I’ve been thinking a lot recently about life and “the odds.” If you think about the many decisions we all have to make, getting a good sense of what the odds really are in a particular situation and how much risk we can tolerate is pretty fundamental to living well. It can be quite difficult. For example, many people are scared to fly. They have the sense that the risk is high, and experience anxiety just getting on the plane. They typically don’t worry about the drive to the airport where, statistically, they are much more likely to die.
Understanding the odds really comes into play when we talk about relationships. Each person is an individual and each relationship is unique, but there’s still some sort of aggregate likelihood that certain events will occur. If two 21-year-old people decide to marry, they may indeed be forging a relationship that will last for the ages. The odds tell us that this relationship is very likely to fail. Therefore, based on that fact, I would counsel these two not to marry now. I know they are in love, but if they wait just three or four years ,the odds say that the chances that their relationship will succeed go way up.
Male infidelity in a relationship falls under this same system. Any person can cheat, that we know, but it’s easier for some men to cheat than others. There are three factors that play into a man straying sexually in a relationship:
1. His ability to convince other women to sleep with him.
2. His opportunity to cheat.
3. His sexual energy.
So, let’s imagine a man who works in a store with his wife. They ride to work together, come home together, and on the weekends they work on their house and socialize together. Imagine that this man is extremely unattractive, by objective standards. He is shy, and has a hard time talking to strangers. Let’s also say that he has a very modest sexual appetite. This imaginary fellow is on the low end of the cheater scale. He has little to no opportunity. He has little to no game with women. He has little physical desire for sex.
We can quickly go to the other end of the spectrum. He travels for work. He is very handsome, and has a magnetic attraction to women. He has a very strong sexual appetite. His wife knows he wants to have sex every day, maybe more than once. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this fellow is more likely to cheat than our shy guy.
So, what are you to do with this information? It is certainly true that the shy man COULD find a way to cheat. It’s also true that the sexual guy COULD be a monument to fidelity. But if you’re playing the odds in the situation, it’s hard not to recognize what outcomes are more likely. There are, occasionally, people who get hit by a bus and live, but I’m not going to jump out in front of a bus, because I don’t think the odds are in my favor.
Some people think the odds don’t apply to them. “Yes, I know that is a possibility, but it won’t happen to me,” they often say. And of course, statistically there is a chance that they will be right. But in situations where the odds are heavily against them, they won’t be right very often. And with some of these life decisions, the consequences of a poor decision are so drastic that placing your money on the long-shot seems a little crazy.
So, the next time you’re dating a man, take a moment and think about these three factors and how your guy rates. It’s no guarantee of how he will behave in the relationship, but you’ll have a better sense of the odds.