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Why Women Really Cheat

9 August 2018 6 comments

Stereotypically the wandering way is associated with the genetic makeup of the man. However present-day research reveals when it comes to cheating, the sexes are more equal than previously believed. Women seem to cheat as much as men; however, they do so for different reasons. Each genders motivations seem to correlate with our fundamental understanding of male and female sexuality - but is there more to it than that?

Understanding InfidelityWhy Women Really Cheat

Are women cheating now more than ever before?

The reality is that today’s woman has the same opportunities to meet would-be lovers as men have always had. With women making up an equal share of the workforce, they have the chance to mix and mingle with potential lovers in and out of the office. Throw in social media, chat rooms, webcams, and sites like AshleyMadison, the pool of potential partners is no longer limited to people women encounter in their daily lives - or even on their continent!

Society’s double standards

Despite women being profoundly sexual creatures, society’s distaste over female-driven infidelity is really quite puritanical - at best provincial. While we are blasé when we hear of a man’s affair, when a wife (a mother for God’s sake!) is involved in the exact same deed well, my oh my, we are left feeling appalled and quite uneasy about the whole thing. I mean, would you rather find out your dad cheated or your mum? Think about it.

Interestingly, at the same time, the cheating husband can get a far worse reputation than the cheating wife. When men are caught where they ought not to be caught, they are often branded as “disgusting pigs”, whilst a cheating wife’s actions are frequently justified. She was merely "asserting her femininity” in an undoubtedly loveless marriage with a selfish husband. Think Princess Di and Prince Charles.

Sadly, such misrepresentations and misconceptions have led many women to believe that infidelity hurts men less than it does women. This is simply not true, of course.

Happily married AND happily cheating. Say what?

A study by Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist from Rutgers University, found 34 percent of the women interviewed said they were cheating whilst “happily married” whereas 56 percent of cheating males reported feeling the same.

The fact that men are more likely to have an affair despite feeling content in their marriage makes it easy to conclude that cheating men are usually seeking a sexual experience while cheating women are generally interested in sex that entails some sort of emotional connection. But we’re merely scraping the surface here people.

The internet’s most popular extramarital affair website AshleyMadison conducted countless surveys and based on their findings has decided to use different slogans to entice men and women to join their membership: “Life is short, have an affair” for men and “When divorce isn’t an option” for women.

This correlates rather neatly with the philosophy that men are opportunists and cheat purely because the opportunity has presented itself. Throw in minimal risk, in the man’s mind, they may even cheat with women they aren’t in love with, or even in like with, and even women they deem inferior to their wives! All that is required is for them to be turned on.

Women, on the other hand, tend to be more conservative in their risk-taking and are more likely to “replace” their husbands with seemingly superior more eligible lovers.

Fascinating, yes, but probably somewhat of a generalisation as humanity is complicated and we all have our individual attitudes and stories that drive us to do what we do.

Is evolution to blame?

An evolutionist will argue that polygamy is, after all, a logical step in the animal kingdom and that monogamy is merely a romanticised idea us humans have invented. Naturally the female animal would be picky about which partner she mates with - she is quite limited in her reproductive capacity and to statistically ensure the survival of her offspring, she will seek out only the strongest male. The male animal is noticeably different - his ability to reproduce with an unlimited amount of partners is astounding, and it is in his best evolutionary interest to impregnate as many female partners as he possibly can.

Researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam wrote a book titled “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” in which they outline the evolutionary connection to male and female infidelity: "When contemplating sex with a man, a woman has to consider the long term. This consideration may not even by conscious, but rather is part of the unconscious software that has evolved to protect women over hundreds of thousands of years. Sex could commit a woman to a substantial, life-altering investment: pregnancy, nursing, and more than a decade of child-raising. These commitments require enormous time, resources, and energy.”

However, whilst the biology of infidelity is simple for animals, it is not so for us humans. With intricate and abundantly complex social and romantic structures, we have many reasons to stay faithful.

