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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Scientific Reasons Why Good Men Cheat

Counselor M. Gary Neuman surveyed 200 cheating and noncheating husbands to get at the real reasons behind men's infidelity.
What makes men cheat? Marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman dug through past research on male infidelity and found that most answers came from the wife's point of view. Wouldn't it make more sense to ask the guys? he thought. So for his new book, The Truth About Cheating, Neuman surveyed 200 cheating and noncheating husbands to get at the real reasons behind men's infidelity — including what cheating men say could have prevented them from straying. Here, some of his findings:

48% of men rated emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason they cheated.

So much for the myth that for men, cheating is all about sex: Only 8 percent of men said that sexual dissatisfaction was the main factor in their infidelity. "Our culture tells us that all men need to be happy is sex," Neuman says. "But men are emotionally driven beings too. They want their wives to show them that they're appreciated, and they want women to understand how hard they're trying to get things right." The problem is that men are less likely than women to express these feelings, so you won't always know when your guy is in need of a little affirmation. "Most men consider it unmanly to ask for a pat on the back, which is why their emotional needs are often overlooked," Neuman says. "But you can create a marital culture of appreciation and thoughtfulness — and once you set the tone, he's likely to match it."

66% of cheating men report feeling guilt during the affair.

The implications are a little scary: It isn't just uncaring jerks who cheat. In fact, 68 percent of cheaters never dreamed they'd be unfaithful, and almost all of them wished they hadn't done it, Neuman says. Clearly, guilt isn't enough to stop a man from cheating. "Men are good at compartmentalizing feelings," Neuman explains. "They can hold on to their emotions and deal with them later." So even if your husband swears he would never cheat, don't assume it can't happen. It's important for both of you to take steps toward creating the marriage you want.

77% of cheating men have a good friend who cheated.

Hanging around friends who stray makes cheating seem normal and legitimizes it as a possibility. The message he's subconsciously telling himself: My friend is a good guy who happens to be cheating on his wife. I guess even the best of us do it. You can't simply ban your husband from hanging out with Mr. Wandering Eyes, Neuman says, but you can request that they spend their time together in an environment that offers less temptation, like at a sporting event or a restaurant for lunch rather than at a bar or club. Another strategy: Build your social circle around happily married couples that share your values — it'll create an environment that supports marriage.

40% of cheating men met the other woman at work.

"Oftentimes the woman he cheats with at the office is someone who praises him, looks up to him, and compliments his efforts," Neuman says. "That's another reason why it's so critical that he feel valued at home." Luckily, there's a clear warning sign that your husband is getting a little too cozy with a colleague: If he praises or mentions the name of a female coworker more than he would a male counterpart, your antennae should go up — and it's time for the two of you to set boundaries about what is and isn't okay at work, Neuman says. Is it acceptable for him to work late if it's only him and her? Can they travel together to conferences? Have dinners out to discuss a project? Ask him what he'd feel comfortable with you doing with a male colleague.

Only 12% of cheating men said their mistress was more physically attractive than their wife.

In other words, a man doesn't stray because he thinks he'll get better sex with a better-looking body. "In most cases, he's cheating to fill an emotional void," Neuman says. "He feels a connection with the other woman, and sex comes along for the ride." If you're worried about infidelity, focus on making your relationship more loving and connected, not on getting your body just right or mastering new sexual positions. (But know that sex does matter — it's one of the key ways your guy expresses his love and feels close to you, so be sure to keep it a priority.)

Only 6% of cheating men had sex with a woman after meeting her that same day or night.

Actually, 73 percent of men got to know the other woman for more than a month before they cheated. This means that you may have time to see the warning signs before infidelity occurs — you might even see it coming before he does. Keep an eye out for these common signals: He spends more time away from home, stops asking for sex, picks fights more frequently, or avoids your calls. Your gut reaction may be to confront him, but most men will deny even thinking about cheating — especially if nothing physical has occurred yet. Instead, Neuman suggests, take charge of what you can control — your own behavior — and take the lead in bringing your marriage to a better place. Don't hesitate to show your appreciation for him, prioritize time together, and initiate sex more. Give him a reason to keep you at the front of his mind, Neuman says. And be open about how you feel about what's going on between the two of you (again, without mentioning any third parties). Try, "I think we've started to lose something important in our marriage, and I don't want it to disappear." In the meantime, commit to keeping tabs on your relationship and doing what it takes to keep it working for you.

Why can’t men be faithful? Why do men think of ‘monogamy’ as a board game? Why is it so easy for men to break their marriage vows? Why is it that infidelity is deemed a ‘natural call’ for men? Is it because society is more tolerant of a man straying? Why is a man still a man when he cheats, but a woman who strays a pariah? Why does society always treat the cheating women as outcasts? Why is there a difference between the way the ‘Hester Prynne-s’ and the ‘Dimmesdale-s’ of our society are perceived?

