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What really makes some men cheat?

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Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter

It's a topic rarely out of the British press, and this week photos have emerged of film director Tim Burton sharing what looks like an after-dark kiss with someone who isn't his long-term partner, Helena Bonham-Carter.

The quirky director was papped kissing a woman near his car after attending a cinema screening with her in early October 2013, but after 12 years together, why would Tim jeapordise his relationship with Helena?

And of course it's not the first case of an A-list man cheating on his wife. In 2011, 'Family man' Ryan Giggs was one of four celebrities hiding behind court injunctions to limit the press from outing his affair, after the press got wind of his extra-marital relationship with model Imogen Thomas. Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Terry, Mark Owen and Ashley Cole, were among others trying to keep details of their affairs out of the press but with the popular force that is social media, it appears nothing stays secret for long.

Woman magazine takes a look at this fundamental relationship problem and asks what it is that makes men cheat...

In this digital age, having an affair is easier than ever. Infidelity has now become a problem affecting 40% of marriages with men more likely to be the culprits than women. But what's most worrying is that men don't have to be unhappily married to do the dirty. The sad truth is that you can be the best and most glamorous wife in the world, and your man may still stray.

Take Tiger Woods for example. He admitted to cheating on his model wife, Elin, 30, and it appears the sporting legend may have had more affairs than golf clubs. Thirteen women have already emerged with torrid tales of wild times with Tiger. He was the man who had everything: beautiful kids, stunning wife, success and wealth. But, because of his appalling behaviour, Elin sought divroce, was awarded a $100 million settlement and Tiger lost several lucrative sponsors.

Why do men cheat?

So why exactly do men risk everything for a quick fling or an even riskier second relationship? It's complicated. There's no one answer but there are common causes, or excuses, as some would see it.

Affairs rarely happen 'out of the blue' - psychotherapist Janice Hiller believes there's something in human nature that looks for familiarity and comfort, but the drive to seek out new experiences is very powerful too.

Lack of sex within a marriage is a huge risk factor for betrayal, but even great sex won't guarantee a faithful husband. A man can have the most doting, sexy wife on the planet and will still succumb to the 'novelty factor' warns Janice.

According to The Relate Guide to Better Relationships, here are some of the main reasons that people already in committed relationships seek someone else at a critical moment. Some point to serious problems while others suggest something is missing in the relationship, but it might not even be anything major...

- Protest: There are times when one of you can feel positively entitled to have an affair. If you are rowing a lot over money or other issues to do with living together and homelife becomes fraught rather than a restful haven, being with someone else somewhere else might seem like a welcome option.

- Insecurity: If a partner feels rejected for some reason (for a man, if he loses the main focus of his partner's attention during pregnancy, or while she is caring for young children) he might look for attention or closeness from someone else. He might also be drawn to an affair if he's feeling vulnerable about his age or waning sexual attractiveness: only the excitement of a new relationship and the admiration in the eyes of someone new can seem like proof that all is still well.

-Sex and 'love': If one of you has gone off sex, or neither of you can be bothered to make time or space for sex, or if sex just seems dull, an affair can seem the answer. If the feeling of 'being in love' and being sexually aroused has gone, one or you may start to look for it elsewhere. In most of these cases it is what is sometimes called the 'fun' that is missing from the relationship. The true one-night stand, a one-off that happens in extraordinary circumstances, can be a case of sexual curiosity, and is usually the only kind of affair that means nothing to the one doing it but can have a devastating impact on the other person in the relationship.

- Growing apart: Couples can grow apart and develop differently until they feel they no longer give each other what they need.

- Breakdown of a relationship: One or both of you can feel the relationship is completely dead. An affair at this stage is often about lining someone else up so that you have somewhere to go when you walk out.

The following reasons are why some people are 'affair prone', and continue to have affairs throughout a committed relationship, although they usually have no intention of breaking it up.

- Excitement: Some people recognise that the heady, exciting feelings of first love don't last, but they are hooked on them. They don't want to leave the steady partner, so go for a series of affairs or one-night stands. These are usually exciting, hurried and secretive meetings with the focus on sex, plus the overwhelming feeling of joy of finding, once again, someone who thinks you are wonderful and who can't wait to see you.

Continued below...


- Fear of intimacy: Some peole find the intimacy of a committed relationship hard to handle. An affair becomes a way of creating distance and privacy. Some people in long-term affairs, effectively have two part-time relationships, which means the person is not fully intimate in either one.

 

Read over the page for real life stories and relationship advice on cheating...

All pages in this article

  1. 1. What really makes some men cheat?
  1. 2. Why some men cheat: your stories

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