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The 10 Reasons Why Men Cheat Some are just immature. Others have deeper issues. Post published by Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S on Oct 30, 2013 in Love and Sex in the Digital Age In a previous post I wrote about some of the reasons women might choose to be sexual outside of their primary relationship. Judging from some of the comments that post received, a number of readers thought I might be ignoring the other half of the equation—men who cheat. (The highly misogynistic nature of a few of the comments suggests that at least a few male readers were hoping I’d leave the men alone.) But now that blog is here. Gents, it’s your turn. Men are somewhat different than women when it comes to cheating, and a lot of that difference arises from the fact that men tend to define infidelity rather loosely. Keep in mind this famous statement: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” More generally, most men would say that utilizing porn as a sexual outlet while in a primary, committed relationship is not cheating. (Most women would disagree; for proof, heterosexual male readers could just ask their wife or girlfriend what she thinks.) So does viewing porn count as infidelity? If it does, then a lot of men are cheaters. What about sexting? What if the person you’re sexting with doesn’t live anywhere near you and there’s no chance you’ll ever meet up in person? How about video chat? While you’re video chatting, does it matter if your or the other person’s clothes are off? How about if you are complaining to this other person about your current relationship? etc., etc. Back in pre-Internet days, the concept of cheating was pretty straightforward: It involved actual in-the-flesh sexual contact. But now, a man in Paris, Texas can mutually masturbate, via webcam, with a woman in Paris, France. And should his wife or girlfriend discover this, he can say, simply and in all sincerity, “Honey, it doesn’t mean anything. She’s thousands of miles away, I’ve never met her, and I’m never going to meet her. I don’t even know her last name. How can I be cheating with someone I’ll never meet in person?” Men, in particular, appear to rely on their intellect—utilizing these kinds of digital word games—in order to continue and justify their extracurricular sexual behavior. Some men may argue that, as men, it is their biological imperative (or right) to have sex with as many women as possible. In their opinion, they need to spread their seed and propagate the race because, apparently, they (and they alone) sit atop the Darwinian sexual food chain. I hear this and similar excuses constantly in my practice. Rather than debating the nature of "being male” with such clients, which is hardly productive from a therapeutic standpoint, I remind them that when a man makes a vow of monogamy to a spouse or significant other, and then breaks that vow, he is in violation of a relationship contract. I further discuss with them the idea that infidelity is not defined by any specific act (sexual or otherwise), but rather by the keeping of secrets in an intimate relationship (link is external). I remind them that in an effort to meet their own less than empathic sexual agenda, they have undermined their personal integrity while simultaneously dismissing their partner’s right to know that their relationship rulebook has been unilaterally revised. To the more determined (read: unempathic or self-focused), I sometimes suggest that it can be fine to be sexual outside of their primary, committed relationship, to chat up old girlfriends on Facebook, hire prostitutes, see strippers, hook up for sex via dating sites and “friend finder” apps, and look at porn for hours at a time—as long their significant other knows about and is OK with the behavior. In other words, a guy can have as much sex outside his relationship as he wants, however and wherever he wishes, as long as he is doing it with integrity—no lying, no double-life, and no keeping secrets from his primary partner. The underlying message: Honesty and relationship transparency is the only meaningful path to genuine intimacy, not to mention personal integrity and self-esteem. (Needless to say, I’ve had few takers on this suggestion to date, despite 22 years of clinical practice.) By far the most common justification I hear from men who cheat is “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” It never ceases to amaze me how many men truly believe that misguided statement. In reality, most cheated-on partners sense, at the very least, the emotional distancing that accompanies a man’s sexual infidelity and affairs. Let’s face it: If a guy is a good liar, his partner may not know the details of what goes on behind her (or his) back; but betrayed partners nearly always know that something is up. It’s like radar—maybe it’s an innate and unconscious evolutionary trait developed to protect the family from dissolution. But the bottom line is that the cheater never fully gets what he wants—a clean getaway—because infidelity is nearly always discovered eventually, and when that happens it inevitably comes with devastatingly painful consequences. 