Checking emails. Looking at phone records. Hiring a private detective. There used to be a time when these were the tried and true ways to uncover a cheating spouse.
It was just a matter of time before the Internet made it even easier to tell if your spouse was straying—it's now as simple as plugging a name or an email address into the stolen database of 32 million people who used the cheating website, Ashley Madison.
According to an article on cnn.com, "The danger of being exposed is real."
But it doesn't take a website like Ashley Madison to make that danger of discovery real: it can be as simple as a finding a bright pink lipstick in your spouse's car (pink is so not your color), discovering a charge on your credit card bill for flowers (you can't remember the last time your spouse surprised you with a bouquet) or facing an increasingly uncommunicative partner (whose former chattiness has turned silent).
The Kinsey Institute reports that about 20 percent to 25 percent of men and 10 percent to 15 percent of women engage in extramarital sex at least once during their marriage. And infidelity is the single most-cited cause of divorce in over 150 cultures.
Why do people cheat on their partners? Why would they take such risks?
Here are six theories why men cheat.
Elevated testosterone levels. Men in committed relationships tend to have lower testosterone levels than those who are single, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. However, men in relationships who report cheating on their partners—or even who just say they'd consider it—have levels about as high as single men, notes Steve Gangestad, PhD, one of the study's authors and a psychology professor at the University of New Mexico. "They are really in some sense not taken off the market," Gangestad wrote about the report. "They are still interested in other women, and they are still high in testosterone. They are still engaged in the mating effort."
Sex. Some men think that either their sex life is unsatisfying or the sex is too infrequent. They embark on an affair with high hopes that their sex life will improve.
Emotional needs. Some cheat because they don't feel emotionally satisfied in their current relationship. Perhaps they need to receive more emotional support and validation. They want emotional nourishment and closeness that they lack with their current partner.
Revenge. Yes, it's true. Cheaters look for affairs to get back at their partners who cheated on them. Call it a tit-for-tat situation (pardon the pun).
Life-changing circumstances. Aging and the fear of fading sexuality, loss of a job and the need to regain your power, a drastic financial fall and the desire for self-validation are all reasons a man may stray.
Adrenalin seeking. Some people are thrill-seekers. They look to cheating as a way to satisfy their curiosity or reverse their boredom. Curiosity paves the way for them to seek out a new partner or explore unchartered sexual terrain.
Whatever the reason men cheat, it never makes it right. Communication is key to plowing through any relationship issue.
The Ashley Madison debacle, a modern-day equivalent to discovering lipstick on the collar, is a lesson in so many ways, not only for the cheaters who are probably fighting their way out of the doghouse, but for everyone out there. Cheating aside, security experts caution that online information is not necessarily safe. They urge caution with passwords and with handing out sensitive information.
Whether or not the massive hack of the website will deter cheaters remains to be seen. But it's doubtful: USA Today reports that Avid Life Media, the company behind the site, made an email statement to the media claiming that since the hack, the website has exploded with "hundreds of thousands of new users."