Why Do Men Cheat: Signs And Ways To Deal With It

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Whether a relationship is based on consensual trust or forcefully knotted, it can lead to a  successful marriage or a shattering experience. Irrespective of who is fickling around, your mind could hover over generalized questions such as ‘Why do men cheat?’ or ‘Why are women unfaithful?’

Cheating happens intentionally or otherwise for multiple reasons. It breaks the commitment and trust of the people you love. This betraying act could even lead a partner to have life-long trust issues, depression, anxiety, and even PTSD. If you relate to the emotions and are looking for answers to why men become unfaithful or how to identify them crossing boundaries, reading the post can help you.

In This Article

Do All Men Cheat?

It is a bit of a stretch to say that all men cheat, as it is not true. Both men and women cheat in different ways–some are identified, and others are not. Although the common perception says that men are more inclined to betrayal and dishonesty than women, we cannot generalize it.

A study done by Institute for Family Studies (IFS) shows that in people between the ages of 18 and 29, women are more likely to cheat on their spouses. In contrast, among the population older than 30, men have a higher rate of infidelity (1).

What Percentage Of Men Cheat?

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According to a survey by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) between 2010 and 2016, 20% of men reported having extramarital affairs compared to 13% of women (1). An updated survey by Dr. Wang in late 2019 showed that 20% of men have admitted to cheating on their partners, whereas 10% of women reported the same (2).

Irrespective of the statistics, the reasons behind every deception and treachery of men are different. Let’s dig into some of them and try to get some clarity.

protip_icon Point to consider
If you think your husband is cheating on you, the sooner you talk about it, the better.

Possible Reasons For Men Cheating

When a man crosses the lines emotionally or sexually and deeply gets invested in another woman and not his partner, it is cheating.

  1. Lack of maturity: An immature man is blind to the repercussions of his actions until it is too late. A person not interested in giving time, energy, and commitment to his partner is more likely to have an extramarital affair than a committed man.
  1. A way out: A man who is done with his relationship may find different ways to get out of it, especially if he is having difficulty bringing it up with his partner. He may resort to cheating as an easier way to feel free.
  1. Emotional connect: Despite the misrepresented social norms, men also want love and attention from their partners. If these are lacking and they feel ignored or nagged or think the relationship is stuck in jealousy and insecurity, they may try to find an emotional connection with someone outside their relationship.
  1. Narcissism: A man with narcissistic traits such as greed and selfishness may be more prone to cheating than a man without them. Although not all narcissists are cheaters, their infidelity rate is higher. They are usually self-involved, require constant attention, and lack empathy. Some also have a low threshold for boredom, which may result in multiple affairs (3).
  1. Revenge: If a man is hurt by his partner’s actions or words, he may attempt to harm and disrespect them by cheating. In such a scenario, the man will not try to hide his hurtful decision from his partner.
  1. Sex addiction: A lot of men have been diagnosed with sex addiction (4), and like most addictions, sex can trigger the dopamine release in the brain. Men who suffer from sex addiction have a much more difficult time controlling the inappropriate actions directed by their impulses.
  1. Other addictions: Addiction causes a person to become more impulsive and irrational, especially while making decisions. Substance abuse affects an individual’s brain and behavior, causing them to make regrettable decisions.
  1. Mental health issues: Men struggling with depression or anxiety may engage in self-destructive behavior. It may stem from hopelessness, making them feel like they are not worthy of being loved. This mental struggle can lead them to commit acts of infidelity.
  1. Validation: A man lacking acceptance and recognition from his current partner may cheat if his insecurities are not dealt with. He may look for the same from others.
  1. Identity crises: Some men may have repressed their sexual preferences or orientation due to fear of judgment or societal pressure. In this case, a man may cheat on his partner during his journey of self-discovery.
Man dealing with insecurities might cheat
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  1. Abusive past: Men who had unhappy and traumatic childhood experiences may be more likely to engage in sexual activities with other people outside their marriage. This can be due to the deep psychological scars and attachment or intimacy issues that do not allow them to commit to one person. At times, they might also use sex as a way of self-gratification or self-indulgence to manage the pain they have endured in the past.
  1. Irrational expectations: A man with unrealistic expectations from his partner may be disappointed when he fails to meet the standards. To fulfill his needs and desires, he may look out of his relationship. He can even use manipulations to shame you for being unworthy of him.
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  1. Pull from the ex: Memories can distort reality, remind them of how it was, or give them comfort in returning to someone who used to care for them, especially if they are not on good terms with their partners.
  1. Thrill: Some men may cheat even if they are in happy relationships. They do it because they want to, not because of unhappiness. The thrill of getting caught or the beauty of pursuing new relationships excites them.
  1. Sexual fantasies: Some men are adventurous and may crave fantasies that their partner is not in line with. This can cause them to look for other sex partners willing to experiment with them.
  1. A mistake: A man could end up cheating by a chain of events. It may or may not be their fault. For example, situations occur when he might get drunk and commit a mistake. But this is no excuse. Even if it was not premeditated, it still has devastating effects on the partner.
  1. Friends are cheaters: Alluding to learned behaviors, men surrounded by friends who are also cheaters may be easily influenced to cheat. Friendship plays a significant role in a man’s propensity to cheat because they may use this shared experience to strengthen their bond without fearing from one another.
  1. Financial reasons: A study showed that men are more likely to cheat if they are unhappy about their financial standing. They may look for sexual relationships if they feel they have failed the role of primary provider. The study also found that the bigger the salary, the more likely it is for the person to cheat (5).
  2. Poor personal boundaries: Establishing clear personal boundaries is crucial for a healthy, balanced relationship, as it defines what is acceptable and what is not. When individuals struggle with poor personal boundaries, expressing their needs or concerns becomes challenging. This lack of clarity and openness about feelings may create dissatisfaction, discomfort, or a sense of something missing in the relationship. It may result in the feeling of not receiving adequate emotional support, leading to resentment (6). While it may not be the sole reason, it might still be a contributing factor to infidelity in men.

