How to Prevent Infidelity

by Dan on July 31, 2009

infidelity

I’m getting some “Google love” lately on this site.  My post on “How to Break an Addiction to Tylenol PM” is getting traffic from Google searchers with this problem.

This is what makes titling this article difficult.  I think most people who search for this topic, preventing infidelity, are trying to figure out how to keep their husbands from straying, or their girlfriends from shacking up with a coworker while on a corporate retreat.

The truth is that I’m not sure you can prevent those things from happening.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  There are definitely things you can do to not make it blatantly likely your loved one will cheat.  Don’t deny him or her sex for long periods of time, don’t work 80 hour weeks, and don’t take an occupation where you’re away for 6 months or more at a time. Oh… and don’t support any spouse’s dreams to be a rock star or professional wrestler.  “I love you just how you are honey, you don’t need to be famous. [pat, pat]”

However, those are just basic standards for any healthy romantic relationship

Once you’re in a relationship, if you’re trying to figure out how to keep your partner from straying, you are way past the point of preventative action.  There are certain personalities who cheat, and ones who don’t.

There are some key differences between men and women who cheat.  In general, men  who cheated saw it happening a mile away, and for women, it “just happened.”  There are, of course women that plan their nights on the prowl, but I think the vast majority of female cheaters just “fall” into the situation.

I’m using quotations in these descriptions, because any excuse someone has for cheating is silly, morality aside.  Right or wrong, it’s always preventable, but the prevention comes from the potential cheater, not the potential victim of the affair.

Having had many female friends and experiencing the San Diego nightlife for six years, I can tell you the only women who don’t cheat are ones who flawlessly stay out of bad situations.

What is different about these women?  I’ll give a few examples.

They politely excuse themselves if they are getting turned on by charming man who just approached them at the club.

They switch personal trainers at the gym if the guy they’re set up with is a hot hunk of steel.  Instead they choose a woman or an older man they’re not attracted to.

Most importantly, they know better than to be alone behind closed doors with another man offering alcohol.

Aren’t these no brainers?

I would think so, but I know and have heard of too many women who fall into these traps.  Women often have the ability to either attach excess meaning to a situation, or completely remove the blatantly obvious meaning right in front of them.

A handsome coworker invites her to lunch.  “It’s just a friendly meeting.”

He says he has a band and offers to show her his CD’s at his place a block away.  “We’re just friends, nothing’s going to happen.”

He invites her to a party the next week with alcohol flowing.  “Just being social.”

After some beers he invites her to his room to show her his new song on his guitar.

You get the idea.

You may wonder why I am talking about this happening with women and not men.

The reason is that if a man is going to cheat, it doesn’t “just happen.”  Maybe he falls to temptation at the very end, but there’s never any doubt that he’s in the danger zone, from the beginning.  For most men, by the time they cheat, they’re not wondering if it’s going to happen; they’re hoping it’s going to happen.

For both genders, however, I’d say that it’s essential to have a healthy guard about what temptation you can handle, and what you can’t.

I’d say anyone will cheat given the right circumstances.  And by the “right circumstances,” I’m including a loving husband waking up in a bolted-shut penthouse, with a naked Angelina Jolie who hasn’t seen Brad in 8 months, and dying for some action.   If you told that man he just had to last 48 hours in there with Angelina, with food and bathroom service provided, you’re putting him in a very difficult situation that few men could stand.

Most men are completely safe from that occurring, and can easily stay out of dangerville if they choose to.

Besides affairs being easier to predict from a man’s point of view, they’re also much harder to pull off.  For just about every woman, sex is a choice.  For most men, securing a new sexual relationship requires some real effort, as well as luck.  If the average man was mad at his girlfriend and wanted to go score, he could approach 10 women at a bar, and likely not even get a phone number, depending on his fortune that night.

For a woman looking to score, if she had the (rare) courage to approach 10 men that night, sex would happen in a matter of hours.  This isn’t even counting the men who would approach her.  In fact, a woman could just wear a shirt saying “Single and Looking,” or even just “Horny,” and all potential suitors would line up.  A man doing that would just be laughed at and ignored.

I was a psychology major in college, so I am well aware that according to statistical studies, more men cheat than women.

