How to Tell if Your Man is Cheating: Part 3 – Psychology

31 Aug

To complete our How to Tell If Your Man is Cheating series, Sisters of Resistance have compiled information on the psychological and emotional profiles of men who cheat, based upon real-life experiences collectively referred to as relationship field research. In this article, we answer the questions:

         “What kind of man cheats?”

         “How does the cheating show up in his emotions?”

         “What are the structural inequalities that enable men to cheat?”

         “What does this mean for me?”

We hope these insights will help our readers to identify cheating men, as well as reveal why, if they have been cheated on, it is not their fault.

Part 1: LIES

Part 2: Behavioural Patterns and Other Evidence

What kind of man cheats?

Below are some of the personality characteristics we have found in men who cheat. They may exhibit some or all of these characteristics in various combinations, with different aspects rising to the surface at different times.

Egotistical. The egotistical cheating man cheats because he thinks he’s the shit. He feels entitled to have sex or relationships with multiple women, or, in extreme cases, whoever he wants, whenever he wants.

He cheats for the thrill, because it strokes his ego and plays into his arrogance. He has no problems cheating with whoever he is attracted to, and he will regularly cheat when he/his partner is away or traveling. He thinks he can do no wrong, until he is caught, but sometimes not even then.

Insecure. The insecure cheating man feels inherently inferior, either to his partner or other men. He may have had a bad relationship with his father, brothers, or schoolmates, subject to teasing, bullying, harassment or abuse. This may coincide with the fact that his partner makes more money, is more intelligent, charming, or attractive, has a better family or social life, or is more capable, accomplished or respected than him. This further deflates his naturally low self-esteem, so he cheats to make himself feel better.

In Denial. Men who cheat do not consider the feelings of the person they are cheating on. Most are simply not thinking about the consequences of their actions, with many believing they have done nothing wrong. This is a serious state of denial, which will continue even after being caught.

Sexual Shame. Men who cheat may have sexual desires that they are too ashamed to reveal to a partner. They may be addicted to sex, porn or aroused by people or fetishes they would never bring up around others. These men cheat to fulfill these sexual urges secretly, and may frequent sex workers, chat with or meet partners online, cheat at sex parties or clubs, or travel far from home to cheat.

False Beliefs about Men and Women. Men who cheat generally hold – consciously or subconsciously – many untrue beliefs about women and men. These sexist lies are present in and reinforced by many areas of society, from the family to media, business, education and government, and will likely include variations on the following:

“Women are…”

  1. worth less than men
  2. not as intelligent as men
  3. incapable of thinking for themselves
  4. better off doing what men say
  5. not sexual beings
  6. too emotional
  7. impossible to satisfy
  8. either hos or housewives
  9. bitches if they stand up for themselves
  10. “sluts”/“slags”/“skets” if they enjoy sex

“Men are…”

  1. better than women
  2. smarter/more capable/more rational than women
  3. driven to cheat because of “hormones”
  4. “naturally” more sexual than women and so should have more partners
  5. incapable of monogamy
  6. “playboys” or “players” if they have many sexual partners
  7. more deserving of love,  affection, and sex than women
  8. entitled to “approve” of women, their looks, dress, habits or actions
  9. entitled to seek sexual satisfaction whenever they desire
  10. “just being men” (also “Boys will be boys”)

Men who believe these lies will rely on them to justify their deep-seated sexism and cheating behaviour.

For more info: virgin/whore dichotomy, the “it’s just hormones” thing, patriarchy

How does the cheating show up in his emotions?

Attention/affection. Many women have reported a significant increase in the level of attention and affection their man gives them, later realising that he had been cheating. He may have been feeling guilty for his actions or trying to convince you that nothing was wrong, in order to ease any suspicions.

Fear and guilt. Men who cheat may feel guilt at their actions or subconsciously fear being found out. Because patriarchy teaches men that cheating is normal, that they have a right to sex and that guilt is no big deal, these emotions are repressed and can often emerge as something even more harmful, like jealousy or anger.

Jealousy and possessiveness. Jealousy and possessiveness are what happens when a cheating man’s guilt and fear are projected onto their partner. Although patriarchy encourages men to be possessive, men who become intensely, unusually jealous or possessive could be projecting their guilt about cheating. These men may try to deflect blame by accusing you of being unfaithful.

