Why Men Cheat, Philander, and Generally Screw Up: Al's Guide to Successful Relationships
By Al Berrios (contact Al Berrios)
Did you know that within the last 5 years, divorce rates have generally gone down? Specifically, though, no-fault divorce rates have increased, (http://www.divorcereform.org/why.html).
Simultaneously, co-habitation rates have increased, which I'd infer to mean that after "trying out" your partner, you can choose to stay or leave (which is often the case, as the CDC has already discovered in their annual vital statistics report that co-habitants are far more likely to separate than married folks: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/releases/02news/div_mar_cohab.htm). And since you've tried your partner, I'd further infer that this is also a contributing factor to the broader decrease in divorce rates.
So, great, we know the end results. But the big question is how did we get to this place? Or more specifically, why do men cheat? (We'll discuss women another time.) I dare to speculate that the fault lies not in men, but in men's distorted view of their future with their new families, (allowed to develop by misdirecting girlfriends), and guys' inability to cope with the reality that turns out to be their future. I further speculate that the leading causes for infidelity are actually not that complex - things as common, (and insidious) as houseguests that overextend their welcome; in-laws that love gossip more than breathing; and children that don't meet expectations, are prime instigators of cheating behavior.
Meet Fred Smith. Fred has been with his girlfriend 1.5 years. He loves her to death. He'd do anything for her and feels that she's his soul mate. So, he musters up the courage to propose. He dreams of how wonderful it will be to get married to his one-and-only; he dreams of living in a quaint house in the suburbs; he dreams of how fantastic it's going to be to be a dad. But Fred overlooks that Linda is a living, human being with friends, family, and her own dreams. And here's where the problems start.
Skip to section:
> After The Wedding
> Day One - Fred Forgot
> Day Two - Work is a blur
> Day Three - Fred calls the boys
> Day Four - Fred's in heaven
> Day Five - Fred's counting the minutes
> Day Six - Fred returns home
> A week goes by - Linda announces
> Recommendations to Prevent Infidelity
- All Couples
After The Wedding
After a year being married, (and still paying off the bills from the wedding), Fred is still living with Linda in his apartment. Fred is practical and understands that it's going to take a while to fulfill his dreams. Linda, however, took Fred at face value and periodically inquires about that house in the suburbs. Fred feels like Linda's nagging, but doesn't acknowledge it because he's still very much in love. Besides, Fred's got a good job, with terrific prospects, and some stock investments he's counting on, so he feels like they're in pretty good shape and on track to fulfill their (read: his) dreams.
One day, Linda needs a favor. Her sister is in from out of town on vacation and needs a place to stay. Not really knowing Linda's sister, Terry, he doesn't see a big problem with the request. Being a guy, Fred forgets to ask for dates and moves ahead with his plans to take time off to spend some quality time with Linda - on the exact day Terry's scheduled to arrive. Fred naturally gets stuck cleaning up, moving furniture, clearing out his home "office", and even playing valet to Terry on his special day off. To make matters more strenuous on Fred, Terry is incredibly kind-hearted, yet overweight. Not that there's anything wrong with overweight in-laws, but why are they always overweight? Where are all those gorgeous, husband-stealing, bomb-shell sisters Fred's always hearing about?!
Fred's pissed, no doubt about it, but he puts on a good face because after all, she's only staying for one week. Fred can always work late or hang out with his boys to stay out of the girls' way.
Day One: Fred forgot that he did all his work to take time off for him and Linda and ends up being bored out of his skull at work; he leaves early. Before, his friends would always call him at the worst possible times to hang out. Ironically, today, he can't find his boys and ultimately ends up going home. Fred's still fuming from not having spent quality time with Linda on his special day-off. So any unauthorized disturbance in his household is automatically amplified exponentially.
To his utter horror, when he arrives at his apartment, he finds all his stuff in his "office" touched, his living room an earthquake scene, and his favorite recliner chair a makeshift closet. His usual passivity is gone; in it's place an erupted volcano, spewing uncontainable anger in all directions. Linda approaches with a kiss, and Fred's response is, "What is all this?" Linda knows exactly what Fred's upset about, but brushes it off with such triviality, that Fred's volcano is now a comet hurtling at the speed of sound to destroy all life as we know it.
