When a woman feels dissatisfied in her relationship she may not just complain to her friends over Cosmopolitans. She may get a secret email account, post a profile at LonelyCheatingWives.com and start looking for hookups. Why does she do it? When a woman cheats, it’s often for one or more of these 6 reasons…
Accurate stats on women’s infidelity are hard to come by. But that doesn’t mean these hookups and extracurricular relationships don’t happen, of course.
“Affairs are not uncommon,” says clinical psychologist Nancy O’Reilly (aka Dr. Nancy). “Women tend to keep these things to themselves, but there are signs that they’re catching up with the guys.”
It’s guesstimated that 14% to 40% of married women have intimately tangoed with someone other than their husband.
In one unscientific (yet telling) poll at WomanSavers.com (the self-described “world’s largest database rating men”), women were asked if they had ever cheated.
Of the more than 9,400 women who responded, 49% admitted they had.
Another 26% said that they’d have no problem stepping out on their partner if they knew they could get away with it.
The uptick in these numbers over time is due to one primary, and simple, reason: Women today have the same opportunities to cheat as guys have always had, says Dr. Nancy.
Not only do working women have the chance to mix and mingle with would-be lovers in and out of the office, but the Internet is filled with chat rooms and sites like AshleyMadison.com and AffairMatch.com that court married men and women looking for something on the side.
Even so, it takes more than mere opportunity to get a gal to slide between someone else’s sheets.
We asked relationship experts to explain what inclines one woman in a relationship to drop trou while another keeps her knickers on. Here are the six most common reasons:
Reason Women Cheat #1: Familiarity Has Bred Indifference
The most common justification for infidelity that Dr. Nancy hears from women is that they feel taken for granted.
You and your husband discuss what the kids did in school and which bills need to be paid, when the car needs an oil change and whether you should paint the house.
But you haven’t really talked in a while.
You know, about all those hopes and dreams that you spent hours discussing as you lay in each other’s arms … before you had kids, car payments and a mortgage.
When a woman feels like little more than a household drudge, attention from someone else becomes extremely seductive.
“If there’s a failure to communicate – which is so reinforcing to women in terms of intimacy, emotional satisfaction and relationship satisfaction – then women look outside the relationship for that kind of connection,” says family and marriage therapist Terri Orbuch, host of Detroit’s Love Doctor TV and radio programs.
“This is the most important reason women cheat. When you’re unhappy or dissatisfied in your relationship, you’re more likely to be tempted to look elsewhere.”
And, she adds, you begin to perceive “opportunities” – like Mr. Eager-To-Fill-the-Proverbial Void – very differently.
Reason Women Cheat #2: You’re Leading Parallel Lives
You used to travel the same path side-by-side, but lately your interests have diverged.
Your guy wants to shoot pool with his buddies or watch football during his free time. You’d rather go antiquing or watch British costume dramas.
When you start doing things separately, your odds of connecting with others who share your interests increase.
Soon you may suspect you have more in common with the guy you keep spotting at the Saturday revival showings of The English Patient than with your hubby.
Share a couple of large buttered popcorns and suddenly he’s Ralph Fiennes and you’re Kristin Scott Thomas, sneaking around on Colin Firth.
Reason Women Cheat #3: The Passion Has Fizzled
“Some women are in pretty good marriages – things are good, the kids are fine, the husband’s OK – but she’s bored and needs some excitement,” Dr. Nancy says.
And a casual affair may put some zing back in her days.
“It’s something new, different and exciting,” adds Stephany Alexander, online dating expert and founder of WomanSavers.com. “A cheating woman seeks the thrill of the chase and to see if she can get away with it.”
Reason Women Cheat #4: The Fantasy Has Fizzled
A corollary to fizzling passion happens when the romance fades and you realize your guy is not the fantasy man you fell in love with.
Instead, he’s a mass of irksome habits that get under your skin.
“Women who have false illusions tend to end up cheating because they never really knew the guy to begin with … or [they] hoped he would change,” Alexander says.
“When a woman’s Prince Charming turns out to be a frog, women often cheat in hopes of finding a new prince.”
Reason Women Cheat #5: Your Ego Needs a Boost
You can be in a relationship with a perfectly wonderful, loving man and still need extra affirmation that you’ve got it goin’ on.
Sleeping with someone else is an easy way to remind yourself that you’re desirable.
“Even if your partner is reassuring, for whatever reason, it’s not enough,” Orbuch explains, “and so you look elsewhere, so you can feel like you’re lovable.”
Reason Women Cheat #6: It’s Payback Time
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” as the saying goes.
When a woman catches her man with his hand in someone else’s cookie jar, she figures she’s got a right to indulge herself, too.
“If a woman finds out her significant other has been cheating, she may heal those hurt feelings by having sex with another man,” Alexander says.
So if women cheat mainly because they no longer feel connected to their man, what makes a guy seek something on the side? Read “9 Reasons Why Men Cheat” to learn what makes guys stray… and what women can do to keep ’em at home.
Will You Cheat? Rate Your Risk
Quite a few men and women cheat at some point during their marriages. While you can’t always control what your partner does, how likely is it that you’ll be the one to do the straying? Take our cheating quiz and find out.