12 Surprising Facts About Infidelity

Can you spot a husband prone to infidelity? If he’s unhappy with his wife, he’ll cheat, right? Not necessarily. According to a Rutgers University study, 56 percent of men who have affairs claim to be happy in their marriages. They’re largely satisfied with all they have and aren’t looking for a way out, yet they still find themselves in bed with other women—and in hot water with their wives. Here, experts explain this phenomenon and dispel other popular cheating myths.

Fact #1: Most men are still in love with their wives when they cheat.

Men who cheat haven’t fallen out of love; they’ve become unsatisfied with the current state of it. “Cheating usually occurs in the phase of companionate love, when couples begin to settle down, have kids and solidify the life being built together,” says clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, PhD. While they’re fulfilled in some areas, like being a provider, the romance may be missing. “We more often think of women complaining about a lack of romance, but men feel it, too,” says Dr. Brosh. “They frequently suffer in silence, believing they can’t get what they want from their spouses.” To avoid this in your marriage, plan nights out together, set aside time for sex and discuss hopes and dreams—not just workdays and your son’s last soccer game.

Fact #2: Men usually cheat with women they know.

Cheaters don’t generally pick up random women in bars. “My first husband cheated on me with a childhood friend,” says Diane* from New York City. “His family was close to her family, so they never lost touch.” Intimacy expert Mary Jo Rapini explains, “A lot of women think that all cheating women are floozies—not true. The relationships are usually friendships first.” A good idea: Make sure your husband feels more connected to you than to his business partner. “Spouses go to work, take care of their kids and do separate things at night. That has to stop,” says Rapini. She suggests always going to bed at the same time and cuddling.

Fact #3: Men cheat to save their marriages

“Men love their spouses, but they don’t know how to fix their relationship problems, so they go outside their marriages to fill any holes,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Susan Mandel, PhD. Men want it all and have the skewed notion that another woman will make the longing for something more disappear. Then, they can live happily ever after with their wife—and their mistress—without confronting the real issues.

Fact #4: Men hate themselves after affairs.

You may think of cheaters as men without morals, but while they may like what they did, they tend to despise themselves after their indiscretions. “If he puts his ego to the side, he’ll feel like a piece of garbage,” says relationship expert Charles J. Orlando, author of The Problem with Women…Is Men. “After all, he’s betraying another human being who he claims to care about, so that takes its toll on every part of his psyche.” A cheater can feel as though he’s failed as a man

Fact #5: Cheaters often get friskier with their wives when affairs begin.

Just because a husband’s touchy-feely doesn’t mean his marriage is on firm footing. “When a man starts cheating, he becomes hyperactive sexually,” says Rapini, explaining that his sex drive has been awakened, and his wife is still the one with whom he feels most comfortable sexually. If you notice a sudden change in your husband’s sex drive, it should raise a red flag. Be on the lookout for the switch to flip off again. “After the affair is solid, he may begin to pull away,” says Rapini.

Fact #6: Women cheat just as much as men, and their affairs are often more dangerous.

An Indiana University study shows that men and women cheat at the same rate. But “the reasons the sexes cheat are different,” says Orlando. He explains women are more likely to cheat for emotional satisfaction. “Online cheating—without any physical contact—is the most damaging type of infidelity,” says Orlando. Becoming emotionally invested in another person means you’ve likely checked out of your marriage. But if it’s just sex, it’s less about attachment and more about a hurtful mistake.

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