By Yetunde Arebi
For the everyday man and woman, cheating has been around forever. At some point, both men and women would cheat or would have been victims of cheating. Cheating, just like telling lies is a human flaw and will continue to generate arguments and concerns for a variety of reasons. Ironically, despite all the haggling, we are far from discovering why men especially, cheat even when they love their women and are happily married or involved in a long-term relationship, their women are pretty, sexy or even have more money than they do. Every man knows that cheating is wrong, otherwise he would not hide it.
So, why do men cheat? The reasons are myriad and varied and may even be peculiar to the individual, besides the general assumption that men, no matter the race or colour, are polygamous by nature. Let us examine some of them.
He thinks it’s a status symbol: A man will cheat on his wife/partner if he believes having more than one woman is a status symbol and sign of success. In traditional African setting, the wealth and success of a man is measured by the number of women and children he has. In the time past, a man with one wife was considered a weakling and unsuccessful in the society.
Onuka, Okonkwo’s father in the novel “Things Fall Apart”, by Chinua Achebe is a classic analogy. Typical scenarios abound all across our society today with our wealthy, famous or powerful men and their women). On the flip side of this is the theory that success and power are like magnets that draw women, even without them being attracted to the women at all. Every woman desires a man who can provide for and protect her. This has very little to do with love in most cases.
He can always get away with it: If a guy cheats on you the first time and you let him get away with it, chances are that he will do it again knowing there is very little that you can or will do to him. This same theory often holds true for abuse and domestic violence. A very close friend recently walked out of her marriage after 17 years when she discovered by chance that her husband was living a double life, raising another family apart from the one they have.
She revealed that it was not his first time of cheating on her as he also had a child while they were still courting, with a woman he introduced to her as a friend. She said she forgave him the first time after much pleading and promises not to ever do that again. Unfortunately, he did, several years after and in a more damning and brazen manner.
The truth is that the typical African man believes from a young age that he is entitled to live a polygamous lifestyle should he choose to do so. The women are also raised to accept this, though unwillingly. Often, you will hear mothers chastising their daughters for complaining about their cheating husbands. You hear such things as “your father did worse things.
At least, he has not brought her home”. An aunt-in-law once told me how she would run bath water for her husband and a mistress he used to bring to their matrimonial home at some point. The whole family had concluded that the mistress would later become the second wife until she sprung a surprise on them and married a young man. She said to her shame, her husband practically sponsored the wedding ceremony and was even the chairman at the reception. Such is the general laxity allowed the typical African man. When a man is made to feel that he is not accountable for his actions, then he can easily cheat on his partner. In fact, in the African setting, a woman is encouraged to look the other way if her man (especially a rich one) is cheating as long as he is discreet about his affairs and does not embarrass his wife. Today, the farther from home an illicit affair is conducted, the more acceptable it ought to be for the partners, especially so as not to rock the marriage boat.
Poor role models: A man whose father, uncle, brother cheated on their wives, is most likely to cheat. This is because he is likely to see them as role models. Besides, it is the life he grew up to know, so, he may have been subconsciously programmed to follow their example, seeing infidelity as a norm or way of life. This point is very rife in a society like ours. Oftentimes, parents of intending couples from monogamous marriages frown at the prospect of their daughters or sons marrying children from polygamous backgrounds because they believe that they did not grow up around good role models that will encourage monogamous relationships.
You may find the next few points a bit controversial but it does not remove the fact that they are true and have been proved over time by research, society and common sense experience to be true of human behavioural pattern. Unfortunately, a lot of men who cheat fall into this category.
Variety and change: Some men need a lot of variety in their lives. They thrive on new experiences and stimulation and are easily bored by the same thing every day. Supporters of this theory have tried to simplify this by drawing analogy between the variety some men desire in their relationships and the craving for food.
They argue that while it is possible to have one favourite food, it is highly impossible that you will desire to eat the same food every day. The pleasure of eating the same meal diminishes as the days progress and a strong desire to eat something else begins to build up. They went further to explain that a woman’s heart works differently from a man’s.
Whereas a woman’s heart tends to be able to love only one man at a time, most men’s hearts are capable of and can truly love more than one woman at a time. Depending on the individual; a man’s heart can have several chambers and so can love multiple women, like a tree with many branches. In understanding this, think of the different colours you love. They could be two, three, four or even more.
You like the different colours in different ways and for the different ambience and mood that each colour accentuates. You can even combine them with different things for different results. In this same manner, you can love more than one type of food. These simple facts are obvious examples of what dominate the minds of those who love more than one person at a time, even though some have argued that people are not like colours or food. And because a man tells more than one woman that he “loves her”, desires her, or has feelings for her, it does not make him a “playboy” or “liar” or that he is using people in some sort of game and does not care for them. Hmmm!
It boosts men’s ego: Nothing lifts the old self esteem like discovering that you are still a hot cake with the women. If you have been in a long term relationship or marriage and you have been faithful for a long time, it will sure tickle your ego and fantasy to discover that a woman still finds you attractive even after you have been off the dating scene for so long. This is especially true of men who have crossed the 50s age bracket and beyond. Those in this group are most likely to cheat for a while and go back to their partners and comfort zone. Men with low self esteem or who earn less than their partners or who have female bosses who are firmly in control also fall into this category.
Boring sex life: When partners have been together for a while, it is easy for sex to fall into a routine, perhaps, on a particular day of the week and in a particular manner. I have been told by several male friends how their wives will never allow them have sex with them in a certain position or how they determine the number of times they can have sex in a month or over a period of time. Some spouses have even told me how they have not had sex with their partners for several months. Some men find this difficult to cope with and because there is little they can do about it, they just look for the fun and variety where they can find it.
And since the wife is not talking, either by design not to rock the boat or truly because she is not in the know, the cheating game continues. The other side of this too are men who consider their wives chaste and pure and want to retain that notion about them. Such men will shy away from having “too much sex” with them and will also not be too keen in making them practice certain sexual positions which they may feel are condescending.
Such men will cheat or even keep mistresses on the side whom they pay to perform these roles with. In the movie “Analyze This”, Robert De Niro complained that he could not have his wife perform the BJ because that is the mouth with which she kisses his children goodnight.
For the thrill: Some men actually thrive on the excitement and fun that a new affair generates. According to a research, the kind of excitement one gets in a new relationship is like that of being high on drugs. The excitement for both drug use and new relationship takes place in the same part of the brain. For some men the “high” or adrenaline rush from courting, romancing, or seducing new women, may become an addiction.
The excitement, stimulation and novelty they get from it makes them feel alive. They view all the ducking, dodging and sneaking around that cheating involves as a form of recreation or high-risk sport, and themselves as some kind of god or invisible being, capable of getting away with almost anything. And since they live for the thrill of the chase, and new conquests as often as possible to feed their ego and sense of worth, these men will cheat over and over again, whether they are caught or not.
The other side of the coin here are men who see their cheating as a sort of trophy. For each woman they are able to take to bed, it is a sort of victory or conquest. This group most likely started cheating early in their love lives and are also not likely to quit because they cannot leave behind the thrill of the hunt, the chase and conquest cycle.
If you have any reason peculiar to you or someone you know of which you can to the reasons why men cheat, kindly share it with us. Do have a wonderful weekend!