Can Handsome Men Stay Faithful?

Combine insecurity with abundant opportunity, the prevailing wisdom goes, and every man’s a cheater … right?

Part one of a two-part series

For the past two weeks, every day has brought a new article analyzing the seemingly perennial question of why men cheat. The sad saga of Anthony Weiner serves as the latest catalyst for all this punditry. Blame it on spring fever, but the pop psychology is particularly intense these days. In Jezebel, we read that narcissism is the real instigator of infidelity; in the Huffington Post, that the problem is the aphrodisiac of power—or, from the same site, that the problem is the special inability of the handsome to resist temptation.

These op-eds all share a similar theme. Straight men who possess “social capital” in one form or another (good looks, political power, fame, charisma, wealth) are intensely attractive to women, who (so we are told) are aware that men with this kind of social capital are scarce. And faced with this onslaught of available, attractive women, even married men with everything to lose can’t say no. Combine male sexual frailty with abundant opportunity, the prevailing wisdom goes, and every man’s a cheater.

The thinly disguised implication is that male fidelity is less a matter of virtue than of an absence of opportunity. “Those who can will,” the articles suggest, “and those who don’t are usually those who can’t.” For those of us who believe that men can be better (and in many instances, are better) than the way we’re portrayed in the media, that’s a frustrating message.

Part of the problem is that we don’t teach men how to be faithful to their wives or girlfriends. The culture says “don’t cheat,” and then either enables cheating or fails to equip guys with the tools to make sure they don’t break their promises. That doesn’t mean that the blame for infidelity can be sloughed off onto “society” any more than it can be blamed on testosterone. It does mean that men can do more to help other men who want to stay faithful do just that.

I identify a bit with Anthony Weiner, as I suspect quite a few men do. I was a bright, nerdy kid in high school with grades as high as my dating prospects were low. The girls on whom I had crushes considered me the dreaded “nice guy, but”—the sort in whom they felt comfortable confiding their own stories of heartache over sexy, tough, bad boys. As the pop psychologists would say, I had low social/sexual capital.


In college, things changed. I lost a little weight and got a more flattering pair of glasses. I also found a confidence that honestly seemed to materialize out of nowhere. I remember the shock I felt at 20, standing at a party, clutching a red cup of beer in my hand, and realizing that the pretty girl standing in front of me was flirting with me. Like so many guys who bloom a bit late, I went through a lengthy and regrettable period where my main focus was on seeing just how much my growing social capital could get me.

I was married and divorced twice before I was 30, and chronically unfaithful through both marriages. I wouldn’t call myself a sex addict, but like Anthony Weiner, was hungry—even desperate—for validation. The actual sex I had with women was less important than the thrill I got from knowing that someone new was willing to sleep with me. I was chasing affirmation more than orgasm. The thrill wasn’t in getting close to new naked skin, the thrill was in knowing that yet another person found me desirable. It was as if I were trying to collect evidence that I wasn’t that nerdy, awkward boy whom everyone had teased in high school.

Just as Anthony Weiner was more interested in having women praise his naked body than in seeing their nudie pics, I cared as much about being told I was “hot” as I did about sex itself. (I wrote about this missing narrative of male desire for the Good Men Project in this post: “The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?“)

At the same time, like so many men who cheat, I did want a monogamous relationship. I was in love with both of my first two wives and hungry for the stability that marriage could provide. I just had no clue how to deal with that gnawing hunger for sexual validation. In order to “work,” the validation needed to come from someone new each time. I’d make a promise to stop cheating, and then I’d find myself in a situation with another woman, and my compulsive curiosity seemed to take over. As self-destructive and joyless as it usually was, it felt like I had no choice.


What I finally figured out—after two divorces, a lot of therapy, and some intense Twelve Step work—was that infidelity wasn’t something that just “happened.” I learned that there was always a critical moment right before I “lost control.” That critical moment wasn’t when I kissed a woman who wasn’t my wife; rather, it was when I first started flirting with her. I had to learn to analyze my pattern (and every cheater, like every addict, has a pattern) to find out the exact moment where a non-sexual, normal exchange slipped into something different.

