Maybe Men Cheat Because They Love Their Partners

An insane idea? Mark McCormack thinks otherwise.

“Can men and women ever be just good friends?” This question has long been a staple of women’s magazines, self-help books, and day-time television shows. And as conservative morality lessens, inspiring a culture of ‘hooking up’ particularly among young people, the question has fresh relevance. As highlighted by the film Friends with Benefits, where Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis collide (passionately and repeatedly) in search of sexual satisfaction without commitment, contemporary culture is throwing up a host of scenarios where the question can be asked with renewed zeal.

Yet the question belies an aggravatingly simplistic understanding of men, women, sex and love. Ignoring the assumption that all men and women are heterosexual, it is problematic because it conflates emotional closeness with sexual passion. While a seemingly innocuous question about the tribulations of heterosexual friendship, its implicit beliefs are that sex has to be emotionally-charged and that romantic love is necessarily sexual. If you like her, you must want to fuck her. And while Hollywood, Disney, and almost all of popular culture continue to promote this view of sex and love, increasing numbers of people are dissatisfied by its tenets—including those in open relationships and the majority of those who cheat.


In the past, I resorted to just grumbling about the inanity of the question, bemoaning the simplistic understandings of sex, love, and the exclusion of sexual minorities from the mix. It was therefore with great joy that I read my friend’s new book that provides a brilliant analysis of sex, love and the human condition. The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love and the Reality of Cheating, by Professor Eric Anderson, offers a provocative exploration of sex and love, critiquing monogamy as a failed social institution that works to limit our sexual pleasure and restrict our ability to form long-lasting, loving relationships.

While Professor Anderson’s main target is monogamy, the book resonated with me so powerfully because it draws on sociology and psychology, alongside several branches of science, to demonstrate the problems of conflating sex and love. He provides an array of biological explanations as to why these men’s illicit desires are fundamentally natural, arguing that sexual desire is not biologically linked to emotional relationships, even if it can produce an emotional response.

Anderson’s argument is that monogamy is a social ideal, and not a biological one. He shows that it normally comes at considerable cost, either through suppressing sexual desire or risking being caught cheating. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Anderson suggests that monogamy is an irrational ideal because it fails to provide a lifetime of sexual fulfilment. Cheating becomes the rational response to an irrational situation.

Of course, one of the main reasons for this conflation of sex and love is precisely to keep monogamy in its hallowed place. For without the idea that sex is necessarily an emotionally-imbued act, the reasons to stick with just one sexual partner fall away. Academic feminists have long highlighted the links between monogamy and misogyny (arguing that monogamy has historically been about the possession of women), and rather than rehearse the same arguments, Anderson highlights how monogamy also does not work for men. He argues that just as we would grow bored of the same food day after day, and just as we need more than one friend to keep us emotionally secure and intellectually stimulated, our mammalian bodies need multiple sexual partners to remain sexually satisfied. This is why couples have less and less sex the longer they are together, even though women’s sexual appetite peaks in their mid-30s. Anderson shows that sex dies as love grows and his argument matters because many couples view this decline in sex as evidence of a problem in a relationship, rather than a natural phenomenon of monogamous sexual relationships.


Anderson also charts how society is beginning to understand the problems with monogamy, arguing that the requirements of what it means to be monogamous changes over time: from not masturbating in the 1950s, to not thinking of another woman while masturbating, to not watching porn, to not kissing another woman, to some men today allowed to do no more than kissing another woman. From this historical perspective, the possibility of having multiple sexual partners while maintaining a committed emotional relationship looks closer than we might otherwise think. Indeed, it demonstrates the effects that a more expansive and open sexual morality has on socially-enforced institutions like monogamy. And it is at this stage that Anderson provides his most provocative argument: Men cheat because they love their partners.

It is the ‘because’ that makes the statement so challenging. Yet Anderson’s argument is convincing: Intentionally focusing on younger men unburdened by marriage and parenthood, he argues that if these men did not love their partners, they could break up with them. Existing in the open sexual marketplace of university culture, and fuelled by high consumption of both alcohol and porn, these men do not need to be with their partners for access to sex (unlike undergraduates of past generations). In other words, if the 78% of university-attending men he interviewed who had cheated on their current partners did not love them, they would have left them. The logic, then, is clear—these men are with their girlfriends because of the emotional bond they share. Having undergone a rapid process of sexual habituation in a culture that is highly sexualized, it is men’s sexual dissatisfaction rather than any emotional one which propels them to have sex with others.

