Ask A Guy: Why Do Guys Cheat? And Should I Forgive A Cheater?

Dear Ethan,

Just wondering… why do guys cheat?! Like, why do they even have a girlfriend if they’re going to cheat on her? And should you EVER forgive a guy who cheats on you?

Hey, girls cheat, too. Did you forget that Kristen Stewart totally screwed over RPatz? In fact, recent studies suggest that women cheat as frequently as men do. But while sexual incompatibility and general unhappiness may lead women astray, men often cheat for very different reasons.

Readers of this column know that I love writing about gender-specific biological differences. More specifically, while males can sexually “reload” in just a few hours (or minutes, for a few lucky future adult film stars), a female theoretically has no reproductive need for sex any more than every nine months (though in reality, any lady with such an exaggeratedly low drive could benefit from a few shirtless Channing Tatum movies). My point is that because male thoughts are more consistently dominated by sex, sexual tension and dissatisfaction in relationships can cause men to cheat.

Of course, other factors – including cultural influence and psychological weaknesses such as low self-esteem – also contribute. Perhaps the biggest problem is that many guys are unable to properly communicate their own personal desires or vulnerabilities to their girlfriends or wives, and thus make terrible mistakes which compromise relationships. It’s not that a cheating guy necessarily doesn’t love you – he’s probably just being too selfish to constructively address the deeper issues at hand.

While men aren’t exactly ideally constructed for monogamy, most understand that if they want to eventually build a family and enjoy a fulfilling relationship with someone whom they can lean on and share their lives with, they must commit to one woman at a time. If a guy isn’t willing to make you his one and only boo, he needs to be up front about it. And if he claims he is but ends up cheating anyway, only you can decide whether to forgive him or not, based on the circumstances of the act of betrayal and the depth of your relationship. I think a one-time “mistake” should be viewed as less serious than an on-going affair. But a history of past cheating or any indications of future “slip-ups” should be viewed as big ol’ red flags – in which case, you need to accept his apparent desire for an “open” relationship, or kick that dog to the curb!

Good luck!

Ethan Fixell is a writer and comedian from New York City best known as one half of comic “dating coach” duo Dave and Ethan. He is also the creator and editor of For more on Ethan, visit…or call his mom, Robin.

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  • Abhishek

    we cheat because…we get bored of the same mannerisms of a one girl..and less for the sex..

    of course sex comes automatically afterwards ..but thats not the prime reason..

    the thing is… waking up everyday with the same girll.. same everything …it gets boring after a time..

    i have cheated & those were my reasons..but now im a gud man…

    everything might be the same….but true love never dies…

  • Ethan Fixell

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply, @Lolly. One of the challenges I face writing this column is how to address specific questions while responding with a “universal” answer that can also help others — and unfortunately, that often requires a bit of generalizing.

    With that said, I definitely don’t want to excuse guys for cheating simply because they’re “programmed” that way. I’m only trying to better illuminate what generally motivates each gender to do so, so that men and women in relationships can have a better understanding of one another.

    Otherwise, given the limited amount of space I have to write, and the little amount of information I receive with each question, it’s nearly impossible for me to explain why any specific person does anything. Obviously each individual’s background, motives, and personality are entirely unique!

    Hope that helps clarify a bit.


    • Lolly

      Honestly, a bit of generalizing would help, and the general term we need to use is ‘person’ rather than ‘guy’ or ‘girl’. That’s how men and women in relationships can best understand each other: we are fundamentally the same, with the desire to be important and loved and loving. Beyond that, individuality matters so much more than sex or gender. I am 1) human, 2) an individual, and 3) whatever else, including my tastes and behaviors.

      I’m not so much annoyed with your replies as with the horribly stereotyping questions you often get. It does not seem obvious to this questionner that every person is, as you say, unique. You have a limited amount of writing space, so please don’t use it for generalizations about sex that encourage them-vs.-us thinking. We don’t need to think of guys as weird alien creatures.

      A brief “Guys cheat because they’re people, and sometimes people make selfish decisions,” would save article space and head-level dents in my wall. By all means, call attention to the fact that we’re individuals, and encourage curious girls to actually communicate with guys, rather than judging an entire person by his sex.

      • Jessica Booth

        @Lolly As far as the questions go, these aren’t made up or fake – we have an email address for girls to email in their questions to Ethan. These are all genuine questions real girls have sent in and are never from the same people. Although the answers may seem obvious to some, for a lot of girls, they’re not. That’s why we have Ethan to clear things up.

        • Lolly

          I’ve always assumed the questions are real. I’m not disputing that. My problem is that a lot of them are stereotyping, and that issue isn’t really being dealt with.

  • moniras

    Comments like yours give me hope for humanity. I think it’s safe to say that with 7+billion people on the planet, labeling people based on their gender is not a good idea.

    • Lolly

      Hey, thanks. It just got slightly less like banging my head against a wall.

  • bakerychaz

    Well said, Ethan.

    • Ethan Fixell

      Thanks so much for reading!


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  • Emilia

    Women aren’t programmed for monogamy either. No human being is.

  • Gicelle

    If we only need to have sex every nine months, than how come we can have multiple orgasms???? Be jealous, boys 😉

    • Ethan Fixell

      Trust us: of that, we ARE!

  • Lolly

    That first sentence of the reply was all you need.

    By the way, what’s the deal with this ‘sexual reloading’? Men are the ones with the refractory period. Women can pretty much keep going. And if, as the linked article says, female libido declines in a monogamous relationship, that’s all the more reason to be drawn to the novelty of an affair.

    Selfishness and sexual dissatisfaction work both ways, and cannot be excused at all by thinking, “Oh, he’s a man, so he has a big manly sex drive,” or “Oh, she yearns for passion and romance because she is female and that’s what they do.” Don’t ask why guys or girls cheat. Ask why this specific person might cheat.

    And while you’re at it, readers, quit phrasing your questions like, “Why do guys do x?” This guy. Certain guys in such and such a situation. Not ‘guys’ as a blanket term. There are far too many individuals on this planet to tar them all with the same brush.