Most people in leadership will get the opportunity to hop into the sack with someone inappropriately. You will have the opportunity to cross a line sexually. You will be faced with a situation that looks like you just can’t pass up. It’s not if, it’s when. So unless you want to be plundered by the Boom Chicka Wah Wah Assassin, we need to be prepared to make good decisions in the area of sexuality and relationships. – Deadly Viper
We end the 3 Man Killers series with the topic of sex, arguably the most common and deadly of the three. It doesn’t take a historian to come up with the names of several promising men that have been cut down in their prime by sex in its various forms: Elliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, John Edwards, presidential candidate, and John Browne, Chief Executive of BP…oh yeah, and wasn’t there something a while back regarding a woman named Lewinsky?
These men were successful leaders with promising futures. Yet, they chose to throw it all away for sex. What were they thinking? And how did they end up choosing to do something that they knew carried such great risk? What is it about sex that causes men to go further than they want to go, stay longer than they want to stay, and pay more than they ever planned on?
In The Truth About Cheating, licensed family counselor M. Gary Neuman studied hundreds of men who had cheated on their wives to find out the motivation behind the act. His results were quite interesting. When asked what led to their unfaithfulness, their answers broke down as follows:
- 48% – primarily emotional dissatisfaction
- 32% – equal emotional and sexual dissatisfaction
- 8% – primarily sexual dissatisfaction
What’s remarkable about these findings is the huge number of men that cheated due to emotional rather than sexual dissatisfaction. Emotional dissatisfaction? Really? You wouldn’t guess that from listening in on conversations among men. Imagine telling your bros at halftime of the football game that your wife isn’t tending to your emotions well enough. That might be the last time you’re invited to the game day festivities. Many men have been taught not to dwell too much on their feelings and not to talk about them with others. They don’t realize that there’s a problem in this area until looking back in retrospect to what went wrong.
This isn’t just a married man’s problem either. The same issues of emotional dissatisfaction reveal themselves in the lives of single men that hop from one relationship to another hoping to find a woman that will erase their self-doubt and help them feel like a man. Most of us would never admit to it though, conveniently disguising this emotional void under terms like, “player,” “ladies man,” or “sewing wild oats” rather than calling it what it really is: insecurity and weakness.
The funny thing about sex is that it’s never just about the sex. There’s always something more to it than just the physical act. Whether it’s loneliness, lack of connection with a spouse, poor confidence, or a need to be in control, sex seems to promise a quick and pleasurable respite from the real issues with which we’re dealing.
Perhaps it’s our failure to recognize the importance of emotional connection that has become our Achilles’ heel when it comes to staying clean in the arena of sexuality. Or our inability to admit that in the age of Botox, fake boobs, and teeth whitening, that it might not be all about the physical.
Men, both single and married, have an innate desire to be useful, resourceful, valuable…and needed.
A quick look at some of the heroes we look up to show us examples of men who are invaluable to those around them. Think of Russell Crowe in “Cinderella Man” going out each night to fight in order to buy his family some milk and keep on their apartment’s heat. The idea of providing for our loved ones strikes a chord with every man. It’s what we feel born to do in one way or another.
So it makes sense that men find themselves attracted to those that make them feel valuable and needed…and likely to wander from a relationship with those who don’t.
Neuman explains that the feeling of being underappreciated is the most common emotional factor among cheating men. Somewhere in the midst of diaper changes and mortgage payments life tends to beat the gratefulness out of marriages. Couples that once wrote poems of each other’s beauty and worthiness now suddenly can’t muster up the strength to say thank you. And it hits men at the core.
This could also explain why so many men find themselves having affairs with their subordinates at work. Neuman found, “…nearly half of the cheating men reported meeting their mistresses at work.” The young secretary that calls you sir and drops everything at your beck and call starts to look pretty attractive when you’re coming from a home environment where an eye roll has become the standard greeting.
“Men look strong, look powerful and capable. But on the inside, they’re insecure like everybody else. They’re searching and looking for somebody to build them up to make them feel valued,” explains Neuman.
