In the past, there have been more significant differences in the reasons why men cheat and why women cheat. Wiith men cheating more for sexual variety and women cheating more because of relationship dissatisfaction. But nowadays, that gender gap in infidelity is closing: Men and women cheat for many of the same reasons and at similar rates.
Reasons women cheat in relationships:
1. Women cheat for sex.
Women appreciate good sex just like anyone else. “Women cheat when they find a man that turns them on.” If anyone tells you men cheat for sex and women cheat for emotion, they’re wrong. A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that, although men are still more likely to cheat for sexual variety, it’s still among the top three reasons women cheat.
2. They’re unhappy with their current relationship.
Another reason women cheat is that they’ve fallen out of love with their current partner. Even if the love is still there, in general a woman who’s unhappy in her relationship may be more inclined to cheat. Whether because of anger, home, financial problems, family trouble—the list goes on—they may feel cheating will offer them what their current relationship isn’t.
Women cheat because the relationship at home is cooling off. If there is tension or boredom at home, excitement on the side can be a distraction, a temptation too great to avoid.
3. It was just a mistake.
The third top reason for women cheating, It was just situational. Things like being drunk and “not thinking clearly.”
Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, affairs happen because of opportunity. “Women can act impulsively and then regret it.” In other words, it’s entirely possible there isn’t much deeper meaning aside from an opportunity that they weren’t able to pass up in the moment.
4. They’re craving intimacy.
Whether it’s physical or emotional, intimacy is one of those needs we all want to see met. If a woman isn’t feeling intimately fulfilled in her relationship, and someone comes along who exhibits that type of intimacy, there will be an attraction.
5. The new person made them feel special.
Sometimes people cheat because the new person gave them a new feeling or made them feel like someone else. “Women report that an affair lover makes them feel special, sexy, and adored, and that attention is hard to ignore, no matter what their spouse does at home”.
6. They’re experiencing low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem can create a desire for outside validation, psychologist Margaret Paul explains. This might be particularly true if the person isn’t receiving validation from their current partner, but Paul notes it’s really the lack of self-love that can push someone to cheat.
7. They want a breakup or a change.
Sometimes people cheat because they want their relationship to end, and cheating seems like an easier way to break it than to directly confront their partner. But sometimes people cheat because they want something in their current relationship to change.
Who cheats more—men or women?
Research suggests that men are more likely to cheat in committed relationships. One 2016 study suggests that on average, 20% of men have cheated versus 13% of women. Interestingly, women in the 18-29 age group actually cheated slightly more than men. Though as the years go on, fewer women cheat while more men cheat, and the gap gets wider over time.
Signs your partner may be cheating.
People often have a feeling that their partner is cheating. “The energy shifts when someone is cheating, and people almost always say ‘something changed’ or ‘something was wrong.'”
Some common signs to look out for include:
- They act suspicious around their phone or computer to hide their communication.
- They’re dressing nicer, working out more, or generally taking better care of their appearance.
- Your sex life is suddenly different (i.e., more sex to cover up the cheating, less sex, or new/different sex).
- They’re often out for extended periods without warning, “working late” or dealing with something else that “just came up.”
- You often can’t get a hold of them when they’re out.
- Their friends could very well know about cheating, and as such, they act awkward around you.
- There are unexplained expenses on their bank statement like dinners or other date-like activities.
What to do about infidelity in a relationship.
To be cheated on can sever the trust of an otherwise healthy relationship—and to be the cheater can leave one feeling guilty, confused, and unsure of how to move forward. Perhaps you just discovered your partner is cheating, or maybe you’re the one that did the cheating. Either way, it’s important to address it if you want to move forward, whether that means staying together or breaking up.
Let your partner know you need to talk to them about something important, and take some time to think about how you want to approach the conversation. Couples’ therapy may be a good option to encourage a healthy and productive discussion. Therapy can help to move forward after an affair. Find a therapist who has experience treating erotic recovery—someone who is judgment-free and will support you in your journey toward a new monogamy.”
“If both people are open to learning about their contribution to the problems in the relationship, if they’re willing to learn how to take responsibility for themselves, they can create a better relationship than they had before. I see over and over again that the relationship can get much, much better when both people open up and deal with what created the dysfunction. But if one partner isn’t open to dealing with it, then there’s no point. It’s not going to get better.”