"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character...Would you slow down? Or speed up?" — Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, July 11, 2011

Manic Mondays - Why Do We Cheat?

Here We Go Again! That was one of my favorite little sayings until that beer company hijacked it. Oh well still kind of appropriate for this post.

I was over at my newest favorite social media site (still not facebook) and someone asked a question, "Why Do Men and Women Cheat?" I am glad the original poster of said question included women too because most times its all the mans fault and the question is usually "Why Do Men Cheat?", but us men gotta cheat with someone cause not all of us are gay. However, all you have to do is check out "Jerry Springer" or an episode of "Cheaters" to realize a LOT of people cheat even the gays. It doesn't matter if your filthy rich or profoundly poor, what culture you claim, whether your a democrat or republican, young or old. It's happened, it happens, it's happening and it doesn't look like it will never stop. Just like the constant question "WHY?". You might as well be asking, "Why are we here?" or "Which came first the egg or some animal that eventually evolved into the modern day chicken?" (there's a hint there).

There are as many reasons as there are people and I want to examine some of those reasons. The first reason I always think of when this question pops up is nature. Part of the reason we are here is to propagate the species, being fruitful and multiplying. We naturally seek out what we perceive as the best mate that we believe will produce the best offspring, but apparently our perceptions really suck, or is it really in our nature to be in lifelong relationships with one individual?

Before marriage was made into the institution it has become it was thought our early ancestors lived in groups sort of like animals for example like a wolf pack, where there were a few dominant males who shared a group of desirable females and the children. As time went on and we evolved from the hunter gathers to a more agrarian society or farmers for short, the trend of needing to know who's kid was who's was more important. I am thinking that it was for the purposes of carrying on certain traits, strengths and traditions. In other words if Ogg was a great hunter but the son Ogg claimed was a little feminine it might not have been his son. Plus Ogg might have wanted to leave his land that he farmed after he stopped hunting to his legitimate offspring and there was no sure way back then of knowing which kid was actually Oggs. Kronk might have slept with Loki right before Ogg and it might have been Kronks son or daughter. Today we have "Maury" for that, but back then all they had to go on was traits and looks.

The earliest recorded history of the one woman for a man trend was back in Mesopotamia about 2350. Before that was One Million Years BC with Loana (played by Raquel Welch) and Tumak (played by John Richardson) I actually thought Tumak was Charlton Heston for the longest time but I was wrong. Anyway, what we have to recognize is those relationships had very little to do with love or whether or not we wanted to be with each other or not. Early on it was a way to make sure a mans kids were legitimately his. Ancient African and Hebrew's could have many wives and them nasty ass Greeks and Romans could have concubines, prostitutes and even teenage boys to satisfy their sexual urges. Over the next few thousand years religion evolved Christianity in particular and marriage became an institution, still nothing like we have now but it was a little better for the female. Christianity taught men to treat their wives better and forbid them from divorcing but that did not stop men from doing what they did. And even after religion came into the picture love still hadn't entered into the marriage equation, most marriages were arranged for practical reasons, to stop wars and to keep the royal bloodlines pure. Now I am sure some of the arrangements over time became romantic and there was a mutual love and respect for each other but love didn't figure prominently until the middle ages as far as white folks go. I personally do not believe it took Christianity to teach men because a lot of ancient cultures already revered their women and they were spiritual teachers and priests. I won't go into a lot of history here, I suggest the Metu Neter for further reading and better understanding, but in ancient African and even Sub Saharan Indian cultures the female was empowered and played major roles in the history and cultures of these ancient civilizations of course until Christianity came along. Even when love actually entered the picture, and I will go back as far as King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, there was cheating as Lancelot had an affair with Queen Guinevere.

As animal lust evolved into love women's roles were no longer just to serve the man in fact it was now the man's role to serve the woman he wanted to have or "loved". However, for centuries men were still considered owners of their wives. Even when the first settlers came to America -when polygamy, having multiple wives was still an accepted practice- the husbands ownership was recognized by a legal doctrine called coverture absorbing the wives identity into his. That is the reason women give up their last names until today. Now part of that is tradition but until women were given the right to vote back in the 1920's they were still not considered citizens, they were just one rung up the ladder from black people. After women gained rights marriage changed dramatically, now the union was between two equal citizens. So the whole concept of a private relationship for the fulfillment of two equal individuals is still fairly new maybe 90 years as opposed to the previous 5000. In other words both men and women have had to learn and teach each other what a relationship should be. But love and sex are not the same thing and we constantly confuse the two and while we as humans need both again I have to stress they are not mutual.

So along comes this guy named Maslow and he comes up with this theory of needs , which is illustrated in the following diagram and they are all part of evolution this time however a mental evolution where the goal is self actualization which is a beautiful place to be...