But it’s not just about putting up boundaries. Staying out of bars and cutting off your Internet connection won’t do a damn thing to keep a man faithful to his spouse if he doesn’t address the core issue: his own hunger for validation. It doesn’t matter whether a man has high or low “social capital”; sooner or later, if a guy doesn’t work through his own sense of inadequacy, he’ll cheat on whatever woman with whom he’s in a monogamous relationship.

Hot guys, rich guys, and charismatic guys usually have an easier time finding those temporary hits of affirmation. But that doesn’t mean they’ll find it harder to give up cheating or harder to be faithful. Those of us who were “lucky enough” to have enough sexual capital to misuse are often the ones who can figure out relatively early that we won’t ever find what we’re looking for from random hook-ups and extramarital intrigues. And though there’s not much news in reporting that a senator or a rock star marked another year of faithfulness to his wife, more than a few men with “high social capital” have learned how to match their public language with their private lives.

I don’t know the current “buying power” of my sexual capital. But as sometimes happens, the other day, I got a smile and an old, familiar “vibe” from a woman in (of all stereotypical places) the produce aisle at Whole Foods. I gave her a polite grin and kept right on going. The temptation flared up to find out if she was just being friendly or was genuinely interested, and I quieted it. “You don’t need to know what you don’t need to know,” I said to myself, repeating the mantra I learned many years ago when I first started to learn the basic tricks for avoiding “slippery situations.”

Sexually exclusive marriage isn’t for everyone. We live in a society that has increasingly viable alternatives to state-sanctioned monogamy. Fewer and fewer of us can claim to have been forced into something that we didn’t really want and for which we weren’t ready. That means that those of us who want to be and stay married need to realize that the greatest impetus to cheat isn’t sexual frustration or romantic disillusionment or even the easy opportunities that seem to come most easily to the handsome and the powerful. The real problem is that relentless craving for validation.

The solution lies in challenging the men in our lives to get past that adolescent hunger for affirmation, that insatiable longing to know what they don’t need to know. And until we do that, we haven’t confronted the root cause of the infidelity epidemic.


In part two, next week, insight and advice on the details of staying faithful from some remarkable married men.

–Photo srqpix/Flickr

About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. I see my own reflection… 🙂 thanks for validating this mental inadequacy Mr. Hugo, but can you tell me is there really any man in the world, who is so completely in love with his wife, the thought of all this inadequacy and psychological validation even doesn’t step into his mind, I am asking this coz I wanna know, if this is a thought that comes up due to growing up improperly?

    When I am in the company of my wife, I don’t get that thought at all, but when I step out to do my work or keep moving, this inadequacy just pops up and creates such a havoc in my head, I feel like it would be better if my brain just exploded and my life ended.

    Is there a way other than actively monitoring and controlling or using sturdy diversional tactics? Is it an impractical thought to be a man who doesn’t get diverted even a little from the call of the lure. My wife thinks, the thought of someother woman in my head is a sign of dissatisfaction from her, I don’t even know how to answer her in this?

    Why can’t women just accept that it is just a call of the lure? It is very easy for me to seperate love and lust and drive my head both ways, the fact that my wife doesn’t accept it drives me splits….

  2. I am a man and I disagree with some parts of the article. Although in general men would think that they would scored when they bring someone home from a bar (or a grocery store), in general they would later realize that she is a bad apple as well, which could stem from many reasons. She could just be as arbitrary in flirting as the man does, she could be desperate, she could be on a rebound, she could be just as needing validation as the guy does. Then the man would feel like he has not really “scored”. Then he would go out to find another woman, with the same, but faulty approach, and again get the bad apple. The truth is even though you are super rich you won’t scored a good woman that easily. You may score a pretty woman who is going to use up all your wealth in exchange for being with you, but I wouldn’t call that a healthy and desirable relationship. It doesn’t mean it would be easier if you weren’t rich, but my point is that a cheater often times approach dating in a “wrong” way and leads back to the same cycle – and does not realize it. This is also a very typical of celebrity’s approach in dating as most of them are narcissistic – craving to “score” – and also driven by the media – and they cheat with each other. The truth is that there are plenty successful and good looking men who have settled down happily. They are not cheating not because they can’t, but because they have reached the satisfaction and have had self-control. In general, there are less divorce rate and more satisfaction in a marriage in upper class. More divorce and less satisfaction in lower and middle class. – which may also lead to further insecurity and cheating behavior.