Different brain wiring in men and women is certainly another contributing factor when looking at the driving forces which lie behind infidelity. Men seem to be generally more apt at compartmentalising sex and intimate connections; sex is sex and relationships are relationships, and the two don’t necessarily overlap. Women seem to compartmentalise differently with sex and emotional intimacy closely interweaving. For this reason, women tend to cheat if they are unhappy in their primary relationship or if they have experienced a deep intimacy with an extracurricular partner.

This doesn’t mean that men who cheat don’t do so for love and romance, nor does it mean that they don’t feel a significant degree of emotional connection to their mistress. Similarly, not all women who cheat do so for a deeper bond. Everyone’s story is different.

Numerous studies have shown that, generally speaking, women are more turned on by emotional intimacy, whilst men are more turned on by sex acts. Put simply; male desire tends to be driven by physiological rather than psychological components.

The question “Why do men/women cheat” is not an easy one to answer. Yes, I think many women feel valued through non-sexual emotional interactions and should this be missing from their primary relationship they may seek such a connection elsewhere. However, to say that the majority of women operate this way and, more so, that this exclusive applies ONLY to women is far too crude and simple for my liking. Let us, therefore, examine in detail the various reasons that drive women to stray.

8 Reasons Why Women Cheat

1. Loneliness: Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. For the lonely wife, familiarity has bred indifference making her feel more like a maid, a mother, financial provider, a household drudge - anything other than a girlfriend or wife. She feels taken for granted and is present to the emotional void that exists in her relationship. All those hours her and her partner used to spend discussing their hopes and dreams in each other's arms are now replaced with talks about the mortgage, the kids, and chores. How exhilarating! Attention and meaningful emotional communication from someone else becomes incredibly seductive, filling that emotional chasm she craves from her significant other.

2. Low Self-Esteem: Women with low self-esteem, depression and other similar issues often need extra affirmation that they still “got it” and may seek validation outside of their long-term relationship. This woman’s partner may be a loving, supportive man, but she may require extra “proof” that she is still desirable, wanted, loveable and an extra-marital affair may provide her with the ego boost she is looking for.

3. Revenge: This is the woman seventeenth-century English author William Congreve had in mind when he famously said: “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.” If a woman feels betrayed by her partner, especially if it is sexually, she may use infidelity as a way to retaliate or even to heal her own wounds. Typically, this woman is candid about her affairs and intends to hurt her partner with her blatant display.

4. Withered Passion: This woman may be in a pretty good marriage with a fine guy, but this is precisely the point - he is fine, just fine. This woman misses the exhilaration of flirting and dating, the thrill that only a new relationship can bring. She craves the emotional high of finding, chasing, playing hard to get and boding with a new partner and often feels that her stable partnership is dull and passionless.

5. Sexual Dissatisfaction: Women, much like their male counterpart, enjoy the physical act of lovemaking and sexual intimacy. The feeling of wanting, of desiring, of being wanted and desired is a primary human emotion which drives many of our actions. Mismatched libidos are not uncommon at some point in a long-term relationship. Sometimes women feel dissatisfied with the quality or quantity of the sex in their primary relationship. Instead of ending the relationship (just because of bad sex or not enough sex) this woman may seek a little action on the side as a way to fulfill her sensual/sexual needs.

6. Unrealistic Expectations: Love is blind, they say. Once the romance has faded and this woman sees her guy with a slightly more realistic outlook, she may struggle to come to terms with the fact that her man is not the fantasy man she fell in love with. She may expect her partner to meet her every need and desire and when he inevitably fails to do so, she may leave this frog at home and look for another poor sod to fulfill the role of Prince Charming.

7. Unable to End the Relationship: This woman struggles with ending her relationship for various reasons - could be to keep the family together or simply because she is an anxious decision-maker and inept at being responsible for the consequences her choices will create. For her, it is far easier to cheat and force her partner to break off their union, rather than her ending the relationship directly. Similarly, she may also not wish to leave the relationship until she has a new one lined up.

