The Empty Tank Theory

The Empty Tank Theory

By Amy Elizabeth

It is often said if you’re attracting unavailable men (or women), it’s usually because you’re unavailable yourself. Attracting these types is perhaps less a sign of our own shortcomings, and more indicative of theirs. What happens beyond attraction is the true reflection of one’s character.

When asked, the primary reason men give for infidelity is the lack of intimacy in their relationships.

A man trying to have an affair probably isn’t of the highest character, but for argument’s sake we’ll offer him the benefit of the doubt. When a man is in a sexless relationship he feels unfulfilled, inadequate and unloved. According to relationship expert, Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., men are more likely to feel emotional connection after intimacy, where women generally need emotional connection prior. If a woman feels a lack of emotional connection, she may shut down sexually to protect herself. This can cause a feeling of sexual rejection with men, and that can be detrimental to a relationship. You may hear a man mention feeling “dead inside”, or loving his partner, but not being “in love”. The unreleased sexual energy has to escape, so an individual will go outside his relationship to satisfy his needs.

A situation recently with a friend of mine is a perfect example of the effects of sexual rejection. A man took my friend to lunch with the intention of having an affair with her, and confessed his wife and he were no longer intimate. After being refused, the man’s disappointed eyes welled with tears. A grown man was actually crying at the rejection of his sexual advances.

Curious why men stray, I went to the source and questioned some close friends regarding their experiences. One man expressed his previous girlfriend wasn’t the same after a member of her family was diagnosed with a terminal illness. As a result their sex life turned non-existent, leaving him feeling neglected and unwanted. To fill the emotional void, he slept with other women.

Another man admitted to being unfaithful to his wife, but rationalized he never would have strayed had she not stopped having sex with him in the first place. With that, he posited an “empty tank theory”. When a man is physically satisfied in his relationship, he may be attracted to other women, but would never act on that attraction. If his tank is “full”, where his physical or emotional needs are unmet, he is more likely to succumb to infidelity. The secret to a faithful marriage may not be as straightforward as keeping one’s tank “empty”, but it’s a good start.

Dr. Nelson points out in order to improve a relationship, a couple must work together to improve their sex life. When you’re having great sex, no one really cares who’s taking out the garbage. Of course, there are myriad reasons someone would cheat- opportunity, ego, insecurity. Statistics show women are unfaithful just as often, but more adept at an affair’s concealment.

On a positive note, Dr. Nelson reveals commonalities among faithful couples. A couple committed to monogamy, who spends quality time and makes quality effort and, yes, has plenty of great sex is the couple together for a lifetime.