The # 1 Reason Men Cheat
Unmet Emotional Needs
What will blow your mind is something that really surprised me when I first begun researching and treating unfaithful husbands. Behind the tension and the drama of affair discovery, is a man who truly desires a loving monogamous relationship. Monogamy is still the goal of the unfaithful man! So unlike the perceived view of the cheating man being a womanizer who can’t get enough sex, here is the man in front of me looking for answers on how to save his relationship, and if it can’t be saved, how can he ensure this never happens again so he can be in a loving monogamous relationship.
In all the couples who have taken the 7- step infidelity recovery course to date, and have completed the emotional needs questionnaire, we have collected over 3000 responses to the Emotional Needs Questionairees.
Unfaithful husbands (Age 40+) reported the #1 reason they cheated:
54% Emotional Connection
37% “I feel under appreciated by my wife. She was not sufficiently thoughtful and caring towards me.”
17% “I feel emotionally disconnected from my wife.”
29% Sexual Connection
Did you think the #1 reason was sex? If I published the entire study here, you will see that sex is the #2 reason. But it is so important to understand that sex is NOT the #1 reason. I will discuss the difference between the sexes further below, as it is very important to understand how men and women understand and process LOVE. I wrote about this in length in my Amazon best selling c-authored book “Reboot Your Relationship.”
Most men, want respect and to feel appreciated. I will highlight this for people who are just reading bold face words….
Understanding emotional needs is important for both the individual, and for the couple. In long-term relationships, the importance of individuals feelings and emotions gets pushed aside to serve more functional needs. Over the years, many men state that they feel unrecognized and unappreciated by their wives.
Typical responses from unfaithful husbands:
” I am nothing more than a paycheck”
“I don’t even get a thank you”
“I am not even acknowledge when I walk through the door”
“If I tell my wife she looks good, she thinks that I’m asking for sex. That’s not always true.”
“My wife has not complimented me in over 25 years”
“I couldn’t even hug my wife before the affair.”
The truth about the other woman
The truth about the other woman and the affair relationship, especially in the beginning of the affair relationship, is that the other woman makes him feel special. She reminded him how good it felt to be appreciated. She talks in a feminine voice, and always has nice things to say (or she talks about the things which she knows he is interested in talking about.) She makes life light and fun, if only for a minute.
Remembering that most affairs begin in an environment where two people get to spend time together, completing tasks, enjoying activities, relaxing etc. Workplaces, friends, church, neighbors etc are all common starting points of long term affairs. People are generally pleasant in these environments, and don’t have the stress of functional activities or boring daily “operational” tasks to perform as they do at home.
From a client:
I can’t remember the last time my wife complimented me. Rebecca started at my work place as a receptionist, and I know her job was to be polite to everyone who walked through the office door. Still when she said “good morning Mike, that shirt looks great on you. It really brings out the color in your eyes,” that really meant something to me. Every morning when I got dressed I thought about which shirt I should wear. Thinking maybe I’ll get a compliment again if I wear another good shirt. Sometimes Rebecca would notice and other times, she would just nod and say good morning. It was a few months later when Rebecca sat next me at lunch. Again she complimented my eyes, and told me how lucky my wife was. To talk about it now sounds so silly, but to have another person notice me and make me feel special with a simple compliment was what I looked forward to every day…..”
There seams to be a point in time, when the wife stops or slows down her communication of appreciation to her husband. For example, commonly children are now taking the time and attention away from the husband. Make no mistake, even if the husband wants the children, he stills wants & needs the emotional need to be fulfilled.
Affairs happen when another person begins to satisfy the needs which the spouse once satisfied.
In most cases, the affair partner is not “the one,” or sort out specifically for her beauty or some other ability. Just that she was available when the need had to be satisfied.
- The need for appreciation
- The need for communication
- The need for recreational companionship
- The need for intimacy
- The need for sex
Over the years, couples create their own communication styles or “Relationship Dances.” These patterns become so predicable, some personality types will stop being their true self. Other personality types will use arguing as a form of communicating. The affair is one way to correct the relationship dance.
What does your husband want? Consider your man. He wants you to appreciate him with gestures that are meaningful to him. What would he say of the things you could tell him an do to show him he’s appreciated? Most men cannot verbalize what they want clearly. You already know what makes him happy and how to show him appreciation. For some reason it has slowdown or stopped altogether over the years.
Appreciating your husband
List ways you think your husband would want you to show him your appreciation:
How can I show appreciation verbally?
How can I show appreciation physically?
How can I show appreciation through thoughtful gestures?
