What the Psychology of Infidelity Means for Making Marriage Work

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Published: 20th January 2011
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The psychology of infidelity is a very important factor in determining why men (and women) cheat on their partners. Infidelity includes the act of committing adultery, and some people go further and talk about "emotional infidelity." Most people would likely talk about this or that reason for committing infidelity, but behind those rationales are the psychology that must be analyzed because it involves feelings, and avoiding infidelity requires understanding what is on the cheater's mind when he commits the act.

Women, in particular, are concerned by their spouses' infidelity. The threat to both meaning and belonging, and in many cases to their livelihood, is the very definition of infidelity for a woman, even though infidelity's definition for a man is quite different. Some women are so worried that they ask, "Why does my boyfriend look at other girls?" expecting the men are committing some form of infidelity. Men understand that it doesn't mean anything to look.

Why do men cheat?

Insecurity makes a person feel unworthy. The unfaithful man might be experiencing a rough road in his marriage. He might fear that his marriage will fail, thus losing his spouse and perhaps his children too. Instead of seeking counsel, he might resort to looking for another woman for companionship and security; although, this will just worsen the situation.

Another aspect of the psychology of infidelity is the need to be in control. Some men need to dominate, but fail to do so because of their spouses. Having an affair may give him the sense of control he is looking for.

The opposite reason is possible. Successful and powerful men may feel it is a prerogative to have many women. It certainly is the case with other mammals. Natural selection programs men to want "variety." It increases their contribution to the gene pool.

The most important reason men are unfaithful is neglect. This is the most common reason why some people got involved in extramarital affairs. The spouse may be busy with work or taking care of their children, and the partner may be unintentionally neglected. This will make him feel frustrated and will serve as a driving force for him to commit adultery. The adulterer is longing for the physical and emotional attention that he finds with another woman.

All couples undergo stresses. Understanding the psychology of infidelity can help the relationship survive. The survival of the relationship depends on more than simple understanding, though. It requires loyalty and effort and day-by-day commitment. It requires trust.

Another thing is to keep communication lines open. Sometimes it is hard to speak to each other when disagreements arise. Once you close your thoughts to your partner, it will create a gap between you, so it is important to always be open to each other about your feelings, disappointments, frustrations, pain, expectations, but most importantly, your continued commitment and your love.

Unfortunately, communication is a problem for men. Men find it difficult to talk about feelings. Women are comfortable with feelings. Being outclassed by women on this is a threat to men's feelings of competence. Feelings of incompetence are a serious threat to men.

Fight constructively. Blame the behavior and not the person. You should also be sensitive to each other's feelings. When you want to confront your spouse, first empathize so that you will know what he will feel about what you have to say to him. Choose the right words to say so as not to hurt his feelings. Never confront him when other people are listening. An audience would require him to "win" in order to save face.

Lastly, keep the intimacy alive. Men meet most of their intimacy needs through physical intimacy. The desire needs to always be there.

Marriage is not just simply a decision to make once; it requires hard work, love, sharing, compromise and intimacy. You must also understand the psychology of infidelity, so you can take the actions necessary to prevent a breakup.


Men are programmed biologically to be promiscuous even while committed to a relationship. For more information on the very definition of infidelity for men visit TipsWhatMenWant.com, where you'll also find answers to "Why do men check out other women?". Thomas Christopher is a Colorado Front Range public speaker.

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