I’ve never been cheated on, obviously. But I know a cheater when I see one, which is perhaps why I’ve been invited to host and judge the first National Adultery Awards later this month. The Awards are run by Illicit Encounters, a website that says it’s the UK’s number one dating service for married people. Yes. Just let that sink in for a minute.
I have, of course, been “the other woman” on numerous occasions, meaning I’m pretty well qualified to talk about the reasons men cheat. More often than not, it’s simply because men crave sexual variety, as an infamous book published in 2003 explains. David Buss’s Evolution of Desire explains the science behind the fact that the most desirable men – strong, smart, successful alpha males, the ones we all want – are never going to be happy with just one mate.
And women know this. I think all women know it, deep down. Perhaps that’s the root of clinginess in marriages, where the passive partner, normally the woman, clings ever more tightly to her man because she’s terrified she’ll lose him if she doesn’t. But men simply aren’t wired for monogamy, and women keep getting this wrong. At least 60 per cent of men cheat on their wives, so you might as well plan for it and make sure that, when it happens, it doesn’t tear your relationship or marriage apart.
Tell your wife to read this column if she’s feeling anxious about your wandering eye. Because although it’s true that men feel the need to spread their seed more widely and more regularly than women do, there are plenty of strategies wives can use to keep their husbands interested, including but not limited to introducing new techniques and even people into the marital bed.
As a social conservative, you might expect me to be horrified by this. But it’s actually about keeping marriage strong, which I believe is really important. In the past, men would just have cheated anyway. All men cheat. It’s a fact of life. In today’s transparent, technology-enabled world, it’s easier than ever to cheat but it’s also easier to get caught. So why not be open and honest about the different needs of your partner?
I’m happily settled now, but I know that my man sometimes toys with the idea of seeing other people. It hasn’t happened yet, but, when he does eventually pluck up the courage to ask me about it, I’ll suggest first that whoever he has his eye on is brought into the bedroom with us.
This is one area of life Muslims, for example, get it right: Islamic cultures don’t give a stuff what happens between a consenting man and woman in the privacy of their own bedroom. Sure, that religion can be tricky when it comes to rights for women, and some of the things the Koran says about what a woman’s opinion is worth are pretty odious.
But it seems to me that we should do whatever it takes to keep the institution of marriage strong and healthy. It is the cohesive glue that binds society together, and research shows that children brought up in happy, stable families do better than those from broken homes. That sounds obvious, I know.
Illicit Encounters says it has amassed a million members among the 21 million married people in the UK. You can do the maths there yourself. And numbers that large imply that women, too, sometimes like to experiment outside the home – if, for example, their husbands aren’t providing for their emotional, physical or financial needs.
Of course, there are ways to keep things interesting that I won’t go into in any detail, because this is a family publication. They’re the reason I’ve never had a man wander when he’s with me. And a few simple rules you need to follow. One, make a fuss of him with food and treats, but don’t fuss over him so he feels suffocated.
Two, be sexually available. I think gay people are a bit more honest about how important this is, and why it’s important for the woman (or “woman in the relationship”) to be sexually available. Nothing turns a man off a partner more than being denied sex.
Three, stay in shape and be presentable. Men are primarily stimulated by what they see. If you don’t get your figure back after having kids, don’t be surprised if he loses interest in you. This takes a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. Women are aroused by their imaginations, but men are simple animals. So make sure you look hot.
And four, never compete for his attention. You might be frustrated at the lack of attention you’re getting compared to his friends, sports or even video games, but nothing will make him run faster than neediness or demands on his time. You won him, he’s yours. He comes home to you. You have nothing left to prove, so chill out and find other hobbies.
As a homosexual, I don’t have kids to worry about, so I know it’s easy for me to say. But my attitude to managing the sexual appetites of my partners is why, even though we haven’t had kids to keep us together, my relationships have been long, stable and happy. The trick is not to suffocate, and to be open to the fact that men simply aren’t happy having the same kind of sex with the same person over and over again for years.
If that means mum and dad should get creative between the sheets to keep their love alive, perhaps that’s better than a sexual free-for-all in which women have children by absent fathers and the numbers of adoptions, abortions and children in foster care goes through the roof. Because really, which is worse, enjoying your husband with another woman, or losing him entirely and bringing up the kids on your own?
The National Adultery Awards are a light-hearted way to draw attention to how wrong some women get it, which you can tell by the relative scarcity of female celebrities in the various awards categories: it’s always men doing a runner. Perhaps the best thing us gals can learn from them is how to stop men making themselves eligible for such a gong.