Cheating can be extremely detrimental and damaging to a relationship, as it can break down the trust, honesty, and respect that are at the core of any successful and long-term relationship. And while it’s important to recognize the warning signs that your man may be cheating on you, such as he acts out of character, he desperately wants his privacy, and he suddenly cares more about his looks, it’s equally important to understand the underlying reasons why men are unfaithful in the first place.
In fact, research has shown that in any relationship, there’s up to a one in four chance that cheating may occur. And in light of this unsettling and unfortunate statistic, there’s no better time to shed some light on the real reasons why men cheat.
1- He’s immature
One of the main reasons why men cheat is simply a matter of immaturity. When a man is immature, this unappealing attribute can impact a relationship in many different ways. For example, men who are immature often put themselves first in most situations, don’t take into consideration their partner’s feelings, insist on being right even when they’re wrong, and are characteristically unreliable and irresponsible. To that end, being immature is also heavily related to acting impulsively, as most men who are immature tend to give in to their basic temptations and desires without a care or concern for the repercussions of their actions and the possible negative effects that their behavior can have on others.
With this in mind, it’s not too surprising that a man’s low level of maturity is an underlying factor behind being unfaithful, since immature men often lack the sophistication, empathy, and sense of responsibility that would inhibit them from cheating on their partner. After all, in order for a relationship to be healthy, happy, and have long-lasting potential, both partners have to be emotionally mature. This means that both members of the relationship have to have mutual respect for one another, are able to compromise when necessary, are willing to admit when they’re wrong, and think in terms of “we” instead of “me.”
2- His emotional needs aren’t being met
Another primary reason why men cheat pertains to their emotional needs and desires. In fact, it’s been shown that nearly 50 percent of men who cheat do so because they feel emotionally unfulfilled, unhappy, and unsatisfied in their relationship. In other words, men cheat in order to feel valued and emotionally supported, both of which they may not sense they receive from their partner. And rather than finding ways to have their emotional needs met in their current relationship, such as by frequently communicating with their partner, openly discussing their feelings and concerns, as well as having realistic and sensible expectations of their significant other, these men often seek out another person (or people) who can provide them with the emotional satisfaction, support, and empathy that they believe they’re lacking.
Whether men are looking to feel appreciated and desired or are simply searching for a shoulder to cry on, a lack of emotional fulfillment is powerful enough to drive men to cheat. It should be noted that less than 15 percent of men rated the women they were cheating with as more beautiful and physically appealing than their current partner, which again underscores that men cheat in large part due to a strong emotional connection with someone else.
3- His physical needs aren’t being met
When looking more closely at the real reasons why men cheat, a lack of sexual fulfillment in his current relationship is also a key underlying factor behind a man’s infidelity. Specifically, a study in the International Journal of Sexual Health revealed that one of the major motivators in a man’s decision to start an affair was his desire for sexual satisfaction that was lacking or completely absent from his present relationship. With this in mind, it’s not too surprising that an additional sign that a man may be cheating is that he stops being physically intimate with his partner since his sexual needs are being met by someone new.
Along these lines, men reported that sexual curiosity was a major incentive to cheat, as it’s not only a search for physical gratification that impelled them to be unfaithful, but also a strong desire for new sexual experiences that are more alluring and appealing. It’s also interesting to note that men are more likely to cheat because of unmet sexual needs than women.
4- He’s insecure
Another key reason behind why men cheat is centered around a man’s personal insecurities. When a man is insecure, he may feel unworthy of being with his partner, he may constantly worry about his partner’s continued interest level, and he may continually need reassurance, support, and approval from his partner in a wide range of circumstances. Typically, insecure men are typically very needy, and they incessantly seek out validation in order to prove to their partners, and more importantly themselves, that they’re good enough. With this in mind, research has found that men who are insecure in their relationships are more likely to cheat, as noted in a study in the Journal of Family Psychology.
In other words, because of a man’s insecurities, lack of confidence, and underlying fears that he’s not good enough, he ends up looking for reassurance and affirmations of self-worth from others, both in and out of his relationship. In fact, an insecure man may be so worried about the state of his relationship that his fear of losing his partner can actually induce him to cheat, which in essence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a word, his lack of confidence ends up destroying the very foundation of the relationship he’s worried about losing.
5- He’s an egomaniac
On the flip side, while insecure men are likely to cheat, so too are men with an overblown sense of importance and self-worth. Specifically, egomaniacs believe that the entire world revolves around them, and not only do they think that they’re incredibly attractive, smart, successful, and talented, but they’ll be the first ones to tell you that. And when looking at egomaniacs in terms of infidelity, it’s interesting to note that their inordinately inflated sense of self in conjunction with their desire to be the focus of attention makes them likely candidates to cheat on their partner.
In one study, research in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that married men who are sexual narcissists, meaning that they only care about their own physical needs and lack any real concern or interest in their partner’s wants and desires, are more likely to have affairs. In other words, narcissistic and self-aggrandizing men who believe their needs should always take precedence over the needs of others are more likely to seek satisfaction, praise, and attention outside of their relationship.