8. Addiction: Women who suffer from sex or romance addiction will embark on a, usually destructive, never-ending search for gratification, going from one partner to another. Her attachment to each partner is one of a dismissive nature. She embarks on this bottomless pit in order to heal unresolved issues, often traumas relating back to childhood, anxiety, self-esteem or depression. With each encounter ultimately leaving her emptier, she continues to search for the next external fix to help her not feel her internal pain.

Which hurts more - emotional or sexual betrayal?

You often hear that for women it is far worse if their spouses have an emotional affair and for men it is far worse if their spouses cheat only for sex. Either way, infidelity can be incredibly damaging and often it is not any specific romantic or sexual act that hurts the most but alternatively the lies and secrets that cause the most grief. Having said that, I am a strong believer that infidelity has the potential to benefit a marriage. For this you can refer to our last blog post; “Understanding Infidelity”.

Marriages are more likely to survive when the husband cheats

There is substantial data out there which demonstrates that a relationship is more likely to survive when the man has cheated rather than when the woman has cheated. This is a fascinating point to reflect upon. It is most likely because men often cheat whilst in a good and solid relationship, and thus once their affair is discovered there is still much there to be salvaged. Thus, the couple find it is often worth the incredible effort to rebuild the marriage in order to achieve long-term harmony. Fellas - this is by no means your green card to cheat!

Now it’s your turn! Can you think of reason 9 why women may cheat? Tell us why you think women cheat and if you think there is a difference between the two sexes. This isn’t one just for the ladies; I’d love to hear from our male readers also! Comment below!

Next blog post - Why Men Really Cheat

Written by Maggie May
Maggie May is a sexologist and a writer. She is a lover of all things sensual and sexual.

Diane 9 August 2018 at 3:12 pm
I feel Women cheat because they are unhappy in their life and or marriage . They are looking for something that is missing in their life .
Jasmin 9 August 2018 at 5:11 pm
Whats with all the blogs about cheating, lately? People who cheat are scum bags who don't care about their partners or have the guts to be honest. Stop trying to normalize cheating. When you cheat on someone your partners sexual health also becomes jeopardised. Enough with this maybe write a blog about safe sex practicses or being honest when you're having issues in the bedroom
Sammie 9 August 2018 at 7:01 pm
Hm is someone at Adultshop cheating haha? I liked this blog because I saw myself in some of these points like I’ve cheated before when I wasn’t happy. I don’t do that sort of thing no more as I’ve grown up and now believe that it’s not for me and I can handle things differently but I totally loved that all the points were outlined and Maggie went full psychiatric on us. I agree that most women cheat because they’re unhappy and go looking for another guy to fill that role unfortunately so many men are similar and the grass always seems greener that in the end it might not be worth it. How about why men cheat? That would be a good read to compare the two sexes!
Tiffany 14 August 2018 at 6:25 pm
I think women generally do cheat when they are displeased in their main relationship. I was in a similar situation with my ex. I let asking him for more but he wouldn’t give it to me after a while I couldn’t be bothered trying any more and got my fix elsewhere. We had young kids so I didn’t want to break it off so easily but if he was in no state to give me more than what should I have done? It’s easy to say be noble and have integeity but I think it’s hard when you have kids. Imagine if I broke family up just because I needed more sex and connection. That would be probably have been worse. Like this I saw a guy on the side for a while and got my fix and could come home to my husband and kids and not be frustrated. In the end we didn’t work out but that was going to happen anyway.
Jack S 22 August 2018 at 10:00 pm
I believe some women cheat because of themselves and some because of their partner. You pointed that out above. I have been cheated on and it isn’t easy but I think sometimes the person cheating can be forgiven - human weakness applies to everyone. I don’t understand why people are calling cheating partners and accusing them of scums of the earth and such. Seriously people reality check there are way badder people in this planet than a cheating wife or husband.
Billy 19 September 2018 at 10:09 pm
there are double standards about woman cheating and man cheating. everyone thinks all men are cheaters but when women do it they have no choice. i am a man and i dont cheat i know many woman who do. in the end its up to the person and their character if they have a dick or a vagina no matter its their heart that is the thing.
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