Why Men Cheat

Acceptance of cheating among men has actually decreased in recent years, compared to previous decades, like in the 1970’s, but In the age of instant communication and viral storytelling, cheating has come (and stayed) in the forefront of the cultural consciousness, with the prominence of celebrities and politicians who have cheated, and gotten caught.

But why do men cheat? Do they cheat simply for sexual gratification? The answer is multi-dimensional and not as easy as that.

According to research, the number one reason that men cheat is because they no longer feel appreciated, validated or cared for by their wives. An unsatisfactory sexual relationship may contribute to it, but the vast majority of men admit that it was because they felt neglected at home, didn’t feel appreciated for their efforts or for who they were.

Here’s how it works: A marriage or relationship slowly starts to erode when partners start to distance themselves. Often times, having children takes precedence, and a marriage is redefined in a way that it becomes second priority. Men – when not getting those needs for intimacy, appreciation or validation – begin to feel angry and hostile towards their wives. They start the emotional disconnect from their wives or girlfriends, which, in turn, creates more friction and hostility towards them by their partners. The cycle continues, and many men opt for cheating or infidelity.

In my experience, men are emotional beings that have a very difficult time learning how to access those emotions, and communicate them in a way that their partners understand. Men are used to the avoidance and withdrawal, especially in the realm of getting their needs and feelings met. Often times, they don’t have or haven’t learned the communication tools to be able to fix the problem before it gets bad. They’ll avoid or repress the problem, and not deal with it as it needs to be dealt with.

Here are some highlighted reasons why men cheat, and then added points on the Tiger Woods scandal, to contrast celebrity cheating:

Why men cheat:
– The sex is gone in their relationship
– Intimacy is usually waning or gone, which is the root of the above problem
– Men are not feeling loved, validated, appreciated or cared for by their wives
– Their wives have stopped giving them thoughtful gestures, calls, ways to express that they are thinking highly of their man
– Their man has stopped thinking that he can win in the marriage – very important, because men are wired to win (think little league baseball)
– Men usually don’t seek out the women/the women are usually someone they work with on a day to day basis
– Men lack the critical communication tools needed to function in a relationship (to speak their needs and feelings in a proactive way)
– The problems aren’t diagnosed early on in the marriage, and routine and distance become features of the marriage
– Family history of cheating, including parents, brothers, etc.
Now, on to Tiger:
– New parents’ marriages often evolve to de-prioritize the couple itself; Tiger got deprioritized
– Being a superathlete at the top of his game, and injured, contributed to his pressure to win/mental distress
– There were marital problems that drove him to cheat that weren’t dealt with appropriately
– He is also possibly (clinically) a sex addict who needs treatment
– He is surrounded by not only beautiful women who throw themselves at him, but give him the praise, adoration and validation he needs that he was lacking with Elin
– He is possibly surrounded by a sports culture (think of his friends, Barkley and Jordan) that promotes/encourages him to cheat, be unfaithful or polygamous
– Athletes have notoriously high (and often insatiable) sexual appetites, and the perfect storm came together to allow him to cheat
– Celebrities often have unusually low self-esteem, but compensate with extraordinary feats, motivation and drive; part of Tiger’s sex addiction may be to fill his “wounds” and gain self-esteem through intercourse.
Some of the reasons with Tiger are speculative, and I have not been able to fully research some of the points, but the evidence is there. Men will cheat, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Casually dispensing our sexual energy wherever it takes us is wrong, and irresponsible. As men, we need to heal our wounds within the committed relationships we invest in instead of seeking sexual/emotional gratification outside of it.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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