Infidelity is a problem that many couples face. While being unfaithful is never anything but a terrible thing to do, when children are involved, cheating becomes a much more grievous offense. A man who cheats on the mother of his children is not only breaking the trust of his partner, but also the trust his children have put in him to set a good example for them to follow. Affairs tear families apart and often have a lasting effect on a father’s relationship with his children.
Both men and women are guilty of cheating. The reasons why vary, but there are some surprising traits that men who are unfaithful to their partners often have in common. So, why, exactly do dads cheat? Experts in the fields of relationships have identified some reasons why men stray, and some of them may surprise you.
According to Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and sex therapist in New York and author of How Could You Do This To Me? Learning to Trust After Betrayal , “Men might cheat for a multitude of reasons: the thrill of the chase and conquest, a sexual addiction, [feeling that he's] deprived or unhappy with the amount of sex he’s having with his partner.”
Laurie Watson, a sex therapist and host of the podcast Foreplay adds, “Cheating is a symptom generally of relational problems, and sometimes cheating is indicative of an individual's problem. The philandering guy who's got a girlfriend at every hotel for business, that's a different kind of cheating than the man who has an affair with his colleague."
Below are 15 of the most common reasons fathers are unfaithful. Is your baby daddy guilty?
We all know a man who is just a big kid. He may not be able to hold down a steady job, handle grown-up conversations or know how to do his own laundry. Immature men struggle with the huge responsibility that is suddenly placed upon their shoulders when a child arrives. Suddenly, the pressure to provide and be a man is being laid on thick. Dads who haven’t quite grown up may find themselves wanting to stray as a means of dealing with the pressure they just aren’t ready to handle
A child adds a different element to a relationship. Men who don’t want to or can’t handle the pressure that comes along with being a father may search for an escape in a new relationship that isn’t so intense or laden with responsibility.
Immature men may not understand the lasting consequences of cheating. They may feel it’s not that big of a deal to stray, or grasp how much being unfaithful can hurt their partners.
14He Can't Differentiate Between Feelings Of Love And Lust
While it’s not out of the realm of possibility to understand why a man would stray just because he can, putting a relationship he really cares about in jeopardy for a few minutes of pleasure isn’t really normal. A guy who cheats just because opportunity knocks may have deep-rooted issues.
If a man is willing to give up a committed relationship he’s worked to build without much thought, especially after a child or children are involved, he may have a problem with distinguishing between feelings of lust and feelings of love.
He may not understand the difference between long-term love and romantic intensity. Some men can’t distinguish between the rush of emotions felt in early romance, technically called limerence, and the deeper, stronger bond that is formed in a long-term relationship. In healthy partnerships, limerence is eventually replaced by a less intense, yet much deeper, bond as time goes on.
13Technology Makes It Too Easy For Him
Before the golden age of smartphones, dads had to really put themselves out there if they wanted to hook up with someone that wasn’t their significant other. Now, with devices and countless women always at their fingertips, being unfaithful is a possibility for more than just the brave and the bold.
These days, hookup and dating apps make it possible for a father to connect with other women all from the comfort of his own home. Do some men look elsewhere just because they can? Maybe.
One man, Alex, has admitted, “I felt a bit jealous when my mates were on the apps and meeting different [people]. It reminded me of how fun it used to be being single. Once I did it in my lunch hour.” Speaking on whether or not he’d have strayed if it wasn’t so easy, he shared, “I probably wouldn't think about it. Arranging a lunchtime [hookup] the analogue way would take weeks of preparation!”
12He's Struggling With Addiction
A father’s propensity to stray may have nothing whatsoever to do with his current relationship. If a man is struggling with addiction, cheating may be a symptom of a much bigger problem.
The ability to make good decisions is often affected when people have problems with alcohol and/or drugs. This may lead to a dad making sexual decisions he will later regret. If a man has a problem with sexual addiction, which is defined by compulsively engaging in sexual fantasies and behaviors to the extent that he cannot function normally in his life and relationships, he may not be able to control the urge to seek partners outside of his committed relationship.
If a father is repeatedly unfaithful, it’s a sign he may be battling a sex addiction. According to one therapist, Paula Hall, “between 6 and 20 percent of people in the United Kingdom alone have been affected by sexual addiction in some way.”
11It Makes Him Feel Manly
Marsha was married at age 24, and spent the next 8 years married to a man who was repeatedly unfaithful to her. She argues that men are taught it’s natural for them to want to have more than one sexual partner, even when in committed relationships.
