Cheating is OK, but you're playing with fire if you fall in love
Men give a raw account of why they cheat. Yet they have very different rules for the women, writes Niamh Horan
The Ashley Madison scandal has blown open the world of extra-marital affairs. Men spoke with candour to the Sunday Independent about why they cheat on their wives. Their views may infuriate, but they say society isn't ready to be honest about infidelity.
One 42-year-old has been married for 14 years and regularly cheats, despite professing deep love for his wife. "Is [climaxing by yourself], looking at another woman on a porn website or movie, cheating? You're thinking about the other woman, so why not?
"I [orgasm by myself] to get rid of an urge. If I have sex with another bird, what's the difference? That's it. It's gone. It's over. Never to be thought of again. But because women are women, they don't believe a man can have sex and walk away. Actually, we can."
Another married man, in his 60s, says women need to be honest about their fears surrounding their husband's infidelity: "If you were to honestly ask women their feelings towards cheating - which would you prefer: your man going off with a prostitute, paying for it, no emotions and never seeing her again, or a man going off with a girl who is doing it for nothing, but simply because she really likes him? Hands down, most women would pick the first option. So you have to ask yourselves 'Why'?
"The fact that he is having sex with a woman who actually likes him is what really concerns her. Because, now, she is a threat. And she's afraid of losing the man. So it's not really about the sex at all, is it? It's about the threat of losing him."
A Dublin taxi-driver did it as a one-off: "I did it because it was there. I have gone abroad so many times and never done it. I don't know why I did it that night. Beer goggles, maybe. Did I feel guilty? For a few minutes, but one drink in the early house sorted that out," he laughs. A media figure in his 40s says women should stop putting pressure on themselves to try and prevent their man from cheating: "When a woman says 'oh we are having loads of sex, why does he have to go somewhere else?' [it's silly. It's because] he wants different. Women think 'if I make it interesting and buy sexy underwear he will stay'. It's just different underwear on the same girl. Bring in another girl, then maybe men won't play away."
But he warns: "You're playing with fire if you fall for another woman. It's something I have never done. But maybe that's the thrill of it for other men?
"They can start out as just sex, but the problem is [when] you start to develop feelings for them. I guess sometimes men are only human too. The secret is never to go back to the same woman twice."
He adds: "I am a firm believer that all men fight the urge, they mightn't act on it, but don't tell me the urge doesn't crop up. It's innate. And most men have acted on it at least once. People are going to say I'm a cynical bastard, I'm sorry, but the statistics are in my favour." He says men must be discreet: "I don't think she should ever know. He should be discreet enough to make sure she never finds out. He owes her that. I don't think society is there yet for the 'just be discreet' approach. But I know some wives would quietly feel that way about their husbands."
A 51-year-old Dublin businessman says very different standards for men and women apply: "I know women will say 'well, if you can go out and get laid why can't we?' Well, you can, but then that's another issue now because men see women as possessions; it's all to do with penetration.
"He should be the only man allowed to go there and you have to protect her from other men who want to have sex with her. You don't want her going off either. That sounds funny, like it's a man's world, but that's exactly what happens: he doesn't want her going off-side. Maybe it will get to the stage where none of this will be taboo. It won't be taboo for a wife to drive her husband for a sh*g, be with him while it's happening, and come home afterwards and [they] never see [the other woman] again. Two weeks later, it's a different woman. And they have great sex in the meantime.
"It's never a threat, it's never an issue, there's no need to give the man any second chances. That could well be the future. Over 1,000 years ago, it wasn't seen as cheating if a man had sex with more than one woman. In 1,000 years' time I believe it will be the same.
"It's only seen as cheating right now because we are at a specific moment in time."