Healthy, committed relationships are based on trust, honesty, and mutual respect. When two people become exclusively involved, it is usually because they have developed an undeniable connection to one another. A relationship that blossoms from infatuation to love often develops into a long-term commitment, marriage, or a “living-together” situation. In a relationship such as this, cheating, specifically having sex outside the relationship is viewed as the ultimate betrayal of trust. Hundreds of surveys on this topic reveal conflicting statistics about cheating, but somewhere between 50 to 70 percent of men have cheated at some point during their marriages. That is a staggering set of numbers, even if you consider the lower end to be more accurate than the higher end.
In order to decrease the chances of a man’s infidelity, women first need to better understand how men think, and why they stray. The truth is that there are no guarantees or magic words that will work for all relationships. There are men (and women, too!) who simply struggle with impulse control and often seem to have an addiction of sorts to the adrenaline rush, the chase, and the forbidden moment that cheating brings. In these cases, you cannot change the person; you can only choose to accept them for the way they are, or break up and move on to a healthier relationship.
Within a healthy relationship, however, there are actions a woman can take to keep a man closer to home. The top reported reason that men cheat is not because they want more sex, but rather that they lack emotional comfort and intimacy in their relationships. Of course sex is important to a man, and both partners should take responsibility for keeping a healthy, regular, and exciting sex life (with the obvious exception of physical health obstacles). Yet, men, just like women, need more than that from their relationships. They need a deep and safe connection with a trusted partner to remain engaged in the relationship.
Women generally underestimate the depth of a man’s emotional needs and fulfillment simply because he communicates emotions differently. In study after study, men report the overwhelming reason they are tempted to cheat is a lack of emotional fulfillment in their relationship. Men may not admit to being emotionally hurt, but they do feel quite deeply. They need intimacy; they need acceptance for who they are. They also want their wife or girlfriend to be their biggest fan. A great fear for men in emotional relationships is that once you get to know him that you will not love him as much. If that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, he will go looking for someone who sees him the way you used to.
Talk him up in front of his friends and have his back in public, even when you do not agree with his choices. Disagreements should be a private matter. Fight fair when you argue, and do not use dehumanizing insults to get your point across to him. Listen to and value his opinions, even when you do not agree with it. You see, while not often the world’s best communicators, men want someone who will share or support his hopes and dreams. He craves to be desired and needed by the woman he loves. He doesn’t just want love; he wants to be liked as well.
In other words, you should not aspire to be “just” a lover or wife; you should be his best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. When you create the environment that the two of you are facing the world as a team, he will be happy to step up and play on that team.