As you can see we have basic needs that have to be met which is on the lower end of the scale. Not meeting these basic needs can and will result in death, you can do without them for a while but they have to be met eventually. Sex is one of those basic needs. As we travel up the scale we come to love and surely that is the goal to evolve as humans to reach the top of the scale but not everyone makes it to the top of the scale as you can plainly see in your daily interactions with people. A lot of us get stuck in the lower level of the scale and surely this attributes to the reason we cheat. A big part of this is the misunderstanding that love and sex are not the same thing. For example and you can check Masters and Johnson on this, but most people can have sex with multiple partners and love never enters their minds. They are just satisfying a need. And then there are others that claim to love one person exclusively but still can have sex with multiple partners. Rationalizing that it's just sex. However, this is where societal pressures kick in. Things like religious teachings, what others think of us, which is another step in the hierarchical of needs, gender stereotypes, body images and a basic misunderstanding of what love really is. So as we move up the scale or evolve this becomes a real challenge because while love becomes a real need to move on we still have to deal with our basic needs, you know the needs that if they are not met we could very well die from not meeting them. Now I am not saying that we have to have sex, personally I can go months without sex, but I am not that pleasant to deal with. As are most people that don't get some every now and then. And on a serious note going without one of our basic needs has to throw our balance off ie; I am not a good person to deal with after three months of no sex and in extreme cases this could possibly lead to rape and other dysfunctional behavior. I guess one could argue that if we just evolve beyond our basic needs we could eliminate cheating. Oh if it was really just that easy!

I would risk a guess we have to consider the individual, how they were raised and how they deal with societal pressures. When we do evolve, we change and sometimes that change involves not feeling the same way about the person that we fell in love with or in a relationship with. It used to be men cheated for purely physical reasons and women cheated because they were unhappy but that has gone out the window. Now in 2000 just as many women cheat as men for purely physical reasons or to meet needs and men are falling in love with the "other woman". Welcome to equality folks! But don't take my word for it check this out...

The reasons we cheat are more complex than you may think, and the motivations are vastly different for each person.

Emotional Needs Not Met

When one partner feels lonely, misunderstood, ignored or emotionally "uncared" for by their mate, the stage is set for infidelity. It's cases like these where the person will seek to have their emotional needs met by talking with friends and coworkers, perhaps even confiding in them about their relationship problems.

If a physical attraction exists between the person and the new confidante, it could lead to first flirting and then all-out cheating.

Physical Needs Not Met

Similar to emotional needs, if a person isn't satisfied by their partner physically, they may seek this out from another person. This could be done consciously or unconsciously, but a person who feels isolated physically will often be drawn to someone who shows them affection and physical attention, which could lead to infidelity.

A relationship that's in constant turmoil grows an environment ripe for cheating.

Constant Conflict Within the Relationship

If the relationship is plagued with problems - -these could be related to finances, different values, in-laws, career, location, etc. -- a person may seek refuge in the arms of someone else. This may be done as a way to escape from the conflicts at hand, or a person may cheat to make themselves feel better about the conflict (for instance, a man who loses his job and feels unable to provide for his family who has an affair with a younger woman, which makes him feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth).

One Person Just Wants Excitement and Attention

Sometimes couples get stuck in the routine of everyday life so severely that it leads one partner to stray. It may be a mid-life crisis of sorts, a way to recapture youth or just a strong feeling of wanting some excitement (for some, an affair can add excitement just for the very fact that it is "forbidden).

Along these lines, a person may cheat to feel they're desirable to another person (not just to their mate). When a person cheats for this reason, it's often to enhance their own self-esteem -- and, "There is nothing like a flirtation to restore a sense of self-esteem," says Sheppard, "But sometimes that flirtation gets taken to far."


There are those out there who simply believe they are entitled to more than one intimate partner. Perhaps they are following "traditions" set up by their family, in which one parent was overly flirtatious or cheated, or they may just do it because they feel they can.

To End a Relationship

A person who is unhappy in a relationship may cheat as a way out. They may do so hoping to get caught, and therefore thrown out of the relationship, or they may be seeking to find a new mate and start a new relationship before letting go of the former, unhappy one. Says Lonnie Barbach, PhD, co-author of Going the Distance: Finding and Keeping Lifelong Love, of this type of cheating, "[It's] different from the person who cheats while maintaining the dating relationship--this person is much more likely to cheat during marriage." [Source]

Personally I still think it has a lot to do with how we are wired as animals and the fact that we are only in our 92nd year of looking at this from both perspectives equally. We also have just begun to break the habits of almost 5000 years of mental conditioning. Like I stated earlier there really isn't a definitive answer and there are as many "reasons" as there are people and until we all evolve up the hierarchy of needs, realize that sex and love are not exclusive and get a better understanding of love, which is loving all people equally, or come to a universal mindset we are gonna cheat.

Hear are a couple of things to ponder as you try to find the answer that works best for you, "No animal is 100% exclusive 100% of the time" and from a mans perspective, "We men never really grow up, we give in!"

We Are All Just Like Fat Kids In A Candy Store!

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