The Cheating Gene, Who Does It And Why

The first time I encounter infidelity

I remember vividly the first time I was ever unfaithful (does that mean there was a second?). I had just met the girl of my dreams. We had similar views and we were both enrolled at Westmont, a Christian college in Santa Barbara. Everything was going perfectly… until I ran into my ex girlfriend. Now, I have to confess something, usually when I tell this story I soften it and say it was only weeks after I met Karen, implying that we were not that serious and I not such a bastard. Here is the truth, It was three or more months into our very serious and committed relationship. Karen didn’t live with me but we were about a month away. Simply put we were on a love high, religious high and about as emotionally stoned as that guy you see hanging outside of Starbucks. In our euphoria the last thing we expected was this.


The first time I sensed something was wrong was when Karen and I saw the movie The English Patient, saying we hated it was an understatement. If we could have covered the author in boiling tar and lit it on fire it would not have been enough. You probably haven’t seen The English Patient, it stared Ralph Fiennes, an even more dead eyed Muppet actor than Kevin Costner. We hated Ralph but we also hated the premise, a story rooted in infidelity. Karen and I were in denial, demanding the illusion of our unshakable fidelity. We believed we were more solid than than the uniformity of good reviews on this movie, how wrong everyone was…

I am in shock

I met my ex by accident at a restaurant, I was studying for an exam and she was detoxing after doing something slightly illegal. “Oh my god!!! Hey…” She says and I am forced into a big hug. My brain goes into a chocolate swoon as I feel her familiar large breasts press into me. She looks even more attractive than when I dated her two years before. The bad girl image had finally matured with a few more tattoos and piercings and her natural platinum hair appeared even lighter with her deep tan. “Wow, you look fantastic! I can’t believe it has been two years,” I said wishing I didn’t use the word fantastic. She beamed at me with pupils way too large and said, “We totally have to catch up! What is your number??” Without hesitation I gave it to her. This was just catching up and harmless I told myself. We met two weeks later for coffee when Karen was out of town. I had convinced myself it was purely innocent. My ex knew I was serious with someone and she would respect that… We could be friends… it would be fine… Karen would just get upset if I told her, so she doesn’t need to know… I can control myself…This dishonest dialog kept running in my head, telling me it was okay to put myself in such a dangerous position. We ended up on the beach with a bottle of wine, after four hours of resistance (foreplay) the inevitable happened.

I have never been so ashamed

I didn’t say a word until months later when my guilt came vomiting out. One sunny Saturday Karen and I ran into my secret, she was working at a coffee shop, “Oh my god!! Mike!!!” she said. I literally turned white, squeezed the blood out Karen’s hand and yanked her away from my terror. I couldn’t take the guilt I was harboring and when we arrived home I told her in such shame that I could have bottled the amount of fluid leaking from my face. Karen cried too and hit me over and over again. I took it… rolled up like a fetus on the floor sobbing instead of speaking. I hated myself for this and it took years to forgive. Karen and I stayed together for years until Karen did the same to me and she was just as shocked at her own behavior.

A few stats I have collected:

* 10-15% of all people on the planet have a different father than what they believe (my dad experienced this)
* Women are less likely to use contraceptive with people other than their partner
* Financially successful men are cheated on far less than unsuccessful
* Women are far more likely to orgasm with their lover than their partner
* Women are far more likely to get pregnant with their lover than their partner
* Younger women are as likely as younger men to be unfaithful.
* 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship
* Those who divorce rarely marry the person with whom they are having the affair.
* Divorce rate among those who married their lovers was 75 percent
* It is estimated that 53% of all people will have one or more affairs during their lifetime.
* 53% of Promise Keeper men viewed pornography the previous week in one study (keep those promises boys!!)

Cheating is in our DNA

What is going on here? Are we all evil immoral people, chomping at the bit to screw our lives up? Or is there something deeper making it very hard to do “the right thing”? When I cheated I was totally caught off guard, I felt as if I had been tricked and betrayed by my own mind. I thought that I had a little gremlin of evil living in my head that wanted to destroy me. What is wrong with people? It is almost as if infidelity is a sexual strategy for reproduction. Almost as if we still have an animal like drive that takes over the system to satisfy it’s agenda.

