For some men, the temptation to cheat is too great to overcome. There are various things that drive cheating men, but there are also ways to prevent being unfaithful to your spouse or lover.
By Wyatt Myers
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
Reliable statistics on the prevalence of unfaithful men are hard to find, but there are a number of reasons why men cheat. Though the reasons can vary from individual to individual, for some cheating men, it seems that they simply don’t feel comfortable in a monogamous relationship.
“Sexual variety is important to many people, and so is keeping hold of the steady and reliable parts of one's life,” says Daniel Sapen, PhD, an author and psychologist in private practice in Huntington Station, N.Y. “This very often translates into a divided strategy of appeasing and deceiving a partner into believing whatever feels secure, while also being on the hunt for new partners or at least open to new sexual opportunities.”
For cheating men, there is undoubtedly a certain thrill that comes from this behavior, but it is certainly not without its drawbacks. “Cheating might meet a few needs. The pleasure of the sex is one thing, the excitement of the ‘hunt’ and the novelty is another, and the self-esteem boost coming from being able to ‘score’ with new partners is yet another,” says Sapen. “For these men, honesty is less important than the illusion of honesty. These men may then feel tremendous guilt, and cycle back into trying to make it all sweet again. But their basic problem is a refusal to work with their partner honestly on what needs improving.”
In some instances, unfaithful men or sex addicts may be masking other, deeper problems in their relationship. “There are cheaters who do not cheat by habit or opportunity, but because they cannot address what is unsatisfying in their relationships directly,” Sapen says. “These men have to act out when things are going wrong by getting their pleasure elsewhere.”
Warning Signs of Cheating
If you’re worried that you may stray at some point in your relationship there are a few signs you can look out for, says Scott M. Bea, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
How to Avoid Cheating
There’s no question that the temptation to join the growing ranks of cheating men can often be a great one. But when your greatest wish is simply to remain faithful and avoid becoming one of the men who cheat, there are steps you can take. Here’s what to try:
All this is not to say that you have to isolate yourself to a relationship exclusive with your spouse or partner to remain faithful. In truth, this can lead to boredom and have the opposite effect. “The chance to keep your minds and social awareness fresh by spending time with good and different friends in different settings means boredom and unproductive fantasies have less reason to arise, and with less intensity,” says Sapen.