Anderson’s argument is contrary to what we have been told by our parents, religion, and Disney, yet it is nonetheless compelling. And it also makes clear that yes, men and women can be ‘just friends.’ With the conflation between sex and love unpicked, the capacity for sexless friendship and emotion-free sex becomes apparent. I suggest that ‘friends with benefits’ is a further weakening of the dominant position of monogamy. While still removed from the anonymity of ‘hooking up,’ it is nonetheless a search for sexual satisfaction without emotional baggage. The next thing society has to learn is that emotional relationships can be stronger without the complications of sex, and certainly without the strictures of sexual fidelity. And it is for these reasons that Anderson’s book is a must-read for all those who feel strongly about sex, love, and monogamy.

—Photo seanmcgrath/Flickr

About Mark McCormack

Mark McCormack is a Lecturer in Education at Brunel University, England. His book, The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality, will be published with Oxford University Press in January 2012.


  1. I am a bit confused about the methodology of the research.

    a) I don’t know why it only focuses on men


    b) It seems as if all the interviewees were students which is a very narrow sample.

    any response to that Mark M?

    • Mark McCormack says:

      The methodology is covered in great detail in the book – obviously this kind of article isn’t suited to explaining that in detail. In answer to the specific questions on sampling, I’d suggest:

      a) There are likely to be differences between men and women, so focussing on one sex seems reasonable given time constraints. One could also ask what about race, class, dis/ability, geography, ethinicity, almost ad infinitum. Given that the book recognises that it is only talking about men, I don’t see this as an issue. I also believe Eric is currently working on a project researching women’s attitudes to cheating and monogamy.

      b) Yes you’re right. But as my article said, this captures men at a time when they are (mostly) unconstrained by fatherhood and marriage. Of course there will be differences across the life course. I would suggest though that given this book is presenting new, provocative findings it is clearly a group that required further study.

      QRG – you’re more than welcome to conduct the research on women and non-students. Any one academic can only do so much.


      • thanks. I’m not an academic. I can’t afford it.

        I only asked about the methodology. I won’t be buying the book I know why people cheat.

        • I mean I can’t afford to do a research study.

          Non-academics have the right to criticise academic research without being told they should do it themselves. I am sure you criticise things like government, media etc without doing their jobs!

  2. Any kind of relationship, whether friends with benefits or poly or monogamous, can be healthy if everyone in it agrees to the terms. I get the argument that maybe monogamy isn’t right for everyone, but that people do it anyway because of societal expectations. But that’s still not an excuse for cheating, because the other person is going to be hurt when their want/need of a faithful partner is not being met. I personally think that monogamy can work if people adjust their expectations to be more realistic, and also if they are willing to put in the work. I also think that poly relationships probably don’t work out as well in reality as in theory. But I am not against poly relationships on a moral level, so long as it is mutually agreed upon. That is NOT what happens when one partner cheats.

  3. Why is the assumption that only men have a biological and innate desire for sex? I’m a woman and I cheat on my partner precisely because I don’t think his lack of sex drive (relative to mine) warrants severing our true bond and the nurturing love I feel for him. I am committed to him for life. I’m not convinced that the occasional meaningless romp with another man can negate that, sorry.

    • Jamie Parsons says:

      How about you don’t cheat on your partner, because unless you have permission (which then I don’t think it’s really cheating) it’s a pretty good way to sever a bond. When you’re with someone, sex with someone else isn’t meaningless. If it is meaningless then there is no need to have it.

    • Occam’s Razor applies here. I think you cheat on your partner because you’re an asshole.

  4. Quick confession to the ether: I’m a man who is currently “cheating”. I use the scare-quotes because I’m not married, but I’ve had two relationships with two women for the past year, with only one knowing the full story. It’s also important that the sex isn’t transactional or random, but is with two women who are pretty damn well self-actualized (graduate degrees, great careers, smart cookies).

    Being in this situation, i can tell you that it is far more emotional on my end than I expected. I’ve realized that I was pretty satisfied sexually in my primary relationship. it was the emotional aspect of the relationship that made woman #2 (not just any woman, mind you) such an alluring option. And while all the Rom-Coms and feminism i remember from college tells me that I should break up with #1 because “you don’t really love her” or “we’re not working out,” we’re still together out of a combination of the sometimes-great- sometimes-terrible nature of our relationship and a degree of guilt on my part.

    Now that I’ve done it, I think there’s a reason why the pattern of a man married to one woman and having a pattern of long-term side relationships is historically common. Or polygamy. Its not just about sex, but emotion.

    (Before anyone responds with nasty comments, i’m not being notified via email. I may pop back for a visit, but probably not).

  5. I’m sure there are lots of ways that this argument is flawed. e.g. Man stays with girlfriend so that he can have sex whenever he wants? And cheats so that he can have sex that he actually wants?

    As a college student, I have met some horrible men. (But mostly wonderful ones!)
    (And I’ve met horrible women too!)

