The Psychology of Why Married Men Cheat, Part 1

In addition to Matt Lauer interviewing Dina Matos on Today this morning about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution sting scandal, they also brought in a panel of experts (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, anthropologist Helen Fisher, and psychologist Jeff Gardere) to examine why men cheat. (Men in general as well as men in high places.)

They focused on men because they’re more inclined to do it than women. The statistic they presented was that one in five married men have cheated. (Compared to only 12 percent of married women having cheated.)

So why is it men are more prone to it? Is there a reason? The panelists discussed several contributing factors that could be to blame.

That’s the Way They’re Biologically Built

I think it was the anthropologist who brought up that some speculate men cheat because it’s part of their primal survival instinct. Way, way, way back when to ensure the survival of their species they planted their seed in every woman possible without regard to monogamy, fidelity or otherwise.

Well, maybe they did, but that was then and this is now. I think it’s pathetic to excuse a man’s wandering ways by blaming ancestral urges.

The Thrill of the Chase

The panelists suggested some politicians cheat because men with power crave the forbidden. They want the thrill that comes along with pursuing something they’re not supposed to have. They want the rush from doing what they’re not supposed to.

Boys will be boys, but when they’re married (sometimes with children), their thrill-seeking ways destroy more than they bargained for. So why do they do it? That led to the next assessment.


Because of their positions and the power they’ve amassed, often they feel above the law. They lead privileged lives filled with entitlement. Not all the rules apply in other areas, so that should extend to their married lives as well.

Or so they think. They might get away with bending a few rules here or there. People might notice and not say anything, or maybe they elude being caught all together. It gives them a false sense that that applies to every other area too. It’s not until they’re busted and held publicly accountable that they realize, “Gosh, I guess I’m not above the law after all.”

Truth or Consequences

Men who cheat generally do so without full regard to the consequences. Women are much more likely to think about the outcome of some detrimental activity before engaging in it, whereas men aren’t. (Basically this has to do with them feeling untouchable. They don’t really believe they’ll get caught and just sort of shrug and have the attitude, “Guess I’ll deal with it if it happens.”)

In Part 2 I’ll discuss the rest of the reasons they gave. (Yes, sadly, there are more.)

Courtney Mroch writes about animals great and small in Pets and the harmony and strife that encompasses married life in Marriage. For a full listing of her articles click here.

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