Do Men Cheat Due to High Testosterone Levels?
No doubt testosterone is a powerful, motivating force– after all, evolution created a powerful drive, capable of ensuring the survival of a species. Testosterone is one of the fuels that is responsible for creating new life, new generations, and ensuring the continuation of humanity – no small achievement! Nature has been intelligent enough to not create a wimpy, indifferent and unreliable force that is responsible for reproduction – and ultimately, whether or not humans fade out and off this planet.
Testosterone is like rocket fuel -it can make sex-urgent, drive-instantaneous, and attraction-all-consuming- more so than estrogen. What has become negative about the power of testosterone is that our society has created a culture of cheating and infidelity, which has dangerously become accepted and expected (whether or not people realize they subconsciously expect or accept it). High testosterone levels being a reason to cheat has become normalized!
The dangerous thing about misperceptions is that people live up to them either through conscious blame and excuses or subconscious bias. We live in a culture of instant gratification and hyper-sexuality (more on that here) and the combination can be destructive- for all genders, perpetuating toxic masculinity and patriarchy.
How many times have you heard, read, or thought the following as explanations for cheating?
- Men cheat because they have high levels of testosterone.
- Men have been genetically programmed to seek out variety and as many partners as possible.
- Men have uncontrollable urges so cheating is no surprise.
- Men are unable to control their sex drives.
- Sex is a biological drive and men are just abiding by nature if they cheat.
- If their partners do not give men enough sex, men are justified in seeking it elsewhere.
- If men are not getting their needs satisfied, it is only natural they will satisfy their needs with another person.
- Boys will be boys!
While most people born into an estrogen-run body will never know what it feels like to run on testosterone and vice versa, I affectionately consider myself a walking experiment – I have lived life in both an estrogen-run body and a testosterone-run body.
First some background: The purpose of hormone replacement therapy is to get transmasculine hormone levels in the same range as cisgender hormone levels- somewhere between 300-1,000 ng/dL with the average being around 700ng/dL (obviously this is a wide range and varies greatly by age, health, and prescribing physician).
The entirely of my 4.5 years on testosterone has been in the upper range with levels between 900-1, 100. I have high testosterone. Have I ever thought about cheating? No. Have I ever thought my attraction to someone other than my partner was so strong, that it was uncontrollable? No. Have I ever come up with a single reason why cheating was warranted? No.
Although I can confidently admit that testosterone feels very different from estrogen in a sexual context, it does not have absolute control of the body and mind – one is not a prisoner of it. People have a choice – tempting situations can be consciously avoided, sexual energy can be sublimated into other creativities and we can choose as to what extent we entertain thoughts and desires that come up
Men are not robots; they are autonomous, accountable and responsible human beings and no person is obligated to fulfill a man’s sexual needs at every moment. Do not let anyone hold sex and cheating over your head! No gender should perpetuate this sense of entitlement.
Not happy or satisfied in a relationship? Fix it or get out. Not enough sex? Well maybe you aren’t in a sexually compatible relationship. Need variety? Try polyamorous or open relationships.
Hormones may influence behavior, but cheating is a choice. Nobody owns sex; it is shared, not given or stolen. All humans have an ethical obligation to treat other humans with respect and dignity. To start, we can stop using a hormone to justify or even explain cheating.