In the wake of all these alleged Tiger Woods indiscretions many a blog has been written to discuss why a man who had so much to lose would be so reckless and risk everything just for some sexual thrill.
Part of the answer is in the question, given the draw of the sexual thrill can be pretty compelling in and of itself. But I think the reason that any man (or any woman) would cheat (keyword: cheat) is pretty simple.
It all comes down to ego.
Now I could just leave it there but that would not be me. Especially not when it gives me the golden opportunity to flex my blog muscle, which in turn feeds my own ego.
The circumstances vary as to why people decide to cheat. Everyone has their own reasons, but the main motivating factor is going to be ego. That’s not necessarily meant as a condemnation, you understand. It’s just a simple and fundamental part of the equation. The reason I say that is because if affairs weren’t so inherently self serving… they wouldn’t be affairs.
The decision to have an affair – or “cheat” on your significant other – by doing things you cannot tell them you’re doing is serving self first, and your partner last. Odds are you’re even putting the person you’re having the affair with before your spouse/SO, and even above any other person that might be affected by your decisions (i.e. kids).
It’s getting yours as a primary concern, and everyone else (even including that new person in the affair) second.
If the definition of ego is “The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves”, then this is a perfect example of that.
I don’t say this as a judgment, mind you. This is merely an observation (and in a lot of ways – experience from both sides of the coin).
If you find yourself attracted to someone else and you are in a committed relationship that doesn’t allow for non-monogamy, you have some choices to make. Making the choice to “have your cake and eat it too”, or have both your committed relationship AND another relationship on the sly, is at its heart a self driven decision.
It’s deliberately choosing the option where you avoid the conflict that comes from ending the first relationship (which is the fairer choice for your SO, because it gives them the chance to know that something is wrong in the relationship so they can make their own choices accordingly). It also forces you to face what it is you really want out of life… the relationship you’ve already invested time and effort into or another, fresher, more exciting new relationship (and all the similar pitfalls that can follow).
The easier choice is to lie to your primary relationship, and get your kicks on the side.
Affairs can be exciting and sexy, mostly because of the way they make you feel.
Again… self serving.
“But my wife (husband/SO) doesn’t understand me.”
If you’re to the point where you cannot invest time on your partner to fix the issue, and instead find someone else to meet those needs, then it sounds as though that relationship has met its natural end.
Plus I doubt very sincerely your going out and finding someone on the side is going to meet with any real understanding either. The fairest thing to do is cut your losses and find someone who is more compatible.
Ego fits into this scenario quite naturally. You’ve probably fallen into a rut with your SO which means they aren’t feeding your ego anymore. The newness of the relationship has taken a backseat to being with someone who knows all your faults but has stuck around anyway. This comfort level means the wooing is over; they’re the ones who are going to call you on your BS and stop thinking you hung the moon.
The new person, however, can handily fill this void – they can tell you how wonderful, sexy, desirable you are. They make you feel special and wanted when your SO seems to make you feel insignificant.
Nothing boosts the ego like someone you’re attracted to wanting you back. And if you weren’t already in a relationship, you could pursue that option guilt free.
But pursuing that option while someone else is in the picture is unfair to all parties involved. (There’s a reason they call it “cheating”.)
I will go out on a limb here and say that this is probably the most common of all cheating scenarios.
Having a long term relationship is work. Like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it, and it takes a lot more than love or intent. It’s a tight rope to keep it fresh and exciting when it, by very definition, is destined to become familiar – and all that implies.
Familiarity breeds contempt, as the old saying goes. Which is why it makes sense in the moment to keep the long term relationship and all its benefits (including security), while entertaining clandestine encounters on the side to fill that excitement void.
But it’s still cheating. And it’s still self serving…hence ego driven.
“But I can’t just leave. We have a house… kids….”
Doing the right thing is rarely easy. But nothing jeopardizes all those things you think you’re saving by giving it less than 100%, which is what you’re doing when you live a double life.
Ego says you can get away with it with no real consequences. Anytime you have to lie to the person who trusts you is far from victimless.
“You don’t understand. I’m in love with two people.”
Maybe… but the person you’re MOST in love with is yourself. If you loved the two people you’re juggling, you’d never ask one to accept your deceit (by lying and saying there is only that person when you’re in love with another), or the other one to accept only half of you while you juggle your “real life” and your fantasy life. Ego drives the decision to have two people sacrifice for you while you get the benefits of both relationships.
We seek many sexual partners throughout our lives for various reasons. Though the myth persists that there is “The One” you’re supposed to be with, you’re going to be sexually attracted to far more than that, many times inconveniently. Whether or not you act upon these impulses is directly related to your circumstances.
If you are married or in a committed, monogamous relationship – then your choice is going to reflect on the other person in that relationship. That’s just the way it is. The minute you get into that serious relationship you have to sacrifice ego and self when it comes to the mutual benefit of the relationship. You have a choice to be honest and give them 100% of who you are (which is the heart of a committed relationship anyway), or you can “cheat” them (again hence the term) AND yourself AND the other person you’re attracted to with all the deceit and the delusion.
Doing what’s easiest for YOU, or makes YOU feel comfortable, or what makes YOU feel good only has one impetus.