Why Men Cheat…
Catchy, don’t you think?
Alluring. Attractive…maybe even a wee bit Taboo…heck, that’s gotta be sexy, right?!
And sadly not an original title from MsBurb.
Months back, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) had on it’s series, “Doc Zone”, the issue of why men often feel compelled to cheat on women and whether or not there was a reasonable explanation of this phenomena in our human socio-biological-cultural condition.
The documentary, curiously enough, had on only male “experts” interviewed – either writers on the subject or psychologists explaining the behaviour. The show host was, curiously still, a woman. Don’t you just WUV the CBC for its’ passion for the predictable?!
Many celeb-types/power-brokers were listed as former cheaters, of course;
- Dominic Strauss-Kahn, former Director of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and once potential candidate for President of France
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California and ex-husband of Kennedy-clan family member, Maria Shriver
- John Edwards, former American Presidential Candidate
- Bill Clinton, former American President
- Mel Gibson, film actor/producer
- Tiger Woods, professional golfer
In a survey conducted prior to this documentary, it was discovered that 90% of men find cheating on their partner to be “wrong” yet 75% of men stated that if they would NEVER be caught, they WOULD cheat. In a pro-monogamous society, that percentage is rather disturbing to say the least and begs the question: Are we as a species living and loving as we should or are societal pressures forcing us to live against our natural “norm”?
As members of the animal kingdom and direct descendants of primates (99% DNA similarity to chimps and bonobos), human males, like all primates, were originally hard-wired to have many female partners, that to do so defined the prowess “success” of the male. Conversely, female primates were hard-wired to be loyal to only one male partner, usually seeking out the most desirous Alpha Male that could be sought in the wild. This genetically designed component of our beings insured that the healthy/more powerful male could spread his seed as far and as wide as was possible for as long as he was alive, guaranteeing his lineage and the healthy preservation of the species. Females could ensure their physical security in the wild by being “kept” by the Alpha Males in the forest and with each female raising the children, that same Alpha Male would know which children were his. Primates still practise this way of socializing and although we can never be sure that it is emotionally accepted by the female primates, this method of coupling continues to be a successful one for both sexes as per procreation and preservation.
The fly in the ointment came when humans developed an Ego that seems to be not as prevalent with any other species. Humans developed the need to define personal success with Pride of “Ownership”, that whoever “belongs” to them is the essence of their own personal worth. Hence, disloyalty to that notion and abandonment issues reign supreme as to defining failure for the human Ego and how humans behave when that failure is present. Over time, to protect us from such failure, and with the rise of the sexual power of women, society instigated forced monogamy, saying that the true “quality” of a relationship and the health of a family could only be found with one man staying loyal to one woman, until death they do part.
Sounds nice, huh? An idyllic romance. Such “Happily Ever After” endings are found in all the children’s fairy tales, aren’t they? But is this societal expectation reasonable or even possible?
Not one species of primates, other than humans, are monogamous. Yet, you don’t see female chimps burning the clothes of their Alpha male partners on the front lawn of their forest abode if that male chimp had a one-off with another cutesy-pie female primate, now do ya?
In more recent times, we have even gone so far as to assume that the monogamous male is the more trustworthy and responsible male, making marital loyalty a paramount trait in men who become candidates for political leadership, for example. The ironic twist on this is that the more publically conservative the political group, often the more privately promiscuous. The American Republic National Convention springs to mind where Tampa, often that convention locale, is the Strip Club capital of the U.S.
The dichotomy as I see in this issue it is that men can compartmentalize marriage and cheating whereas women cannot. To the male viewpoint, to have an affair does not in any way detract from the love and they have for their life partner, extra-curricular sex is just that – sex – and often men can’t see why we women make it out to be more than it is. To the female viewpoint, we see it as a personal failure, that we no longer feel worthy nor protected nor cherished by our partner if he chooses to go off and copulate with another female. We women “assume” that the Marriage Certificate ensures he will never want to stray and although the male heart may agree, often the male body cannot.
