The Ashley Madison leak last month reinforced the fact that millions of unhappy married or partnered men still think they can find sexual or emotional satisfaction with women other than their primary relationship partner. But is infidelity really, truly fulfilling in the long run? Does it really provide men with the long-term satisfaction they think they’re seeking, or simply a short-term gratification or salve to the problems in their primary relationship?
Preventing infidelity is an imperative if you are the kind of man that seeks stimulation – or is tempted to – outside of your primary relationship or marriage. If you have history of cheating or infidelity, it’s your responsibility to do what you can do deal with the issues that would lead to an infidelity, as to preserve your marriage, or deal head-on with ending it in the right way. It’s about minimizing pain to yourself, your wife or girlfriend, and your children, and preventing infidelity is the way to do it.
I’ve put together some thoughts about how to prevent infidelity from happening, using a very introspective approach. Books will give you strategies and plans to “curb” your desires to cheat on your partner, but I think the only real way to stop infidelity is to understand yourself and your motivations to do it, and to change yourself from the inside through emotional, and then behavioral, change. It’s not enough just to say you’re not going to do it, make promises to yourself/your spouse, block people from Facebook, stop texting affair partners, or change jobs or cities, because even by making those changes, you haven’t addressed the issues driving those cheating tendencies.
Dealing with Old Wounds
As men, we often have old wounds around women that have lingered in our subconscious for some time, and those wounds dictate our emotions and behaviors around women today. Sometimes, those wounds come from our families of origin, specifically around difficult issues we’ve had in our relationships with our mothers or female caregivers. Other times, our wounds come in the form of old rejections, fear, insecurity, shame and desire with respect to girls and women we’ve dealt with during our dating and mating years, and that still drive our behaviors today. Inadequacy around women is a major theme that I encounter when I talk with men who cheat.
What happens is many of those old wounds we’ve pushed away and haven’t dealt with for some years now creep back up into our behavior, and often times drive our impulses to interact, flirt or connect with other women. Other women, in our adult lives, provide the salves that our unconscious mind needs for fulfillment, in spite of the fact that getting those needs met often comes at great cost to ourselves. We lose our self-awareness and forget to remind ourselves that we put ourselves, our marriages and our lives in jeopardy by seeking out the attentions and affections of other women.
Fantasy is different from reality, when it comes to relationships. To know the difference is to facilitate wisdom. Fantasy, or trying to manifest it, drives a lot of cheating, and often comes in the form of getting emotional or sexual needs met. I talk with a lot of men who think that becoming emotionally validated or affirmed by another women would fulfill that fantasy, but it usually doesn’t in the long run. In the honeymoon stage, it does, but it wears off, and then we have to deal with our reality again, which often still harbors our old wounds that haven’t been dealt with.
Infidelity comes as a lack of self-control on those desires. When those needs are fighting to be met, self-control or self-consciousness gets overridden, and we make decisions that are ultimately negative for ourselves. We end up engaging in cheating or infidelity, often times against our best judgment and interests. Again, it’s usually the fantasy-driven wounds that outweigh our rational, decision-making minds, and dealing with those wounds is the way to dissemble those factors that lead to lack of self-control.
I talk with men who have learned that cheating or infidelity is acceptable, because a parent was engaged in it growing up, and they have come to believe that it’s somehow acceptable for them. The pattern can be broken, and doesn’t need to be perpetuated as a way to deal with one’s problems, but sometimes these men don’t know how to deal directly with their problems and fall into infidelity.
Other Women Are Always Around You
Other women are inevitability going to trigger you at some point or another, whether it’s sexually, emotionally or otherwise. It’s what you do with that triggering that matters, and this is where self-awareness is absolutely critical.
Will you find yourself engaging with them, subjecting yourself to funneling your energies into the other person, or will you use those triggers in a way to improve yourself?
Communication goes a long way when it comes to dealing with your potential female triggers. Talking about it with a therapist, or your spouse, and getting it out on the table helps to “air it out” and prevent sit from festering and gaining energy, so there’s less chance of acting on those impulses.
You give energy to women when you look at them, or “steal glances,” when you engage with them in a flirtatious way, or you indulge yourself with them in a way that you know isn’t really true to yourself. When we give out that energy – sexual or otherwise – it’s energy you’re not applying to your primary relationship, so it’s important to know why that is.
Dealing With The Problems In Your Primary Relationship
Infidelity can also be a function of problems in a marriage or primary relationship, so identifying those issues and resolving them can also be a way to prevent cheating from happening.
Infidelity doesn’t just happen: there are precursors to it happening that may be out of your consciousness at the time, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Getting in touch with those precursors is essential, whether they are old wounds or marital problems. You have to know what is setting the stage for a potential infidelity or cheating to take place.
If there are problems in your primary relationship or marriage, those have to be taken care of, because if they’re not, they’re seeding a potential pattern of infidelity or cheating behavior. Getting marriage counseling and working through those issues is critical.
Staying Valuable and Wanted, To Others and To Yourself
How do you stay valuable and wanted in the primary relationship in your life, without being led astray? If you’re needing adoration, attention or valuation, how can you get those needs met from within the relationship you currently are in, rather than seeking it out elsewhere? I think that learning how to speak up and talk about your needs is a great insurance policy from falling into infidelity or cheating behaviors.
If you’re not feeling those ways in your primary relationship, and need to to be happy in it, it’s your responsibility to communicate and get those needs met. Seek out professional couples or marriage counseling to help you learn how to express yourself and get those needs met. If, ultimately, those needs can never be met, and you and your partner have tried to be direct and upfront about meeting those needs (for both of you), you might want to consider being honest with yourself and your relationship partner, and ending the relationship before you make it worse through your infidelity.
Ultimately, we’re responsible for making sure we feel adequate, wanted and “enough.” If you’re looking for your relationship partner to fill “holes” in you or emptiness, they’re ultimately not going to be able to do that for you. They can meet the needs to a certain extent, but they may not always be able to meet those needs, nor are they responsible to always. You have to take ownership for your own wounds and healing. We can’t expect women to fill that emptiness, because it’s just a temporary patch.
Dealing with the precursors to infidelity or cheating can be difficult, but the alternatives are way worse. We have to maintain self-awareness, introspection and ultimately behavioral restraint when it comes to other females, because it’s the right thing to do. You have to find your own reasons for doing it, though, because you’re that only one living your own life. Finding fulfillment doesn’t have to come in the form of toxic or harmful behaviors; it can come from within just the same.