“Let’s be real here: most men come out with this crap about being too young to settle down, but so was I and I didn’t go off [and sleep with] anything that moved,” Marsha says. “Boys are taught they should go out and see the world before they settle down--to sow their wild oats--while women are supposed to grow up dreaming of being a bride who’ll be there waiting when they’re done.”
Marsha continues, “Men with lots of sexual partners are seen as more experienced in all matters of life. It makes them a man. Or at least that’s what they think. [Sleeping with] loads of women gets them a pat on the back from other men. It’s only when they get caught that they understand the real consequences of what they’ve done. Most men wouldn't care about anyone else if they weren't caught.”
10He Has The Opportunity
Some dads cheat because they can’t resist temptation when it looms right in front of them. The day-to-day monotony of parenthood can be rough sometimes, and the lure of an exciting new tryst may be too much for a father to resist, right or wrong.
Alex shares that when a coworker put the moves on him at an office Christmas party, his efforts to remain faithful to his partner were in vain. He admits, “Although I did feel guilty, I don’t think I did it because I was unhappy with my [partner]--far from it. I knew nobody would find out and it was kind of exciting. I wasn’t even that interested in doing it again. Sometimes it’s not that deep.”
According to Marsha, the previously mentioned woman whose husband was unfaithful, “Men are like performing dogs, they love attention. The second they get less than they think they’re entitled to at home, they’re off in search of someone else, wagging their tail.”
9He's A Victim
If a man was a victim of child abuse in the early years of his life, he may struggle to form healthy relationships later in life. If childhood trauma goes unadressed or unresolved, it can cause a man to act out in his adult relationships as a result.
When a dad cheats, he may be latently responding to physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, etc. These are things his partner is often not aware went on in his past.
If he has never healed emotionally from things suffered in his early life, it may be very difficult for him to form healthy adult relationships. He may have intamacy or attachment issues that render him either unable to not willing to commit to just one person. In addition, the excitement of infidelity may be an exciting distraction from the pain he is feeling due to things he has suffered in his past.
It’s true. Sometimes, dads are selfish. Being a parent is the ultimate act of unselfishness, but some guys just can’t stop caring about themselves. Narcissism is a trait that some men possess. If a guy cares about himself and his own feelings, even above the feelings of those he loves the most, straying may not seem like that big of a deal to him.
Narcissists are often able to lie and keep secrets without feeling any sense of guilt or remorse. In their minds, they are just doing what is best for them, and may not be able to take into account that what they are doing may hurt others. As messed up as it sounds, as long as they get what they want, they’re happy campers.
He may view committing to one person as limiting and not for him, and not see anything wrong with straying. If a man is selfish, he may be unable to see past his own immediate wants and needs, causing him to cheat without thinking twice.
7He Wants Out Of The Relationship
Other dads use cheating as a way to get out of a relationship they no longer want to be in. They may mistakenly think that straying is a good way to communicate to their current partner that things aren’t working out.
27-year-old Niall has cheated on two of his serious girlfriends. In his opinion, his desire to end the relationships was what motivated him to stray. He admits, “I think a lot of men do it as a way out of a bad relationship or something that’s going too fast for them. I’m not too good at confrontation and didn’t know how to bring this up, so I guess I cheated as a way of finishing things. Yes, I was a coward, but it was easier to deal with the shame of something I’d done wrong than try to explain why I wasn’t feeling it. It was kinder in a way.”
If a father is looking elsewhere for love, it may be a sign that he already has one foot out the door, and just isn’t brave enough to admit it.
6A Couple's Communication Is Lacking
According to Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, author of Dating from the Inside Out and director of My Dating & Relationship School, "If they feel like their partner doesn't care about their emotional needs or what's happening with them on a daily basis anymore, they might try to find someone who appears more interested and excited about them,"
"Most men consider it unmanly to ask for a pat on the back, which is why their emotional needs are often overlooked," Neuman continues, "But you can create a marital culture of appreciation and thoughtfulness--and once you set the tone, he's likely to match it."
Lack of communication can lead to unhappiness in a relationship. Additionally, when most of the interactions a couple shares are negative, it leads to dissatisfaction in a partnership. Sherman continues, "Perhaps there's a lot of yelling, criticism, labeling, and name-calling at home. A lack of respect can lead someone to find that elsewhere. Also, it's important to keep in mind that when a partner doesn't address these issues within the marriage and looks for support from another opposite-sex confidant, that emotional affair can often segue to a physical one."
