There is absolutely no doubt about it- we live in a highly sexualized world.
When I was growing up divorce, while becoming more common, carried a certain amount of stigma with it. Today, its mentioned in passing as if every adult is expected to have experienced it.
Infidelity has become the norm. Lets just call it what it is. Common sense tells all of us that men and women are going beyond the agreed boundaries of their relationships much more often than is reported.
While men and women have stepped out of their relationships throughout history, it has never been easier to do so than today. The sophistication of technology and apps can keep a partner in the dark for years.
It can be a scary, distrustful place for anyone who desires a committed partner.
For that reason alone, I argue that at no other time in history has the ability to maintain a committed relationship without sacrificing your masculinity been more important for men.
As an addiction recovery coach who works with men dealing with sexually compulsive orders such as porn addiction and sex addiction, I spend a lot of time talking to men in committed relationships about their sexual feelings towards other women.
These discussions range from whether watching porn without their partners knowledge is considered “cheating” all the way to their guilt or lack of guilt at the prospect of having sex with other women outside their relationship.
All of these are valid topics, but today, I will be going straight for the jugular. I will be addressing men who in one way or the other are justifying (or have already justified) their infidelity.
Whether the path to your stepping out begins with pornography, romantic chat sites, hookup apps, webcam sex, a coworker, or straight up meeting women on business trips, there are a few things you need to know.
There are, in my coaching experience, four main reasons why men turn to infidelity.
- You are unsatisfied in your relationship: Maybe she never lost that bit of weight she gained during her pregnancy. Maybe she doesn’t support your new idea to start a business on the side and eventually quit your job. Maybe she’s just not interested in sex anymore, or shes too focused on her career. Perhaps your feel she’s spending too much time having cocktails with her newly divorced girlfriends. Either way, this wasn’t what you signed up for, you are not pleased with the situation and infidelity beckons like a siren in the stormy ocean of your unhappiness.
- You have low self esteem: You don’t feel attractive, manly, desirable or as successful as you “should” be. You also don’t possess the know-how to build up your self-esteem, so you gravitate towards other forms of validation. You’re the man spending money in the private video chatroom online. The one who is always in the private VIP room of the strip club. You’re the guy visiting the high class escort, or playing sugar daddy to a younger, college-age mistress on the side. These women make you feel desirable, wealthy and special.
- You’re an asshole: I’m kinda kidding. I mean you are a narcissist. From day one, you knew that you were going to break your vows….but you didn’t care, because that’s just you. Zero empathy. You may have been a “player” back in the day, but social pressure, or some other circumstance forced you into marriage. You spend more time defending your decision to step out than you do caring about the reaction of your partner.
- You are severely addicted to pornography or sex: You became addicted either due to repeated exposure as a means of dealing with stress at a young age or due to childhood trauma. Whatever the case is, for sexual addicts who haven’t acted out yet, it is only a matter of time before you seek sex out side your relationship. Honestly, if you are a sexual addict, you have probably already stepped out on your wife several times. Additionally, you may be in all three of the above situations as well.
There are solutions to the above reasons through masculine peer support (Iron Council), therapy and recovery coaching for those with sexual addiction.
So how does infidelity affect your wife or committed partner?
The most challenging clients in my practice are betrayed wives. Professionalism aside, as a man who lived a hedonistic life to the fullest before my recovery from porn addiction, I can’t help but feel the pain of these women.
I’ve been on both ends of the situation and being on the receiving end definitely elicits more emotional trauma.
See, the biggest issue is that the trust she had in you is completely destroyed.
This may sound exaggerated, because typically, what most men know of women who were betrayed is that they are “hurt”, they “cry”, but they eventually “move on”. Unfortunately. Those are the exceptions to the rule. Here is a sampling of the more common reactions a woman experiences when she finds out her apparently committed partner has betrayed her:
- Mood swings and unexplained bouts of crying
- Random nightmares
- Onset of addiction in the form of sexual addiction or substance addiction
- Compulsive fear of mental illness (“Am I losing my mind?”)
- Compulsive watching over her partner in the form of going through your phone, wallet, monitoring your movement
- Continued attempts to predict future infidelity
- Loss of motivation for career
In fact, a lot of therapists compare the symptoms of partners who were cheated on as similar to the symptoms of PTSD.
Your infidelity will flip the life of your partner upside down.
If you are the sort of man who struggles with low self esteem, or were unhappy/bored in your relationship and got found out or perhaps felt guilty and decided to reveal it, I assure you- dealing with these emotions from your partner will be a long, long journey, which many couples don’t survive.
If you are legally married with kids, your decision may affect your finances in the form of alimony for many years or decades to come.
One of the true tests of a man are his decisions when his integrity is under fire.. We cannot deny the biological aspect of our relationships. You are a man. You will always experience an attraction to other human beings. You also knew that before you made a commitment.
If your excuse is that you married early- if society/hollywood/your family/your religion encouraged you to make a commitment and put a ring on a woman’s finger before you knew how strong the urge to have sex outside of your relationship could be, you don’t get a pass.
You still have an obligation to you commitment. If you are unhappy, its is YOUR responsibility to fix it. Sometimes, your partner may refuse to change, or may exhibit behaviors that are detrimental to your happiness and safety and that of your children. If a separation is in order- face her and bring it up after all other avenues have been exhausted.
It’s quite natural to sometimes view your unhappiness or discontent in your relationship as a burden. Something you don’t deserve to be yoked with. For a large majority of men in committed relationships, once they begin working serious on themselves- their self esteem, their needs, their past trauma, they notice that their partner aligns herself with them once again. Take a long hard look at yourself first before you put the blame on someone else. Are you still on your path? Is your mission for yourself and your family still solid? Or did you let the foundation of your family erode by taking progress for granted?
Relationships take constant work. Whatever the situation, your integrity and masculinity demands that you face the battle within yourself and in your relationship squarely without taking the easy way out.
J.K Emezi is the founder of Elevated Recovery and a licensed addiction recovery professional who specializes in sexually compulsive disorders and pornography addiction in men and women. He overcame a 13-year addiction habit and is now dedicated to helping men and women improve their lives by ridding themselves of disruptive sexual habits and addictions while improving themselves and their relationships.