  6. A dick has no conscience. Men cheat because they think they can get away with it. Period.

    When I worked on the AIDS Hotline in mid-1980s we had more calls from straight men from gay men. The straight men had inevitably been unfaithful and were more afraid of being found out than of anything else. I told a straight woman about this phenomena and she said, “No one runs faster than a married man when he thinks he got caught.” Nor more fearful, apparently.

    • anonymouswoman says:

      the more i read this site, the more committed i am to a lifetime of single celibacy if the man i’m with ever leaves me. i keep trying not to read it anymore. maybe this will finally do the trick.

    • Dicks aren’t attached to human beings? Your dick *really does* do the thinking for you?

  7. In my judgement, the word ‘cheating’ says it all. There is no ambiguity if someone is cheating, their actions are now taking advantage of someone else. The person being cheated on did not give their consent, therefore continued sex and relations with that person becomes nonconsenting. How many people, man or woman, do not feel betrayed to discover they have been lied to and manipulated by someone who claimed to love them? Sure, they may think their emotions toward that person constituted love, but their actions demonstrate a deep lack of respect for them, or their right to choose. In that way, the behavior deemed ‘cheating’ becomes selfish and abusive and an act of entitlement, not an expression of sexual drive but of control of the other person, and lack of practicing control for themselves.

  8. Hello. I’m a cheating husband–or I was cheating, until I got caught. People tend to try to universalize their experience when they talk about these kinds of issues, acting like if it happened to them then it must happen to everyone. Which I think is wrong. So I’ll just share my experience.

    I didn’t cheat, after 20 years of marriage, because I was sexually bored. I cheated because my wife had stopped saying “I love you,” had stopped asking how I was doing that day, had stopped sleeping with me, stopped working for pay and stopped doing housework, etc. This was all the result of a long bout of depression, and I held on for years, being the faithful spouse and supporting her as best I could. Then one day I couldn’t do it anymore. I just snapped. It was either leave my wife or develop another relationship. I had an affair with a woman my age, who had a child who was the same age as my child. The sex was fantastic. Of course. But the thing I’ll always remember, always treasure, is the conversations we had. She helped me to survive, and I learned a thing or two about myself–and also about my wife, for my lover was the only one I could really talk to about our problems. In short, we cared about each other.

    To make a long story short, I got caught by my wife. She didn’t kick me out. I didn’t throw myself at her feet and beg forgiveness; I didn’t lie and say that it didn’t mean anything, that it was “just sex.” Instead, the revelation triggered an intense series of conversations between the my wife and I. I stopped trying to protect her; she stopped hiding from me. We have talked about things that we hadn’t dared talk about before, and we’re making progress. I’m glad I had an affair. It gave my marriage some breathing room. I’m glad my wife found out. It’s been difficult and heartbreaking, but we’re being honest with each other. She’s taking her meds and fighting her illness, and doing a better job holding up her end of our partnership.

    I think what I’m saying is this: Fuck you for suggesting that it’s all about sex. Fuck you for playing to the stereotype that men just want one thing. We have emotional lives, too. Maybe this is just my experience and mine alone, but I resent this article and what it implies about guys like me. At best, it’s simplistic. The reality of cheating is so much more complex than this moronic evolutionary tripe.

    • speaks from experience says:

      I agree that the book is simplistic and flawed.

      But you’re still a dickwad!

      I get that it was hard to be in a marriage while your wife was suffering from depression, but instead of being open and honest about how it was affecting you, instead of going to counseling and getting the support or working on a dialogue with your wife, you cheated on her.

      You exposed her to STDs (yep, even with the condom–did you use one each time?). You took the TIME you should have been working on your relationship with your wife and invested it in the affair.

      Now you’re just blame-shifting. It wasn’t your decision to cheat. Your wife’s depression DROVE you to cheat. Yep. No question about it. It was all HER fault. You had no decision in the matter.

      Listen up. If you wanted conversations, you could have gone to therapy. You’d have learned a thing or two about yourself and your marriage without shattering your marriage vows.

      The really tragic thing here is that you seem to think your actions were justifiable. You do realize that cheating is a form of emotional abuse, right? Well, pretty much every abuser feels that it’s just fine to abuse the other person. She drove you to it, after all.

  9. Sometimes it feels like there is an attack on monogamy. That monogamy is viewed as a bad thing and is so outdated or whatever one wants to think of it as. I prefer monogamy and that’s the type of relationship I have been in for 7 years. That’s what works for me and my partner. Our sex life isn’t suffering at all. If having multiple partners works for you, then that’s cool. When one commits to be in a monogamous relationship with another individual who has that same understanding, cheating is wrong in my opinion. If monogamy is not your thing, don’t do it, duh. I’m not saying everyone should know right off of their first or second relationships what type she/he wants to be in but one should openly express their intentions (you know, COMMUNICATE.)

