Part 1 of 2
I recently received the following request from a woman asking me to explain how do men cheat. As the wife of a cheating man, she wanted help understanding how do men cheat. Here's what she wrote, followed by the first six questions she asked and my answers:
Kurt can you write an article to help shed some light on the common questions/issues faced by the women who are left disillusioned by an affair. There is little written about what the affair partner goes through that can help betrayed partners understand what they are faced with on a daily basis - their partner's changes in personality, attitude & behavior.”
How can someone change seemingly overnight?
Partners don’t change overnight – no one does. Your partner was changing - you just didn’t see it. The same answers go for how do men cheat - the change that happens to allow someone to cheat typically happens over time too.
Most likely the reasons you didn’t see the changes earlier on is a combination of his (or her) hiding it, your not paying enough attention, some denial or ignoring of the clues on your part, and being distracted by the busyness of life.
The biggest take away of these for a betrayed spouse like your self is, why you didn’t see or ignored the clues. This can be a tough one to hear, but it’s true in every situation, if you’ll look close enough. This doesn’t mean you’re responsible for his bad choices, but it does mean that you played a part in the cheating happening.
First, just like above, there is no switch that flips and a person goes from feeling loving and respecting to not caring and hurting by cheating. There was change going on that you just didn’t recognize. When change is gradual many of us don’t see it, especially if we’re close to the situation.
Second, part of the way our mind deals with behavior that goes against our belief system, is to disconnect from rational thought and normal feelings. A phrase that is often used is that we compartmentalize, in other words we separate ourselves from those thoughts and feelings. How do men cheat? One of the ways is that they compartmentalize their thoughts and feelings about cheating.How can they be so cold towards you?
They’re cold towards you because of the compartmentalization technique (described above) that their brain is using to manage the cheating behavior - behavior that they know deep down is wrong. If they disconnect themselves from you, physically, mentally and emotionally, then it’s easier for them not to have the normal feelings connected with wrongdoing, such as guilt or remorse; it also helps prevent second thoughts.
How do they deal with the fact that they've hurt another?
How men cheat is by dealing with the reality that they’ve hurt another by denying it. You don’t have to deal with something that is not a reality to you. A technique that many cheating men use is to shift blame – they’re not the one doing the hurting, they're the one who was hurt. They then use this rational - that they’ve been wronged - to justify their wrong behavior, which from this point of view can now be defined as right.
How can they turn their backs without an explanation knowing how much it pains another?
Turning their back is easy when, as I said above, they deny the pain they're causing and believe their cheating is justified. Remember that they've also disconnected mentally and emotionally from you, and thus they probably don't recognize or care about your pain.
How can they leave without trying to fix a marriage or end respectfully?
Fixing a marriage first requires acknowledging that there are troubles. If cheating men are using some of the above coping mechanisms (and all of them are), then they'll either be denying the problems or blaming them on their partner - especially the problem that they've cheated.
Fixing a relationship also requires change. Most of us don't like change. Cheating men typically don't want things to change. They like the joys that the cheating relationship brings.
Answering the question, how do men cheat, is at the same time easy and complicated; psychologically it makes sense, but logically it's very confusing. If you're the partner of a cheating man, hopefully these answers will begin to help you make sense of how men cheat.
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- Why Is It That Men Cheat? (Part 2)
- I'm Trying To Get Out Of Having An Affair, But I Can't Break It Off
- After The Baby My Husband Isn't Finding Me Attractive
- Get More Help with a Cheating Spouse