The Four Types Of Love
There is a huge difference between how women feel and experience love and how a man feels and experiences it. It’s been said that men need sex in order to feel love, and women need to feel loved in order to have sex.
A trite generality, perhaps, but men and women do have foundational differences and completely opposite ways of feeling and experiencing the emotion of love. Beyond that, there are four different expressions of love; each type must be nurtured for a relationship to continue to be successful. We’ve broken these down into four basic categories.
The Four Types of Love:
Friendship love. It’s not simply the love, but the liking of the other person that creates a bond. Do you like your partner? The liking of a person is not just compiling a “wish list” of attributes, but having a connection that is mutual. You can like someone and not love them and you can love someone and not like them. But, when you like them, it certainly allows for the opportunity for a deeper love. Friendships are trusting. Being vulnerable with another person we trust, makes a person feel safe. Think about your best friend for a moment. Most people can confide with their best friend, because they feel safe being vulnerable with them. When we can be vulnerable AND safe, the connection is strengthened. We gain some degree of strength (when we need it the most) from a connection that allows us to be ourselves. Good friends allow and encourage us to be ourselves. Our best friends like us for a reason. That reason is based in trust.
Passionate love is the type of love that everybody knows; the hot, erotic physical love we feel when we experience a first kiss, a weekend away and the bliss of sexual intercourse. The chemicals released in our body during passionate love are the same ones released when we are high on narcotics.
Being “addicted to love” is not too far off from the truth.
The challenge with relying solely on passionate love as the foundation for a relationship is that passion often masks the subtle quirks, offensive habits or irritating qualities of the person. “Oh, I don’t mind that John smokes that much, he is so good to me!” or “Wow, Linda has such a fantastic body! I don’t care that she gripes a bit . . . it’s worth the hot sex we have.”
It’s been said that love is blind. However, it is only passionate, endorphin-based love that causes love blindness. When you move beyond passion, your vision improves.
Admiration love. Mutual respect and friendship are the reasons two people after 30 years of marriage can still get up every morning and feel lucky to have the same person next to them. For example, during a recent WE3 workshop, I was talking about the concept of love maps (we’ll refer to them later in this book) and the quality of admiring. A friend of mine, Mike, was leaving my seminar early after he finished talking about this concept. Being a professional golfer, I assumed he was heading for the golf course. But when I asked him where he was going, and he said, “I am attending my wife’s art exhibition.”
“Oh, really?” I said.
I asked Mike if he loved art, and he said, “No, I actually hate art, but I love to watch my wife’s face light up and her body come alive when she’s living out of her passion. When she comes to life like that, it totally turns me on!”
Did this man love his wife? Of course. By attending a boring art exhibition in order to see her bask in joy was a clear statement of love on a higher level.
In order to start, develop, grow, and thrive in any relationship, all four love styles need to be understood, embraced and practiced.
Imagine if you are clicking on an icon on your computer, and your computer isn’t working the way it should. Many relationships are treated like broken computers. We trade them in for a new model.
However, our files and history are on that computer. We always bring those along with us. While the shiny, new computer looks tempting, it is easier to simply upgrade your operating system, instead of discarding the entire computer.
The same is true of your relationship.
When you simply upgrade your operating system, you get to keep all your files, but the manner in which you operate improves.
Unconditional love. Unconditional love is based on commitment and action. When love is based on these qualities, nearly any storm is weathered and an individual’s values are shared equally. When both people have unconditional love in their hearts and in their character, they still have challenges, of course, but quitting is never an option. The value of commitment is placed above and beyond the passion (or lack thereof).
Unconditional love is more than commitment. Unconditional love is based on a love with no conditions. The love itself is revered. The person is respected, but if their love were an entity, it would be placed ahead of the person. Unconditional love leads naturally to connection for connection’s sake and admiration. In fact, when you love someone unconditionally, it means you accept their faults and defects. Unconditional love does not dismiss passionate love, nor are we placing these four styles in any type of hierarchy. Each one must be understood and practiced.
BONUS: Beyond unconditional love, there is Wabi Sabi love. Wabi-Sabi is an ancient principle of Japanese culture that involves honoring the imperfections of the other person. In Japan, if a treasured vase is cracked, instead of throwing it away, the vase is placed on a pedestal, in a museum and a light is focused on the crack! In some cases they would even inlay 24-carat gold into the crack to accentuate and honor it. Instead of replacing the vase, as is common in many cultures, the Japanese honor the imperfection.
We all have imperfections and cracks. Instead of ignoring, showing contempt, or hiding the imperfection, it is held up and honored. We teach couples at our WE3 retreats to go from annoyed to enjoyed by learning to honor each other’s imperfections. While it sounds awkward at first, once you acknowledge your own imperfections, it doesn’t take long to embrace a fresh and revered perspective with your partner’s imperfections.
