With all the famous cheaters in the headlines these days - SC Governor Mark Sanford, former Senator John Edwards, and Tiger Woods, to name a few - it's hard not to hear the news and wonder: Could it happen to me? Would I know if the most important person in my life was leading a double one? Or, if it has happened, to ask: Why? Was it my fault? Am I not as attractive as I used to be?
Cheating erodes everything we think we know about our relationship and our partner, and trying to rebuild the trust cheating obliterates can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. So, we've put together the latest science on why men cheat (you'll be surprised), 3 surefire tips to spot a two-timer, and advice on how to begin repairing the damage.
Born to Cheat?
More than 50% of men in relationships cheat, and some experts believe monogamy may not be part of a man's nature. They argue that, for thousands of years males, were driven to seek out multiple partners in order to have as many children as possible and continue their genetic legacy. Afterall, they say, 95% of the animal kingdom is not monogamous, so how can it be part of the natural order of things?
New research may support this theory. Scientists in Sweden recently discovered that about 40% of men have 1 or 2 copies of a specific gene that makes them twice as likely to have a troubled marriage as men without it. The gene in question affects the way men produce an attachment hormone called vasopressin. Released by the same section of the brain that puts out oxytocin (the breastfeeding and bonding hormone), vasopressin is important in kidney function and blood pressure, but may also play a role in bonding 2 people together.
Still other studies have shown that high testosterone levels, which decline after getting married and surge as divorce approaches, have been linked to cheating.
The Emotional Side
Other researchers put more stock in the psychological motivations for seeking sex outside marriage. In a recent survey, most men who cheat claim they aren't just looking for a sexual conquest. In fact, 92% of them said that they were sexually satisfied at home and 88% said the person with whom they were cheating was not more attractive than their wife. Surprisingly, more than 90% said the main reason they stray is because they don't feel appreciated by their spouse.
The Friend Connection
Another surprising finding of the study was that 77% of cheating men had best friends who cheated, compared to less than half of the faithful men, suggesting that there is a pack mentality when it comes to monogamy.
5 Signs Your Man Is Cheating:
You're having less sex than usual
He's avoiding contact with you
He's criticizing you more
He's starting fights
He's often away from home
3 Ways to Find Out
Unfortunately, asking your partner if he's cheating is unlikely to help you discover the truth. According to a recent survey, only 7% of men fess up the first time they are asked, which means it could be up to you to sniff out the truth.
Read their body language All of us have a baseline set of traits - the pitch of our voice, our posture, how often we make eye contact, etc. If you confront your spouse about cheating and notice a significant change in these behaviors, it's a sign they are being untruthful with you.
Listen to their words Even if he doesn't want to give up the goods, something inside of him does because when people lie they tend to use phrases that reveal the truth.
Being truthful: "I know you don't believe that I'm telling the truth."
Lying: "I know you think I'm lying."
Getting angry and defensive is a way of pushing you away and getting off topic. And watch out for the use of character testimony - bringing someone else to his defense, rather than just answering the question, it's a sign he has something to hide.
Look out for laughter, which shows discomfort and is inappropriate to the seriousness of the topic. Taking the subject lightly is another sign he doesn't want to delve into it.
Finally, if someone is telling the truth, a simple "no" says it all. If they need to go into hyperbole or generalizations: "I would never cheat on you," they're dodging the question. The word never is trying to convince you. The word "no" is just answering the question.
Body language It may sound weird, but we face our belly button toward people we like, admire, and trust. If you confront your spouse and notice that he turns his midsection away from you (say, toward the door or the exit) it's a sign that he subconsciously wants out of the situation.
We lean in to situations we like and are interested in. We lean back and move away from ones that scare or displease us. If he is creating physical distance in the conversation, he's trying to create emotional distance on the topic.
No Matter What, Follow Your Gut
All the signs in the world are not as insightful as the feeling you have inside you. If something doesn't seem right, it's time to start a conversation. Maybe you'll be lucky and address the problem before it escalates to cheating. At the very least, you will begin the process of getting to the truth and trying to rebuild.
Love After Cheating
Experts say that having a sense of remorse is a critical prerequisite for a man to reform. If his attitude is cavalier or dismissive of the damage he has caused you, it's a sign that he is not taking the issue seriously or committing to change. If he does express remorse and accepts responsibility for what he did, there's hope that counseling and working on your marriage can repair the damage and make it stronger.
Be STD Smart
Most men who cheat continue to have sex with their wives, leaving them vulnerable to getting a sexually transmitted disease. Many gynecologists suggest that women get checked yearly to make sure they're healthy. Several significant STDs (including HIV) produce little to no symptoms but have huge ramifications for your health and fertility. And if you suspect that your spouse is not being faithful, make an appointment to get checked out right away.
What You Can Do
Men may appear to be macho characters who need little appreciation, but it turns out that many married men need to know that they are doing a good job. Knowing that they are succeeding at being a good spouse will inspire them to continue being the partner you want them to be and help them feel fulfilled at home.
Live a Marriage-Centered Life
Your relationship often comes last in a long list of priorities. We're working so hard to be good at our jobs and be great parents that we forget that our relationship takes work too. You wouldn't give your boss or your child only 10 minutes of every day when they need much more, and yet that's how much most married couples talk with each other on a daily basis. There should be the same kind of work ethic in your marriage that there is in every other part of your life.