According to an American Sexual Behavior study, 14% of married women have cheated at least once in their life, compared to 22% of married men. Less conservative researchers bring much higher numbers – based on another study, estimates of infidelity range from 30-60 percent of women compared to 50-70 percent of men. In any case, there is a gap between men and women cheating stats, but this gap is closing.
So, what makes a woman, having a lifelong partner, who may express 100 percent commitment to her, cheat on him with another man? Is there a special trend of middle-aged cheating? Some researchers claim that this is a phenomenon that might indeed occur in women upon reaching menopausal stage, with one woman describing it as "feeling a bit the way I did when I was going through puberty" and therefore seeking fulfillment in the arms of another man. Actually, it is quite understandable that some middle-aged men go through similar psychological crisis that lead them to cheat as well, especially after years of being completely faithful.
So, what are these reasons for women to get in potential troubles, jeopardizing their marital relationship, risking the financial future and emotional stability? Let’s list some possible reasons why women cheat on their husbands.
- Lose interest. Many women who cheat on their husbands do because of the lost interest in the spouse. The excitement is gone and the women are looking for something more adventurous and less realistic. The woman wants to be center of attention and over the years, while her husband may have lost that aspect of the marriage, and is not able to see in his spouse more than a life partner and a friend, in a good case.
- Loneliness. Women often look to relationships with individuals other than their partners because emotional companionship is lacking in the primary relationship. It may appear to be a contradiction that women who have partners are less than emotionally fulfilling. Women often feel lonely even in the presence of their partners at times. A man may be physically present but emotionally absent, and this can lead a woman to look for fulfillment outside the relationship.
- Feeling neglected/ignored/underappreciated. Women wear many hats in a relationship -- housekeeper, errand-runner, grocery shopper, babysitter, etc. When she feels more like a maid than a girlfriend/wife, that’s when she could stray. The fact that man spends all his time at work or on the golf course gives her double reason to seek attention elsewhere.
- Attracted to another. Other women find a friend, co-worker or even a stranger attractive. Sexual attraction is a hard feeling to fight off. These women who cheat on their husbands do so for the pure sexual gratification. No connection or commitment is involved, only the knowledge of sexual release.
- Developing anger. Woman may become resentful towards the spouse when she feels trapped and like she has settled within the relationship. This emotion is a strong emotion to hide. She becomes hostile towards her husband and turns to another for comfort, someone who understands her woes and is willing to accommodate her sexually and mentally.
- Revenge. Revenge is another reason for women to cheat on their partners. Women of today are not willing to suffer in silence as their counterparts did in previous generations. If a woman feels wronged, if she has an indication that her partner is cheating on her, she will often have an outside affair to retaliate for the pain she is feeling.
- Suspicion is absent. On the other end of the spectrum, in some families husbands are normally unaware of the spouse adultery or cheating because she is sometimes still sweet and the loving wife. This is to silently make up for her indiscretions. The husband believes (and waives all the possible suspicions from his thoughts) - his married life is grand and all is perfect. In many cases, it looks like denial. If man admits that he knows his wife is cheating on him, he needs to do something, and that is frightening and inconvenient. This subconscious refusal to deal with situation causing even more cracks in the family foundation.
- Menopausal changes. Many women cheat on their husbands when a certain age is reached. Many know this time as menopause. Just as men go through a change and want a sports car or are looking at younger women, wives also have different desires and views. The wife may want to experiment, sow her wild oats as it's known as. She'll be on the prowl for a younger man, a more adventurous man, or even someone to sooth her sexual needs--where her husband fails.
- Last chance. For women approaching and in the early stages of menopause, having affair might be also associated with last chance to be appreciated as woman. While it is not more than an urban myth, the perception that the sexual life is over after menopause, is still strong among various cultures.
- Empty nest syndrome. People often stay in unsatisfactory marriages for the sake of the children. It is a fallacy. Parents in miserable marriages only make for miserable children. The legacies for these children are blighted models of marital relationships, and unfulfilled, powerless mothers. It is quite normal that in such relationship, parents have their kids as the central and the only topic of discussion and object of wary. When kids are gone to independent life, the empty space in the family relationship should be compensated, and cheating might be one of the ways to fill it up.
- Bored with life. Some women cheat on their husbands just for the simple fact of becoming bored with married life. If a couple has been married from a very young age, the couple may feel stagnant so the wife feels the need to see what else is available. Affairs are exciting because they involve sex with a new partner and because they involve a considerable amount of 'sneaking around', hiding things from friends and family, essentially living a second life. For some women, the excitement is so attractive that they are willing to lose their primary relationship in order to pursue an affair.