How To Know If Your Man Is Cheating?

You know your man better than anyone else. Sudden changes in his behavior could make you suspicious.

  • He suddenly starts to spend more of his time away from home. You might get excuses such as working late or hanging out with friends.
  • He becomes distant or uninterested. It becomes challenging to converse with him as he does not divulge any information when you ask.
  • He gets secretive about his whereabouts and his phone.

Vlogger Robbi Jan discusses her experience and highlights that one of the warning signs she observed when her husband was cheating was his extreme secrecy. She says, “One of the red flags is extreme secrecy, like being short in your conversations and not giving much information. But for me, the big one was the phone. He just started getting funny with his phone, like he would always be on his phone, or he would face away when he was messaging (i).”

  • He seems moody and gets angry in no time. He might criticize you in ways he has never done before.
  • He shows a lack of interest in being intimate with you.
  • He invests a lot more effort in his appearance than he used to.
  • He keeps asking you about your plans. This may be because he wants to avoid bumping into you.
  • He has created multiple social media accounts, and his phone behavior has changed. He may be texting more or taking calls outside of the room you are in.
  • He starts buying you gifts abundantly. This may be because he is trying to eliminate the guilt that he is cheating on you.
Man dressing up, signs of cheating
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protip_icon Do remember
There is no point in confronting the person with whom your partner is having an affair with. So, control yourself.

What To Do If Your Man Is Cheating On You?

If you recently find out that your man is cheating on you, you may experience a range of emotions like anger, sadness, guilt, and helplessness. You may even think you are the cause behind his actions, but remember, cheating is a choice. Accepting and understanding your emotions can help you to move on from the hurt, but be mindful that healing is not linear.