I’ve considered this deeply, and have come to the conclusion that this study completely neglected to factor in the “It doesn’t count” component.

The breadth of what “It doesn’t count” can cover has baffled me to no end.

Here are a few ways that sex can “not count.”  These are occasions I’ve either heard directly from women, or from friends who didn’t mind sleeping with women who had boyfriends at the time:

It doesn’t count because…

“I was drunk”

“It was Vegas”

“We had a fight, so we’d sort had broken up for a moment.” (Without the guy knowing they were on break, of course)

“It was my childhood sweetheart, so it was just us having our moment we never had as teenagers.  We needed closure.”

“He was gay and wanted to try it out” (No joke, this really happened.  By the way, the guy wasn’t gay, just creative)

“He was in Iraq for 5 months.  He left me.  What am I supposed to do, just wait?” (Without the guy being told the new relationship status, of course)

“I found out he was flirting with other girls, so he was unfaithful too.  It was even.” (Flirting = Penetration?)

There was another woman I know that wasn’t unfaithful, but didn’t count sex with her date because he had trouble staying up, was only inside for a minute, and neither party orgasmed.  Therefore, they didn’t have sex at all, according to her.

Some of these rationalizations are clearly ridiculous.  If you’re a woman thinking I’m unfairly generalizing, consider whether friends of yours have ever said something similar to the quotes above.

Without being sexist, we can acknowledge that men and women often can have different common personality flaws.  A man is far more likely to be unfairly jealous, cheap, controlling, or violent than a woman is.  Men and women are equal in value and intelligence, but the genders are far from identical emotionally.

One last thought I’d like to leave you with is a loving warning.

If you think you are the type who would never cheat under any circumstances whatsoever, then you are in deep danger of having infidelity show up in your life at some point.

Why is this?

It’s because if you think you are incapable of cheating, you ignore all the warning signs and assume that you can walk away from a growing flirtation at any moment.  Accept your imperfect humanity.  It’s the best way to be.

–Dan

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katie March 16, 2010 at 12:02 am

Dan, You are so right. My mom and dad have been married forty years, still flirt with eachother and spend every waking moment together, in the house doing their respective hobbies, or on vacations or out to dinner. But my mom still told me…never think you are immune, that is the biggest trap of all. If a guy who I liked in highschool contacts me on facebook, i don’t accept the friend request or I ignore the messages. Cute guy in a bar looking? Turn my back and engage in deep conversation with my girlfriend. Man at work visiting me at my desk too much? Drop comments about my boyfriend left and right. All this said, I was married and my husband cheated. Now I have a boyfriend and he has cheated I just found out, with multiple women. It hurts so, so badly. I can only console myself knowing I would not create this suffering in another. He had his reasons for cheating, in this case culturally self-justified as he is from a culture where it is not taboo. However, he knew how I would feel, and did not mind. Making another person suffer was his choice, I can only be glad that I am who I am. It hurts, but I need to take care and nurture myself, and re-double my efforts to make sure I never do this to anyone.

2 Dan March 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Dear Katie,

Thank you so much for your personal, heartfelt response. I hope many men read this and know women like you are out there, because believe me, you are in high demand. Even I wonder at times if there are women who are, as I said, “flawless at staying out of bad situations,” but you surely meet that definition from your above comment.

Remember that many men do not cheat, but it looks like you’re choosing men who do, though this is obviously not your plan. It’s a long talked about concept in relationship psychology where people will pursue or attract new mates who match the flaws of their ex’s. It’s most commonly observed in women who are physically assaulted by their mates. They have every intention of meeting a man who would never hurt them again, but somehow unconsciously spot out the men most likely to beat them and start relationships, and are then surprised how this could happen yet again.

With some insight into yourself, you won’t have this infidelity issue much longer. A woman with your clear headedness, self-control, and compassionate resolve to stay kind no matter what happens, is a rare person that myself and countless other men look for all the time.

Thanks again for your note.

–Dan

3 Cara Rogers April 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

This post is so right! I’ve heard these excuses from friends time and time again and I always say “uhuh sure yeah it doesn’t count” with loads of sarcasm. Its refreshing to see the other side of the cheating world as I have been a part of it and didn’t like how it turned out at all. Great article and very creative writing I enjoyed reading it.

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