10 Reasons Why Men Cheat Men who engage in sexual and romantic entanglements after making a vow of monogamy do so for a variety of underlying psychological reasons: He’s a liar. He never intended to be monogamous, despite his commitment. He doesn’t understand that his vow of fidelity is a sacrifice made to and for his relationship and the person he professes to love. This man views monogamy as something to be worked around rather than embraced. He is insecure. Deep down, he feels that he is too young, too old, too fat, too thin, too poor, too stupid, or too whatever to be desirable. He uses flirtation, porn, and extramarital sex as a way to feel better about himself, to reassure himself that he is still desirable, worthwhile, and “good enough.” He is immature. He thinks that as long as his partner doesn’t find out, he’s not hurting anybody. He doesn’t understand that significant others almost always know when something is up. He doesn’t “get” that his partner will eventually find out what’s been going on, and when that occurs, it won’t be pretty. He is damaged. Perhaps he is acting out early trauma experiences, such as physical abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse. His formative wounds have left him unable or unwilling to fully commit himself to another person. He may also seek sexual intensity outside his relationship as a way to self-medicate (escape from) his emotional and psychological pain. He has unreasonable expectations. He believes that his spouse should meet his every sexual and emotional need, 24/7, without fail. In his narcissistic and self-focused way, he doesn’t understand that his spouse may be juggling multiple priorities (kids, work, home, finances) in addition to him and the relationship. When this spouse inevitably fails him (in his view), he feels entitled to seek intimate attention elsewhere. He is bored, overworked, or otherwise put-upon (in his mind), and feels deserving of something special that is just for him—hiring prostitutes, viewing porn, or having affairs. Or maybe he wants more attention from his mate and thinks a period of pulling away will cause her to comply. He is confused about love. He mistakes limerence—the “rush” of early romance—with love. He does not understand that in truly loving relationships, the early, visceral attraction is gradually replaced by sweeter feelings of longer-term attachment, honesty, commitment, and emotional intimacy. He is addicted. Perhaps he has an ongoing, problematic relationship with alcohol or drugs that affects his decision-making and disinhibits him. He may also have an issue with sexual compulsivity, meaning he uses sexual activity as a way to self-soothe, escape uncomfortable emotions, and dissociate from the pain of underlying psychological conditions. He wants out. He is looking to end his current relationship and is using external sexual and romantic activities to give his wife or girlfriend “the message” without having to be direct. Or, if he is a man who doesn’t like being alone, period, then finding a new and “better” person before leaving a current relationship provides a safer and softer landing. He lacks male bonding and a peer community. Having undervalued his healthy need to maintain solid, supportive friendships and community with other men, his reaction to a busy or distracted spouse is all the more injurious—as he expects all of his emotional and physical needs to be met by this one person (read: Mom). Where Do We Go From Here? Interestingly, after working with hundreds of couples attempting to process and overcome a male (or female) partner’s cheating, it is clear to me that it’s not any specific sexual act that does the most damage to a committed relationship. It’s the ongoing pattern of secrets and lies that surrounds the cheating that causes a loving partner the most pain. The profound and repeated betrayal of relationship trust causes the most pain. And most cheated-on partners will agree that their feelings of being betrayed are just as profound when a loved one is giving himself away online as when there is a live, in-vivo affair. Sadly, most men (and women) who choose to break a vow of monogamy to an intimate partner don’t realize the profound effects their behavior can have on that loved one. One important recent study (link is external) found that the wives of men who’ve discovered a pattern of infidelity in their partners often experience acute stress symptoms similar to those found in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unsurprisingly, the emotional damage caused by infidelity can be difficult to overcome, even with the help of an experienced marriage or couples counselor. That said, if both partners are committed to behavior change and healing, most relationships can be saved, even strengthened, after and despite an affair. For some wives and spouses, however, the repeated violation of trust is too much; they are unable to experience the necessary emotional safety required to rebuild a relationship and move on. In such cases, solid, neutral relationship therapy can help to help negotiate a break-up, offering direction for both individuals to move on with their lives. Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is the author of Cruise Control:
AVOIDING UNWANTED THOUGHTS Suppressing the 'white bears' Meditation, mindfulness and other tools can help us avoid unwanted thoughts, says social psychologist Daniel Wegner. "Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute." That observation comes from "Winter Notes on Summer Impressions," Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1863 account of his travels in Western Europe. But the research that proved it true came more than a century later, from the lab of social psychologist Daniel Wegner, PhD. Wegner, a psychology professor at Harvard University and the founding father of thought suppression research, first came across the quote more than 25 years ago. "I was really taken with it," he said in a talk at APA's 2011 Annual Convention. "It seemed so true." He decided to test the quote's assumption with a simple experiment: He asked participants to verbalize their stream of consciousness for five minutes, while trying not to think of a white bear. If a white bear came to mind, he told them, they should ring a bell. Despite the explicit instructions to avoid it, the participants thought of a white bear more than once per minute, on average. Next, Wegner asked the participants to do the same exercise, but this time to try to think of a white bear. At that point, the participants thought of a white bear even more often than a different group of participants, who had been told from the beginning to think of white bears. The results suggested that suppressing the thought for the first five minutes caused it to "rebound" even more prominently into the participants' minds later. The research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1987 (Vol. 53, No. 1) initiated an entirely new field of study on thought suppression. Over the next decade, Wegner developed his theory of "ironic processes" to explain why it's so hard to tamp down unwanted thoughts. He found evidence that when we try not to think of something, one part of our mind does avoid the forbidden thought, but another part "checks in" every so often to make sure the thought is not coming up—therefore, ironically, bringing it to mind. After more than a quarter century of this research, Wegner said, he's realized that when he explains his work, listeners usually follow up with one question: "OK, so what do I do about this? Is there any way to avoid unwanted thoughts?" The topic rings true for many people, perhaps especially because the thoughts that we often want to avoid are not as innocuous as white bears—they might involve painful memories or other difficult distractions. In his APA presentation, Wegner described several strategies that he and others have come across to help "suppress the white bears." They include: Pick an absorbing distractor and focus on that instead: In one study, Wegner and his colleagues asked participants to think of a red Volkswagen instead of a white bear. They found that giving the participants something else to focus on helped them to avoid the unwanted white bears. Try to postpone the thought: Some research has found that asking people to simply set aside half an hour a day for worrying allows them to avoid worrying during the rest of their day, Wegner said. So next time an unwanted thought comes up, he suggested, just try to tell yourself, "I'm not going to think about that until next Wednesday." Cut back on multitasking: One study found that people under increased mental load show an increase in the availability of thoughts of death—one of the great unwanted thoughts for most people. Exposure: "This is painful," Wegner said, "but it can work." If you allow yourself to think in controlled ways of the thing that you want to avoid, then it will be less likely to pop back into your thoughts at other times. Meditation and mindfulness: There's evidence that these practices, which strengthen mental control, may help people avoid unwanted thoughts, Wegner said.
They experiment with herbs on the sly. st johns wort The rationale: "I've heard that kava and St. John's wort are natural antidepressants." The mistake: Some research supports kava's ability to reduce anxiety, and in other studies, St. John's wort has been more effective than placebos at treating depression. However, both of these alternative remedies can have severe side effects as well as life-threatening interactions with other substances (like alcohol, sleeping pills and medicinal herbs). In the same way that there are suicide warnings on the labels of some antidepressants, the literature on St. John's wort cautions that it can worsen certain conditions of severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Kava has been linked to liver damage in some people. SSRI-ANTI DEPRESSANTS- DO THEY WORK IMMEDIATELY WIll an antidepressant to make them you feel 100 percent...right away. The rationale: "My cousin says they've really helped." The mistake: One in four women in their 40s and 50s now takes an antidepressant. But many new patients don't realize that SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can take from four to six weeks to bring significant relief. When taking any prescription drug, about 60 to 70 percent of people will feel some positive effect, says David Hellerstein, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center (great odds, unless you're in the other 30 to 40 percent). In one study of nearly 3,000 patients taking the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa), only about one-third said their depressive symptoms were entirely gone after 14 weeks. What to try: If you feel only a little better, your doctor might increase your dosage or add another type of med, Hellerstein says. After about 12 weeks with no response, your doc may suggest a different pill (one major study showed that switching to a different SSRI can help one in four people). To help patients in finding a more effective match, the National Institute of Mental Health is funding a $19 million study to search for biomarkers (patterns of brain activity, genes, proteins in the blood, etc.) that will identify who will respond to sertraline (Zoloft), reports the Wall Street Journal (a second stage of the study will analyze responses to a different antidepressant). To learn more about this study (and others) go to depression-nyc.org.