    Point is, each relationship type should be respected (unless harmful to a minor or it’s abusive). Thank you very much but monogamy does serve a purpose, is not outdated, and does not set everyone up for failure. I don’t choose to be in a monogamous relationship because society thinks it’s right. Trust me, I like to go against society’s “norms”, but it is simply what I enjoy, brings me pleasure, and what works for me. I have no desire to be with a bunch of men. Lord knows one is enough (haha)

    Also, let’s not forget our animal friends who also have polygamous, monogamous and everything in between and beyond type of relationships. They all serve a purpose for each species and work just fine for them! We don’t hear of the animals debating so much about it because they’ve got it all figured out 😉


    • Thank you for saying that Mari. I sometimes read these articles and find myself turning into that jaded cynical shell that I see in so many other people. I too am in a very happy monogamous relationship where we talk very openly about sex and what we want from each other and we are happy, not perfect but happy despite some very ugly times. Each to their own, but some men like monogamy as do some women… monogamy and polyamory simply two lifestyles, neither more perfect than the other. The idea that failed examples of either lifestyle somehow proves that they do not work is ridiculous.

  10. Conrad Eliot says:

    I think the problem here is the tacit assumption that people want to stay in relationships because of love – that if a guy wants to stay with someone he’s cheated on, it’s because he loves that person.
    I don’t buy that at all. A person might want to stay with someone they’ve cheated on for all kinds of other reasons: comfort, fear of loneliness, not wanting to face up to the resulting feelings of guilt/shame, and I’m sure there are dozens of others I could never dream of.
    I don’t see much alignment between loving someone – which requires respect, trust, intimacy and putting your loved one’s needs on par with your own – and cheating on them, which requires all of the opposite.
    I think the point about not conflating emotional closeness with sexual passion is pretty interesting, though.

  11. Jesse James Speed says:

    I could go on for awhile about this subject, as I have been seriously contemplating it for some time now as it pertains to me. I found and find myself still in this same situation, I am a 52 year old married 23 years female. Many ups and downs in my relationship with my husband. He for years has used porn for money and not with and without my permission to get what ever it is he has been missing in our marriage, at one point running up a bill of 10000.00 dollars on phone and internet sex. All my fault every time. I have had many health problems over the years some of which have and had made me unavailable for sex 5 times a week which he has wanted for many years. His lying and cheating wore me out so I drank copious amounts of wine to keep from having to look at any of it or to examine myself. Last year I stopped drinking and started getting healthy and meditating 2 hours a day. As my health, mind, and body was slowly restored I could see what a mess our life and marriage had become. I ended up on Face Book to maybe find a few old friends from a very sad and tumultuous child hood and found D. We fell in mind and emotional lust on line and when I had to come home after 17 years away to be with my Mother during her illness and death I had a Mind, Emotional, and Physical Love affair the likes of which I cannot explain. I Love D. we are a much better match as Adults and Spirits even with all our many flaws. I have an enormous guilt for what I have done yet I do not regret it either I have grown in ways I cannot explain for the better, many hearts will be broken and this fork in the road I have taken will never be fixed in any way that I can see. I am going back to my husband filled with numbness and sorrow I owe it to him to try at least sober. I have asked God to just let me go in my sleep so I don’t have to face any of what I have done, I see I will not be let off so easy. I have read two books called Women’s Infidelity please read them before you judge me for some Women fit this profile too.
    It is from my heart felt observation in myself at least, that the Human Heart desires to love in a much broader way I think we all Love others deeply during our life on Earth and Love in a way that goes against our moral norms. I at least wanted to be loved for my intellect, and artistic abilities I wanted to be loved for my mind and with D. it is what I found and then came the physical experience. My husband is a more simple person seemingly stuck where we were in our twenties and still with a temper that goes beyond explanation, I agree none of these things in our society give a good reason to have an affair they are only the reasons that I did. Thank You

    • Someone would have to be at least half insane to judge you negatively for what you’ve done – if your husband racked up a $10,000 phone bill cheating on you while you were ill, it’s absolutely reasonable for you to want to find someone who appreciates you more than that.

  12. Mark you have obviously never suffered the pain and indignity and suffering that being cheated on comes with. This is merely an excuse for men unable to keep it in their pants. It’s all rather pathetic really.

    • Angelique Kearney says:

      Amen. Adultery has nothing to do with love. Purely it is done out of selfishness. Betrayal, hurt, sadness, deceit surrounds cheating….there is no silver lining.

  13. Libia Casas says:

    Sorry, don’t buy the argument. As a therapist I have never seen cheating, open relationships or even pornography work well in marriages. You mentioned the ” same food” every day in your argument. Well, think more of what happens when you eat too much or foods you shouldn’t.