There is as well the need for males to seek out younger females when their partner is growing older. Again, this is hard-wiring in the males that to copulate with a younger female will better ensure procreation as the chances of impregnating an older female diminish over time.
Testosterone levels also play a huge part in the psyche and behaviour of the human male. Dr. Paul Zak of the Glendale, California Testosterone testing lab has studied men and their T levels attempting to find the reasons for the cheating desire. It is known that the average male has 10 times the amount of Testosterone in his system than that of the average female and males who are more professionally successful/wield more social power have been found to have even higher levels of T. The greater the sexual drive of a man can ensure the perpetuation of the species and this drive can be seen in A-Type personality men in many ways other than just sexual. These over-achiever males tend to have more instances of cheating, or at least the secret desire to cheat, again harking back to the need to spread his seed and continue his lineage. Dr. Zak also found that married men, who already had children, had a lower T level, suggesting that because he has already successfully procreated the desire to continue with such activity is not as strong.
The most ironic, if not just plain sad, twist of over-achieving men who choose to cheat is that they usually end up gambling and losing all they had before they cheated, the affair not being worth the marital/familial loss. Outside-of-marriage affairs usually just involve bodily lust over emotional attachment/love and this strictly sexual desire usually wears off in 1-2 years. But by then, often the male has been “found out” by his life partner and the success he had in his marriage, the closeness to his children, the accumulation of material wealth within the marital bond will be taken from him by his spurned spouse, leaving him with a fizzled-out affair, a divorce, possible estrangement from his children, removal from the marital home and severe financial loss.
Scientists have discovered what is thought to be a “Promiscuity Gene” – Dopamine D4 Receptor – and when this gene is present in a male, that male’s risk-taking willingness is usually 2.5 times higher than the average male, directly influencing career and/or personal/sexual desires. Yet, discovery of this gene hasn’t provided an answer for how to control such over-achieving desires. Societal pressures to repress such risk-taking can and have backfired and could be possibly blamed for incentivizing the Divorce Rate for the latter 20th and 21st Centuries. We as a society have decided to equate sexual fidelity with love, not necessarily mutually exclusive nor psychologically healthy. Tests have also shown that a greater level of empathy and care for others shows a lower Testosterone level so there might be a link between narcissism and cheating as well.
The good news if there need be some is that in the human male the Pre-Frontal Cortex can inhibit the desire to act out on these age-old primate instincts because we have the power to decide to act upon them or not, mere biology alone is no excuse for cheating. But if a couple enters a relationship where cheating is considered the zero-tolerance death-knell for the relationship, they may have already signed the Death Warrant for that coupling. There has to be an awareness of why humans think and act as they do and a maturity to understand the consequences of any actions taken. The ironic twist on all of this is that when studied, men are at their most content when married, sexual freedom not being the lynch-pin to life happiness for the male species.
My Solution: A 3-week “vacation” to a long-lost tropical island, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, a mandatory annual retreat for humanity, whereby couples are forced to return to their primordial behavioural instincts – the males fornicating at will with as many females on this island as they desire, the females being willing to accept such wanton male behaviour thrust upon them. Yeah, I know, I can hear the ERA Movement feminists screaming in my ears as I type this but heck, lying, sneaking around, divorce and bankruptcy is better? You’d act like apes for three weeks out of every year on “Isle-De-No-Care” and act like socialized human beings the rest of the time Back Home…it’s just a thought. Oh, and if you as a female on this island would find this “vacation” disturbing, never fear, they have a GRRRREAT Mia Tai wet bar on the beach…drink up, get hosed, leave your civilized cares behind on the boat and if need be wear horse blinders!
(P.S. If all of a sudden after you have read this post, MsBurb cannot be found anywhere online, you know I’ve started up this island retreat…a girl has to make a living somehow, you know?)
Title Photo from wiznation.com, D4 Receptor Gene drawing from scientificchick.blogspot.com, Hayman Island photo from wandermelon.com