It may be safe to say that one of the biggest problems in romantic relationships is infidelity, or cheating. People constantly worry about who their mate is talking to, who they are attached to, sleeping with, thinking about sleeping with, spending too much time with, and so on. People wonder if they’re going to get caught stepping out on their partner, if they should stay, or if they should go. People fight over the assumption of unfaithfulness, some even kill over it. Despite the fact that everyone has an opinion about whether cheating is acceptable or dead wrong, the concept is not so black and white; believe it or not, cheating can be a complicated issue, depending on the parties involved.
Recently, I sat down with two gentlemen, Charles R. and Sam R., and engaged in a friendly discussion about cheating. Why do men cheat? Why is it considered typical for one gender to cheat instead of the other? Why do men lie? To say the conversation was educational is putting it lightly. I got a glimpse into the mind of men and, boy, was it interesting.
Where should I begin? I suppose I should get the obvious out of the way: According to my interviewees, men are not born to cheat. A lot of women–and some guys–will use the “men are made to have sex as much as possible” excuse when a man is unfaithful. According to Charles and Sam, that isn’t necessarily true. Men have the ability to be monogamous with a woman who is able to fulfill most of his needs and desires. Whether he wants a woman who can cook well, has a healthy libido, is well kept, ambitious, or has any other attribute that makes her acceptable to him, it doesn’t really matter. If he’s getting most of what he needs, he is not likely to look elsewhere. Also, guys like to have their ego stroked. They like to know that they are fulfilling their woman’s needs. Now, here’s where the problem comes in.
If a man is not getting what he needs at home, he may start looking at other options. That’s not to say a man needs to be waited on hand and foot by his woman nor does it mean he will cheat if he can’t get his way. No, it’s actually more complex than that.
First of all, this scenario doesn’t apply to every man. If that were the case relationships would look a hell of a lot different. Second, men don’t always jump at the opportunity to sleep around on their mate. There’s usually some type of warning in the form of a conversation that lets the woman know the man isn’t happy. It’s usually when those conversations get ignored that another woman begins to look more enticing.
Another issue some ladies might not be aware of is that men like to be desired. Women aren’t the only emotional creatures roaming the Earth; men like to feel needed, wanted, and loved. One way men physically show love to their women is through sexual contact. Should women start acting disinterested in sex or allow the sex well to dry up–figuratively speaking–men will sometimes question themselves. Yes, guys can be insecure. Especially if they start thinking their ladies are no longer interested in them because the ladies are interested in someone else.
Hold on, don’t get carried away by that. Not everything can be blamed on the woman; men also do some questionable things when it comes to infidelity. This knowledge provoked me to ask my interviewees about the need to lie. I mean, if a man isn’t happy at home, then why lie when you get caught stepping out on your relationship? Shouldn’t you be open with your significant other?
Charles answered this question. In a nutshell, he stated that people generally lie to make themselves look better. Sometimes a lie is nothing more than a personal perception of a situation or the way someone views him or herself.
Need an example? I think it’s safe to say everyone has had an encounter with a person who always bragged about having money and the best things in life. I think it’s also safe to say that a good chunk of those people can only afford the “best” of everything because they are eating ramen noodles for dinner every night and habitually using their rent money to afford whatever new designer logo they just had to have on their back. Same deal with cheating. These lies do nothing more than help the person market themselves to whoever they’re speaking to.
This is where the side piece comes in, but we’ll have to save that discussion for another day.
Basically, people lie because they want to look good, they want to impress. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But when it comes to infidelity, lying just makes things worse because not only have you been unfaithful, but you’ve also been dishonest.
Awesome job, guys (cue sarcasm).
Charles, Sam, and I also discussed double standards involved with cheating. Both men agreed that since women tend to be more emotional, they can blame the men for either causing them–the women–to cheat or vilify the man for being unfaithful by easily rallying support for others. This is where I needed clarification. Charles broke it down for me: “Society bends more to the woman which gives them more leeway.”
“Leeway for what?” I asked. The answer in a nutshell: It’s more acceptable for a woman to cheat than a man.
Oh my word…
You know the television show, Scandal? You know how the lead character, Olivia Pope, was having an affair with the POTUS knowing full and well he was a married man? Well, this show was used as an example to back up the previous statement. These men (and, sadly, myself as well) have witnessed some women voicing their admiration for such a strong female character while turning a blind eye to the very thing that has wrecked relationships, which happens to be a huge part of who this character is. I’m sure plenty of those women have experienced infidelity, so they may know the hurt that can come from an unfaithful partner. For some reason, though, it’s more or less okay for Olivia to sex it up with a married man. Suddenly it’s charming for a married man to choose his side piece over his wife.
Who says you can’t turn a ho into a housewife? Clearly, some of us missed the memo.
But let’s flip it for a second. What happens when the focus is now on a male character who cheats on his lady? I bet those same women cheering for Olivia won’t be cheering for the side piece then. I can also bet that those women will sympathize with the scorned woman and vilify the man. Why? Because the man is always wrong.
The fact is no one knows what goes on behind the closed doors of every couple. No one knows what goes on in the mind of individuals. To say that all men cheat because they want to or that every woman is a victim is generalizing two separate concepts, and that is not right. Whether we want to believe it or not, people have reasons for why they choose to do the things they do. That’s the key, though. People choose to be unfaithful. We don’t have to understand it or accept it, but hopefully, people will choose to either work things out with their partners or leave them alone.
Life is difficult enough. No need to add onto the burden.
I’d like to thank Charles R. and Sam R. for taking the time to speak with me. It’s much appreciated.