What makes men cheat? Marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman conducted research and found that only 8% percent of men who cheat did so because of sex. Neuman’s research concluded that nearly half the men who cheated in a relationship cited emotional dissatisfaction as the reason. Below are some of the results from his survey of 200 cheating and noncheating husbands:
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.”
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.)
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