Some dominating men will try to use “jealousy” as an excuse for a woman not to heed the advice of friends and family who are advising her that he is cheating or to leave him, e.g. “Don’t listen to her — she’s just jealous. I’m the one you should believe.” (See also: Lies About Other Women.)

Your friends and family have no reason to lie about your man cheating, but he does. His possessiveness and manipulative ways of separating you from healthy relationships in your life are attempts to cover his tracks and make you emotionally dependent on him.

Anger. Deep down, men who cheat are usually angry at themselves for any or all of the reasons listed above – they hate their overinflated ego, they are insecure, they feel guilty for cheating on someone they love or they are afraid of being caught. But because patriarchy does not provide any productive way for men to cope with these feelings honestly, they get suppressed until they merge into one confused, angry emotional mass. Sudden shouting, intimidation, abuse or other dominance tactics, although always unacceptable, can also be a sign that he is hiding something.

What are the structural inequalities that keep men cheating?

Unfortunately, basic systems of social organization in place in the world today encourage heterosexual men to cheat by way of the messages they promote and reinforce through society and culture.

Patriarchy. The systematic or institutional (political, economic, social & cultural) domination of men over women.

Sexism. The attitude that women are inferior to men and the actions that occur as a result of this attitude, e.g. the double standard: “player” vs. “slag”

Misogyny. The hatred of women – a direct result of centuries of patriarchy and sexism, e.g. sexist stereotypes, violence against women.

Capitalism. This economic system considers a person’s worth or value to be equal to their possessions. Since under patriarchy, women are nothing but men’s property, the more women a man “has” in a capitalist system, the more he feels he is worth.  This can also go the other direction: the more a man feels he is worth, the more women he believes he is entitled to “have.” 

What does this mean for me?

The number one thing to remember when dealing with a man who is cheating on you is that You have done nothing to deserve this. His cheating has nothing to do with your looks, your sex appeal, your intelligence, your behaviour, how you treat him, your history, your family, your life together, or how good you are in bed.

What it does mean is that this man has a fundamentally disrespectful attitude towards women.  He believes that his partner doesn’t deserve to be told the truth or to be respected. And you don’t need anyone like that in your life.

As we’ve seen, men who cheat are egotistical, insecure, ashamed, in denial or deluded about women, men or likely both. These are emotional conditions that are a part of him because of the society we live in, and as such, they existed long before you ever met him. So what happens because of them cannot be your responsibility, and is not your fault.

If you are not sure if he is cheating, the fact that you suspect it enough to search for information online is a sure signal that you are sensing something different or unusual in your relationship. Believe what your body tells you, confront him with the evidence and leave him.

11 Responses to “How to Tell if Your Man is Cheating: Part 3 – Psychology”

  1. Andy September 5, 2011 at 10:41 pm # <— Shame gets turned into anger because anger is the only emotion men are permitted to feel in patriarchy.

    Can you answer the question as to why men cheat, rather than seeking open or polyamorous relationships? That's the thing which seems odd to me, why do they keep pretending monogamy when they don't seriously aspire to it, believe in it, or in some cases even believe it's possible? (Maybe to enforce it in the other direction? Is power-asymmetry key?)

    • Sista Resista September 24, 2011 at 2:03 am #

      Your perception seems well founded, hetero open relationships that are truly open on both sides or poly relationships in which the woman has multiple lovers are a major threat to patriarchy — threatens the inheritance order. Likely it’s the influence of this history that is keeping men cheating instead of working to transform relationship norms — you know, “if it’s not broke…”

      Thanks as always for your insights.

  2. somechick May 20, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    It blows my mind how cheating men (boys really) will lie and deny even after being caught. I seriously think the thrill of gettin away with something without “mommy” knowing is part of why they do it. It’s like they fear & envy women’s ability to get willing sexual partners without much effort, so they cheat any chance they get..IF they think they’ll get away with it. A cheating man cheats his partner & the other woman- by destroying trust & treating women as objects to be used & discarded. What we dont know can hurt the most. It’s traumatizing to realize your belief in another person is fake, false, a lie, meant to trick & mislead.

