We welcome reader questions, comments, and feedback here at SBM. Check out our SBM Mail series here for past submissions and you can submit your own questions using the Contact Us page. Today’s reader asks:

Dear SBM,

I just want to know why men cheat after begging a woman to take them back? And does he think that because she took him back that she’ll put up with it? My coworker was telling us about an argument he had with the mother of his baby in which he ended by telling her that he’s not changing. I could see where her anger was coming from to a degree, I mean he did cheat on her so she was expecting him to be grateful that she took him back, but women’s intuition also tells me that she expected him to miraculously turn into a new person. Just some background for you, he admits to having side pieces throughout their entire relationship (including her pregnancy) and they broke up a few months after the baby was born because she found some evidence of his indiscretions. They got back together a few months ago but he still says that he’s cheating and will continue to do so as long as he wants. From the way he describes their current relationship, it seems as though he has gotten even more comfortable and offers no apologies for his behaviors in and out of the house. Of course, I realize that I have only really gotten half of these stories and he could just be exaggerating, but I doubt it. Why does a cheater even want to be in a relationship if he’s decided that he’s not going to be faithful? And does it signal to him that he can continue to cheat if a woman takes him back?

I’ll start off by quoting some statistics for context. I read a story earlier this year that estimated between 15 percent of women and 20 percent of men are unfaithful. Women are less likely to get caught. Ninety-five percent of women and 83 percent of men reported they “successfully” cheated without their spouses ever finding out. These are married people so who knows how desolate the landscape of relationships and pseudo-relationships looks. I only point this out to note that there are a number of unfaithful people among us and many of them will never get caught (or so they believe). Specific to your friend’s situation, you seem to have two main questions:

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1) Why does a cheater even want to be in a relationship if he’s decided that he’s not going to be faithful? 2) Does it signal to him that he can continue to cheat if a woman takes him back?

Why do cheaters cheat?

Women like to believe that they have a more sophisticated justification behind when and why they cheat – and it’s very possible they do. However, cheating is cheating so I’m not sure why folks are so caught up on being the morally superior in their immoral actions. That said, I’ll focus today on why I believe most men cheat.

While a lot of people have asked a similarly phrased question, I think this is the equivalent of asking why do people look for work when they already have a job? Most cheaters are in a relationship for the exact same reasons as their partner. It’s very possible they sincerely believe they like/love the person they’re cheating on. Men cheat because they don’t understand or don’t care about the impact of their actions. It’s a selfish act. These men haven’t learned to think outside of themselves or even if they do, they don’t care enough to stop.Although people attempt to confuse the two, whether or not you believe monogamy is natural is independent from the fact that the rules governing a monogamous relationship are pretty straight forward. Cheating is a conscious choice to break those rules.

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Some people believe that if you truly love a person you would never cheat on them. I disagree, because that belief dictates that emotion is what drives people to cheat or remain faithful. In reality, there is far more logic involved in not cheating than emotion. I think we can all agree that Love is an emotion. Given the large number of people that cheat on their loved ones each and every day of the week, it is obviously not enough to stop people from cheating. That’s where logic comes into play. Love might keep you in a relationship, but it’s logic that keeps you from straying, especially when you believe you won’t get caught. Someone told me recently that men are as faithful as their options. This is only somewhat accurate. Most men have options. Honestly, being in a relationship might increase a man’s options considering there are a certain group of women that like to go after committed men – but that’s another blog for another day.

Most unfaithful men aren’t seeking out an additional relationship. In fact, most men aren’t even looking to replace or give up the relationship they already have. Unfaithful men are generally only seeking to satisfy physical needs. There is a smaller group of men who are looking for a woman to satisfy something they’re not getting at home – usually something ego based – but even these men are rarely looking to leave the woman they’re with. Going back to the job analogy, if a man has a job (or woman) that meets all of his basic needs except for one or two extras, he really has no motivation to leave this great job simply to go back out into the job market (dating scene).

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In 9 out of 10 cases, men aren’t looking to replace the woman they already have. The exception would be if he meets another woman that clearly supersedes the woman he is already with. This is rare for a few reasons: 1) if you’re already in a relationship, it’s difficult to get to know another woman beyond the physical; 2) the woman he is already with has a head start because he’s familiar with her in his life; and 3) the only thing more amazing than how long some women will stay with an unfaithful man is how long a side-woman is willing to remain in the side-woman role.