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Why Men Really Cheat:
The Psychological Secrets Of Male Infidelity
After interviewing over 500 men, a psychologist says he can predict who is most likely to be unfaithful.
Would all men cheat given the right circumstances? After interviewing hundreds of men, psychologist Martyn Stewart claims that all men are capable of cheating - but that does not mean that they will. 'There's a primal instinct,' he says. 'Some men are less likely to be able to push that aside.'
Stewart, 35, is head of psychology at Doha College in Qatar, where he teaches psychology to 16 to 19-year-olds. Born and educated in Manchester, he now divides his timebetween Doha and the UK, where he conducted interviews with more than 500 British men over four years. His research comes to the conclusion that all men are capable of cheating, but some types are more prone than others.
Stewart himself is single and not trying to defend or attack infidelity; he just wants to analyse human behaviour. 'My argument is not that all men cheat, because that's not what I found. My real aim is to help people make better relationship choices. I think people rush into relationships way too quickly without knowing their partner. The problem becomes making a poor choice at the beginning. A fifth of people will remain in a toxic relationship just to say that they have a partner.'
He is fascinated by the question of why men still cheat on their partners when there is no longer any seed-sowing evolutionary advantage to it. 'What we call 'cheating' is just a behaviour,' he says. 'We have given it an emotional significance, but for years it was related to survival. It's no longer necessary and has no purpose. You have a desire for sexual variety as a man, but conscious thought can override most of our biological drive. So why does it still occur?'
He argues that there are 27 types of men and among these types certain men have developed thought patterns - a mix of personality, environment and opportunity - that allow them to be unfaithful. 'Some men can find any justification for this kind of sexual behaviour. The Guilty Conscience will think about it; the Family Man will think about it - but they won't necessarily do anything.' What type is he? 'I know the answer to that question, but I'm not telling,' he laughs.
He found that when he went through the interviews, men could be divided into five categories: the Most Common Types; the Rarer Types; the Types Who Appeal to Women; the Types of Men Women Don't Notice and the Types Women Should 'Get Rid Of' (this last group contains the highest number of 'likely to cheat' candidates). Each of these had subsections, adding up to 27 personality types - which is also the number recorded by Dr Stephen Whitehead, professor of gender studies at Shih Hsin University in Taiwan, in his bestselling book The Many Faces of Men.
Men can change type during their lifetime, Stewart says, but they cannot be made to change type: 'Changing a man is not within a woman's capability.' Time, experience and maturity can, however, alter a man's propensity to be a cheating type. He calls this 'shape-shifting'.
'Men and women are born with different brain types,' he adds. It is a theory, he says, put forward by Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Cambridge University, in his book The Essential Difference, but I can't hear this stuff without clenching my fists. 'Most men are systemising: they have to know how things work. Women are born with an empathising brain. But some men can also be born with the empathising brain. They care about other people, they go out of their way not to upset people. That's where I started thinking about these different types.' Those of the 27 'types' who are most empathetic are also the ones least likely to cheat - especially the Woman's Mind, the rarest of all the types.
Stewart's analysis often sounds curiously old-fashioned, but he claims it is simply a reflection of the attitudes of the British men aged between 18 and 60 he interviewed for the project. Of this sample, 27 per cent said they had cheated on their current partner, and 45 per cent said they had cheated on a partner at some point. Is some of this sexist? Aren't women just as likely to cheat? Why don't we care so much about that? 'That might be the subject of the next book,' he says.
'There are lots of totally faithful men,' he adds, 'men who have a desire for sexual variety but do not cheat. They will make a choice not to disrespect you. Obviously sex with someone else is usually considered as cheating, but some people consider flirting to be cheating. It all depends on the definition of cheating for that couple. A secure couple will be able to talk about these things and not let it cause a problem in their relationship.'
The book goes into a lot of detail about the justifications men find to allow infidelity: 'My girlfriend was away and will never find out'; 'anyone would do it'; 'I might as well'; 'I deserve this' - possibly as many excuses as there are men. All of which makes Stewart's theory quite complicated, and I'm not sure it would be possible to 'diagnose' anyone you met according to his types. Plus, even if a type is in the 'least likely to cheat' category, it doesn't guarantee decent behaviour. Circumstances and opportunity can intervene.
Stewart explains: 'When I was listening to men's stories, I would see subtle differences. For example, I interviewed two men who seemed quite similar and stereotypical: they had both cheated and both felt remorse. But one said: 'I decided, I'm going to bury this. I got rid of my mobile phone and cut the girl off. I went home to my girlfriend and never did it again.' He realised it was wrong and he shouldn't have done it.
'The other guy who had cheated was overwhelmed with guilt and remorse and wanted to tell his girlfriend. That is a subtle difference: the response to cheating is different. Some guys cheat and don't care. Some feel sorry. Some think it's right to cheat. Some believe men are dominant over women and can do whatever they want.' For a handy guide to those, ladies, check out the 'Avoid these types' section below. Or just open your eyes and ears.
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