Fred makes an attempt to regain his composure, because he doesn't want to appear too rude in front of Terry. But it's no use, Fred's so angry, all he can do is lock himself in his bedroom, his last remaining sanctuary in his home. Fred skips dinner that night.
Day Two: Work is a blur - Fred arrives home expecting things to be back to normal: his home clean, his belongings replaced, and his chair to be available. He enters his home to find his bedroom invaded and his favorite comforter bamboozled by Terry. Terry has officially become Beelzebub and she must be cast from Fred's house. But try telling that to Linda, who sees nothing wrong with this scenario.
Fred considers himself a pretty reasonable guy, so before he whips out the 12-gauge, he re-evaluates this whole situation: is he being hyper-delicate or have they really destroyed his way of life? How dare Terry come into his territory like this? And here, my friends, we begin to understand Fred's mistake number 2: it was never their place, it's still his place.
As a favor to Linda, Fred forces every fiber of his being to attempt a conversation during dinner, but because Fred has been so anti-social so far, Terry felt awkward at Fred's attempts and her response was frigid.
Day Three: Fred calls the boys one more time, desperate for some sort of release, but again, they're nowhere to be found. Fred's rage is now affecting his work and he can't find an outlet. He starts looking at all his female coworkers differently: they're beautiful, single, and ready to offer a friendly ear. He vents to some and suddenly, Fred's the center of attention again, when all these gorgeous females become receptive to his dilemma. Fred even runs into his ex-girlfriend, Melissa, when he goes out to lunch, who happens to be more stunning now than before and hungry for Fred-meat. Fred hasn't felt his testosterone pumping this much in a long time and he just goes with the flow. He can't believe his luck that all these "chicks" are giving him his proper due. Fred doesn't realize it yet, but he needs attention. In fact, he thrives on it. That evening, on his way back home, he actually goes to the local drugstore to buy condoms.
Day Four: Fred's in heaven. The girls are going to a bar tonight and he's invited. The feeling of his youth recaptured is overwhelming. So when Linda phones to ask him if he can meet her to go home together, he feels like she's blocking his moves; she's become the evil cold-hand of reality. With a heavy, heavy sigh and anger in his heart, he tells the girls that he can't join them that evening; and with an almost begging, "Maybe next time", knowing full well there may not ever be a next time. On the commute home, Fred's snappy and huffy and Linda has no idea why he's acting that way. And by this time, neither does Fred.
Linda has noticed that Fred's been acting strangely all week and wanted to make it up to Fred by asking him out. But being the guy that he is, rejects Linda's belated affection. Fred has found affection elsewhere and simply wants Linda to continue leaving him alone. Linda responds accordingly, "Fine, sleep on the couch tonight, then!"
Day Five: Fred's counting the minutes before Terry leaves. In less than a week, he's lost his Linda, he's lost of domain, he's lost an opportunity for free sex, and he's lost his will to live. That night, Linda invites everyone to go out to the bar so she can introduce her sister to her co-workers. Fred, not in his right state of mind, agrees to go.
Fred gets to the bar first. He makes sure all of Linda's friends know where their table is to hang out together. Fred's cool with them and picks up the first couple of tabs. And then Linda arrives with her entourage. To Fred's shock and awe, Linda's wearing the sort of promiscuous outfit Fred banned Linda from wearing. Fred feels as though wearing this outfit in public is disrespectful of their relationship. But with the chutzpah she entered the bar with, her friends were quickly surrounding and flattering her.
Fred's blood boils; he feels a vein about to pop and tells Linda, "We're through!" Fred leaves Linda to her merriment, in total disgust of her behavior and inconsideration of his feelings. Fred doesn't want to go home, so he ends up sleeping on a chair in his office the whole night.
Day Six: Fred returns home with an aching back and bad attitude to find Linda still awake, worried sick about him and what he said the night before. Without provocation, Fred incites another argument. By now, Linda thinks she made a mistake marrying this lunatic. Fred, on the other hand, hasn't been thinking properly all week, is exhausted from his childish temper-tantrums, and is upset with Linda not because of Terry, but because Linda nags him all the time, she spoils his attempted trysts, and she doesn't understand him. Linda suggests separating, but needs an extra week to pack. She asks if Terry can stay to help. Fred agrees, and then realizes he's just fallen into Lucifer's biggest trap: he's welcomed hell to stay another week. That's the last straw!
