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November 3, 2015 at 11:18 AM #3019
There’s rarely just one reason behind a woman’s decision to stray. To understand that itch, we went to the sources. These are the stories of four women who stepped out. Recognize anyone?
When Sam discovered that his wife had cheated on him, he was enraged. “He kept saying I ruined his world and broke his heart, and that this came out of nowhere,” says Eileen, who’s now his ex-wife. She understood his anger but not his surprise—she’d been telling him for years how miserable she was, but he’d just brush it off.
Men often claim the high ground when their partners cheat, but that’s missing the point. “People don’t just cheat for no reason, usually,” says Jennifer Harman, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Colorado State University. “If women feel they were betrayed first, that betrayal—even if it didn’t involve cheating—can help justify their own behavior.” And while men are statistically the bigger cheaters, the percentage of women having affairs rose almost 40 percent in the past 20 years, to about 14 percent, a National Opinion Research Center study found. (Men held steady at about 20 percent.)
The good news, says Harman, is that often you can stop a partner from cheating, but it requires work and sacrifice. Are you up for it? We asked four cheaters to tell their stories so you can learn from their partners’ mistakes.
“I felt stupid and alone.”
My boyfriend used to act like I was fascinating. But after a while, he’d barely ask how my day went. He even stopped wanting sex. One night, while he was home working, I put on see-through lingerie—I needed him to want me. He waved me off—he had e-mails to write.
A few months later, my mom went into the hospital. I was crying on the couch, but instead of coming over to hug me, he said, “It’s in God’s hands.” Maybe that was true, but it wasn’t comforting.
So I left and went to visit my mom. My ex heard I was in town and called me. He was patient and caring—basic stuff that my current boyfriend just wouldn’t give me. We talked for hours, moving closer on the couch, eventually holding hands, and soon we were back in my old bedroom together. The sex really wasn’t good. It felt like watching a rerun on TV. But in the moment, at least, it reminded me of what it was like to have a boyfriend who cared about me. And that felt good.
I didn’t regret it afterward, and I still don’t. For me—and for most women, I think—sex is really tied up with emotional connection. I wasn’t getting it from my boyfriend, but for that night, at least, I found it with my ex. Then I traveled back home, and fell into a spiral of deceit: My hiding innocent lunches turned into hiding flirty text messages with guys. I never actually cheated again, but I always wanted to. After a few months, I realized that meant it was time to break up. So I moved out.
Watch For: Boredom. “Passion ebbs as once-exciting things become routine,” says Dylan Selterman, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Maryland. “Lack of novelty is strongly linked to dissatisfaction.”
Pull Her Back: As often as you can, take the initiative to try new things that can expand your relationship, says Selterman. “Novel experiences, such as concerts or cooking classes—whatever may interest you both—will trigger excitement and help resolidify your bond.”
“I was always wrong.”
Sam and I met in the city, but when we got married, he wanted to buy a place out in the woods. At first it sounded exciting—the two of us shacked up, christening every room. But the fun wore off fast, and Sam just wanted to stay home. If I made plans, he’d guilt me—saying I was overspending. I was trapped. Three years went by like this.
Online message boards became my social life. That’s how I met Andy. E-mails turned into flirty Gchats. One day, he flat-out asked if I was unhappy in my marriage. Then he invited me to his house. I said no but kept flirting. Finally, one night I told my husband I was going to visit my brother, and I went to Andy’s.
It felt like living someone else’s life. Andy opened the door and said, “I’m glad you came.” Total cliché. We walked to his living room and sat down. I had no idea what to do; I hadn’t had a booty call since college. We made awkward chitchat until he finally just leaned in and kissed me. My whole body felt awakened. We ripped each other’s clothes off and had sex on his couch. I drove home feeling giddy.
The next day, by e-mail, I dumped years of pent-up needs on Andy: I wanted to see him, date him, leave my husband for him. In turn, Andy disappeared—he didn’t want any of that. A few months later my husband found out. I was mostly just relieved. We divorced. I moved back to the city. We talk sometimes, but he still doesn’t accept any of the blame. I’m done trying to convince him.
Watch For: Petty disputes. These arguments reflect deeper, underlying insecurities, and conflict increases stress levels, which can cause sexual satisfaction to dip, says Selterman.
Pull Her Back: Admit when she’s right, says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a Manhattan-based marriage therapist. She’ll be more open to compromise if you’re listening to her. Then pitch a solution: If she’s overspending, for instance, try working out a budget together.
“He was always working.”
We needed to talk. “I have some time around 9 p.m. on Sunday,” Steve said. This was exactly the problem—he was a workaholic. I’d end up in bed alone every night. And when we were together, we’d only talk shop—we worked in the same field—which made us sound like two bored colleagues. Think I wanted to have sex after that?
One night, while Steve was at the office, I met some friends at a bar and started talking to Justin, who didn’t care about work—his or mine. I was shocked by what a turn-on it was. My friends left, but I stayed behind. Soon, Justin and I were drunkenly making out. It just felt so good to be desired.
I slept over at his place that night. The next morning, as we walked down the street, he tried to hold my hand. I freaked out and pulled away. I was worried that we’d run into people I knew, but I also couldn’t wait to escape. That’s when I realized I needed to escape my boyfriend too.
Weeks later, I tried to break up with Steve. He brushed me off; he had work to do. When it finally happened, I’m not sure if he was surprised or just relieved. But now he can do what he loves full-time. I’m still looking for more.
Watch For: Failure to unplug. Communication levels drop when you’re always at your boss’s (or anyone else’s) beck and call, which leaves your partner feeling neglected, Hokemeyer says.
Pull Her Back: Create tech-free zones, says Hokemeyer—in bed, for instance, or at the dinner table. You’ll be more focused and attentive, and she’ll have a chance to express her needs, which Selterman says will help increase her overall relationship happiness.
“I felt cheap.”
I adore Johnny—he’s funny, caring, a great dresser. But there are downsides: His place is a dump. He works at a thrift store. He’s a stoner. And he refuses to grow up: He got married young, divorced, and now says he’s enjoying his second childhood. We click well, and the sex is great. So I’m torn.
Then there’s Brad. We met at a mutual friend’s party, started texting, and meet up while Johnny is at work. He’s a little boring, but he’s in law school and acts like an adult. Once, after a few drinks, he touched my face and said, “This was wonderful. You’re so intelligent.” I nearly melted. When he invited me to his place a few days later, I said yes.
I hurried inside, hoping not to be spotted. Brad, it turns out, really likes rough sex, which I didn’t see coming. We actually only fooled around. He bit me a few times, and when I said, “Ouch!” he just laughed and bit me again.
So now here’s the past month of my life: Johnny, who thinks we’re exclusive, feels like my teenage summer fling. Brad, who knows nothing about Johnny, is my adult affair. I wish I could combine them into a fun-loving, career-focused guy. Instead, I feel this is going to end badly. It’s just a matter of how.
Watch For: Feeling too cozy. Ambitious and confident men are more attractive than men who avoid challenges, Selterman says. Likewise, women may drift away from men who have no drive.
Pull Her Back: Make a small change—like a new diet—but give her the credit. Then create a list of goals, share them with her, and enlist her help in achieving them. “Being invested in your success will make her burst with pride when you succeed,” Selterman says.
Culled from http://www.menshealth.com/
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