Once you master your basic loves styles, you will be able to reboot your relationship as easily as you reboot your computer and be open to each other regardless of any relationship-style computer crashes. It is only through the combination of the four styles that long-lasting love and a highly connected relationship can thrive.
How do we get there? Our WE3 experiential programs give you all of the strategies and tools to thrive in your relationship, regardless of the depths of dysfunction it may be in. We’ll cover the complete process throughout this book. Those who qualify may be invited to experience a life-changing weekend at one of our exclusive resort retreats. As a precursor to the WE3 system, let us discuss two elements that are critical to the path: vulnerability and trust.
Prior to embracing deep and long-lasting romance, the components of trust and vulnerability are two of the things that bring people together and create the recipe for love.
What Makes People Fall In Love
What is the difference between two people who fall madly in love and two people who are just friends? Beyond the obvious qualities of physical attraction and mutual chemistry, what creates the deepest emotional intimacy is the level of courage it takes to be completely vulnerable with the other person. For either gender, displaying your imperfections for potential ridicule and revealing your authentic emotions for someone else requires courage and trust. Your fears, pains, dreams, and passions are on display in a way you would never dare to share without being confident that sharing those vulnerabilities won’t be exploited.
Some people have described love as a form of courage. Certainly, bearing your soul requires an amount of courage. When you are willing to get past the ambiguities of life and say, “I love you,” you have taken the first step onto the dance floor of being vulnerable.
What makes people fall in love? What are the mechanisms of this dance?
As a general rule, women are more comfortable being vulnerable than men. Boys are taught not to cry, and girls are conditioned to communicate emotionally.
This isn’t just psychological fluff; there is actual neuroscience behind it. When testosterone enters the womb as a baby is being formed, it will split a boy’s brain right to left, leaving more of a compartmentalization between their logical and emotional centers. Women, on the other hand, have a stronger connection between the logical brain and their emotional brain. This leaves women with a need to connect emotionally. Consequently, they also retain a fear of disconnection. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more shame-based and rein in their emotions more readily than women.
When a man gets introduced to a problem or something negative, they normally feel a deep seated urge to “fix it.” If they cannot, their masculinity is challenged and they feel imperfect, defective, and lacking in control. A woman, on the other hand, has a need to open up to another, share for the sake of sharing and connection. When it comes to a relationship, a man who understands this need will not only allow her to open up to him but, when he feels safe, will open up to her as well. This mutual vulnerability and trust always creates a bond.
The vulnerability/trust bond need not be escalated to love, of course. Friendships, business relationships and child/parent relationships are all based on a foundation of trust and vulnerability. While varying degrees of trust and vulnerability may not affect a non-romantic relationship, for a romantically involved couple, however, the ability to be vulnerable and trust is paramount to growing that relationship into a solid union.
Trust is foundational from birth. It becomes internalized very early around the secure attachments we form as infants. When we have such secure attachments, we can securely connect with others.
Research with infants has show us the building blocks of attachments and trust in the brain. MRI brain scans have mapped an infant’s experience of trust when there is comfort, trust and proximity to the mother.
Reactive attachment disorders, where babies are abandoned or rejected, show quite a different scan. The scans display a pattern of large black spots on the brain map; these correspond gaps create a hard-wired difficulty with trust and their ability to create attachments. If our brains were simply computers, these black spots would be significant glitches in the programming.
Trust is our safety net. “Will you trust me if I fall?” “Can I be 100% open and honest with you without getting hurt?” Neuroscientists have discovered that the human brain is a social brain that constantly searches for safety, comfort, and connection. When those qualities are present and experienced, trust follows naturally.
How trust is engendered differs between a man and a woman. Women normally look for 5 foundational factors:
Men, on the other hand, trust for a woman who:
– Is Compassionate
– Connects with him physically
– Validates him
– Respects him, his masculinity, and his ability to provide.
Mutual trust is reached with these two viewpoints converge. A woman will respect a man when he fulfills her needs. In turn, that respect makes the man more prone to trust her and provide more of her needs. Trust is similar to two magnets; properly aligned they will pull each other closer with ever-increasing force, but face them the wrong way in and they will continue to repel.
Connecting: What Each Wants
Generally speaking, men and women want something different from the other. Women want face-to-face communication, an intimate connection. Men, on the other hand, often want a playmate, someone to be there in their adventures and other activities. He needs a companion and a cheerleader.
