Whether it’s general curiosity that drove you here or you’re going through an unfortunate incident of infidelity, the mystery behind the mindset of a cheating man probably has you baffled. And when his reply to the question, “Why’d you do it?” leaves you absolutely dumbfounded, you know you’re not getting any clarity from him.
Could it be a case of compulsive cheating disorder? What does “revenge cheating” psychology look like for men? Is there any truth to how he claims it just happened? Just like how you feel at the end of that nasty fight with him, you’re probably left with more questions than answers.
Fret not, we’ve got you. Here to help us take a deep dive into the mind of a cheating man is psychologist Pragati Sureka (MA in Clinical Psychology, professional credits from Harvard Medical School), who specializes in individual counseling through emotional ability resources.
A Peep Into The Mindset Of A Cheating Man: What He Thinks
What goes on in the mind of a person while they’re cheating? Do they realize the magnitude of the situation, or had lust truly blinded them into a state where “I wasn’t thinking” really does hold true? And while we’re at it, is lust really the reason for all incidents of infidelity?
As psychological facts about cheating will tell you, lust definitely isn’t the only motivating factor. The justifications he gave may have left you bristling, but that might also be due to not being able to communicate what he’s feeling.
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Of course, the reasons for infidelity differ from person to person. The dynamics of their relationship, the way they’ve been brought up, and the worldview they have – all play an important role.
That being said, diving into the mindset of a cheating man makes for a fascinating study, especially since it’s widely known that men are more likely to cheat. Let’s take a look at the psychological facts about cheating, the role of the subconscious, the things he might tell himself, and the things he feels afterward.
1. Mindset of a cheating man: He may be seeking sexual gratification
Coming as a surprise to absolutely nobody, him cheating might have been motivated purely by a need for sexual gratification. “Most of the time, the mindset of a cheating man features a lack of self-discipline. It’s a little similar to what you see with shopaholics, where you see them buying something without thinking of the consequences and dealing with them later,” says Pragati.
“A lack of self-discipline may lead him to believe that he needs to be gratified right away and he must get what he’s lusting over,” she adds.
For good reason, most people associate infidelity with sexual gratification. Perhaps the most powerful motivator is the need for sex, but by no means is it the only motivator.
Related Reading: 9 Sexless Relationship Effects No One Talks About
2. A midlife crisis or a denial of aging may give rise to infidelity
Pragati tells us all about how a mid-life crisis might instill a fear of aging and death, and that often triggers infidelity. “When we feel unworthy or don’t feel good enough, we’re in denial about what’s going on inside of us. The easiest way to tackle and distract yourself from such troubling thoughts is to indulge in destructive behaviors.
“The man may think he feels attractive and powerful through an affair, subsequently distracting himself from his fear of death brought upon by a mid-life crisis.
“Moreover, a lot of men start having performance issues in their midlife. To shift the blame and to be able to pin it on their partners, they try to get ratified by another person. Mostly, they’re trying to deny what they’re really going through.
“The way to deal with the loss of youth is by seeking therapy, taking up a sport or doing something meaningful. What drives some men to infidelity depends upon the model of the value system they have, a lack of self-discipline and denial to accept what they’re going through.”
So, what is a cheater’s mentality? As you can see, it’s subject to the mental state of the man and the period of life he’s in. The bewilderment that ensues in a mid-life crisis can push people to do things they’ll regret and it’s no surprise that infidelity is a recurring theme in such cases.
3. “Everyone around me does it, why shouldn’t I?”
When looking for the warning signs of cheating, you’re probably not going to pay much attention to the people a man spends his time with. What most people don’t realize is that a person’s peer group has a huge influence on how their thoughts towards the world are eventually shaped.
“If a person’s social group is all about objectifying women, you’re more likely to cheat. It’s as simple as that. On the other hand, if you have supportive friendships with other men, where you bond over shared goals or a shared vision for life, objectifying the number of ‘scores’ or ‘hits’ you have will not act as bonding points with other men,” says Pragati.
A toxic jibe with undertones of homophobia or a questionable tone when talking about women is all it takes to desensitize men and start developing apathy. Of the types of men who have affairs, those who say things like, “You should see what my friends do, I’m a saint in comparison,” are top of the list.
4. They may be trying to (unsuccessfully) cope with a feeling of inferiority
“The mindset of a cheating man is one that might be trying to cope with some feeling of inferiority. And when a person feels a lack in some area, they’d rather mask it and go into denial, since that’s a lot easier than accepting it and working on it,” says Pragati.
“He may blame his partner by saying things like, ‘If I got what I wanted at home, I wouldn’t have been looking outside’. A lot of times, men who claim their partners have ‘gained weight’ or have stopped ‘working on themselves’ actually don’t feel confident in their own skin,” she adds.
Oblivion, as they say, is bliss. When trying to understand the habits and patterns of a repeated cheating psychology, you may find that it’s often their own inadequacies that may be leading them to look for validation outside of their primary relationship.
5. Family dynamics might be at play
“It’s possible that some types of men who have affairs might have had a very domineering woman as their mother. They might have felt dominated or they could have been entangled in a lot of heated arguments or even experienced physical abuse.
“As a result of growing up with a dominating mother, they don’t know that they can actually have an honest conversation with a woman or their partner.
“In a committed relationship, the best thing is to communicate with each other. But when one partner decides it’s not worth it and he’d rather look elsewhere, that’s when you can notice the warning signs of cheating,” says Pragati.