Obviously, you can’t make yourself feel valued and needed, that kind of feedback needs to come from the lady in your life. This means that women have a great role to play in protecting the fidelity of a relationship. But it’s not all on her in any way. While you can’t force your wife or girlfriend to treat you with an attitude of gratitude, there are steps you can take to engender more loving feelings between you. Treat your wife with the same appreciation that you wish to feel in return. Do the things she asks of you quickly and without the smallest complaint. Go above and beyond the call of duty in getting things done around the house and in making romantic gestures. And explicitly tell your wife about how you’re feeling and what you emotionally need from her. Guys don’t want to talk about their emotional needs, but it’s far better to force yourself to do it now, then it is to pathetically point the finger of blame at her after you’ve been unfaithful.
While all of us are better off with someone who builds us up, there are definitely other things we can do to keep our integrity intact and our sex a positive part of our lives rather than a killer.
1) Accountability – Every man needs other men in his life that will ask him the tough questions regarding his sex life. Accountability isn’t just for people in Alcoholics Anonymous; all of us need it. It is much easier to begin walking down the road to infidelity and scandal when left alone to justify and rationalize each chip in integrity without the spotlight of scrutiny.
Accountability doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, it only requires a friend that is willing to hold you to your own standards and not turn a blind eye when they see you going in the wrong direction. Mainly it requires someone who is willing to ask you questions about your sex life, marriage, work, etc. Just knowing that someone cares enough to ask will often deter many of us from making poor decisions.
2) Have great sex with your spouse – The idea that the best defense is a good offense not only applies to the playing field, but your sex life as well. The truth is, a man that is having wonderful sex with his spouse is far less likely to seek it elsewhere. But as any man knows, a healthy sexual relationship doesn’t always happen on its own, it must be intentionally sought after.
What does this mean? It means you may have to actually talk to your partner about what she enjoys and what she feels is lacking. It’s a startling concept to some, but a necessary part of keeping your sex life strong and healthy. The benefits of a great sex life at home seem to manifest themselves in a wide variety of areas from work to physical and emotional health. And most importantly it keeps the focus on your partner rather than the new intern at work.
3) Don’t even walk down her street – I once read a proverb that told the tale of a young man who found himself walking down the street of the town’s seductress. On cue she came out of her house to meet him as he passed by; she was dressed in revealing clothing and explained that her husband was away on business. “Come in, let’s enjoy ourselves ’til morning,” she offered. With her smooth words and seductive tone she got him to come inside. The proverb ended with the following words:
All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.
As my friend and I were discussing this I commented that he was so foolish to go inside the house when he knew full well what was going to happen. “You’re wrong,” challenged my friend, “he was foolish the second that he stepped down her street.”
Don’t take a single step down the road to being unfaithful. Don’t go to a “friendly” lunch with your secretary; don’t stay late at work chatting with your female co-worker; don’t exchange personal emails and text messages with your wife’s friend.
But it takes more to keep yourself on the right track than simply avoiding the obvious physical, tangible enticements. We must also keep our thoughts faithful and focused, a task difficult to do in this sex-saturated society. Everywhere a man turns there is another advertisement, another movie or commercial with a scantily-clad beauty daring us to pursue her. Pornography, specifically, has become more and more rampant as men are able to view it on the computer and in the privacy of their own home. Don’t even take a step down the road to fantasizing about someone other than your wife.
4) Learn how to fly a plane – It’s no secret that many men find themselves having affairs as an injection of excitement in what has slowly become a boring life. For some it’s not even about the sex as much as it is a break in the monotony. They want to feel alive again. For those in this position, the failure isn’t so much a relational one as it is a lack of living life well.
If sex is the only thing that excites you as a man then you need to find some new hobbies. Learn a new activity like flying a plane, getting your scuba certification, or rock climbing. We are often most fulfilled when were are in the midst of learning something new and this fulfillment is a great way to fill the void that might otherwise be satisfied with a new woman.
Part 1: 3 Man Killers: Money
Part 2: 3 Man Killers: Power