Nowadays, this issue seems more complex, especially as moral judgements on adultery have changed.
With the emancipation of women, the availability of contraception, and an increase in the number of divorces, we've seen changes to the framework of the male/female relationship, and hence changes in attitudes to adultery.
So although in the past, unfaithful men seemed ashamed and guilty and lied to their partner to get what they wanted, some men no longer do so, instead claiming that their behaviour is a lifestyle choice.
And of course that's before we've even talked about how technology is the adulterers best friend... or worst enemy.
After conducting many interviews with adulterous people, sociologist Charlotte Le Van provides us with four adultery profiles:
- "Adultery resulting from a lack of intimate satisfaction" describes the adultery that occurs as a result of being deprived of or frustrated with certain aspects of the relationship: boredom, lack of love, no or limited sex, lack of desire, lack of excitement, etc.
- "Instrumental adultery" represents the second category. This type of adultery is committed intentionally: revenge, wanting to break up, sadistic behaviour (wanting to "hurt" the other).
- "Adultery as an experience" coincides with our evolving society. It describes people who justify adultery as a way of finding "sexual maturity" e.g. "we got together when we were very young", "I needed to have some more experiences", etc.
- The final category, "adultery as an ingredient of a relationship" is made up of individuals who see adultery as a normal part of a relationship. These are people who are repeatedly unfaithful, who regret what they do but do it again, or they are unfaithful "for the sake of it".
How can you detect an unfaithful man?
This is a question that first of all requires some common sense answers. Naturally, a man who is constantly returning home late, unreachable on his mobile, hiding his phone or his bank statements, etc... is acting suspiciously.
But you will probably have gathererd from the above paragraphs that it's the origins of adultery that need to be understood. While the sociologist's four profiles hold certain keys, psychoanalysts and psychologists offer more complex reasons for adultery.
Adultery can reveal a profound lack of self-esteem (whereby the man tries to make himself feel worthwhile through his conquests) or a desperate search for maternal love. It might also be a response to homosexual desires that the man attempts to suppress through heterosexual hyperactivity.
Reacting to adultery
Recognising that your partner might be being unfaithful inevitably requires the ability to set your own limits, an ability that refers to your own self-image. All too often, even in the face of glaring evidence, a woman in love and who doubts herself, will always find a valid excuse for her partner's behaviour.
On the other hand, wondering about whether your partner is being unfaithful (without any real evidence) implies a loss of trust and it bears witness to a constant fear of losing him. Before making accusations of adultery, talk to him about how you're feeling, explain your need to be able to trust each other in order to invest in the relationship and discuss your fear of being abandoned.