When Linda and Terry step outside to discuss what happened, Fred calls up Melissa to see if she's available to talk later that night. Fred's officially and consciously made a date with another woman.
Melissa makes Fred feel like he's in control again. He knows what he's got to do to get laid. And that's about all he wants right now; since Terry came to live with him, Linda has withheld sex. Melissa will hopefully fulfill Fred's natural needs.
A week goes by and Fred and Linda are on speaking terms again. Terry has left and as Fred's mind clears, he remembers how much he's loved Linda. He even flakes on Melissa. Fred begins to pick up the pieces of his life. It's a difficult task, but the sun's in the sky and Fred feels the waters finally calming.
A week later, Linda announces that Terry is returning and needs a place to stay for the weekend and if it'd be ok with him. Fred reluctantly agrees and only because things are going so well with Linda, he doesn't want to rock the boat. Terry returns as if nothing happened. The weekend goes by and Terry's hasn't left. A week goes by and Terry's still there. A month goes by and Terry's still not making any plans to leave. Turns out Terry's miserable back home and has decided to remain with the Smith's for another 4 months!
And here was Fred's ultimate error: he failed to realize that all women are capable of adapting to the male's environment quickly and staying that way indefinitely. However, at any moment, whenever they want, they can demand, and get, things the way they want. This is where guys goof up. We cannot adapt as quickly, and once we're put into this new environment, we want it to end fast.
When we first get together, men get their way all the time and get suckered into believing that things will be that way forever. But all we actually end up doing is failing to appreciate women for their unique interests and special abilities. We fail to appreciate how women cater to our needs and forget they have needs to. And worse yet, we fail to look at things from their point of view; we fail to be considerate enough to make the sort of sacrifices we have to make in order to live with them.
Women sacrifice, they just measure it in a different way than men. They don't cut off their appendages or fight for us. But they do cut themselves off from their family and friends for us; they often take a backseat for our careers; and they're the ones that birth and raise our kids. In Fred's case, he failed to realize that he wasn't ready to have his environment taken away from him. In Linda's case, she failed to understand that after so long of living Fred's dreams, she had to ease Fred into her dreams, not ram them into his psyche with such violence, Fred was lead to seek his dreams with another woman.
Infidelity isn't irrational - it's a matter of looking at the other's point of view. Fred felt like he wasn't getting the attention, consideration, respect, or reality he expected. Linda felt like Fred wasn't understanding or as loving as he used to. And with Terry very likely egging Linda on about what a bum Fred was, Linda also didn't realize that her own views about Fred - what attracted him to her in the first place and made their marriage possible - were being distorted by someone without any actual insight into their relationship or Fred's real personality.
In the end, Fred will cheat, but not because he couldn't keep it in his pants.
Recommendations to Prevent Infidelity
To the Freds:
1) Understand that you are an attention-junky and when you're not in the spotlight, you get grumpy. Once you realize this, you won't have so much of a problem allowing some attention to pass on to others around you.
2) You are not helping when you bluntly accuse your Linda of choosing between you and her "precious" family. Of course she's choosing them over you, but you've got to learn to express your disdain for her family directly to the family, not her. After all, when you really think about it, the biggest reason you've got problems is because you've never actually spoken your true feelings to her family, who are surprisingly more understanding than you've been lead to believe by Linda. Because Linda's always been the intermediary, your views are completely biased and unsubstantiated.
3) Here's a shocker - Linda's a compulsive control-freak liar. She may be the twinkle in your eye, but she's got a side so vicious, it's turned all others before you into whimpering piles of mush. Just because she's never overtly shown it to you, doesn't mean she's not capable of doing it to you. So when she does it, be prepared to counter with whatever powers blocked her viciousness in the first place when you met. That includes putting important limitations on pile-driving unwanted in-laws into your life.
4) If Linda truly expects to have Terry over like this, she must be frank and straight-forward with you, so you can prepare accordingly. Popping it on you without warning and without asking for your advice (read: permission) is absolutely not the way to win you over. Particularly the part where Terry's going to be living with you rent free for 6 months. Suggest she start telling you after a great meal or after sex.
5) When things don't go in a way that you expected or was pre-agreed-upon, let Linda know. Don't let it simmer because when it finally comes out, it'll be about something totally different.