The family dynamics a person experiences while growing up can end up defining who they are. Studies have reported that children who go through healthy family dynamics while growing up have a higher chance of being better partners and better parents in the future.
Psychological facts about cheating tell us that when it comes to something like infidelity, there’s always a lot to factor in besides just what a person is thinking. The childhood experiences they’ve had, the way they’ve been brought up and what they think of relationships, are all a part of the mix.
Related Reading: 11 Signs Of Emotional Cheating With Examples
6. He may be trying to “even the score”
Or, he may just be unhappy with the relationship. “Revenge cheating” psychology tells us that men often rationalize their actions by blaming their relationship for not fulfilling their “needs”. Pragati gives us a more in-depth view of the scenario.
“A lot of people, especially the younger generation, think of it as sending a strong message so that there’s no need to explain their unhappiness in the relationship. Instead of having a conversation about what’s lacking, they may opt to cheat instead, to send a message.
“When people do such a thing, it’s a glaring sign of a lack of accountability. They believe their actions will speak for them, so they don’t have to. In effect, it also shows a fear of communication. You don’t have to cheat to send a message, but the mindset of a cheating man may tell him otherwise.”
7. He may even be oblivious to his cheating
While you may have discussed the rules of your monogamous relationship very clearly and set down very clear boundaries on physical relations with another person, have you ever discussed things like sexting or flirting with others via text?
It’s this uncertainty about certain types of cheating that might genuinely lead him to not be aware of what he’s doing wrong. Sometimes, the mindset of a cheating man is geared such that it might not even realize the gravity of the situation.
“A changing cultural landscape is usually the culprit behind such a scenario,” says Pragati. “One may think there’s no harm in texting or flirting. It’s a society in transition that may leave such gray areas. Only when you understand and learn about the transitions can you judge what is appropriate behavior within those circumstances,” she adds.
“Say, for example, you suddenly had to pronounce French words. You may get the basic syntax right, but the pronunciation will take time, right? A lot of people may not really know the detrimental nature of sexting and flirting via texts, or any other type of cheating. They might just think it’s something cool to do, or even harmless,” says Pragati.
8. Sometimes, the mindset of a cheating man may be none at all
Meaning, he may not be thinking much at all. The psychological facts about cheating tell us that it’s entirely possible that situational factors can lead to cheating, and in such cases, there usually isn’t much preplanning.
“It all boils down to a lack of impulse control. After cheating, I’ve seen some men have very strong rationalizations by claiming that their needs were not being met in their marriage. It shows very low self-esteem, which is something that must be addressed quickly,” says Pragati.
9. What is a cheater’s mentality like? One word: Narcissism
Yes, we know, we mentioned that a lack of self-esteem can end up influencing the mindset of a cheating man. But at the other end of the spectrum lies a narcissistic boyfriend, one who may obnoxiously believe he’s actually entitled to external sexual gratification.
“A compulsive cheating disorder may also stem from an attitude of immaturity. A person’s sense of entitlement may be heightened and they may believe they can do whatever they want without any consequences. A classic case of a narcissist is bound to spell trouble for any relationship,” says Pragati.
10. A jilted idea of what love is supposed to be like
If you’re with someone who has never been in a long-term relationship before, they may end up misconstruing both of you staying in on a Saturday night, as your relationship going awry.
“A lot of times, it’s also confusion about what love is supposed to feel like. They may not realize that love is like a slow-burning, comfortable flame, especially in a long-term, healthy relationship,” says Pragati.
“The concept of limerence may end up making people believe that they must always feel a ‘rush’ when they see the other person. Because of confusion between limerence and love, they may be led to believe that their relationship is lacking in certain areas,” she adds.
11. The mindset of a cheating man after cheating: does he feel any guilt?
Just like there may be a particular train of thought that led him to the act of infidelity, the aftermath features its own set of thoughts and feelings. But what is a cheater’s mentality like after he has cheated? Do men have a harder time accepting responsibility? In her experience as a psychologist, Pragati shares with us what she has seen.
“From what I’ve seen in therapy, most men do feel guilty. However, the rationalization and the defense mechanisms they deploy may reach absurd heights. When a repeat cheating psychology kicks in, he may adamantly say things like, “She’s not catering to my needs, so, it doesn’t matter.”
“In cases where a man doesn’t feel much remorse, it’s usually because he has literally buried his own relationship. Or, it may also be a case of classic denial. He may not be able to accept himself if he acknowledges what he has done, so he opts to deny it.”
To crack the case of what’s really going on with the mindset of a cheating man, perhaps the best thing to do is to talk to him about it. But when his denial of the situation or lack of communication skills leads to vague and ambiguous conversations, the points we laid out for you will definitely help you come to a conclusion.
If you are in a relationship where you are currently struggling with infidelity, Bonobology has a multitude of experienced therapists who can help you to truly get to the bottom of what’s going on in his mind, and yours.
Yes, the psychological facts about cheating tell us that a cheating man can definitely change and be faithful. Often, you’ll be able to tell what he truly wants by the way he reacts after infidelity. When a cheating man wants to change, you’ll see genuine remorse and a willingness to mend his ways, work on the relationship and make sure he’s re-building trust.
As infidelity is often pursued for many, many different reasons and factors, it’s unlikely to say that all cheaters have something in common. Some may not have respect for their relationship, while others may indulge in an affair due to other situational factors.
The way a cheater feels about themselves is largely subjective. Among the possible scenarios, they may either feel remorseful, or they may not have much regard for the relationship. The reaction they have toward themselves after infidelity is largely dictated by their personality, their relationship and their mindset.