The elephant in the room

Humans are of two minds, one is an animal subconscious and the other is the newly evolved conscious mind. All of us has witnessed the subconscious pleasure seeking hijacking of the system, when we eat junk food on a diet or spend money we don’t have. However when we do irrational sexual acts that destroy our relationships we don’t see the correlation. It is easier to say that we are a horrible person or claim that our partner drove us to it. Is it really completely our fault? and are we absolved of that guilt due to DNA sabotage? I don’t believe we are absolved but we must become aware of what triggers the powerful subconscious animal. This is why a recovering alcoholic doesn’t go to bars and the person losing weight can’t have junk in the house. To do the right thing we must control our environment when WE (not the subconscious) is in charge. We cannot put ourselves in dangerous situations EVER because as we have seen most of our lives, the amount of discipline it takes to control the animal mind when is it on the path of destruction it is massive and most of us do not posses it.

* The arrogant conscious mind likes to ignore the subconscious but do not be fooled, it is there both helping and hurting you daily
* The animal mind is part of us but it can and must be trained
* Controlling yourself in a dangerous environment is like trying to stop an elephant when it wants to rut
* Infidelity can be expected but never tolerated
* Create huge nasty repercussions to control the subconscious (Thailand is the capital of penis decapitation, this would be an effective way to create a sexual speeding ticket, wink)

Mike Masters
Writes a blog for women about relationships at Traveling the world and dating every single he met along the way allowed Mike to make an uncountable number of mistakes in relationships. These mistakes led to a fluency in the psychology of dating that could only be gained from radical immersion.
The Cheating Gene, Who Does It And Why
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Most Helpful Girl

  • emmabee11

    Bull... you knew what you were doing on some level, you KNEW you already had a girlfriend, the whole time you were with that other girl you were thinking of your girlfriend worrying what if she found out?, the fact you even ask that signifies you had no respect for your girlfriend t the time and got too greedy for your eyes, there is no excuse for cheating... if a girl cheated on a guy you would feel the same way, you just can't have any excuses... it's sick enough that you were also being disrespectful to the other girl by thinking about your girlfriend while you had sex with her, i mean how do you think she would feel if she knew who you were thinking about during sex? Mating is in our DNA sure... hormones are, getting horny is... but you have the power and the choice to pull yourself away and say no, but you didn't... and that says a lot about the choices you make. No excuses. If every girl believed a guys excuses god... we would all be single mothers by now.

    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Guy

  • TwiztedTD

    I have cheated once before. Somewhat same situation. I was dating a girl, then started hanging out with my ex again a few times, and ended up cheating on my girlfriend with my ex. A few times this happened over a course of a few weeks.

    It makes me sick to think about cheating. I will never cheat again. It hurts all sides of the party.

    Is this still revelant?

What Girls & Guys Said

  • BaronScrewtape

    Humans are different from animals in that we possess rational minds.

    It is how we use our rational minds in the face of temptation that is important.

    Do you use your mind to reason your way to a good decision, or a bad one?

    Do you talk yourself out of bad behavior, or into it?

    I think we are continuously measuring benefits versus cost in our daily lives.

    And in the face where we underestimate the cost of an action, or overestimate the benefit... we make really bad mistakes.

  • Tamikaze

    I think by relegating cheating in modern U.S. folklore to being the sole domain of the weak, unscrupulous or immoral, it creates this false sense of safety that we, the good guy or good girl, have nothing to worry about and it will never happen to us. And then the day temptation comes knocking on our door we are completely unprepared and we end up joining the cheaters club. If we instead embraced the fact that it can happen to anyone, we can then learn what we can do to avoid it.

  • paragiveadamn

    Throughout adulthood it takes tremendous effort to permanently fill those voids. And like many conservative Americans, if sex was suppressed at a young age, forget it. Will power will be compromised by the subconscious if tempting environments aren't avoided beforehand. This doesn't mean the act shouldn't go unpunished be it natural or not. And that being reprimanded for acting on desires is as just as the sociopath or psychopath facing consequences for their instinctive natures.

