Infidelity is nothing new in our society, but most of us will agree that cheating seems to be more prominent than ever, or at least more recognized. That said, do men cheat more than women? And if so, how much?
According to the Associated Press Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 57% of men admit to cheating at some point in their lives compared to 54% of women who admit the same. Looking at that data, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference between the genders.
The study goes on to say, however, that 22% of men admit to cheating in a marriage compared to only 14% of women. There’s a problem here, so I decided to seek out a professional opinion on why men cheat and how it can possibly be prevented.
I sat down with Dr. Harrison Davis, a licensed psychotherapist based out of Atlanta. For over 16 years, Dr. Davis has observed and worked with clients struggling with adultery, and he gave some unique perspectives on why infidelity seems to be so pervasive for men in particular.
“There are multiple reasons for infidelity within marital and long-term relationships,” Dr. Davis claimed. “Both men and women have participated in adulterous behavior throughout the centuries, but men are typically associated with this issue. Still, they both tend to cheat for the same reasons.”
Dr. Davis pointed out that men tend to let uncertainty in their relationships steer them away from staying committed. He said, “Early in a relationship, men usually don’t take the relationship as seriously as women. They are more likely, then, to entertain the possibility of another relationship in case this one doesn’t work out.”
Of course, women face uncertainty as well in their relationships, but Dr. Davis noted that age and maturity level significantly contribute to adulterous situations. Also, women are usually more likely to discuss relationship uncertainty with their partners, while men prefer not to address it.
To most people, it seems obvious that cheating is a bad thing. There is a negative, social stigma to the idea of unfaithfulness, but if that stigma does not already exist, then cheating may actually be viewed as normal behavior.
According to Dr. Davis, some men grow up in an environment where their father cheated with their mother, but the mother stayed with him, perhaps pretending like it was not an issue. He said, “These events provide a model for the role of men in relationships. I have clients who describe growing up knowing their father’s girlfriend, despite being married and living in the house with his family.”
If the concept of monogamy is foreign to a man, then he may be more inclined to view cheating as acceptable behavior. For some men, it may even be a part of their personality.
Lastly, Dr. Davis stated that a primary reason for infidelity among men is a lack of empathy. “When a man feels unappreciated by his partner for an extended period of time, he may eventually feel emasculated by her,” said Dr. Davis. “To fill the void, or suit his ego, he may give in to the advances of someone else who fulfills his need for a sexual or emotional relationship.”
It would seem that feeling vulnerable can be a significant reason for why a man would choose to stray from his commitments. Dr. Davis went on to say that, “Because of the resentment towards his wife, he decides to do something he knows is wrong and has little empathy towards her.”
After talking to Dr. Davis, I began to notice the pattern connecting these causes of infidelity. It seems that men who go into relationships ill-prepared may fall into these situations where they feel tempted to cheat.
In other words, it may be wise for men and women to be more careful about which relationships they choose to take part in. Rushing commitment can lead to a relationship that ends in resentment, and if you know that the other person doesn’t have a problem with things like infidelity, then it may be wise to look elsewhere for a lifelong partner.