6) Understand that women are as curious (read: nosy) as they are interested in your looking at that new, totally useless, waste-of-money they just bought. Yes, this means that you have to sacrifice some of your privacy, but not all. If you're going out of town with a co-worker who is female, let Linda know. When you get back, tell her about your trip without making anything up. If she asks if you've got pictures of your co-workers or asks about visiting your office, you're on your own, but remember, rather than flat-out turning her down, explain to Linda that you are not comfortable having her at the office during business hours. Don't forget to add that you're not hiding anything and to stop being so insecure.
7) Realize that there will be some sacrifices that you have to make if you truly love Linda. You may have married Lucifer's sister, but she's still the only woman (or second, third or fourth) to have said yes to marrying you. Honestly, how many (more) women deserve such an honor?
To the Lindas:
1) When you marry your Fred, Fred comes first. That doesn't mean you should excommunicate yourself from your family, but it does mean that "daddy's little girl" takes on a different meaning. If you want Fred to be there for you 100% of the time, you've got to be there for Fred 100%. Don't choose between Fred and your family, but separate your attention properly and sufficiently.
2) Fred's really smart, but he's as dense as a concrete wall. Don't loose your patience when you're telling him something and he doesn't get it for the fifth time. Often it helps to simply re-word what you're saying in easier to understand Fred-terms.
3) Fred doesn't see the world like you do. He sees only what he wants and gets excited about it very quickly. Very much like a 2-year old boy discovering the world around him. Don't ignore or reject his interpretations just because you've got such vast experience, because Fred will start believing you don't care about, listen to, or understand him and that'll only open the door for those pesky Melissas.
4) Privacy is an often-misunderstood concept for women. You think that just because you're married, your Fred looses his right to keep things from you. In fact, it's after marriage that Fred shuts up like a steel trap. Rather than asking for new info, remember everything he said to you when he courted you. It is here where you'll get all the answers you seek about his current personal affairs. The key is to not take on an investigative reporter persona or ask him about what he's up to, but rather pay attention to his actions and you'll be surprised how obvious he makes things.
4.1) Face it, you're too insecure if Fred can't have just a little privacy. It's a perfectly normal thing and the more you press Fred, the more he'll resist and the more your insecurity will grow. It's at this point when you become too much of a mom and Fred might begin to lose interest in you altogether.
5) Guys will say things before thinking. Fred's no different. Fred will even go as far as sounding, "mm-hmm" to most of what you say without actually paying attention. This is why they feel you bring up ancient history all the time and why we're always so confused. The trick is to back-track, patiently, to make sure you haven't lost Fred. Notice I didn't say you've got to talk about Fred's favorite thing. But it is important to repeat and if possible, use terminology and metaphors Fred's more familiar with.
6) George Kastanza from "Seinfeld" wasn't kidding when he insisted on keeping his "friends George" and "married George" worlds from colliding. If Fred introduces you to his boys, and you become friendly with the boys, Fred will be less willing to share his personal thoughts with the boys for fear of having them relayed to you. This will result in Fred seeking those friendly female ears or worse yet, accusations that you stole his friends and identity. Let Fred keep his friends and you keep yours. Allow them to get together infrequently and always with both of you present to regulate transactions. But the bottom line is prevent the worlds from colliding. It is only when you make mutual friends, a.k.a. couple friends, that this rule is an exception.
7) Be honest with your wants and needs. If there's something you'd like Fred to do, let him know in advance and completely. If Terry has plans to embed herself into your household for an unreasonably long period of time, recognize that you're not the only one who lives there and Terry's presence does have a materially detrimental impact on Fred.
8) Be prepared for a "No" to some of your requests, because you can't have it both ways. If you want Fred to sacrifice for you, you've got to be prepared to do the same.
9) Dinner together is more important than you realize. Sure you've got your career and Fred's got his, but even if you guys get together for 60 minutes a day to share a meal, it'll make a world of difference in getting Fred to agree to all your requests, however personally intrusive they may be.
To all couples:
Recognize that what may appear to be cheating to Linda, is a cry for Linda's attention from Fred. Just because we're all adults doesn't mean we don't need the same things we needed as children. Face facts, when you get married, you're displacing parents. That doesn't mean that you've got to do all of the work, but it does mean that you've got to be prepared to forgo many of the things that made you independent to have a mutually-beneficial living situation with this person. You both want each other, and in the same way you want a new toy or vacation, you've got to work hard to get it and keep it.
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