  • paragiveadamn

    Like he said it's about the will of conscious virtue to tame the subconscious desire. It's the difference between the recreational drug user and the addict or junkie. A lot of that comes from the early years of development and understanding delayed gratification, virtue, patience, compassion etc. All of those are devoid of selfish desire. Desire exists in us to fill a void. A void is created from a young age by either neglect or suppression of the opposing desire.

  • HerBeautifulBoy

    Interesting ideas however I have to disagree that it can happen to anyone. Kind of reminds me of what they say about childhood bullies. They are actually cowards and if you were to fight back they would cower in fear however not all bullies are like that and could strike back. I guess that's what you mean by training your mind, I know I have an odd anaolgy for it but instead of just letting temptation beat you back you could be ready for that eventuality in the danger zone, it's not as hard...

  • Standingpretty

    "53% of Promise Keeper men viewed pornography the previous week in one study (keep those promises boys!!)" what's that supposed to mean? That they promised not to view porn or not to cheat on their partners? because looking at porn is not really cheating. I think the statistics are a little over what they actually are but other than that it was a good article.

  • missbliss

    What you are referring to by the "animal mind" and "subconscious mind" has been well-studied. Sigmund Freud proposed that the human psyche could be divided into three parts: ego, super-ego, and id. I retrieved the information I just cited from the less-than-prime source that is Wikipedia, however I have studied this topic at the University of Chicago and can say that your ideas expressed here are by no means original; Next time cite your sources so that you present valid arguments. Sorry!

  • mikethemasterdater

    I totally agree but here is the catch 22 people don't recognize the strength of the animal mind and when it takes over the rational we often think we are a failure as a person. This is of course not true, the key is to use the rational mind to address the animal mind. To train it if you will, to understand it and love it. Just like you might a literal pet.

  • delicatedreams

    I think he has a very interesting perspective. I feel like putting ourselves in temptation's path can help us make a bad decision, even if we're extremely moral. I have felt myself tempted to get back with my ex-boyfriend because I put myself in a situation alone with him. Resisting is not easy. Avoiding temptation is much more within our control.

  • kiolomey

    I avoid any activity that could lead me to being pressured into cheating on my boyfriend. I had a friend with benefits deal with one guy for a few months. I loved him, he didn't love me, and I eventually ended it. Now I have a boyfriend, and my ex-Friend with Benefits has been asking me to hang out lately. He was a friend, and fun to hang out with. But I KNOW he will try to get me to have sex with him, so I will never hang with him while I'm with my boyfriend.

  • HerBeautifulBoy

    As you make it out to be because you should always be prepared. Never mind, tamikaze saying now we know, you should always be careful, especially in a situation as said in the above article

  • BaronScrewtape

    Erm, I meant "And in the face of the unknown..."

    My apologies.

  • mikethemasterdater

    Okay smarty pants!!

    I studied this in college too but I am not referring to Freud and there are no sources for such material.

  • AmberChick

    This is why when you are in a relationship minimize the amount of female or guy friends that you have if you don't want to find yourself in a compromising position literally

  • mikethemasterdater

    Damn... I wish more people on GAG had something as intelligent to say as that! I am a little sick of getting flamed!

  • joshmoe

    This article is basically garbage. Good job spreading misinformation and ignorance. You're just attempting to manipulate science to excuse your behavior. Yes cheating has been linked to being genetic but so is alcoholism, doesn't mean you can throw that out there like a crutch. You choose to be weak consciously!! We all have primative instincts that abruptly make us want to do despicable things suddenly but as grown mature adults, we choose to not satisfy the instant gratification impulse and make the difficult right choice! Cowards make the wrong choice and excuses, don't sugar coat it makes it worse.

  • mikethemasterdater

    I agree obviously, if you have a cocaine addiction don't move to Columbia

  • thereitis

    Is there any way to prepare your self for something like what happened to you?

  • mikethemasterdater


    Want to hang out with me?

  • art84

    It's best to not be friends with ex's.