They have wandering eyes. They're obsessed with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. They come home from one-too-many late nights at the "office" with lipstick on their collars. Whatever the degree, men do cheat. And they do it more than women do. In the original Kinsey Report, published more than 50 years ago, approximately 60 percent of men, compared to 30 percent of women, were unfaithful to their spouses before the age of 40. Those numbers have remained much the same in subsequent studies. When even the President of the United States can't keep his hands off other women, despite the calamitous consequences, we have to wonder -- why do men cheat?
So we asked iVillage women about adultery on iVillage's Speak Your Mind , a survey area devoted to the expression and sharing of opinions on various topics. The responses were filled with strong feelings, from anger to understanding, frustration to forgiveness, but several themes were especially popular. Ultimately, iVillagers believe men cheat for the following five reasons:
1. S-E-X. iVillage women say men just can't control their eyes, hands, and well, you know:
"Women need a reason to have an affair, men just need a place." --iVillager go_getter
"Men will cheat if given the opportunity. They are just like that! They can be happy in their relationship and life, but if the opportunity to cheat is there, they will do it! I really believe they can't help it." --iVillager ldrake5477
"I asked my boyfriend why men cheat.... He said, 'Men do it for sex'. He said that a man can have sex with another woman and not feel anything for her." --iVillager pismotam
2. It's Easier Than Fixing The Relationship. Although sneaking around takes a lot of effort, many iVillagers believe that much more effort is required to try to salvage a rocky relationship or face up to the difficulties of divorce:
"People have affairs because they are lazy. It is easier to go running off with the office tramp than it is to admit something is wrong with your relationship and make a commitment to work on it." --iVillager jesusfreak1
"I think if people took half the time and effort they would put into sneaking around and channeled that energy into making a great marriage or relationship, they would realize that, most of the time, what they are looking for has always been with them."--iVillager who_dat
"Sometimes the thought of divorcing and changing everyone's lives is much too hard to handle. So the easier choice is an affair. I don't think it's the right choice, but most people will take the easier road, thinking no one will be hurt because they are keeping the marriage and family intact." --iVillager lovestargazer
3. To Feed Their Male Egos. We all know how good it feels to receive a compliment from a member of the opposite sex. That kind of validation is what men look for in affairs, according to many iVillage women:
"My now ex-husband not only cheated on me but on every former lover, girlfriend, and wife (one before me) with whom he was involved. It was an emotional thing. He had to prove to himself that he was attractive and appreciated by women. It was his way of judging himself and his own self worth. --iVillager laughingagain
"I think unfaithfulness goes hand in hand with low self-value. Cheaters seek approval or fulfillment in the eyes of another person when they should be looking within themselves for any estimation of self worth." --iVillager weasy71
"I think it has a lot more to do with how the cheater fells about his/her self, rather than how the cheater feels about his/her spouse." --iVillager lee_823
4. To Fill a Void. Many iVillagers concluded that men cheat because they are not satisfied with their relationships. When something is missing from the mix - be it regular sex or healthy communication -- men try to fill the emptiness with an affair:
"Just like women, men cheat when there is something lacking in a relationship. The wife may not even see what's missing. Maybe the man wants kinkier sex and is afraid to ask, or has already been turned down. Maybe he's cheating with another woman who doesn't nag or fuss at him." --iVillager barrysgal
"My husband and I had problems, and he tried to solve them with someone else. It didn't solve them - it just made them worse." --iVillager djb61
"I guess, in a nutshell, the reason why a spouse cheats is because he/she feels alone." --iVillager olivepop
5. "They're Selfish." Whether they're immature, greedy, or just plain clueless, some men don't know how to value and respect their partners, say iVillagers:
"Sometimes people cheat in a marriage because they haven't gotten far enough along in the maturation process to understand and live their vows." --iVillager meanmommy
"Cheating is one of the most selfish acts a person can commit, because despite the fact that they entered into a relationship with another person, they choose to act as though they are the only one whose feelings, needs, and desires matter." --iVillager nura_p
"Somehow we've become so convinced of what we're ENTITLED to that we have completely lost sight of what we are RESPONSIBLE for. It doesn't matter who gets hurt, as long as we get what we want." --iVillager juliewho
"I believe some people are so needy, they devour their spouse's love, and move on." --iVillager a2zx3
Not surprisingly, many of these beliefs are in keeping with expert opinion on the subject of cheating. Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up, Don't Break Up, offers six key reasons why men betray their partners through infidelity:
- Emotional emptiness.
- General dissatisfaction with the relationship.
- To avoid facing existing relationship problems.
- Fear of intimacy and commitment.
- To be seen and heard.
- Lack of physical attraction to partner.
So what can women do to keep their men from straying? Plenty, says Dr. Weil:
- Up the TLC: Comfort, touch, and compliment your spouse, so that he won't look elsewhere for soothing and bonding.
- Give him space: Men need scheduled time to disconnect from the relationship, says Dr. Weil. That may mean an hour alone in front of the computer, a golf outing, or simply time together without conversation. Give him space to do this so that he's ready to be there for you when you want his attention.
- Connect: Daily mini-connections, such as a kiss good-bye in the morning and a post-work greeting, are vitally important, according to Dr. Weil. Other simple events that bring you together - a nice meal or after-dinner walk -- will also allow you to reconnect on a regular basis.
- Restore the magic: Playing and having fun together will help maintain or restore the sizzle in your relationship. That may mean playing fun games, trying new activities or taking a class together, or simply vowing to spend an entire day thinking only positive thoughts about each other (no complaining allowed).
- Express yourselves: Help him to get in touch with his feelings, and make it safe for him to tell you how he really feels. For example, when you ask him a question such as, "Do you mind watching the kids today?" suggest that he visualize how he'll feel after you leave. Also, help him to get in touch with your emotions. But start small - discuss minor topics together before tackling major issues. If you overwhelm him with your feelings, his resulting physiological discomfort will cause him to retreat.
For more information on men and cheating, iVillage offers an abundance of additional expert and member advice. If you are not sure, but suspect your man may be cheating on you, the following iVillage articles may help you clarify your situation:
If you caught him in the act and don't know what to do, you might want to check out some of these articles:
And if he's already been unfaithful, and now you're trying to pick up the pieces and put your relationship back together, reading the following articles may help you heal faster:
WATCH: Why Do People Cheat On Their Partners?