  3. Answer is yes – my husband is good-looking and has been faithful for 17 years (as have I) although he is a big flirt.

  4. you can only resist enough, the problem isn’t validation, its that you didn’t have a period in your life to sow y our wild oats, you were married twice in before your 30th birthday? 20 is not a late bloomer, most people have no idea who they are at that age let alone in your teens….

    what you did was actually fairly normal, men in my opinion need to experience that period of “fooling around” before settling down, if you don’t have that you will always wonder and crave it

    • “what you did was actually fairly normal, men in my opinion need to experience that period of “fooling around” before settling down, if you don’t have that you will always wonder and crave it”

      Good point, kaper. This also goes for women, which is why many ‘experiment’ during youth. It’s better than always wondering or feeling trapped or like you missed out on something.

  5. wow-I wish I had read this 15-20 years ago when I was actively looking for that validation. Incredibly well stated and articulate article. I still desire the validation, but no longer actively look for it since I got married 10 years ago

  6. What would you all say to the man who has cheated a few times over 17 years but has flirted with it alot. What would you say if this man is in a relationship that offers very little validation. My wife has “instigated” sex fewer than 5 times in 17 years. Is that something I should be able to live with?

  7. Cyrus Tab says:

    Great article. But it is flawed, in at least one respect: it operates under the presumption that monogamy is natural and that faithfulness should be, by nature anyway, the rule. However, if one is to surmise that monogamy is NOT always natural (as suggested by some scientific studies), then it is the so-called “faithful” men who are behaving abnormally. An appropriate article could explore the lack of security faithful men grew up with, which has led them to crave the certainty often associated with monogamy.

  8. “Hot guys, rich guys, and charismatic guys usually have an easier time finding those temporary hits of affirmation.” Gee, that’s exactly what I was saying in “Hot or Not: Why Women Shouldn’t Marry Attractive Men.” And I got skewered for it! Because people thought I said, “and all hot guys, rich guys, and charismatic guys will act on it,” which I did not say (nor believe). Oh well.

    It’s good you found your “tipping point” — the flirting. But, that isn’t everyone’s tipping point. I flirt, but I would never cheat on my boyfriend because I don’t want to hurt him or lose or ever have to lie to him.

    And i don’t think that hunger for affirmation is just a guy thing — we all are walking around slightly wounded and wanting someone to think we’re as special as we think we are — or would like to be. The first place to look for that, though, is within one’s self.

  9. What post-feminism psychobabble… Sometimes people want sex for the sex or want variety for obvious reasons and not some grand, deep, Freudian drama. I happen to be happily married and monogamous in my own case fortunately (I have a great wife). But enough of this BS, people often like sex for sex’s sake for god sake.

  10. Anonymous Male says:

    I think the most important thing Schwyzer wrote here is that exclusive relationships are not for everyone. There are alternatives that may be better for some people than a monogamous marriage. Being exclusive can be challenging, and it comes with trade-offs that are worth it to some people and not worth it to others, depending on the individual. Those bits of wisdom seems very commonsensical to me, though I’m sure a lot of people would find them controversial.

    Note to self to shop more often for produce….

  11. One very critical element that I think has been missed in this discussion is the societal pressure for men to get married.

    It has long been established that the single biggest thing a man can do in his personal life to benefit his professional one is to get married and “settle down.” In the corporate world, employers greatly prefer married men to single ones when higher positions open up. Whether their preference is backed up by statistics or not, that puts a lot of pressure on aspiring men who, in their heart of hearts, might rather stay single.

    Even in Hollywood or pro sports, men who are married get much more (positive) media attention than those who are playing the field. Tiger Woods is the perfect example since it was his wholesome “family man” image that was as much a reason for his endorsement empire as his accomplishments on the links.

    In politics, a family is pretty much mandatory if a man aspires to public office.

    So where does this leave talented ambitious men who aren’t really interested in marriage but know full well the societal pressure placed on them to get hitched? I wonder how many of these high status men would have never gotten married in the first place had it not been for society’s expectation that they do just that?