  3. elaine January 5, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    iv asked my boyfreind if hes cheating he gets very defensive avoids wat im asking him keeps saying got a low sex drive all the time hes always tired and seems very stressed and anxious just lately i no he lies and hes in denial teling me he loves me more and wen he txts me and i dnt reply he rings me it just prooves he sending texts to another women i think met her online such a pathetic man must think im soooo daft lying cheating idiotic so cald man whos 48 and goin back to his youth trying stay young how pathetic iv told him wake up to reality and stop living in a fantasy world and go blagg sumone elses head nt mine o feel btr now got that off my chest thanks x

  4. shell April 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    denial : you forget one thing, self denial! I just put it all together as the words rolled out of his mouth!,.yet i knew all along,..the love i was feeling, was holding me back., the excuses, the partial truths,.the honest things he told me all fed my denial! I shoved back the lies i knew were there, because love was in my way, I used denial!, My heart ached, and now is broken,..My love was not taken for granted because i lived in denial!,.. I couldnt accuse , I could not say !,.but all along i i really knew it!., im angry! im mad! I want to kick and shout!,.the thing is im not mad at him after so much thought,. im mad at self for allowing the denial!,.I had a choice all along, i choose to deny it!!!…the hurt rocks me, the thoughts pleage me, now let the torment begin! every conversation ill pick apart,. the past like a knife to the heart,..I chose to feel sorry for the one who will lose me,.I will still be me in the end, but he will be without me!.

  5. Dee C. August 11, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    My daughter is involved with a man who left his pregnant girlfriend for her a year ago. I notice that he won’t let my daugher go to a movie or visit with any guy friends or have any guy friends. She has managed to keep her one best guy friend so far. He gets mad at her if she goes anywhere without him. He expects her to stay home when he is out (at work, at his friends or wherever). He gets mad at her if she goes anywhere without him. He has made her stay home with him many times against her will when she wanted to go out with friends. He even gets mad at her if she doesn’t feel like cuddling with him when he wants to cuddle. One day it was so hot, she told him it’s too hot to cuddle . I’ve heard him swearing at her and giving her heck for being in contact with her male friends. He says I don’t want to loose you to her. Just today, he told her he was going to spend the weekend with his mom cause its her birthday and he told his friends not to tell her that he was with his ex-girlfriend. His friends told my daughter what he said. She is so hurt. She is only 18 and he is 21.

  6. robin July 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    I am with a man that looks at other woman when I am with him. He has dis respected me in different ways like not introducing me when someone he knows approaches him. He has made it clear to me that he has never cheated and he is not that kind of guy. I feel like I need to leave him ….i do not trust him am I being paranoid?

    • Sista Resista July 13, 2014 at 12:05 am #

      If you feel like you need to leave him, trust those gut feelings. They won’t lead you astray! You deserve to be with someone who respects you in a way you can feel and see.

    • Loyal Wife August 22, 2014 at 7:24 am #

      Been w my husband over twenty years. He disrespected me and lied to me from the very start. Lies, manipulations, flirting, blatantly checking women out, ignoring me while flirting. I admit to being a fool. Always in denial and convincing myself that, if I was a perfect wife/lover/mother to our kids, he would realize and stop. Well, he did not. He left me for a colleague and made me feel like it was my fault! I took him back after promises and apologies. It has been three years and I thought things were fine. But how fine?… I snuck on to his email and found emails sent to a hotel lounge singer. Again, when confronted, it’s my fault and nothing happened. So, learn from my mistakes ladies. I senses trouble right from the start and discounted myself. I am now 45, insecure, suffer from anxiety, all because my husband is and always has been a cheater. It’s easier to leave in the early days, now I have kids and live overseas. So many men are awful. How they treat women in asia is an eye opener and these women will do anything for a white man who has money. I wish I listened to my intuition as I was bang on right.

    • Loyal Wife August 22, 2014 at 7:27 am #

      Trust your intuition.

  7. betie September 8, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    I have a man who claims to be in love with me yet he has a son and awife but he said that marrying that lady was a mistake and i also do love him but i think that one day he will leave me though he promised me that it will never happen to leave me….what should i do???

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