    • Just because you haven’t personally witnessed it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’ve been in a successful, stable open relationship for six years. I have friends who have been in open relationships for 20+ years. A friend of mine is actually a “second generation” poly guy – he’s polyamorous himself, and grew up in a polyamorous household. All are in successful, healthy relationships that just happen to include multiple people.

      It’s not easy, nor is it for most people – it takes someone who is a good communicator, with few to no insecurities, and a good heart to make it work. I’ve seen lots of people try and fail. But I’ve also seen lots of people try and succeed.

      • Hi Wilson
        May I ask you two questions :
        1: Do couples in open marriage or open relationship promise each other commitment for life ?

        2: If you are in an open relationship, not a polyamorous one,what do you say to your new sex partner or lover about what kind of relationship you can have to her or him?
        I wonder if you say this will only be causal sex,or you say your wife will always have first priority in your life.
        In other words what can a third part expect when he gets sexually involved with a person that lives in an open relationship?
        The polyamorous seem to have committed relationships , while those in open relationships do not commit in any way to their multiple sexual partners.

        • 1. Many do, yes. There are lots of different types of open relationships. Some are more along the lines of being married to multiple people (often all living in the same house), while others are at the other end of the spectrum, mostly involving sleeping with other people without much emotional involvement. And, there’s a massive range in-between. My partner and I are effectively married at this point and will be such on paper in a few months, and we’re committed to eachother for life. However, we don’t feel that such a commitment necessarily negates being involved with other people in addition to our relationship. We’re two guys who happen to also have three girlfriends between the two of us.

          2. Again, there are as many answers to that question as there are people in poly/open relationships. In our case, we’re both very up front with what other partners can expect from us. We’re both very busy, even without our other relationships, so our partners don’t really expect to see us more than once or twice a week, and we specifically seek out people who don’t really want much more than that. We generally look for people who are looking for a friend with benefits, or for people who are already married in an open marriage and are looking for someone on the side, as it works out best for all who are involved. Further emotional connection isn’t against the rules, but it’s fairly uncommon simply due to the logistics of how often we see our other partners.

  14. Victoria Sealey says:

    if polygamy is so natural, why does jealousy exist? i don’t believe that jealousy is a cultural construct.

    • Jealousy isn’t the issue – it’s insecurity.

      • Can you say more about this? I don’t disagree … my sense is that you are probably right, that insecurity is the greater issue, and that jealousy does arise from time to time, but exists more as a signal of an imbalance which needs to be corrected or a need which is not being met in the relationship than something inherently wrong in either individual.
        Jealousy in other contexts can blow the walls out, but I suspect those folks aren’t good candidates for polyamory to begin with.

        • To me, jealousy, as you mentioned, arises out of a need not being met. Some jealousy is fine, even expected. Heck, I get jealous of the fact that my partner’s girlfriends sometimes get to see sides of him that I don’t, or that they don’t have to deal with the day to day reality of being a couple that lives together. But none of that makes me feel insecure in my position. I have zero worries about him leaving me for a woman or for another man, because our relationship is strong. Likewise, even though I get to do things with my girlfriend that I don’t do with him (like indulging my kinky side), he’s not worried about me leaving him, because he knows that I love him very much and that we’re committed to each other. The people I have met who have been incompatible with poly/open relationships are the people who have low self esteem, who are prone to jealousy and paranoia, and who are unsure of the degree and love that they’re getting from their partner. That insecurity is what makes it not really work, and it’s sad to me that most people actually don’t have that much faith in their partner or their relationship, that they think it can be so easily taken away.

          • Hi Wilson

            Do we have good longitudinell studies of polyamorous relationships that can tell us how they develop over time?
            I would love to read novels that describes persons experience from young until their death living in these kind of families. I call it a kind of family organization since I have no other word for it. Their life must be quite different from the life the rest of us live.

  15. Han Nee Chong says:

    Men cheat because they love their partners. <— I call bullshit on this. Sure, men can love their partners AND still cheat, but that is at best a correlational relationship between the two variables, NOT causal. Anderson claimed that the young men in his survey who cheated did not break-up with their girlfriends because they love them. Bullshit. They did not break-up with their girlfriends because they want to have their cake and eat it, too. Besides being in love, there are many other benefits to being in a relationship, and if you can get away with cheating (and justify your actions with articles such as this one), why wouldn't you?