When there is gender-based conflict, men are far more likely to emotionally stonewall the relationship. A man’s silence is often perceived as rejection. Rejection creates disconnection. Disconnection creates more fear. Fear causes more complaints. More complaints create more withdraw.
The vicious cycle spirals down.
The silence-rejection-disconnection-fear-complaint-silence cycle is similar to a computer program stuck in a logic loop. The relationship sits there like a computer — doing nothing but eating up memory and computer resources until you get fed up and power it off.
A good connection is formed by equal amounts of love and respect. She needs love, connection, and belonging, he needs respect, significance, and to feel needed by her. The first step to interrupt the downward spiral is to recognize it. Once recognized, you can reboot your love machine.
Chemistry Of Love
The physical chemistry behind love is also called limerence. Limerence can be explained chemically by oxytocin being released with touching, cuddling and sexual contact. Research shows this results in the “reward” part of the brain lighting up as it’s being flushed with dopamine. Couples in limerence can continue to feel the effects from 12 months to 2 years. Once the limerance dissapates, many people fall “out” of love. Serial daters and short marriages are often victims of this limited type of love.
In order to build a meaningful relationship past this endorphin-induced love, couples must build strong commitments, emotional connections, and an effective manner to resolve conflicts. Limerence isn’t necessarily a shallow or insignificant type of love, but limerence without the other types of love won’t be strong enough to support a long-term relationship.
Closeness is both physical and emotional. Sometimes, a good cure for fading limerence can be a simple touch. Often, a physical reassurance will fight off the uncertainty and anxiety of disconnection. The same example can be said for emotional closeness. Reaching out and “touching” your partner emotionally on a consistent basis will do wonders for your connection.
For example, suppose circumstances occur and you don’t communicate for a day or more. If this is out of the normal closeness your partner is accustomed to, you may get a, “Why didn’t you call me?” This isn’t a battle for dominance or blame, it is a fight for connection.
In order to remain close, get closer. In order to connect fully, keep connecting.
To connect without words, experience each through playful experiences. You put your cold feet against your wife’s legs in bed at night and she’s laughing telling you to “Stop that!” It’s light fun, connecting through humor, and allows defense mechanisms to melt away.
Men in particularly tend to connect more through play and sports, just as they did as boys. If a woman leaves a message, “We need to talk” in man’s mind, that is code for “I’m in trouble.” He may instantly withdraw behind his emotional barriers. Instead of drawing a line in the sand, pick up a frisbee, head outside and ask some questions. All of us are more likely to chat when sensitive subjects are discussed in an open and non-confrontational manner. Play. Laugh. Have fun.
Ah…sex. The main event. After a couple gets over the awkwardness of learning what makes the other’s motor run, sex is certainly one of the more exciting areas of intimate relationships.
Relationships based on sex can also disintegrate quickly when it fails. Most successful relationships also have good sexual compatibility. Sexual intimacy keeps the oxytocin pumping. As we’ve discussed, however, limerence, by its very nature, does not improve with age. Add a few children, career challenges, and “father time” to the equation and you’ll understand that sexual desire and sexual connection is never constant.
Sex without love is never a good long-term plan. Sex with increased emotional intimacy raises a couples connection and bond. In order to raise the bar sexually, couples should explore their mutually vulnerable areas. Sexual vulnerability is not much different than emotional vulnerability and it’s cousin-trust. Sexual connection increases with increased vulnerability and trust.
While all human beings require an amount of certainty, we also need, to varying degrees, an amount of uncertainty. For many women, the desire for certainty is larger than uncertainty. In the bedroom, a woman definitely needs to feel safe and secure in order to open up to a man. While a man’s masculine tendency of adventure and uncertainty is generally higher, he must be aware of the feminine requirement for safety (certainty) before leading her into the adventure of uncertainty.
Sexually, knowing how to make each other orgasm is one of the first milestones of an intimate relationship. However, being able to flip that switch with a new dance is what makes the oxytocin flow. If you don’t change things up and continue to play the same tune over and over again, sex becomes a tradition, an act and even a chore instead of a thrilling dance of discovery, intimacy and the ultimate dance of closeness.
Balance each other’s needs for certainty and uncertainty. It’s fine to employ your favorite position because you know it works, but it’s equally playful and exciting to try the “Padlock” Kama Sutra position and see what happens!
You may be experiencing some or all 7 elements of love.
Regardless of where you are in your relationship journey, keep all 7 in mind as you explore, build and strengthen your relationships.
– Connecting: What Each Wants
– Chemistry of Love
Neglecting your relationship is as good as destroying it.
Source: Reboot Your Relationship, 2013. Whitcomb, J & Ellis, S.