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Why do powerful men cheat?

Why did they think they could get away with it?
Why did they think they could get away with it?

We all know the names of the infamous men who have been blasted all over the tabloids for having affairs on their wives, so no need bring them up here. The question that keeps boggling the minds of many women is "WHY?" Why do powerful men think they can cheat and get away with it? Why don't they consider the repercussions? Why the urge to cheat? Why? Well, I do not claim to know all the reasons why men cheat, but I have consulted some experts and found that it's really not that complicated at all. Let us be clear. Not all powerful men have affairs and these explanations are not to justify their cheating; rather, they are to be used as different scenarios to provide us with a better understanding. Here's what I've found:

Who cheats most?
Let me first acknowledge that both men and women have affairs and have been having affairs since the beginning of time. The current research finds that about 20% of married women and 32% of married men admit to cheating. Of course, these statistics vary depending on the type of study. Steven Nock, PhD, is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and has followed the marriages of over 6,000 men since 1979. He says, "There's no question that men cheat more than women. In the bad old days when we had to prove why we were getting divorced, that was the leading cause."

Sensation seekers
Many powerful men fall into a personality type known as the "sensation seeker," a phrase coined in the early 1970s. Sensation seekers crave intense and risky experiences more than other people do, and as a result, they tend to have multiple sexual partners. "Sensation seekers are easily bored without high levels of stimulation," explains Sam Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. "They love bright lights and hustle and bustle and like to take risks and seek thrills."

When in power, sensation seekers focus more on the potential payoffs of their risky behavior, and far less on the repercussions. The thrill that comes with doing "dirty deeds" in their private lives is exhilarating. It breaks away the monotony of always being around "people pleasers" and "yes men." The problem is not that they simply fail to enjoy life to its fullest; but that they seem to never get enough excitement. The flipside is that boredom is also more boring.

Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder. Men who are out of town for days and weeks at a time for business often experience loneliness. The opportunity to meet with different people while away is tempting, especially if he is lonely. It is even more tempting for many powerful men if the relationship at home is not favorable. For those who aren't lonely and just like the added stimulation (the sensation seekers) breaking the rules is part of the thrill for them.

They Desire Change
I have found that in general, many men cheat because they desire a change in themselves or in a relationship. The affair starts the vehicle for that change. They can be unhappy with themselves or their spouse and become bored and disinterested in relationships altogether. Some men believe that their relationships will never get better with their wives and a sense of hopelessness sets in. At that point, an affair is almost a guaranteed unless some form of intervention occurs. So, yes, there are many men who use infidelity as a way out of a marriage. The men who are in powerful positions, however, are less likely to desire a termination of marriage because marriage makes them look good and more powerful to the public.


After years of watching Batman and Superman, powerful men really believe when having extramarital affairs that they are invincible. They really and truly believe they won't get caught. They also assume that if they do get caught, they have the ability to either cover it up or make it go away. These men are only worried about the short-term gain they believe will fulfill those urges. Let us not forget the explanation Bill Clinton gave for his cheating: "I did something for the worst possible reason-just because I could."

Of course, there is always hope when you are in a situation and you feel like the situation can be resolved--counseling. Counseling only works if both parties are invested in changing their behavior from the inside out and are willing to work together to make the relationship harmonious. In other words, you cannot make your husband go to counseling if he doesn't want to or if he is not interested in changing his behavior. Equally, you (as the wife) shouldn't go to counseling if you are not willing to accept some harsh truths and are unwilling to forgive. Although, his cheating was not directly your fault, you might learn what led him in that direction in the first place.

Furthermore, I have supplied a list of Nashville counselors who deal specifically in marriage relationships. Hope this helps.

Please feel free to comment on this page or email me questions or concerns at

Carmichael, Mary. "His Cheating Brain: Why do powerful men risk everything for sex? It has to do with brain chemistry, evolution and yes, testosterone. Newsweek. 12. March 2008.
Elder, Sean. "Men and monogamy: Understanding the urge to have an extramarital affair." WebMD. Halvorson, Heidi Grant. "Why did they think they'd get away with it?" Psychology Today. 15 Apr 2010. Orbuch, Terri. "Powerful men cheat for many reasons." Psychology Today. 2 Dec. 2009.


  • Dwayne 5 years ago

    As always I love reading this woman's views. When she writes I love how trys so hard not to be bias when it more than cordial to not be, and non-idealistic when the topic pushes. Keep at it I probaly am your number 2 fan as you seem to write for you not to please people.

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