- Not enough sex. Remember the good old days when you could stay up forever fooling around? Then responsibility entered the mix -- and kids -- and before you knew it, sleep was more important than sex. Well, women want to feel wanted. Also, for many couples, sex can become monotonous -- the same position; the same setting; the same person. An affair adds adventure and gets her adrenalin flowing.
- Low self-esteem. Low self-esteem can also be a reason for a woman to cheat. She may feel unattractive and unwanted in her current relationship, even if this is not the case. Partners may not make the same efforts at the reassurance that were common in the early days of a relationship, and woman's own feelings of inadequacy can make them look for affirmation from new people that they are still desirable.
- Being a “Bad Girl”. Some women have an inner sex kitten just waiting to be unleashed -- and when the beast escapes from the cage, look out. This frisky behavior usually rears its ugly head in response to some sort of life change -- major weight loss, new job, new friends, mid-life crisis, etc.
- Self-destruction and self-punishment. There are cases, where distressed women consider their lack of emotional wellness justifiable for vast variety of reasons. Self perception as being a bad, worthless person leads to the subconscious desire for self-punishment and emotional self-destruction. “I wanted this young man at the party. So, I am a whore, dirty whore! I have no salvation! So, I will go to living hell, and I deserve it!”
- Exit strategy. Instead of breaking up with partner, woman may start cheating on him to get used to the idea of future separation. That way she doesn’t have to deal with the broken relationship immediately, the relationship, which is much harder to fix. An affair is the easy way out -- or at least that’s how she sees it. That is not considered as a permanent solution, but the way of transition out of the relationship.
- Pragmatic reasons. Getting to the point when the family life becomes routine with not much internal meaning, some women turn their eyes to the potential candidates to step in a new stage of life and get out from the emotional dead-end. Considering their sexuality as powerful weapon to get a new, more suitable partner, they might cheat on their spouses to explore the potential candidates for the exit strategy fulfillment, which has been mentioned earlier, but this approach is usually well-calculation and lacks significant emotional component. Money, attractive lifestyle, and other potential benefits might be decisive points for the chosen behavior.
- To save relationship. Surprisingly, some women may go on the cheating pass to delay a breakup with current partner and save relationship. It is just outcry of their souls asking more attention and understanding from the man. In a way it is like saying: “Do you still love me? Look, I am going away. Please, stop me!”
- Accidents. Women are also less likely than men to have an affair that "just happens," because they tend to think longer and harder about the situation, experts say. However, accidents happen. Stressful life events, too much booze and recreational drugs, or moment of high emotional vulnerability might create background and suitable situation for losing control and falling into sexual trap.
- Transition to polyamory. Polyamory refers to romantic love with more than one person, honestly, ethically, and with the full knowledge and consent of all concerned. While conservative society mostly does not recognize the difference between cheating and polyamory, people who practice it claim that the difference is huge. While cheating involves deception and violation of an agreement, the point of polyamory is not secrecy but openness, communication, acting with caring and integrity, and sharing the love. Most poly people agree with their partners to maintain certain boundaries -- things they will or will not do -- and to communicate honestly about who they are involved with. It's about disclosure, trust, and respect.
- Dating other Woman. There is a new trend in the society, which has never been observed before - increased incidence in formerly straight women dating other women. The stats point to the conclusion that the sexuality is not rigid, being encoded in your DNA, but can change over time, while that women are more open-minded to the same-sex relationships than men. The problem is that while the connection between women might be different, much of what goes on in a heterosexual relationship happens in lesbian ones, too. The same problems, the same concerns…
It is mostly not about Sex!
As you see, there are many reasons for female infidelity. But experts say that a large majority of the time, motivations differ by gender, with men searching for more sex or attention, and women looking to fill an emotional void.
The theory that adultery is "natural" for men, fulfilling their Darwinian need to spread their seed, has been around a long time. But the connection women look for when having affairs may have evolutionary roots as well. From the earliest days, women paired with a primary mate to have children. But as women went out to gather food, they slept with other men, creating an insurance policy -- to have someone who would help rear children and provide resources should their mate die.
That theory is controversial and can’t be proven or disproven eons later. But experts say that women's motivations to have affairs are typically more than sexual. That's not to say that some women don't have affairs just for the sex or that sex wasn't important -- but in general, women's motivations aren't just about sex.
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