HERBAL REMEDIES FOR DEPRESSION? DO THEY WORK st johns wort The rationale: "I've heard that kava and St. John's wort are natural antidepressants." The mistake: Some research supports kava's ability to reduce anxiety, and in other studies, St. John's wort has been more effective than placebos at treating depression. However, both of these alternative remedies can have severe side effects as well as life-threatening interactions with other substances (like alcohol, sleeping pills and medicinal herbs). In the same way that there are suicide warnings on the labels of some antidepressants, the literature on St. John's wort cautions that it can worsen certain conditions of severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Kava has been linked to liver damage in some people. What to try: Never try alternative remedies without first consulting with at least one doctor.
How To Deal With A Narcissist Learn how to recognize and deal with a narcissist Published on August 27, 2010 by Judith Orloff, M.D. in Emotional Freedom As a psychiatrist, I strongly believe that it is important to know about the narcissistic personality so you can have realistic expectations when dealing with coworkers, friends, or family members who may have some of these qualities. In my new book I describe how to recognize a narcissist. Here are some ways: Their motto is “Me first!” Everything’s all about them. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, crave admiration and attention. A legend in their own mind, the world is reflected in their image. They’ll corner you at a party, recount their life saga. Some narcissists are unlikable, flagrant egotists. Others can be charming, intelligent, caring--that is, until their guru-status is threatened. When you stop stroking their ego or beg to disagree, they can turn on you and become punishing. Once you catch onto this pattern, a narcissist seems about as charming as a banana peel. These people are so dangerous because they lack empathy, have a limited capacity for unconditional love. Sadly, their hearts either haven’t developed or have been shut down due to early psychic trauma, such as being raised by narcissistic parents, a crippling handicap both emotionally and spiritually. (The damage of narcissistic parenting is outstandingly detailed in Alice Miller’s Drama of the Gifted Child). Hard as it may be to comprehend, these people have little insight into their actions, nor do they regret them. Though often highly intuitive, they mainly use intuition for self-interest and manipulation. As the Hassidic proverb cautions, “There is no room for God in him that is full of himself.” Related Articles The Mirror Speaks in the Mother-Daughter Connection Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Does Group Therapy Help? The Narcissistic Wound 5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist When Madness Hits the Home Front Find a Therapist Search for a mental health professional near you. Find Local: Acupuncturists Chiropractors Massage Therapists Dentists and more! To find out if you’re dealing with a narcissist, ask yourself the following questions from “Emotional Freedom.” QUIZ: AM I IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSIST? Does the person act as if life revolves around him? Do I have to compliment him to get his attention or approval? Does he constantly steer the conversation back to himself? Does he downplay my feelings or interests? If I disagree, does he become cold or withholding? If you answer “yes” to one or two questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with a narcissist. Responding “yes” to three or more questions suggests that a narcissist is violating your emotional freedom. Narcissists are hard nuts to crack. With these patients, the best I can do is align with their positive aspects and focus on behaviors that they agree aren’t working. Still, even if one wants to change, progress is limited, with meager gains. My professional advice: Don’t fall in love with a narcissist or entertain illusions they’re capable of the give and take necessary for intimacy. In such relationships you’ll always be emotionally alone to some degree. If you have a withholding narcissist spouse, beware of trying to win the nurturing you never got from your parents; it’s not going to happen. Also, don’t expect to have your sensitivity honored. These people sour love with all the hoops you must jump through to please them. If a narcissist is draining you emotionally, use these methods to get your power back. Lower Your Expectations and Strategize Your Needs Keep your expectations realistic. Enjoy their good qualities, but understand they’re emotionally limited, even if they’re sophisticated in other ways. Accepting this, you won’t continue asking something of friends, family, or coworkers they can’t give. Consider this definition of insanity: when you repeat the same actions but expect a different response. Never make your self-worth dependent on them. Don’t get caught in the trap of always trying to please a narcissist. Also protect your sensitivity. Refrain from confiding your deepest feelings to someone who won’t cherish them. Show how something will be to their benefit. To successfully communicate with narcissists, frame things this way. Stating your needs clearly rarely works, nor does getting angry, or demanding. Alternatively, speak to what means something to them. Instead of saying to your spouse, “I’d really enjoy going to a family dinner,” reframe it as, “Everyone really likes you. They’d be delighted to have you there.” Or instead of saying to your employer, “I’d prefer to work fewer nights,” say, “I can bring in more revenue for your company during these hours.” Naturally, it’s better not to have to contend with the tedious ego-stroking of a narcissist. But if the relationship is unavoidable, use this technique to achieve your desired outcome.