    • Anonymous Male says:

      Excellent point here. It’s like society makes political figures get married, lifts them up, and then tears them apart when they fail. Well, sort of tears them apart. I wonder if celebrities really are held to a higher standard than the average person or if infidelity is actually more forgiven when you’re rich and famous and powerful. (I saw Bill Clinton on the Oprah show after he was President. The women in the audience absolutely adored him.) And, all the allegations about JFK’s private life have only made him more popular, not less popular.

    • Deborah says:

      The structure and security that marriage provides is necessary for raising children who do not turn out to be malignant narcissists / sociopaths / psychopaths. (Per the UC irvine neuroscientist, whose life study is examining the brains of psychopaths (25% more white matter + no activity behind the occipital bones), and whose own brain is that of a psychopath, and yet he is not one, one’s nurtured childhood and one’s own choices can override one’s genes.)

      Adultery causes divorce. Divorce destroys a child’s nest and his or her ability to trust. it also causes a child to have to dissociate from his or her feelings in order to survive. Those who have had to wall off their feelings, and then this becomes an ingrained neuro-pattern, are, de facto, sociopathic. (And yet there is no financial compensation for adultery – bizarre – and one of the root causes for our mushrooming cultural sociopathy.)

      In addition, children of divorce are4 times as likely to become divorced themselves.

      Humans can absolutely choose to remain monogamous if they care about others more than they care about getting their own rocks off. Caring about others and weighing long term consequences are markers of enlightenment.

      If we do not start re-thinking and then changing behaviors, then our grandchildren will exist in a sociopath eating sociopath world. A scary thought.

  12. wellokaythen says:

    I think Hugo makes a very good point about many men cheating in order to meet some internal need for validation. Obviously that’s not the whole explanation for people not keeping a promise to be monogamous. (And I don’t think Hugo is saying that it’s the main explanation for every case.)

    However, I see some natural limits on this explanation, because if we take this validation argument to its logical endpoint, then I wonder where the committed relationship fits into all this. I mean, if having sex with women is some search for validation, isn’t having a sexual relationship with your wife or girlfriend just another search for validation? Theoretically, if a man were completely whole, self-contained, self-nurtured, self-validated, he would not find any need to have sex with anyone at all. Presumably, if you’re having sex with a woman before you commit to her, in the early days of the relationship, that would be just using her for validation, before some magic point at which you commit and then the need for validation disappears. I guess I’m wondering where the difference is, or where the transition happens. It seems selective to dismiss one relationship as a flawed search for validation and then treat another relationship as simply the way a relationship should work.

    I’ve seen similar kinds of explanations but explaining with brain chemistry why people cheat. There’s the rush of falling in love, the high from someone showing she’s attracted to you. The tempted husband is supposed to recognize that these are just spikes of brain chemicals. But, that leaves me thinking, if falling in love with another woman is “just brain chemicals,” then aren’t all feelings just brain chemicals? Isn’t a commitment to monogamy just a set of brain signals, then?

    • Lindsey says:

      Hugo said that validation is a common motivation for new partners. He didn’t say that it’s that only motivation to have sex ever. People have sex for a variety of reasons that can change at any time. Even within monogamous relationship, there are plenty of motives.

      I would say that the need for validation disappears when you gain a little self esteem and stop looking to other people for validation. If you don’t need validation, you don’t need to have sex for validation. I think the change comes from the realization that whether or not someone is willing to have sex with you doesn’t change who you are as a person.

      There’s been a lot of really flimsy science to explain pretty much everything – what we eat, what jobs we choose, who we like, who we love, etc. etc. Some scientists want nothing more than to boil all of human complexity down to a robot-like transfer of energy. Personally, I think that humans are more than this. Science is not even close to knowing everything there is to know about human motives.

