J.T. wrote: “I’m in my mid-40s and in the 7th year of my second marriage. I absolutely love my wife with everything I have. We fit each other so perfectly that we can finish each other’s sentences, we each are okay with doing chores the other hates to do. I do all the cooking, she does all the laundry and we never fight or argue about anything.
I’m writing because I have been thinking about cheating on my wife for no other reason than I just want something different. I have no desire to leave her and she is very submissive in the bedroom. In fact she will give it up just about every time I want sex so it’s not a problem with frequency.
What I’m missing is the butterflies you get when kissing a woman for the first time, the smell and touch of a new woman. I want to be desired and lusted after.
I’m not looking for your approval or disapproval, but insight. Do women feel the same way in a marriage? Is it normal for me to want these feelings again? What percentage of men and women cheat in the USA?”
Liz says: This is totally normal, for both men and women. So normal, in fact, that it is one of the reasons why people have wondered and debated for eons whether or not sexual monogamy is even natural for humans.
Did you know that the parts of the brain that light up from using addictive drugs are the same parts that light up while in the “honeymoon” phase of love? It seems that lust, love, and cocaine have something in common (Click here to read more about that).
So when the novelty wears off and we settle into the more relaxed stage of love, when we’ve built trust with our partner and accepted their flaws, the “pleasure center” of our brain also relaxes, and this is a good thing. Can you imagine if everyone in a relationship was running around in a constant state of wildly horny obsessiveness? We’d never get anything done!
In other words, while it’s normal to miss the “butterflies” and excitement of first love, it’s also normal and healthy that it fades to some degree. There are some people who mistakenly believe that it means there must be something wrong with the relationship if they don’t feel the same level of lusty desire they used to feel for their partner. I think it matters whether or not you feel contempt and repulsion. If someone isn’t attracted to their partner at all anymore, and even feels disgusted by them, then that’s a huge red flag. That happens often when there are a lot of unresolved issues and resentments have accumulated. But since you describe a healthy and happy relationship with your wife, it sounds like you’re simply missing the rush of excitement that occurs in the first stage of love.
As far as statistics on married people who cheat, studies show varying results. Some determined as many as 70% of married people have had at least one extra-marital affair, and some say it’s about 25%.
I know you stated that you aren’t looking for my approval, but let me suggest this: recognize your feelings for what they are, and choose to override them. That’s called emotional intelligence; mastering control over your emotions by being mindful of the whys and hows of it all, and choosing to not let them control you instead. Think about how any temporary satisfaction you might glean from hooking up with someone else will affect your relationship with your wife, how painful it will be for her, the erosion of trust, and the possible life-altering results.