    The definition of cheating, according to Oxford dictionaries is: act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage/to deceive or to trick. You don't agree with monogamy – I get it. You think men are biologically wired for multiple partners. I get that, too. But even among polyamory relationships, cheating is still frowned upon, precisely because it involves dishonesty and deceit. So, to say that because you love your partner, you act dishonestly or deceitfully is not only counter-intuitive, but deceitful. There are many definitions to love, but in all of the definitions, if you love someone, you do not want to hurt them. So, if you knowingly and willfully hurt them by cheating, and then, try to justify by saying, "it's because I love you that I cheated on you", it is pathetic.

    In fact, didn't the GMP recently did a poll on 'Why Men Don't Cheat'? In the survey results, many men tell us why they do not cheat on their partners, and many (if not all) said they did not cheat because they love their partners. There… you have it. Two different studies with bi-polar results.

    At the end of the day, whether you want to be monogamous or polygamous, it's up to you and your partner(s). However, if you decide to be in a monogamous relationship, please do not cheat and then, try to use articles like this one or Anderson's study to justify your action. For each of those study that claimed men cheat because they are biologically wired that way, I will find you a man who do not cheat simply because he does not want to. Just be honest, ok?

    • Phyl Harper says:

      Flawlessly said Han Nee!!

    • Agree with Han Nee, 100%. “Cheating” is dishonest and disloyal. There is deceit in that–that doesn’t scream “I love you” to me. There are plenty of men who would never dream of cheating, and are quite sexually satisfied! There are plenty of men who have cheated and are so consumed with guilt that they will never do it again, because it was a mistake. There are also those men who cheat compulsively. And still, there are plenty of men who are in wonderful, sexually active monogamous marriages that have lasted 20+ years. Cheating is a cop out. It’s having your cake and eating it too. You work with what you’ve got. It doesn’t have to be boring. The most successful marriages happen when both partners understand the need for sexual satisfaction and work TOGETHER to do so for BOTH parties. Mark, your article, and this PhD of sociology’s book, is exactly what’s wrong with society today.

    • you’re dead right.

      It’s as simple as controlling the urge, which in itself is natural. I think people will construct as many arguments as they need to validate their own behaviours.

    • Wow Han Nee…I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am a therapist specializing in Infidelity recovery for couples. What would be ideal behavior for those interested in having an open relationship or an affair is to be honest with their partner. Then there are no secrets or deceit and their partner can leave the relationship if they disagree with the affair or open relationship. Easy-peasy right? Except that most people who cheat do NOT believe their partner should have that choice. We (and are relationships) are as sick as our secrets.

      • Hi Sabrina

        ✺ “Except that most people who cheat do NOT believe their partner should have that choice. We (and are relationships) are as sick as our secrets.”✺
        Interesting information, and a good comment !

      • This this this. I think that a huge amount of cheating could be remedied by better communication, especially communication of needs. If your needs aren’t being met, TALK TO YOUR PARTNER. In many cases, a solution can be worked out. If it can’t, and the need is a critical one (like sex), then you have two options after recognizing this incompatibility: break up or agree to allow each partner to do what is necessary to have that need met.

    • But! While completely right, you’ve missed the entire point of the article. It’s not that “cheating/lying” is good or right, or that people should be proud of it and use articles to prove that it’s ok. The point is that cheating is the alternative to breaking up.

      Having sexual desire for other people, even if in a committed relationship, is normal and natural, even though our culture says it is wrong. Faced with the consequences of the acknowledgement of those desires, most men (and many, many women) choose to hide, or lie, even when it’s just desire and not actually cheating. To put it another way: do you tell the truth to your monogamous partner every time some other person in the world appeals to you, or turns you on, or makes you want to bend over and get fucked by him or her. No, you keep it to yourself because you love him/her and don’t want to ruin what time on this earth you get spend together.

      So cheating (even if it’s just in your head) only exists because there is a desire from the person who is cheating to stay with their partner. Cheating wouldn’t exist if it were ok for people to who wanted some other sexual experience (which is most people) to have it, regardless of the relationship they have with their partner. That’s the point.

      The articles wasn’t saying cheating is good or ok, it was saying it exists only because of the non-biological, cultural bias towards monogamy

  16. I think it is bold, courageous and a step in the right direction of having an authentic conversation, As a woman, I think we have lots to gain by listening and really hearing what men have to say.. I do believe that sex is a deeply primal drive in men, that I should try to understand more , if I want to have a long lasting relationship with a very masculine man. I love men fully free to be themselves.. My angle is that if we have that really deep conversation and face the primalness of sexuality, I truly believe that a man’s sexual needs could be met inside a monogamous relationship. What men are searching for is that deep primal soulful match.. We have been taught to marry for so many more reasons.. and they are not enough to satisfy that deep need for an intimate sexual relationship. If we are taught that,, I think we could be monogamous.. Touch that sacred place with each other, then who would want anything else… I think it is the seeking of a divine sexual connection that motivates the cheating.. This is just my theory.. I support your direction. .Men need intimacy..friendship, love, emotion and primal sex…… Cheating becomes necessary when a person settles for parts of the whole. I also have a theory that some men who have a lot of partners are seeking the wholeness the most.. We have not been taught how to have a divine intimate sexual relationships… they are definitely better than hooking up.. and many people are tired of hooking up. Divine sexual relationships are the next step in human evolution.. no doubts here.. cheating, hooking up are no competition..

