Men Who Cheat

Men Who Cheat
Slideshow: Dr. Phil looks at why men cheat.
Daniel and Teresa
In 13 years of his marriage to Teresa, Daniel says he's been unfaithful three times. "I love my wife, I really do," he says, remembering that when they first got married they were very happy and affectionate. "Now there's times I think it takes an act of God and Congress to get any kind of attention out of her."

Being with other women, he says, "was almost like a drug."

"You get so focused on the attention and the affection that they give you," he says, "you don't care what it does to the family."

He says he hasn't been with anyone physically for a year, and it's been about two months since he's spoken to another woman on the Internet.
Dr. Phil says it sounds like Daniel is justifying his actions rather than owning the behavior. "I hear you saying, 'I still have these problems. She's still neglecting me. So I'm still vulnerable to this intoxicating attention from other women,'" he says.

"I've broken any and all contact with anyone I've been speaking to other than my wife," says Daniel.

"Do you believe that?" Dr. Phil asks Teresa.

"It's hard. I want to know why is this time any different. He's promised a lot of times, and that hurts," she says.

"How did you justify it at the time?" Dr. Phil asks Daniel about the affairs.

"I would hear her say 'I don't need you, I don't want you, I don't love you,' and to me that justified my going somewhere else," Daniel says.

Dr. Phil tells it like he sees it: "I think you aren't sorry for what you did," he says. "I think you're sorry that you got caught ... I get the feeling at this point that you don't want to change or see any real justification for change."
"Did you ever stop and project ahead to what kind of devastation you could and would create in people's lives that had the misfortune of loving you as a husband or a father?" asks Dr. Phil.

"No," answers Daniel. "Never even thought about it. Never crossed my mind."

Dr. Phil asks Teresa's teenage daughter how she's been affected by the man she refuses to call "Dad."

"Counting on him is not an option," she says. "He's never come to my school events, nothing like that. I've always worked really hard to be the greatest daughter for my mom. She needs a lot of support."

Dr. Phil tells Daniel: "Your selfishness knows no bounds. It's not just the hedonism of sex. You've also been unwilling to invest in your daughter's life."
"Why aren't you leaving him?" Dr. Phil asks Teresa.

"I made a promise," she says. "I was not raised to just get a divorce and throw it away. You're supposed to work hard at this ... My word means everything in the world to me. If I don't have that, what do I have?"

Pointing out that Daniel has breached their covenant, Dr. Phil tells Teresa she can still hold on to her dignity and self-respect. "You don't want to model for your daughter that you allow yourself to be abused and cheated on and lied to and have an unwillingness to stand up for yourself," he says. "I'm not telling you to get a divorce at all. But you've got to make a decision that this boy's gonna straighten up or tell it walking because there ain't any middle ground."

Dr. Phil says he doesn't believe a word Daniel says. "I think he's telling you he's absolutely incorrigible. I think he's telling you 'I find you boring. I'm interested in me and the hell with you," he tells Teresa.
"I preferred six women in a bar showing me affection rather than the one woman that I had at home ... I liked these other women because they gave me a sense of self-worth. They made me feel attractive," says John, admitting that he suffers from low self- esteem. "I felt that I had no control over my actions, and that I was addicted to cheating ... I would leave my house knowing what was going to happen and not feeling the least bit guilty about it."

Then, to cover up what he'd done, he'd tell lie after lie "until it came to the point that I didn't know the truth anymore."

Dr. Phil asks John how he has justified cheating. "What was it you said to yourself that made this OK?" he asks.

"I was just enjoying the attention I was getting and I was being very selfish. It was all about me, and I wasn't thinking about my significant others. They never popped into my mind," says John, pointing out that he'd often been drinking.
John says he wants to change his ways to save his recent engagement. But the best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior, says Dr. Phil. "You have cheated in the past. Why should she believe you?" he asks. "How can you look her in the eye and say, 'I won't do that again?' ... Are you a bottomless pit? Do you just need constant reassurance, constant ego, constant external validation from women?"

In the past, John admits that may have been true. But now, he says, "I've been working on my self-esteem to make myself a more confident person so I don't need that attention from other women." John says he's stopped lying, and that after reading Life Strategies, he now understands that he's accountable for his actions.

"Self-esteem comes from the inside out. It doesn't come from the outside in. You can have all the women blowing smoke at you that you want, but that's all external," says Dr. Phil.
"You need to earn her trust and give her a reason to trust you by being open with her, by being where you're supposed to be, doing what you're supposed to be doing" says Dr. Phil. "You've got to be willing to say, 'I'm going to measure success as a man by having integrity.' And integrity means doing the right thing when nobody's watching but you."

If John wants to be single, he's got every right to get out of the relationship, says Dr. Phil. In fact, he can even be a hound dog with a different woman all the time ... so long as he's not doing it on her time or dragging her into it. "If you want out of that relationship, she needs to be the first one to know. And she needs to find comfort in that you're willing to be honest."

Dr. Phil sums up John's predicament: "So what we've learned from you is that you had an addictive, insatiable need for people to pay attention to you and you were willing to wad your wife's life up and throw it in the corner in order to get it."

John answers, "That's true."
Erin and Alan
Erin writes to Dr. Phil:

I found out last month that my husband of eight years cheated on me while I was pregnant. I have forgiven his mistake and admit my part. My problem is that I am still haunted by it. I don't trust him. When I tell him it's bothering me, he shrinks back into his shell. We are not communicating and I'm afraid because that's what caused him to cheat in the first place. We are committed to doing whatever we can to work it out, not only for ourselves but our three small children. Dr. Phil, for us to get past this, I need to know why he did it."
When he is able to stop crying, Alan explains that his parents divorced when he was 7, and he grew up in a broken home where alcoholism was an issue. "Basically, throughout my childhood to my teen years, I kind of raised myself," he says. "I was an only child ... so I think a lot of this stemmed from my immaturity of being selfish, of wanting things when I want them, because I didn't have anybody to answer to then. And then entering into a marriage at a young age of 22, I still carried that baggage with me."

Dr. Phil says he does not intend to trivialize Alan's background, but he asks again: "The question is what went through your mind at the time that made this OK?"

"I was in a vulnerable state. I put myself in a bad situation and allowed myself to go that next step," says Alan. "I was drinking, and that's not an excuse, but that's what enabled me to let go of the inhibitions that I had."
"How and why should she trust you at this point?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I used to not put my family and my wife first," says Alan. "I'm putting my family first. We're doing things together. I'm not out there at a bar or by myself or with my friends. I'm hoping by my behavior now, slowly she can regain the trust we had long ago."

Erin says she wants to know how to get past her anger that her husband didn't put her first.

Dr. Phil chimes in, addressing Alan: "If that's true, why are you in a relationship? If you want to be single, if you want to chase women...why not just go do it? But why ruin somebody else's life while you're doing it?"

Dr. Phil says this is the most important thing for Alan to hear: "Unless and until Erin knows that she's been heard, that you've really heard her with your ears, you've heard her with your heart ... you get what your choices created in her life, you get what you took away from her, and understand the gravity of your immaturity and choices, she will never ever get beyond this."