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Are Men And Women Equal When It Comes To Affairs – Couples Therapy, Dr. Bruce Derman

Overall, they’re the same. I’ve had a number of people, men and women, that I’ve worked with who were involved through Ashley Madison, which supports married people to have affairs. I don’t see any intrinsic difference. You would think that men have much more need to prove themselves sexually because of their primary sexual fantasy. The fantasy of proving they are desirable to all women, which plays on a lot of men. It is hard for a marriage to satisfy that primary fantasy. Women also have a primary fantasy which connection and security. Both fantasies are insatiable and neither one can be satisfied, but marriage really goes against the man’s primary fantasy more than it goes against the woman’s primary fantasy. However if your connection is weak with your man you are just as vulnerable to affairs.

In our culture, we tend to see things through very narrow lenses, and we don’t widen our lens to see the big picture. Anytime you’re giving energy that is taking you away from the marriage and from the marriage relationship. Anything that is not coming through the marriage, I consider an affair. Any behavior that does that is going to impact the marriage, even one that some consider a no-no which are women who have affairs with their children. I see a lot of that. In a marriage when the man is experiencing the woman being 100% consumed with the child, he feels he could drop off the edge of a cliff and it probably wouldn’t make any difference to her. Society considers that a devoted mother. We don’t say she’s having an affair. To me that’s bullshit. An affair is an affair. Just because you do it in a form that society says they favor, I don’t consider that anything less than an affair. Very few men would risk saying that they feel betrayed for fear being labeled as uncaring. Yet if he reacts and goes off and f*** another woman, everyone will stone him. But they won’t stone her, since it’s within safe presentable parameters.
Why does society function on such narrow lens?

Society always has a narrow lens. It’s a very biased culture, because we don’t accept that life is a duality. We tend to favor one side over the other, so trust is favored over distrust, and honesty is favored over dishonesty. Our conditioning goes along with whatever society favors and we tend to follow that thinking. As a result we miss the opportunity to train ourselves in thinking outside the box and to look through a much wider lens. In one decade, society favored that women ought to have sex with a lot of people. Then another decade comes along and they switch to the opposite. The problem is that our consciousness has trouble holding thoughts that include both sides of the coin, so we prefer to simply things by just following one side of any quality.
There is an example that I love. In the sexual arena we tend to look at men and women differently, in that women have much more sexual freedom than men within our society. Thus, if a man were to look inside a window where there happens to be a naked woman, they would arrest him for being a peeping Tom. Let’s reverse it. Now the woman is looking inside a man’s window and he is naked and he will get arrested for exposing him.

That’s a beautiful example of the way we’re so biased. People are less threatened by women having sex than by two men having sex. Some people really swallow this whole biased kind of thinking, and that affects their life tremendously. This is because you can’t live in just one little box. You can’t live on just one side of the street. There’s always going to be two sides of the street. There’s love and there’s hate. You have to appreciate that one comes out of the other. That things exist only in relation to their opposite.

If everything was blue, you would never know blue. You only know blue because there are other colors.

Is This Rooted From The Judeo-Christian Narrative?

Yes, because the whole thing is based on good and bad. Everything in Judeo-Christian values is either bad behavior or good behavior. The most popular book in the world is the Bible, which is filled with biased thinking.

How about all the other societies? Are they the same?

Not all the societies, but Judeo-Christian is a very dominant philosophy. There are cultures, not major cultures, who don’t have any words for comparisons. Their people are not caught up in making comparisons of good or this is bad.

Most of the world’s cultures are built on a particular bias in which their followers all subscribe to a particular bias. The tragedy is that they don’t treat it as bias, they regard it as truth. They end up with very narrow thinking.

Why are so many cultures like that?

A lot of their beliefs are fear dominated and if you’re fear dominated, you’re not going to be able to see through a wider lens. You’re not going to have a capacity for both sides of any equation. So, as a way to handle your fear, you’ll cling to certain narrow images in hopes that you don’t have to feel the fear.
Most people are afraid of feeling afraid. I support my people to be willing to be afraid and depending where you are with fear, that will determine how expansive you can be.
There is a film called, “Defending Life” where people die and go to Judgment City and appear in front of a tribunal. The tribunal has them on film throughout their entire life. The tribunal only cares about one thing. Has that person made peace with fear? If they determine that they have, they will send them beyond Judgment City, where they can get to use 45% of their brain. Most people who they determine have not made peace with their fear are put on a bus and are sent them back to Earth, where they will continue to use 3% of their brain.

Most people use very little of their brain, because their fear dominates them and their ability to think expansively and think beyond the box. Ultimately, they’re too insecure to do that. Instead, they cling to various narrow ways in perceiving things and they join groups, so at least everyone in the group supports them and goes along with the one way of thinking.
We tend to simplify things. We don’t like things too complicated. One way of simplifying is only look at one side of the coin and favor that, In teaching the merits of both sides, I declare that I am a secure and insecure man. That’s too complicated for most people. They can’t grasp that. They’d rather just cling to images of being a secure man and defend against any reference that they are also an insecure man. In my world

My insecurity is valued as much as my security.

Author: Bruce Derman Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and offers couples therapy in Los Angeles & Woodland Hills. He specializes in working with people in all stages of relationships. You may reach Dr. Derman by calling (818) 375-7194.

For more information on couples therapy in Los Angeles & Woodland Hills, contact Dr. Bruce Derman PH.D. at

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