Having someone other than your current partner showing interest in you can be a big boost to the ego. A man who feels less-than his partner, or struggles with self-esteem issues, may find it hard to resist affirmation from those of the opposite sex that he’s a catch.
Only 12 percent of the men Neuman surveyed said the women they were unfaithful with were more attractive than their current partners.
According to Sherman, "Often times, women take way too much responsibility [for their cheating partner, saying], 'if I were thinner, if I were more [insert variable here]...but sometimes, truly, their partner's going through a midlife crisis or is struggling with his own mortality or is frustrated at work. Many men may start to feel old and worry that life and adventure is behind them. Because of that, they want a woman who will make them feel young and like they're at their prime again.”
4There's Something Lacking At Home/He's Bored
It’s important to mention that a man who strays because he feels something is lacking in his current relationship, his partner is not to blame for his infidelity. Additionally, when a man cheats, it isn’t always because the physical part of his current relationship is not satisfying him.
According to Dr. Megan Fleming, licensed sex and relationship therapist, "Typically, if someone is cheating, it's because needs aren't being met in a marriage or relationship. That can mean sexual needs--but often means someone's emotional needs aren't being met.”
Counselor M. Gary Neuman interviewed 200 cheating and non-cheating men for a book he penned entitled The Truth About Cheating. He discovered that 47 percent of the men who cheated didn’t do so because they were unsatisfied in the bedroom, but because they felt they weren’t getting what they needed emotionally in their current relationships. "Our culture tells us that all men need sex to be happy," says Neuman. "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."
3He's Angry/He Wants Revenge
According to Psychology Today, a man “may cheat to get revenge. In such cases, the infidelity is meant to be seen and known. The man does not bother to lie or keep secrets about his cheating, because he wants his partner to know about it.”
While this seems not only farfetched, but also surprising, men who are abusive may use infidelity as a way to taunt or hurt their partners very much on purpose. A woman in a relationship where this is going on should find help and get out. It is not only unhealthy, but dangerous to be involved with a person who purposely tries to hurt his partner.
Punishing a partner by being unfaithful is a sociopathic behavior, and is not one that should be tolerated. While some relationships can survive affairs, if cheating is done with forethought, malice and little thought for other individuals that will be effected, it may be best for a woman to cut her losses and get out of the relationship before more damage is done to her or her children.
2He Doesn't Realize How Good He Has It
As couples grow more and more comfortable with each other, it’s not uncommon for one or both parties in a relationship to forget what it was that caused them to get together in the first place. A man may stray because he’s forgotten that he already has the best in the world, and later often majorly regrets his decision.
Rumors have circulated for years that Jay Z has been unfaithful to his fierce and fabulous wife, Beyonce. She first addressed the topic on her album Lemonade, after which Jay did damage control on 4:44. Jay even goes so far on the album as to admit that he has a hard time committing, struggles to show emotion and didn’t realize how messed up it was to take his wife for granted until he had his own daughter.
Jay even freely admits on the album, “almost let the baddest girl in the world get away.” If Beyonce’s hubby forgot how good he had it, it’s possible other guys may do the same.
1He's A Dirtball
There is always the possibility that a father has chosen to cheat because he’s just a lousy person. We all make mistakes, but some are most definitely bigger than others. Especially when children are involved, it’s really uncool to be unfaithful. Marsha has had an epiphone since dealing with her cheating ex. She says, “I blamed myself or made a lot of excuses for my husband and he had plenty of those himself. But in the end, I think it came down to the fact he’s a massive w*****. You can finish with that if you like.”
While Neuman confirmed that 66 percent of the men he surveyed felt guilty about cheating, that leaves 44 percent of men who didn’t feel bad about their infidelity. That’s kind of a big number.
According to Sherman, "Whether couples can move forward after an affair depends on their values and ability to forgive and rebuild trust. Are both people willing to learn from it, communicate openly, and not cheat again when in pain? Will the cheater acknowledge his partner's devastation and empathize with the hurt he caused? Many couples do continue to work on their marriage after the affair and decide to go to couples therapy for help earning back trust, improving communication and intimacy, and creating a shared vision going forward. Others may see it as a deal-breaker and not want to continue trying."
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