Welcome back to Ask Dad, the column made specifically for those moments when you really need a guy's opinion. I'm just the guy for the job, too, because I'm full of opinions. Just ask my wife.
This week's question is from Kathleen, who asks:
MOST men will cheat, if they really think they won't get caught, and MOST men cheat even if they think they might get caught. What is up with that? Don't vows mean ANYTHING to men?
Most men will cheat? Really? And you know this how?
Though it may seem like most men are unfaithful, thanks in large part to all the high-profile cheaters in the news lately, most statistics don't support your assertion. Figures vary wildly though -- some put the incidence of men cheating as high as 60 to 70 percent, but most studies put the number under 50 percent, with some as low as 20 percent.
Know what's funny, though? The same research shows the percentage of women cheaters to be almost as high as the men, usually just a few percentage points behind. So let's be clear: Some, not most, men will cheat, and some women will cheat, too. The view of horny, drooling men out prowling the streets for action like packs of wild dogs while their poor clueless wives sit at home knitting and feeding the baby is a view that is outdated and unfair. Yes, men cheat. So do women. Both are wrong.
As for the why, I honestly don't know. There are plenty of theories, but no easy answer. I've personally known three men who cheated on their wives, and each had different reasons: One's wife stopped sleeping with him, one was secretly gay, and one said he just "fell into it," whatever that means. Maybe he slipped on a banana peel and his penis accidentally fell into her vagina. It could happen. No, really.
In his landmark 20th-century research on human sexual habits, Alfred Kinsey cited numerous factors linked to an increased risk of infidelity, including being in a long-term relationship, having had a high number of sexual partners, living in a larger city, and more. Other research blames biology, sex addiction, narcissism, a loss of fun and spontaneity in the relationship -- you name it, it's a factor. You can find lists of reasons men cheat all over the web, but no two are alike, which should tell you something.
It would be nice to be able to pinpoint the exact causes of cheating so that we could do more to prevent it, but the problem isn't that simple. It's a human issue, and humans are complex creatures; there's no one-size-fits-all answer. I think every case is different and has any number of different causes and rationalizations and guilty parties. All we can do is assess our own relationships and see where improvements can be made that might keep us or our partners from straying.
Luckily, the odds appear to be against it happening to you, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can to make sure they stay that way.
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