    • It’s very interesting to me to hear your response amidst all these other more predictable ones. This article seems to offer an unconventional viewpoint for consideration, but instead of exploring its possible validity like you’ve done, these other responses are closed to the idea, with judgment not hidden. I am a man who would and will remain loyal in a monogamous relationship, but then I think I’ve probably always had a weaker drive than most men. You would think that would have made me a better candidate for women looking for a stable partner, but as a shy guy, that just meant I didn’t have the drive to overcome shyness and compete with the world of guys for female attention. I realized that it was male sex drive that allowed women to sit back, relax, and let the show come to them, and that women were not grateful for that advantage. Because if women were to acknowledge this advantage, if they were to accept that men were simply more hard-wired for sex, would they also have to recognize that he is capable of separating sex and love? If a woman were “cheated” upon in a monogamous relationship, then, might he still love her completely? With that in mind, should she be SO jealous? It’s a fair question, one whose answer may be that she has every right to expect fidelity; nevertheless, it’s a question that arises legitimately out of empirical data. And can women be capable of the same? I don’t know. I know I’m pretty much made for monogamy, so I like your focus on improving the sexual chemistry within monogamous relationships, but in any case, I’m philosophically curious about challenging social mores.

      • Hi Paul
        Do you kind if I break in to the conversation ?
        ✺”recognize that he is capable of separating sex and love? If a woman were “cheated” upon in a monogamous relationship, then, might he still love her completely? With that in mind, should she be SO jealous? “✺

        It is not my impression that men are less jealous then women if she has a fling or take lover.
        It is said it is easier for women in monogamous relationships to forgive that their partner had sex with others , than it is for men. But maybe this is saying in Europe and men tolerate far more infidelity from their women in America.

  17. So why don’t we all just have open relationships? become swingers? have the toy boys and mistresses etc… Lets all drop this ‘its only the two of us for sex’ for the rest of our lives BS and be blood honest with each other. I realised this shizzle a little while ago and I genuinely think that an emotional/love relationship is quite crowded with more than one person, but sex can and should be with multiple people when needed. Why the fudge can’t we all just drop the expectation and sit dow hand have open, honest conversations about this so people don’t need to cheat. the reason cheating is frowned upon is because of the DECEIT and often not the act of sex with another.

    • This, seriously. It’s about the deceit, not the act. I’m in a healthy and yet open relationship, but my partner could still “cheat” on me by breaking one of our established rules.

    • Hi Natty

      Let’s guess .
      Take the excitement and danger aspect out of having a fling, will men still be as eager to cheat as when it taboo?
      Maybe the frequency of cheating goes down when it is something you no longer have to do in secrecy , when it is no longer forbidden , when it is no longer a challenge, and it is longer a little boy’s revolt against the cage marriage is for him.
      And the same goes for women.

      • If it’s not taboo, it’s no longer cheating, it’s just sleeping with Simeon else. My partner has two regular girlfriends and two girls he sees very infrequently. He’s not cheating when he sees them, because he has my permission. Likewise, I’m not cheating on my boyfriend by having a girlfriend, because it’s okay and within the established rules of our relationship. Neither of us would sleep with other people if we weren’t in an open relationship, but since we are, we both take advantage of it, and it has actually made our relationship considerably stronger.

        • Hi Wilson

          Sorry about my inability to write good English.
          The excitement to do the forbidden is the excitement some feel when they have sex with multiple parters while they are married or have committed your self to a monogamous relationship.

          I do not see polyamorous relationships as persons that cheat on each other, unless they the break the rules they set up for themselves.

          I am not negative polyamorous persons or their lifestyle. If they can live like that from their youth until old age and get their needs met,then I am quite impressed !
          But in today’s world where many have to move geographically to find the best jobs, it seems impractical or impossible to find jobs for the several persons in the same area.
          So this lifestyle is easy not adapted to modern capitalist society is it.

          • Why on earth would you have to move or find jobs for people? My partner and I are poly, and all our partners are pulled from the same city we already live in, and they all have jobs. I’m not sure I understand your logic there.

