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One of the biggest fears men and women have in marriage is adultery. Infidelity damages marriages, particularly the trust you’ve built with your partner. After infidelity strikes a marriage, the innocent party may have issues trusting again. Not surprisingly, not only will a victim of infidelity mistrust their partner sexually and emotionally, he or she might also begin to doubt them around others. In the wake of an affair, more and more lies come out and that makes trust very difficult. It then becomes easy to feel doubtful toward your partner in other aspects of life such as financing and parenting. Confidence will also plummet as a result of broken trust. The person who is being cheated on will suffer a major blow to his or her self-esteem. They may feel embarrassed and think they weren’t enough. They may even question their attraction, their intelligence and their personality which can bring them into an even deeper depression that will take them a long time to recover from. Men and women tend to define infidelity differently and this has an impact on the way they view cheating. Here are seven reasons men and women see infidelity differently.

They have different ideas of what infidelity is. 

Men and women often define cheating differently. While most men and women would consider sexual contact with another person cheating, women tend to put a greater emphasis on emotional cheating than men according to a study. It can be things like consistently liking a woman’s photos on social media, privately texting or DM’ing another woman, even having a close relationship with a woman of the opposite sex that takes away from their own relationship. “Knowing what your partner believes to be infidelity could potentially save a relationship if both partners understand each other’s perspective, thus making the topic of different infidelity perceptions worthy research,” a sexual and relationship therapy study says. Often times, people are in denial about having an emotional affair because those relationships start off as innocent friendships and involve no sex and because of that, they don’t consider it cheating at all. However, these emotional relationships can be just as intense, if not more than some sexual relationships. Men tend to place greater emphasis on physical cheating.

Male desire tends to be based on physiological factors, while female desire tends to be based on psychological factors.

One of the biggest differences between men and women is that men experience sex as a legitimate physical need. His body tends to tell them they need a sexual release, determined by biological factors, rooted in the presence of testosterone in the body. Women don’t experience the physiological drive for sex in the same way. There is no buildup that demands release. Hormonal fluctuations tend to drive a woman’s sexuality, the biggest factors include the female reproductive cycle and a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Her sexual desire is way more connected to emotions than her husband’s sex drive is. This is why many people justify men cheating because of the signals they receive from their body and the impulse to act. This doesn’t justify cheating but it does play a role in how many people view infidelity.

Friendships with the opposite sex may lead to different outcomes.

One of the most healthy things you can do for your marriage is set your own boundaries with members of the opposite sex. It’s especially important that men and women both define these boundaries with friends, co-workers and acquaintances of the opposite sex, otherwise these actions can quickly lead to some form of infidelity. When men don’t create those boundaries, those relationships can easily lead to physical cheating. When men don’t create those boundaries, those relationships often lead to emotional infidelity. Not to say these relationships won’t result in physical affairs but women are often attracted to the attention and emotional support they are receiving as opposed to the physical need. When you don’t establish these boundaries, these “innocent” friendships can easily turn into a physical or emotional affair. There is nowhere for this sort of relationship to go but downward.

Men often keep their cheating to themselves, women tend to confide in friends.

When men cheat, they usually don’t talk about it. A DailyMail survey uncovered that women usually tell their friends about their affairs while men usually keep it to themselves. One of the big reasons men don’t share is because they don’t like talking about their feelings with other men. Women on the other hand like to talk through their emotions with other people they trust. This can be helpful in sorting things out but it can also be problematic. When you surround yourself with friends who don’t respect your relationship and those who aren’t secure about their own relationships, your marriage will quickly fall into a toxic place. We are who we hang around. It’s important that we are surrounding ourselves with people who are uplifting and encouraging. While it’s important to create time for your girlfriends, you shouldn’t be spending more time with them than your husband. These kinds of friends who throw caution to the wind aren’t there to support you, but to sabotage your marriage. They will give you bad advice. They won’t think twice about you flirting with another man or spending time away from home. They will allow you to fall down a slippery slope and won’t be there to catch you when your marriage falls apart.

No matter how you look at infidelity, it can destroy your marriage. For some people, infidelity can destroy their sex life and break the bonds of physical and emotional intimacy. Cheating can collapse even the strongest bonds in marriage for both men and women. While men tend to cheat based on their physiological needs and women tend to cheat based on their psychological needs, the results are just the same. Cheating and hiding it from your partner or yourself will only lead to more trouble down the line. If cheating has become an issue in your marriage, it’s time to evaluate your relationship and restore integrity. Otherwise, when the dust settles, your marriage may not be able to recover.