastating their behavior might be to their partner.


For men who don’t come clean or get caught, repeat offenses are the product of the same mentality: "It’s just sex."

Approximately 20 percent of men admit to cheating, compared to 13 percent of women, according to the most recent General Social Survey.

And men who are fathers may cheat more than men who are not.

Estimates suggest around 10 percent of expecting fathers cheat on their pregnant wives and there’s reason to believe men’s resistance to temptation is stronger when he’s newly married and having a bunch of sex in the kitchen in front of their new appliances than when their partners increase is declining.

And while women tend to cheat up, bedding potentially more suitable mates, men cheat down and all around.


Unlike men, who cheat chronically as a result of deeper-rooted attachment disorders and other emotional issues, healthy men who cheat occasionally are not pathological, they’re immature, Weiss says, adding, “Most men fall somewhere in the middle between being absolutely faithful and cheated once, realized it was immature, and learned from it.”

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The good news is that most men don’t need to cheat to understand the hurt it may cause to their partner.

That can be accomplished by healthy, and more importantly, continued communication about trust, intimacy, and opportunities for temptation as they arise.


Weiss recalls one man who came to him in a counseling session expressing the urge to cheat with a colleague.

He advised him to treat his marriage like a contract. If he wants to have sex with another person, he’d need to discuss it with his wife first in order to renegotiate terms. When he brought up wanting to cheat, he saw the pain it caused the person he loved before doing it rather than retroactively — and guess what? He never cheated.

To Weiss, only that level of maturity and consideration can keep men from cheating.


“To be able to put your spouse so fully out of mind that you can do something that you know would hurt them and you do it anyway. A mature person keeps their partner in mind wherever they are.”

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Lauren Vinopal is a comedian freelance journalist, and health, science, and humor writer.