"Why do Men Cheat?" is a really hard question!
“Why do men cheat” is a really hard question because it’s usually being asked after someone has been betrayed by their partner or spouse having cheated on them and is in immense pain and disbelief. Often, what’s really being asked is “What’s going on and how could you do this to me?”
When you first discover infidelity, you’re likely to be in disbelief and shock. It’s challenging to synthesize the painful news of the betrayal with everything else you know about the person. Your whole reality has been turned upside down and it feels like the world is spinning. What felt like truth and reality is now false. The person you thought you knew everything about now feels like a complete stranger. You might know them as a loving partner, a wonderful and attentive father, an upstanding person in the community. Now you are being faced with information which seemingly contradicts all of this and instead reveals someone who is dishonest, selfish, and secretive. It’s very difficult to absorb this information immediately.
This is very similar to a situation where you might play a vigorous game of tennis with someone and 10 minutes after you’ve finished the game and parted ways, you are told that your opponent is dead. It’s next to impossible to immediately absorb the information. Here too, with betrayal trauma, finding out that that your reality is really false, doesn’t sink in immediately and seems surreal. It’s common to feel like you’re in a bad dream or someone else’s life. Often, partners who have been betrayed walk around in a fog for weeks or months, unable to function at their normal levels of functioning, sometimes very fearful of other types of change, or even feeling exhausted or bodily pain or a whole other host of symptoms.
Addiction & Infidelity
It’s natural to ask the question “Why did he cheat?” or “Why do men (or women) cheat?” and to want and need answers. It is possible to get answers as to why a specific person cheated and to understand it. To be clear - the answers don’t make it okay and are do not justify painful, dishonest behavior. They don’t take away the immense pain that you’re feeling but they can help you have some context for what’s happening in your life.
It Takes Time
It’s going to take time to get those answers. Most people, when confronted with their infidelity, especially if it’s part of a larger addictive pattern, honestly don’t know why they did what they did. They may offer answers when pressed with the “why” or “how could you” questions but the answers often aren’t satisfactory and don’t add up or feel defensive.
Find Support in an Intimacy Therapist
The first step towards getting answers to these questions is getting a trained therapist for the person in your life who has betrayed you so that they can begin to have better insight into their own behaviors.
The second thing you can do for yourself in this painful place is to find support for yourself with a trained therapist who can help you understand what’s happening to you. You aren’t the problem. You didn’t cause this crisis. But you do need support because it’s really painful to deal with betrayal trauma alone. You might feel you can’t tell your family or friends because of feeling shame that this has happened to you or because you want to protect your partner who has hurt you in case you decide to stay with them. You might be feeling that you have to deal with a million questions that have come up after discovering infidelity and betrayal. All of this is true but probably the best thing you can do is to get yourself some professional support during this process. Find a therapist who is specially trained in dealing with betrayal trauma and infidelity so that you can have support and someone who will walk with you through this terrible, painful process.