Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Men Cheat

Generally speaking, men cheat because they have the opportunity. That doesn’t mean that a guy will definitely cheat just because he has the chance, but rather that availability of a ready and willing partner is the primary motivator in moving men toward infidelity. And they may be unfaithful, even if they are perfectly content in their relationship with their significant other. In other words, their cheating is not reflective of how they feel about you. It simply indicates their unwillingness to exercise a little discipline and resist temptation – no matter how into you they may be. I repeat, they may cheat even if they are incredibly happy in their relationship with you and you have an incredible sex life. It is not a failing on your part or indication that there is something fundamentally wrong in your relationship. It has to do with the fact that monogamy is counter-intuitive for men, and therefore committing to have sex forever-after with one woman and only one woman is a challenge. And that challenge is one that many men are just not up to.

So what can you do to absolutely insure your guy won’t stray? Precious little. There is no product warranty on guys. His fidelity is based on his ability to embrace monogamy, no matter how unnatural it may seem to him. If he wins that battle, you have a faithful partner. It’s as simple as that.

That being said, not all men are equal in the potential-for-cheating department. Guys tend to fall into one of three groups: 1) Those who are open to the possibility, itching to cheat, or actively pursuing “extracurricular activity”; 2) Those who like to think they wouldn’t cheat, but who can and do succumb when opportunity knocks (by far, the largest group); and 3) Those who have the discipline to resist temptation…even when opportunity is present. For this group, remaining faithful is a matter of honor. Betraying you would be betraying themselves, and they will avoid doing that at almost any cost.

Obviously, the men in group number one are a lost cause. These unrepentant horndogs will cheat. Period. If there is no opportunity they will make one. What you do or don’t do is of no consequence. It is not, however, so cut-and-dried for group number two. While they are certainly vulnerable to temptation, if they are satisfied in their relationships they are unlikely to go on the prowl. Sure, if something (or someone) drops into their laps, they may give in to their desire, but their happiness with you and their relationship (and to no small extent, their sex life) may give them strong incentive to resist. Conversely, if they feel unfulfilled in their relationship, they are likely to use their dissatisfaction as an excuse to cheat. While this is obviously a rationalization, it is all many men in this group need to justify doing what their penis is prompting them to do anyway. In group number three, however, the opposite is the case. Short of physical and mental abuse, these guys will remain faithful almost to a fault. And while that is certainly an admirable quality, their dogged adherence to a strict moral code could annoying extend to other parts of their life, including areas in which you might rightly wish they were a bit more flexible.

So, as you see, groups one and three are virtually unfazed by what you say or do. Group two, however, may be influenced by lack of contentment in their relationship, but contentment alone is not enough to guarantee their fidelity. This group would be wise to avoid situations that would test their ability to resist temptation. And while I know this may not be what you wanted to hear, knowing the truth about men allows you to make informed decisions about who you choose to associate with and what you can reasonably expect from them.

© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Changing A Relationship's Ground Rules

Question: I have been seeing an entertainer almost 3 years now. The first year was really rocky - full of attraction and the chase (by him) but I had just gotten out of a 6 year relationship and it was merely 3 years after the death of my father and I wasn't trying to jump right back into another relationship or emotional commitment. He too, was apparently getting out of something which I found out about because a woman called me 'protecting her territory'. I confronted him about the call and the caller and he was honest. It only happened once and never since.

The second year, we started getting closer. He started trusting me with very personal things (although he lied about his age) and I felt like we were going along a road that could lead to a sensible relationship. We haven't spent any holidays together - sometimes he is touring and since he has kids, sometimes he is with his family. My friends think I am crazy that after 3 years we should be more of a 'couple' and spend holidays together but at first, I really didn't want that. He travels a lot which strangely I have gotten used to (and his ex cheated on him for that reason so he has trust issues there); at first I complained that he was not very communicative when he left - and now he will call every single time he is leaving and email/text/call when he is gone. Anytime I express displeasure at something - he does make an effort to rectify. I did ask for an HIV & STD test - which he willingly did and supplied the results. Now, I have never been to his house. I have never met his family - although we have spoken about them (and he has met my brother). We have similar friends but because of who he is and the industry, we keep our relationship on the low to protect our privacy - for as long as we can.

