Infidelity on the part of a husband or boyfriend—for most women, it’s a nightmare come true, a betrayal that feels like the very definition of cruelty and indifference. But a recent article in The Daily Mail suggests another interpretation. In fact, reports the newspaper, the author of a new book is telling women to turn their frowns upside down when it comes to cheating. Men don’t cheat because they don’t love their partners, says UK professor Eric Anderson, but rather they cheat because they do. Get it? No, me either. But let’s hear him out.
Anderson, the author of The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love and the Reality of Cheating, derives his contrarian’s view on adultery from interviews he conducted with men who reported cheating on their partners. After interviewing 120 such men, Dr. Anderson, a professor of sociology at the University of Winchester, realized there existed a commonality among the men (er, they were all jerks?). For one, the men expressed sexual boredom as a motivation. And two, the men said they cared deeply about their primary relationships.
For Professor Anderson this contradiction implies that cheating husbands love their significant others so much that rather than leave these sexually boring women all together, they instead choose to fulfill the need for sexual excitement elsewhere. Cheating as a means of keeping the family together: It’s almost heroic when you don’t think about it too deeply.
The ‘I cheat because I love’ excuse doesn’t wash with Dr. Paula Nicholson, a professor of psychology at the University of London.
Dr. Nicholson told the Daily Mail: “I can’t see that it makes any sense at all. When men cheat — and let’s not forget that the majority in long-term relationships do not — they usually do so because they’ve had the opportunity. If a man goes on a business trip and has sex with someone he meets in a bar, he’s unlikely to be thinking: ‘I’m doing this because I love my wife’. He’s just hoping he doesn’t get found out.”
While determining the motives for adultery will keep people up at night and surreptitiously checking one another’s Gmail accounts for centuries to come, those considering cheating may be better served by forgetting about what it means to them and focus instead on what it may mean to their partner.