            • Hi Wilson

              In my part of the world ( Europe) people move to where the best job possibilies are, and many also move because they have an education that demands that they do, like newly educated doctors( GP) they are ordered to move to the place that needs doctors the first year after they finish their education , officers in the army has to move with their family,…

              That is all Wilson. I wish you all the best, but to say that this is a familyform that is easily adapted to modern days society is questionable IF the relationship are long lasting and you are ordinary persons.. But if the relationships in the polyamorous family last a short time, then of course you can adapt to a changing environment, and move for economic reasons.

              You may live in a city with several million people, with jobs and perfect opportunists for all kinds of people at any time. Then you are fortunate. The rest of us adapts to the worlds economy’s ups and down, and the changing possibilies in our own countries.
              In my world people move when they have to or when they gain from it.

              Good luck Wilson. It is not as illogical as you think. Life is long, and committed relationships can last for up to 80 years, and until you are 60-65 most of us have a job to earn money.

            • I’m not talking about having a “polyamorous family”, I’m talking about having other partners, such as friends-with-benefits. There’s quite a difference. These are not relationships that would follow you with a move.

            • Hi Wison
              Thank you for answering all my questions. I do understand better when I read all your commonts earlier in this thread.

  18. Megan Sailsbury says:

    Lame excuses for bad behavior, and nothing else.

    And by the way, genuine monogamy may not be universal, or even common, but it does exist. Saying otherwise is the same inane “if I don’t like it nobody can” bullshit as the article claiming people all hate sharing a bed with their partners and it’s stupid to try.

  19. Hi Mark

    Do also women cheat because they love their man.
    Yesterday I read about the new report about sex in the UK.
    Men that cheated :50-60% of all men in committed relationships
    Women that cheated :50-55% -“-
    If I rember correctly.

    More interesting was however how little sex people have. Usually only three 3 times a month.
    So with all our cheating,open relationships,porn.prostitution and polyamor most persons have few sexual happenings each month ,at least if they live in UK.
    And maybe three times is not few. Maybe that is natural. Who knows?
    Maybe we are brainwashed to believe we must have sex as often as possible and at least eight -nine times a month….

  20. Cheating is deceit. If you and your partner agree to define an untraditional level of openness in the relationship, then you’ve set new boundaries for cheating. Whatever works for both of you (or all of you if poly) is healthy. Break those boundaries, and you’re risking your partner’s emotional and physical health; hardly a behaviour of someone who is in love.

    People who are in love are honest about their needs and expectations. People who cheat are acting selfishly, period. To pretend that they are acting in love—and to conflate it with troubled relationship dynamics—is destructive to any progress being made.

    Have the conversation about openness and social constructs—that’s healthy. Defending cheaters diminishes any respect for the opinion.

  21. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Sometimes DADT is just the thing in a relationship; sometimes, in another relationship, it isn’t. I know from experience I don’t like all the processing that goes with being poly. And I personally experienced manipulation in poly relationships.

  22. Cheating and having other sexual relationships when agreed upon/practicing non-monogamy are TWO different things. Cheating involves going behind someone’s back and breaking their trust. If you want to live that lifestyle, you should be in a relationship with someone who does too or at least be man enough to admit it and NOT get in a monogamous relationship.

    Plus, cheating happens in a variety of situations and we can’t blanket all of those…Sometimes it happens when people are bored sexually, but sometimes it’s about more than that–emotions, self unhappiness, not having enough sex….It doesn’t have to be that everyone cheats just because they are “bored” with their partner. This article puts a blanket statement on male cheating (and saying it might be excusable if there’s a biological reason–setting up a non-monogamous relationship IS ok, but breaking someone’s trust is NOT…) and therefore I find it quite poorly written.

  23. This just sounds like the guy who wrote the book is giving men an excuse to cheat. BS in my opinion. The human race, at this point in time, is so oversexualized that all we do now is eat, sleep and breathe sex. It’s obnoxious, for lack of a better word. The constant pursuit of all things sex is bound to come back and slap everyone in the face at some point. The world can’t continue on like this forever. Just look at the Elliot Rodger story. That’s where the word is headed. I thank god I have raised my kid already and tell him on a regular basis not to bring children into this world.

  24. Eva Gorman says:

    This article and study should make every good man cringe.

    PEOPLE (not just men) cheat because their ego is flattered. Because they think they can get away with it. Because real life responsibilities seem overwhelming. Because they feel entitled. For a million other reasons, but NOT because they love their spouse too much to leave or hurt them.

    People who cheat are simply too afraid to first break up with their significant other before they try the new man or woman out. There’s good reason to be afraid. You risk losing half your assets, and half your family, at the very least. To say it’s because they “love women” is simply an insult to our intelligence.

    As a side note, being able to cheat has been made about a zillion times easier thanks to the internet. We are overstimulated by porn and we can use the anonymity of the internet to re-invent ourselves. I love technology, but this is one downside of it.


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