6- His father was a cheater
When looking at the real reasons why men cheat, there’s also evidence that cheating can run in the family. Specifically, cheating can actually be a learned behavior that boys pick up during childhood. In fact, it’s been shown that men are more likely to cheat if their fathers were cheaters, as noted in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. This is due to the fact that during childhood, men look to their fathers as examples and role models of what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors aren’t. And when they see their father cheat, this type of behavior is ingrained into their own minds and becomes normalized as a way to deal with certain circumstances and relationship issues.
To that end, the example set by their fathers is how young boys learn to deal with many different situations, and they’ll likely mimic their father’s behavior in the future because it’s all they know. It’s also interesting to note that women in this study were not more likely to cheat if their fathers were cheaters, which highlights just how important a father’s role is in terms of shaping the future actions of his son.
7- His friends are cheaters
When it comes to learned behaviors, men are also likely to cheat if their friends are cheaters. Meaning, if you’re wondering if your man may be cheating on you, it’s important to take a closer look at his group of friends in terms of their past infidelities. After all, research has found that over 75 percent of men who cheat have a close friend who also cheated. And for these men, cheating becomes one more shared experience that they can bond over, as they have a mutual understanding and similar view on cheating, which enables them to openly discuss it without judgment.
But the powerful role that friendship can play regarding a man’s propensity to cheat doesn’t stop there, as his friends can also highly influence his future behavior and rational decision-making. Along these lines, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research revealed a person’s friends can heavily impact his or her decision to give in to temptation, as friends are more likely to band together when they decide to act impulsively and irrationally. In other words, there’s power in numbers, and if your man surrounds himself with friends who make poor decisions, such as being unfaithful, he’s more likely to make similar poor decisions due to their influence.
7- He’s being cheated on
An additional reason why men cheat is simply due to the fact that their partner is cheating on them. And under this kind of distressing circumstance, many men look outside of their relationship as a way to seek revenge and get back at their partner for committing this offense against them. In addition, these men also start affairs in order to regain a sense of power and control after being the victim of infidelity. It’s also been shown that men who are being cheated on engage in their own indiscretions as a way to distract themselves from the pain, betrayal, shame, and/or anger that they may feel because of their cheating partner. And starting an affair can help them refocus their energy and divert their attention away from their partner’s hurtful actions.
However, for many men, this approach is typically not the best course of action when dealing with a cheating partner because it can actually make them feel worse about themselves and the situation in general. After all, men who start an affair in reaction to their partner’s affair often end up undercutting their self-esteem even more by engaging in behaviors that go against their personal values, ethics, and morals.
8- He’s worried about his sexual performance
While it may seem counter-intuitive, men who have anxiety about their sexual abilities are actually more likely to cheat on their partner. In fact, researchers from Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, as well as the University of Guelph in Ontario found that men who had sexual performance issues had a greater likelihood of being unfaithful.
One explanation for this seemingly conflicting result is that men are less inhibited when they’re with someone who isn’t their partner, and they tend to feel less nervous, worried, and concerned about their performance with this new person. Along these lines, another explanation is that cheating provides men with the opportunity to be with someone who isn’t aware of their past sexual performance issues, and being with this new person can actually help to lower the pressure to perform and please this new person. It’s also thought that men with sexual performance problems cheat in order to help themselves overcome these sexual issues in an environment that’s free of the judgment, ridicule, and/or embarrassment they may feel when they’re with their partner.
9- He wants to exert his power
An additional reason why men cheat has to do with their desire to exert more power, control, and domination in different aspects of their lives. Research has shown that men are more likely to cheat if they’re in positions of power, as discussed in Psychological Science. And in many instances, power and status in the social realm and/or the workplace gives men a self-esteem boost and sense of entitlement that motivates them to cheat on their partner, as cheating provides them with an additional outlet to exert their power and dominance over others.
With this in mind, one can’t help but think of the numerous celebrities, famous athletes, and politicians who’ve been involved in cheating scandals over the years and have been unfaithful to their partners. It’s also been shown that the link between power and infidelity is related to the abundance of cheating opportunities that can be available to a man of power in conjunction with his elevated sense of self-importance and self-worth. As Henry Kissinger famously said, “Power is the great aphrodisiac.”
10 – He enjoys the thrill
When examining the real reasons why men cheat, it’s important to consider how the very act of cheating makes him feel. There’s a concept known as the “cheater’s high,” which is the sense of thrill and excitement that one experiences when getting away with something unethical and illicit. In fact, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that engaging in immoral behavior without getting caught can make someone feel good, both mentally and physically. And these feelings of exhilaration and elation can be powerful enough to motivate a man to engage in unethical and risky behavior, such as cheating on his partner.
There may even be a genetic component associated with the desire to cheat and engage in this type of risky behavior. A study in the journal PLoS One revealed that people who have a certain form of a dopamine receptor gene known as DRD4 are more likely to cheat, have one-night stands, and engage in other types of high-risk sexual behavior. Not surprisingly, the DRD4 gene has also been linked to other pleasure and thrill-seeking behaviors, such as drinking alcohol and excessive gambling. And while the presence of this gene doesn’t provide an excuse for this behavior, it does provide a possible explanation.