Different people heal differently. Here are a few ways that can help you during the healing process:

  1. Confront him: The first step is straightforward. If you suspect that your man is cheating on you, the only way to know is by asking. He may try to deny it, but you know him best when he is lying. Remember to be calm and not downplay the situation.
  1. Accept your feelings: You may feel like you are on a roller coaster of emotions, and it may take some time to process what just happened, but accepting how you feel is one step towards healing.
  1. Avoid taking revenge: Being cheated on is a painful experience, and you may want to hurt your partner the way he did. But revenge is never the answer. Seeking revenge can give you temporary satisfaction, but hinders you from moving forward.
  1. Do not indulge in the blame game: It can be easy to blame your partner, the other person, or even yourself for the situation. But this will not change anything, and will leave you feeling bad about yourself.
  1. Do not involve the children: Save your little ones from the hurt and pain. This is between you and your partner only. In case he tries to make amends, the children will never be able to see their father in a different light.
  1. Self-care: Taking care of yourself may be difficult during the first few days, but give yourself time and take it day by day. Make sure you are eating healthy, and try to maintain a proper sleeping schedule and personal hygiene.
  1. Check for STDs: This may have slipped your mind during the initial period because of the overwhelming emotions, but do get yourself tested for STDs. This will put your mind at ease rather than worrying about it.
  1. Couple counseling: If you decide to end the relationship or mend it, it is advisable to seek couple counseling. Talking to a professional can help you comprehend what happened. It can also be a safe space where you and your partner can talk it out. A therapist can help you move in the right direction if you want to continue your relationship.
  1. Seek support: Cheating can be a life-altering event, and you do not have to go through it alone. If you have close friends or family with whom you are comfortable sharing this information, you may do so for some moral support.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What traits do cheaters have?

People most likely to engage in infidelity have been reported to possess traits like emotional immaturity, fear of commitment, impulsiveness, and insincerity. They can also be untrustworthy, callous, and low on conscientiousness (7) .

2. Where does cheating start in a relationship?

The origin of cheating in a relationship cannot be predicted or pinpointed. It may start when you and your partner are going through a rough patch, or it may even begin without any relationship issues provoking it.

3. What does cheating say about a person?

Cheating reveals the type of person they are. It can mean they have self-esteem issues or lack respect for others. It also shows that they are insecure, selfish, and impulsive.

Cheating can be a traumatic experience, it may be the breaking point in a relationship. It can take months and even years to recover. Also, there are chances it may happen again. Understanding the reasons behind unfaithfulness can help couples not make the same mistake. Infidelity can make you take a big pause in your relationship that will help you decide whether you want to press play or pause.

Infographic: Different Forms Of Cheating In Relationships

Cheating is not limited to just the physical realm anymore. It is done or occurs in different forms. Just because it is not physical does not mean it did not happen. Check this infographic as we give you the details of various forms of cheating.

types of cheating in relationships (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Cheating is an option and not an obligation.
  • Immaturity is one of the reasons why men cheat.
  • Cheating need not always be physical.
  • If you notice these signs in your man, please do not jump to conclusions. It might not always be attributed to cheating.
Why do men cheat_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team


Discover the subtle warning signs that indicate a man may be on the verge of infidelity. Learn to recognize these 8 red flags to protect your relationship.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Who Cheats More? The Demographics of Infidelity in America.
    https://ifstudies.org/blog/who-cheats-more-the-demographics-of-cheating-in-america
  2. Predicting Infidelity: An Updated Look at Who Is Most Likely to Cheat in America.
    https://ifstudies.org/blog/predicting-infidelity-an-updated-look-at-who-is-most-likely-to-cheat-in-america
  3. Why Narcissists Have Affairs & Cheat On Spouses.
    https://mentalhealthcenter.com/narcissists-god-and-religion/
  4. Characteristics of self-identified sexual addicts in a behavioral addiction outpatient clinic.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5370367/
  5. Munsch C. L. (2015). Her Support His Support: Money Masculinity and Marital Infidelity.
    https://www.asanet.org/wp-content/uploads/savvy/journals/ASR/Jun15ASRFeature.pdf
  6. Maintaining Boundaries in Romantic Relationships.
    https://extension.usu.edu/relationships/faq/maintaining-boundaries-in-romantic-relationships
  7. Schmitt D. P. (2002). Are Sexual Promiscuity and Relationship Infidelity Linked to Different Personality Traits Across Cultures? Findings from the International Sexuality Description Project.
    https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1041&context=orpc
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