Year three - here we still are together. I know now definitely that I love him and I genuinely care for him. I wanted to be sure that past emotional baggage was out of the way first. We enjoy our time together but it’s so random and short; I want more and I feel like he can give more - but I don't know how much. I suppose, we would have to go more public with our relationship if I wanted to spend more time with him that is not quite so private; I know he depends on coming home to me but there is a part of me that wonders why he hasn't taken me to his home? I haven't insisted since I think it’s inappropriate, and I know his kids do not live with him; How do I tell him that I am ready for more and need more from him without demanding it although. I don't want some patterned relationship of him coming to my apartment and making love, him leaving at 4am and then we speak on the phone the rest of the time. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern I started because I didn't want the closeness and now I want it, I am not sure how to get it. Help. ...Ms. Dating the Entertainer

Answer: Yours is a very interesting letter. Basically, what you're asking is: How do you change the ground rules of a relationship without seeming demanding? That's a very good question.
Here are a few issues that I think you should consider:

1) Men are generally comfortable with the status quo and will usually take little initiative to change it. Conversely, women generally like to set up guidelines and alter them to accommodate the complex and changing nature of relationships. You and he once had similar needs and desires and your "ground rules" reflected this. Now, your love has grown, so your desires have changed and you want to re-visit the parameters of your relationship. The question is: Has his love grown, too? And if so, are the changes you want, things that he might be amenable to?

2) By your vagueness in describing him as "an entertainer," I will assume that he has a certain amount of celebrity status and would like to keep his liaison with you out of the headlines. Is there any other reason that he might want to keep your relationship a secret?

3) Be careful not to let your friends define how your relationship "should" be. Friends mean well, but generally their advice is biased toward you and not particularly objective. What is acceptable behavior in your relationship can only be defined by you and your man. Don't let your friends' issues be your own.

4) What specifically are you looking for? You say you want "closeness," but I'm not sure what that means. Are you looking for a traditional relationship, where you spend time with each other's friends and families periodically, go out to public places, and generally do the whole "boyfriend-girlfriend" thing? Are you desiring some sort of public acknowledgement of your importance in his life? Are you hoping to make the relationship more permanent - get engaged, move in together, get married? First and foremost, in order to get what you want, you have to clearly know what that is and be able to ask for it - regardless of the consequences. Yes, there's always the possibility he doesn't want what you now want, and you will scare him off/push him away. But if you don't let your desires be known, in time, you will likely grow resentful of him, and that will not bode well for the long term success of your relationship.

The bottom line is this: You need to summon up your courage and clear the air. Talk to him. Tell him how you're feeling. Tell him you're not trying to pressure him, just "taking his temperature." Then together you can decide just where you are BOTH comfortable in taking this relationship. I wish you the best of luck and hope everything works out the way you want.

© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2010

3 Ways To Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

At a time when fifty percent (or more) of marriages end in divorce, it is no surprise that one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “Is there anything I can do to keep my marriage/relationship from falling apart?” The good news is, yes, if you and your partner really want your relationship to “go the distance” and avoid being just another sad, divorce statistic, there are three specific, and deceptively simple things you can do right now to start divorce-proofing your marriage.

1) Treat each other politely. What I mean by this is: You should treat your partner with at least the same degree of common courtesy you use with friends, business associates or strangers you come into contact with on a daily basis. I’m talking about simple good manners: Saying “please” and “thank you” and excusing yourself when your gastro-intestinal tract suddenly expels noxious fumes at either end. This is so basic to any successful encounter, let alone a significant relationship, that you would think this would be second nature to most people. Alas, it is not. As we get more and more comfortable in a relationship we often “relax” into patterns of interaction that could be described as barely civil, at best, and down-right rude, at worst. And the saddest part is that we’re usually completely unaware of our behavior. We’re just “being ourselves.” Well, STOP! Studies show that couples who make a point of employing good manners and treating each other politely, are overwhelmingly more successful and _happier_ in their relationships than their less-civil counterparts. Bottom line is: Play nice – and you'll be playmates for a long time.

2) Don’t criticize or berate each other. Instead, be complimentary and supportive. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Again, this is a very simple and straight-forward concept that so many people forget once they are comfortably entrenched in their marriage. Negativity undermines the foundation of many relationships. And this is doubly true of critical invectives flung at your spouse in the presence of others. Yet how many times have you been out in public and heard one of your friends speak to their significant other in a critical or derogatory manner (e.g. “Don’t be such an asshole!” or “Why are you being such a bitch?”)? Conversely, if you get in the habit of dealing with your spouse in a loving, complimentary manner, you create an environment of support that inspires cooperation and harmony and helps ensure that “happily ever after” isn’t an impossible dream.

3) Touch each other on a regular basis. This one is incredibly important. And I’m not referring here to sexual touch (although I’m a strong proponent of that, as well). I’m talking about simple contact: Putting a reassuring hand on your mate’s shoulder; squeezing their hand supportively; touching their arm warmly as you pass by. Do this with purpose or for no particular reason, but do it…several times a day every day. It’s an incredibly bonding experience which establishes a level of caring and intimacy that reinforces the physical and emotional closeness of your relationship. Plus, it just feels really good.

As I stated above, these suggestions are things you can initiate immediately, that combined, will have a surprisingly positive effect on your relationship. And though these “quick fixes” may seem too simplistic to be effective, what do you have to lose giving them a try? Just do it. The marriage you save may be your own.

© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.