  13. You make a lot of good points here but the thing that hits me right between the eyes is the definition of cheating. Like the vast majority of people in the Western World you define cheating on your partner as having sexual relations with someone who isn’t them. To me the act of cheating isn’t the sex it is the lie.
    We are conditioned from birth to believe that the only healthy kind of relationship is one that involves sexual monogamy. This conditioning has two sides. The first side is the most obvious, if you have a sexual relationship with more than one person at the same time you are a sexual deviant and are not considered to be fit for proper society. The second side of this is a little more sinister; accepting this behaviour in a partner or a friend also marks you as some kind of sad twisted individual.
    As Ethical Slut pointed out sexual monogamy is against human nature in the majority of cases. But as a society we cherish the blinkered view that sexual monogamy is the only way to go. We would rather lie to the people we profess to love and to ourselves as well than change the way we think.
    Many people who are victims of ‘cheating’ state that the sex act is not the painful part, the painful part is the dishonesty. The swinging world is full of people who come to realise that honesty leads to fulfilment and great enjoyment of life.
    I agree with your comments about craving sex as a validation for yourself but as my dearest husband of 14 years pointed out to me it doesn’t make you special it just makes you like everyone else, male and female. What set you aside is you had the ‘capital’ to make it happen. Sadly you felt that you had to lie about it to your wives and girlfriends and so created another problem for yourself.

    • I’ve always had a question about the swinging world or polyamorists — in the long run, doesn’t that lifestyle only benefit men? I’m a woman in my 40’s and my “sexual capital” has already plummeted. If I wanted to be a swinger, I can’t see myself attracting much interest, even though I’m in relatively good shape and reasonably attractive. Dating at this age is tough enough, believe me! Swinging? yikes! On the other hand, older men have an easier time. I imagine myself being in a polyarmous relationship in my 50’s or 60’s, while my significant other gets to go out having fun with a lot of other women while I stay home with the cats and the grandkids. What exactly do I get out of it, is what I’m asking, semi-seriously?

      • Anonymous Male says:

        I’m not poly myself, but I’m guessing that there are plenty of men out there your age who are poly, and many of the younger women interested in multiple partners would prefer younger partners themselves. Seems like it would balance out somewhat. I can only imagine that a willingness to experiment with a polyamorous lifestyle would only INCREASE your “sexual capital.” I don’t know if swinging is a more “competitive” (for lack of a better word) sexual world. My impression is that it is more inclusive and less competitive.

      • OK Well I will preface this by saying I am Australian and the scene here may be a little different from the scene in the US from what I have read and seen, though I don’t think this is the case. My comments are based on my observations through my own personal experience.
        Think about it this way. If the men go into the swing scene to experience a variety of sexual partners and situations then there HAS to be women who they are persuing right? Yes, as in dating there will be particular women who are more popular than others but these women won’t be opening themselves up to every guy who asks. They will choose the ones they are interested in.
        Also, despite what the media tells us, men are not looking for the beautiful, toned, younger woman. Many men like older more experienced women who look after their bodies, and know what they want. This extends to young, fit, good looking guys. From my observations the really beautiful people are not always the popular ones at clubs and parties. The women with the most capital are the ones that are comfortable in their own skin and know what they want.
        What do you get out of it, you ask. You will most likely be very flattered that there will be men who find you attractive. This will increase your confidence in yourself. You will get to try ‘no strings attached’ things you may never have imagined before and in doing so your eyes and your appetite will be opened to the possibilities around you. You could find yourself expressing your sexuality more openly and happily than before. Swinging is not for everyone, if you don’t have a good relationship with your partner then it is not generally a good idea. It is something you do together openly and honestly. It is not about who gets the most or meeting one person’s needs at the expense of the other. The benifits are there for both women and men.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        I’ve never been a swinger, but I am a sociologist. I remember that some of the research shows that while men want to start swinging, their wives often want to continue when the men want out. It turns out that the women are simply more affiliative, and this applies to swinging also.

      • Denis Stone says:

        And why would only your partner have fun with “a lot of other women” only? You could be having fun with a lot of men, even younger and fitter and all of that. Older men have NO easier time, trust me. Only the few dudes who are able to stay fit and hot when older will get many women… while older women, even when not that hot, will get many men wanting them.

  14. Ethical Slut asks a challenging question I look forward to answering at length. Short version: monogamy isn’t for everyone. It needs to be positioned as one option among many, so that it’s chosen rather than settled for as the default. Like every lifestyle, it has its rewards and its costs, and we each need to do the cost-benefit analysis for our own lives and the lives of those we love. The calculus leads me to say, “Yes, I like monogamy, and I think it can be done well.” But as they say, your mileage may vary. And let’s have it be okay to vary.

    More soon.

