Helen Mirren recently said: 'Marriage doesn't need sex.' But one sexpert begs to differ saying a marriage may not need sex - if you don't mind your husband playing away. Now Helen Croydon, author of controversial tell-all book The Sugar Daddy Diaries, has gone undercover to ascertain exactly why men stray from long-term relationships - and to lift the lid on how to prevent it.
Helen undertook the project as research for her new book, F*** The Fairytale, in which she explores modern models of relationships as alternatives to marriage. She worked along with adult lifestyle website Bondara to discover why men stray from long-term relationships and reveal how to deal with it.
Helen says: 'While researching my next book I spoke to hundreds of men and women about their relationship blips, successes, affairs or their choices not to commit at all. I’ve targeted men on the UK’s largest cheating website, maritalaffair.co.uk and even been undercover on that and so-called sugar daddy websites to get to grips with common male motivations for straying.'
Helen found that sexual dissatisfaction was the most common 'complaint' cited by men as a reason to stray, with men saying things like, ‘the physical side has faded,’ or ‘our sex has become routine’.
In this case Helen advises you need to make time for sex - and the more you orgasm, the more you'll want to. She also says if you have relationship problems - another big reason men cheat - try counselling before splitting. But some of her findings are a lot less predictable.
1. Feeling surplus to needs. Common amongst new fathers and the partner of someone with a demanding job. The less busy partner feels unneeded. Think bored housewife and a husband who doesn’t even notice when she gets a haircut. Or the hard-working husband whose weekend is filled with nothing but more chores. These types complained that their relationship had become functional. They craved the freshness of new romance and went elsewhere to find it.
What to do: Relationships should make us feel loved and energised otherwise we’re better off alone. So make your partner feel that way. Stop keeping tabs on who’s done what. In the long run it doesn’t matter. Take time every day to talk and listen to each other - even if it’s just for 15 minutes over dinner or while you have a pre-bedtime cup of cocoa.
2. In love but lacking romance. I was surprised by how many men said they loved their wives deeply and were not looking to end their marriage but wanted ‘something extra’.
Not necessarily sex but the romance - dinners and dates. Many expressed they wanted to ‘feel like they looked forward to seeing someone again.’
What to do: Sadly familiarity can cancel out passion even though familiarity is what we all want from a relationship. It’s easy to steer your relationship away from dreary domesticity though and become fascinated in each other again.
3. Partner health issues. When one partner has health problems which limit their sexual life the other partner may consider this as an amnesty on fidelity. Any previous guilt is removed by the fact that their partner can no longer fulfil roles in the relationship that they once could. I met several men who claimed their wives had consented to them seeking sexual - but not emotional - fulfilment outside of marriage.
What to do: Consent is key here. Just because you think you’re not cheating doesn’t mean your partner wouldn’t feel cheated. There’s nothing wrong with a negotiated open relationship but for those that can’t handle the thought of that you’ll have to address the sex imbalance some other way.
4. The ‘one last time’ syndrome. Common amongst men and women who are about to get married or make a similar commitment. They feel they can hold onto their previous identity with one last experience of their old life. They mistakenly believe that one final memory will sustain them for years ahead of ‘being good.’
What to do: This is just a fantasy. ‘One last time’ won’t make them feel any more experienced than they already felt when they committed. If you suspect your partner is daunted by the idea of long-term sexual fidelity, embrace their sexual appetite rather than try to repress it. Encourage them to talk about things they would like to try and to share their fantasies so they feel you will help them fulfil them rather than hanker them. Why not organise a naughty weekend away with sexy lingerie and some fun masks and ropes and pretend you’ve just met. Even if it’s just ten minutes from home.
5. Opportunism. Thankfully more rare than people may think. A man or a woman is out of town and a new, exciting and novel experience comes up and they think ‘no one will ever know.’
It does happen but not often. To act on a fantasy usually requires mental preparation and lots of suppression of guilt so it’s unlikely a quick chat on a bar stool in a strange hotel will make someone jump into bed. In my experience, people who stray on a whim have done it before or already given it some thought.
What to do: It’s easier to say what not to do. Don’t keep tabs on your partner. Don’t be controlling or demand they phone. Too much control only makes someone want to break free. Trust builds respect and there’s no better defence to cheating than respect.