3 reasons why men cheat on their girlfriends - even if they love them

Whenever a man is unfaithful, we think: something must be wrong with his relationship. But there are reasons why men cheat even if they love their partner.

Many people don't notice when they get cheated on.
Source: imago images / agefotostock

Even though we don't like talking about it, almost everyone knows someone who was unfaithful to their partner. Unfaithfulness can break up relationships, it can destroy trust and the potential for a future that is filled with love - at least with that person. Being cheated on is something we don't wish on anyone. But why is it that men cheat, even if they claim to love their partners? Could there be reasons for it that might make sense to us?

Sometimes there's no reason why men become unfaithful.
Source: imago images / agefotostock

Way too many women tend to blame themselves for their partner's infidelity. Self-doubts such as "Am I unattractive? Am I boring? Am I not enough?" pop into our heads. For many of us, unfaithfulness means the end of a relationship. Or at least the end of trusting each other. This can become a big problem, especially when kids are involved. Some couples decide to do couples therapy when they can't restore mutual trust on their own. In couples therapy, partners dissect their relationship, trying to find the reason that lead to the infidelity. Sometimes, it can prove difficult to find a reason. He is still hopelessly in love with his partner, he finds her attractive, he is happy with how it's going in bed...

So why is he cheating and why can't he stop?

Feeling like one has lost one's sense of self can lead to adultery.
Source: imago images / Panthermedia

No. 1: He wants to experience something new

The popular phrase "It's not you, it's me" might actually be true in this case. Wanting to have new experiences is the most common reason for infidelity. After spending years in a relationship, some men feel like they've lost their sense of self, their idea of who they are. By having a romantic experience with someone else, they can redefine how they see themselves. Maybe he wanted to try something new in bed he was too shy to tell you about. Maybe he just wanted to forget about all his daily responsibilities. Men who cheat because they want new experiences usually don't look for a new partner - but for a part of themselves they'd forgotten existed.

Men often want what they can't have.
Source: imago images / agefotostock

No. 2: The forbidden fruit

The reason is as old as the bible - literally. Poor Adam and Eve were cast out of Garden Eden because they couldn't resist the "forbidden fruit". 

We know this phenomenon from when we were kids. Back then, we wanted to watch the TV series our parents wouldn't let us watch and we wanted endless amounts of sweets. Okay, okay, we are grown-ups now but some temptations remain. While we can eat and drink and watch whatever we want, unfaithfulness is still tabu...and that's exactly the reason why some men are so tempted by it.  

Men search for emotional liberation in flings.
Source: imago images / agefotostock

No. 3: Suppressed emotions

Gender stereotypes like "Boys don't cry" are the reason why some men feel like they can't show their emotions. Suppressing emotions to such a degree that you don't even know how to express them anymore can be very damaging. This is one of the reasons why men cheat on their partners: they want to liberate themselves emotionally and allow themselves to experience those emotions society deems inappropriate for them.

In a 2020 study conducted by Alicia M. Walker, the researcher interviewed over 40 men who were engaged in "outside relationships". She concluded that the unfaithful men didn't want to exit their primary relationships in general. Rather, they were looking for "emotional support, validation and praise" (p.20), which they apparently didn't receive from their primary partner.

Source: Walker, Alicia M. Chasing Masculinity: Men, Validation, and Infidelity. Palgram Macmillan, 2020.

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