    Susan, my number is more than my age and less than my IQ (and yeah, I know, those are probably closer than I’d like.) That’s higher than some and less than others. But I’ve had the same experience over and over again with a lot of different people (which is mostly what one-night stands are) and a lot of different experiences with the same amazing woman whom I call my wife. I know which works best for me. Some people find richness and growth in polyamory or other choices, and that’s great too.

  15. Hugh, your article was very thought provoking. I’ve been sitting here trying to decide if I would prefer a man with your history or someone who had been very loyal in proir relationships and had very few partners. A “reformed cheater” may have learned about himself and gotten it out of his system — or maybe not. I admit I would have a hard time trusting someone who cheated in prior relationships. On the other hand, someone who has had only a little experience may feel deprived and want more when the opportunity arises. I dunno. I once dated a guy who was 20 years older than me — he’d been a musician in the 1960’s and he told me he thought he’d had sex with a couple hundred women, probably. That really disturbed me, honestly. I couldn’t see myself ever settling down with a guy like that.

  16. Stephen D says:

    I dunno. There were some things worth thinking about in this article, but I kind of got the impression that one man’s experience or opinion is trying to be mapped upon us all. I sleep with new women out of curiosity. I would cheat on a girl (which I’ve only done once) because she’s not paying attention to my needs, i.e.sexually, emotionally, on a day-to-day level. Not because I need validation. Author, it’s because you need validation that you cheat, not why people cheat in general. It’s too bad you’ve taken a while to know what you can/can’t do, have/don’t have. I did like the article though.

    • Um, you get that when a woman fails to “meet your needs”, it reads as lack of validation to most men, right? I.e., she doesn’t care for me enough/want me enough to have sex with me anymore. She’s telling me that she doesn’t want me, so I’ll go find someone who does. In other words, to validate me – to make me feel valued again. Meeting someone’s emotional and sexual needs on a day-to-day basis IS validation. You just proved the author’s point.

      You can make it just about sexual release, but I think the majority of people, not just men, do get a sense of validation from someone being willing to have sex with them, even f they are not conscious of that cause and effect. Your comment isn’t very introspective.

  17. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Not bad, Hugo. I think I’ve always been more interested in the relationship than willy-nilly sex, but I’ve quite a few partners. I have no norms for other men, but I do feel contempt for “game,” “pick up artists,” and other things like that. The commodification part has no interest for me, nor does swinging. I haven’t been entirely monogamous in my current marriage, but have been for a while now. I do enjoy the buzz of an attraction, particularly at my age.

  18. Dude, I can empathize with your take on cheating having its roots in a need for validation, but this may not be the root cause- it may only be your experience (as well as that of other men, but how many?).
    It’s my own opinion, and certain trends in the declining marriage rate may support this (if only in a correlative manner), that men (and women) cheat because sex is not something that should be legislated by social rules of who you can and cannot fuck. It’s within our most base and instinctual drives to spread our seed to further our genes, and while contraception tends to prevent that, we are still left with the urge to have sex. Hell, 98% of all mammals are non-monogamous, what’s the likelihood that humans are meant to be a monogamous species?
    But it doesn’t just stop at base instinct- the psychological effects of legislating natural human behavior of any kind have always been malignant. For instance, alcohol. People are going to drink alcohol, yet the States legislates the drinking age more heavily that say, European countries, and for some reason we have a higher percentage of alcoholics than any European country. Similar effects can be seen with sex. I can’t remember how many books I’ve read on characters whose parents or other authority figures have shunned and shamed the characters’ sexuality or sex drive and the resulting shame produces more and more deviant sexual outlets. Nabokov’s Lolita is a great examination of that theme as well as Foucault’s HIstory of Sexuality.
    So, my point is, that perhaps legislating sex and love with monogamy is causing what society deems sexually deviant behavior and that the solution to this is a move away from monogamy toward polyamory (otherwise known as free love or ethical sluttery), wherein jealousy is the only viable problem to be encountered, which is actually a result of LACK OF VALIDATION.
    I welcome a reply on this. -TSI

    • Monogamy doesn’t really have anything to do with likelihood. A friend of mine studies biology and she told me the testicle/brain ratio is where it’s at. Mens testicles are small compared to their brains unlike lions for example. Lions are not monogamous. Humans are.

