Some are married. Others are single. Society rather expects single men to “have their fling” but not married men. We call these men “serial” cheaters because like addicts—they don’t seem to be able to stop their addictive behavior. In the case of the serial cheater, his addiction is his compulsion to “sleep around” with as many women as possible. We have seen many of these men in our 30 years of marriage counseling.
These men are very skillful in their seduction of women. They are quite careful in their selections of the women they target for an affair. The women are often lonely, suffer from low self esteem, and are desperate for a relationship. He goes after them tenaciously. He knows how to approach them, what to wear, what to say, what lies to tell, and how to take advantage of the woman’s vulnerability. Even though she may be aware that he’s not being completely honest, she may be so desperate for love, affection, and attention that she’ll discount his dishonesty and may even make excuses for his deceit in order to keep the relationship going.
Prominent married men who are serial cheaters are able to take advantage of their status to seduce women. They have power, influence, and money and they use all three to seduce and manipulate the women in their lives. This includes their wives and all the “other women.” The wife tends to be almost totally dependent on him and he is able to manipulate and control her. She may be aware of his exploits but be incapable of doing much about it except to complain. He may promise to do better, end his “wandering” ways, and may even agree to go to counseling. He will do and say almost anything in an attempt to convince the wife that he’s trying to do better while actually continuing his extra marital relationships.
Men who have status and position often have the means to keep their extra marital affairs secret. They do an exceptional job of hiding their exploits. If the cheater is affiliated with a company, a political party, a church, a business or some organization that has a repetition to protect, the leaders of those institutions may assist the cheater in “keeping the affair under wraps” in order to protect the organization’s image. They may be able to keep these affairs out of public view for quite some time, but eventually, “what is done in the dark eventually comes to the light.” The discovery may come as a surprise to the public, but not to those close enough to know the husband’s history of cheating.
A marriage involving a serial cheater is considerably more difficult to correct because of the man’s continuous pattern of deceit. At some point, eventually the wife may grow tired enough to end the masquerade. Hopefully, she will grow from the experience so that she can create a healthy and meaningful relationship in the future.
Regardless of the reason for the extra marital affair, the solution is the same. The solution is appropriate for couples of all ages and status. It’s quite simple. Fix the marriage! The only difference between an older man having an affair and a younger man is time—the amount of time it takes each to fix the marriage, if it can be fixed, and if not, the husband owes it to the wife to end the marriage and allow her the opportunity to find happiness in another relationship. But we’d advise the man not to “throw in the towel” too soon, believing that the “grass is greener over there” with the other woman. If you’re a man who has decided to leave your wife to pursue a life with the other woman, in time, you may discover that you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life. But after all the pain has been inflicted, you, your wife, and your children have been exposed to public humiliation, and the money divided, it’s just too late to go back. Our recommendation is that you end the affair immediately and put your attention and energy into fixing your marriage!