Is it because biology defeats the conscience? Is it because patriarchal constructs help the man get away by placing the blame on women? Hard to tell. After all, it is, in part, all of the above and simultaneously none that explain the exception. Then, how does one explain the fluctuations in infidelity patterns, as examined in studies of over 6000 men? Whilst some men were found to be fiercely loyal, over 70% were found to engage in some form of infidelity. Infidelity examiners have tried to pin down the several causes behind this ever-shifting trajectory and failed to offer a single, definitive list of singularly generic reasons that explain adultery, in all its several forms. Every infidelity case is unique. However, researchers have found some scientific reasons that explain
 why good men cheat:

1. The power-and-biology mix

Daniel Kruger, a social and evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health explains that men, indeed, are on the planet to sow seeds. Biologically driven to be promiscuous, the achievers in the species tend to ride high on power and success. This, in turn, helps them attract more mating partners. Women fawn over guys at the top of their game and these acers one-up the rest by taking advantage of the same. Kruger notes that a sense of achievement or a victory boosts testosterone levels and fuels the desire for sexual variety, and that is why good men cheat.
2. The need for ‘control’
Many men are deluded by a false sense of ‘control’ that comes with bedding as many women as they can. Needless to say, the need for this inflated sense of control over their lives, coupled with a somewhat misguided feeling of invincibility causes them to take a leap from the ‘loyal zone’ to the realm of the rival territory. Joel Block, a specialist in love, relationships, and sexuality, deems this ‘misleading optimism’ an intrinsic flaw in men’s natures. He attributes much of the damage done in the area to the feeling of being ‘entitled’ to liaisons and an overconfident wiring that leads them to believe they’d never be caught. Tiger Woods being a case in point. His need to add as many notches to his belt, whilst also holding himself ‘entitled’ to the social privileges of having a beautiful wife, besides the money and fame led to a dangerous lapse in judgment, with him ending up cheating.
3. The genetic factor
Evolutionary psychologists have iterated and reiterated upon the influence of the genetic factor in infidelity cases. If a man hails from a family that has a history of sexual/emotional infidelity, there are higher odds of him cheating on his long-term partner too. Of course, there’s the genes and also, what’s in his jeans!
 4. The hormonal hammer
Here’s what happens here, in scientific terms. There are three hormones that modulate monogamy: oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, and testosterone. Oxytocin is released in the brain during sex, physical contact or nearly any positive interaction. Arginine vasopressin, on the other hand, stimulates mate and offspring guarding in male monogamous mammals. This is a crucial aspect of pair bonding. Testosterone is related to the libido and influences drive and musculature, actual tangible stimulants of sexual activity. The distribution of the first two indicates a monogamous inclination, but the crazy influence of the third incites promiscuity. As such, males tend to have socially monogamous brains but sexually promiscuous genitals. Testosterone is akin to the wild card in a poker game – it can turn the game around. 
 5. The tech-torture
Yes, this may come as a surprise but a recent study reveals that men, whose partners tend to be constantly on the phone or drooling over their laptops, become increasingly wary and insecure of their bond. As such, they direct their attention to tech-free and more ‘available’ zones, wherein, needless to say, lies many prize booties.
6. The danger drive.
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that men get off on the thrill of playing this dangerous game. It is no news that men, are by nature, lovers of risk. And whilst the scales they use to weigh the risks involved against the rewards available tend to initially tip toward the ‘rewarding elements’ of the game, they know that the flimsy scales can tip toward the other end, at any moment. It is the adrenaline rush of facing this danger head-on that gives them their kick, and that is why good guys end up cheating.
7. Fear of poor sexual performance
Consistent worries of inadequate, mediocre or poor sexual performance can translate into a real possibility of infidelity. Ongoing performance concerns or a persistent pattern of not being able to give and receive pleasure can push men to become disloyal.
8. The weird-wiring in women
Before you blame me for all the brickbats being hurled at members of the opposite sex or for writing a lopsided article, let me tell you this: I know that infidelity isn’t monopolized by either sex. I know that both men and women cheat, and that certainly explains my unbiased perspective in all previous articles on the subject. In the same vein continues the rationale behind this one. Studies have shown that women tend to be more attracted to an unavailable man or a married man, provided they are given ample social proof of his wealth, status, acclamation, and power. In a survey conducted in California, over 200 women were shown the picture of a single white man, working in the top position in a well-known company and with immensely rewarding social connections. 5% women said that they’d like to meet the man. The same picture was then shown to a different group of women, who were given the same details, albeit with one minor (major?) difference. They were told that the man is taken. 80% women wanted to meet the man. This rather twisted behavior was explained vis-à-vis the research team by citing that women tend to be attracted to a socially well-off man, especially if he has already been prescreened and deemed apt for mating. If the man isn’t bringing a long-term investment, women need to know that the sexual tradeoff is at least bringing great genes to the table. 

9. Nature beats nurture
When CIA Director David Petraeus risked it all for an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, many social scientists and psychologists tried to understand the dynamics of this rather risky game. There is no question that the stakes were TOO high, and yet, Petraeus gambled. Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of social and decision science at Carnegie Mellon University, explains it from an evolutionary perspective. He states that in cases such as these, nurture is vanquished and nature comes out victorious. Man’s intrinsic need for ensuring gene survival wins over all cues of the ethico-moral compass. Cheating, as such, becomes a positive mechanism to ensure gene survival. This trait is highly indicative of an acutely heightened mating intelligence, says Michael Baker, a professor at Eastern Carolina University. The risks involved fizzle out when compared to the evolutionary drive to mate.