  19. Great observations as usual sir! Do I detect some Bourdieu in there? I and a couple of other guys I know have a firm set of rules about this stuff. Cheating is out. Period. If we can’t commit then we do the respectful thing and don’t. Even then we promise ourselves and the other person that we’ll conduct ourselves as best we can in a way that is respectful. In fact it goes further than that. We don’t ever go home with someone we don’t like and give a damn about as a person. As a result we – mostly! – can bump into that person at a later date and look them in the eye and both have genuine affection and respect for each other. We take commitment seriously enough that we won’t commit to any relationship unless we’re sure we can be a good partner.
    And I always ask myself (in terms of giving it my best shot), personally, if not now, then when? Loving someone means really trying especially when we’re at our worst. I’ve not always been proud of my behaviour but I’ve always tried. And I never ever cheated, no matter the temptation. And can’t be puritanical about this. I’m a believer that we will all get tempted some time. And I’m never happy with myself when it happens. But that’s when it’s my most important to hold fast when. It can’t be temptation if you aren’t tempted. You can’t resist if you don’t feel the same impulse as everyone else to repsond to an attraction. But as someone somewhere once said you can’t be brave if you aren’t frightened. In my life, it’s a close parallel. That was pretty clumsy and I’m in no way a saint, but I’ve always felt my partner deserved more from me than my worst. Thanks for this Hugo

  20. Sally Fay says:


    It is incredibly sexy to hear how self aware and evolved you are. You are so right about how men have that need for validation and until they do the work you have and find their self worth within it is a free for all out there. You are also right about our culture. We love to point out infidelity and the flaws but do nothing to stop it because we don’t talk about it’s roots and how we can heal what’s underneath that behavior. Our sons do need to have a new breed of masculinity that supports a confident self awareness. Men are much more interesting and perceptive and good than our culture is supporting them to be. It is so limiting and demeaning to deny men strength of character and the chance to grow up into solid, true individuals. Enough of writing off men as not being good communicators, and “boys will be boys”. Men are no less deep or desirous of fulfilling, faithful relationships than women. Look at you! Thanks for breaking open this conversation.

  21. Kristen C. says:

    Hugo, wonderful article. I have deep empathy for men today. For the Anthony Weiners, Tiger Woodses, and Arnolds. As you suggest, I feel as though we do not equip our sons with the belief in themselves that they are good in their own way and give them the tools to express it. The idea that “oh, men are being men” is denying the complexity of modern manhood. And, men are wonderfully complex individuals that deserve our love and respect. If, in fact, we do not give our sons the proper tools and examples to become the complex individuals that they are, then we can give it to one another as adults in marriage. Keep fighting for the Good.

  22. An absolutely brilliant article which I shall be sharing with my female friends. My wonderful man totally agrees with this and has been through a similar journey.
    I love the fact that you identify that it is down to faithful men to teach other men how to be faithful.

  23. This one was spot on Hugo, and hit very close to home.

    I was a nerdy nice guy in high school. But once I got out on my own in college and gained a confidence I never knew I had, I proceeded to abuse it to an extreme degree. I slept with one girl before college. By the end of four years, that number was…well, higher. Much higher. Yet I was in long-term relationships for the vast majority of college. I just cheated like hell. And it wasn’t the sex, it was knowing that I could get her and that I was wanted. I craved the feeling, so much so that getting it from just one person wasn’t enough. I ended up screwing over some really great people in that time, but I was literally out of control.

    I stayed that way until I met my wife. She knew my history and accepted it, but told me if I ever cheat on her that would be it. No second chances. Thankfully I realized she was worth it and we’ve been faithfully married for more than five years.

    There have been temptations during that time, made worse when my marriage was in a precarious situation and I felt I wasn’t getting the attention I needed from her. I can’t say I never considered acting on it. But I never did. And if I found myself in the danger zone (apologies to Kenny Loggins) I removed myself from the situation.

    I really do think it starts with finding the right person—the person you absolutely cannot lose—and going from there.


  1. […] readers say, what I have is a hate about warning signs when dating a separated man. That was three ways to get a husband nyc a valuable service. Warning relationship problems mother son signs when dating a separated man is […]

  2. […] she’ll make a bad wife. Can handsome men stay faithful? Exes in $60,000 custody battle over […]

Speak Your Mind