5 Reasons Why Women Cheat

Last Wednesday on He Said/She Said, I asked, why do men cheat? I then gave 5 reasons why I think men are tempted to fall into adultery.

Today, we are shifting over to the ladies. Adultery among women is up significantly from years ago. More and more women today are cheating. Some believe this is true because of more lax adultery laws against women and the topic of adultery being more openly discussed in general.

Perhaps this is true, but I suspect  that  some of the very same reasons men cheat, compel women to cheat, as well. There are also more complex reasons as to why more and more women are seeking adulterous relationships. The reasons may surprise you…

Current research suggests that one in five women has had an affair at one point or another, making that the highest rate in history. Some statistics show the percentage of women cheating is now equal to that of men cheating. Scary right?

So, maybe women cheat for some of the same reasons as men, but they cheat for other reasons, too.

1. Emotional needs. Women are emotional. We know that. It is not necessarily a bad thing (except when women use their emotions to manipulate situations to, for example, get their man to buy them that Mac they have been eyeing… *ahem*). Women desire emotional connection, intimacy, and even friendship in their marriages. Women, according to one study, are much more apt to seek satisfaction outside of a marriage in order to find happiness. Whereas men can be relatively happy within their marriages and still fall into adultery.

2. Revenge. I don’t know how often this might actually occur–and this is just an observation–but it seems that it has become more popular for women to cheat in order to exact revenge upon their spouses. Say the husband cheated, well, the wife decides she’s going to go out and do the same.

3. Sexual exploration. Many women have bought into the lie that, if they were married young and/or have only had sex with the man they are married to that, somehow, they have missed out. Movies like Eat, Pray, Love feed women a stream of self-focused, self-indulgent, irresponsible drivel, convincing women that they need to explore their sexual desires…outside of their marriage.

4. Dissatisfaction. I mentioned dissatisfaction being a possible motivator for men to enter into adultery and I think it applies to women, as well. “Dissatisfaction” is really just a catch-all word to represent anything in a marriage that might be a potential warning sign and often goes hand-in-hand with #1. Perhaps a woman is lonely, mistreated, or ignored. Perhaps her husband doesn’t fulfill her sexually ( this can happen, so I’ve heard). Like I said before in last week’s post, dissatisfaction that leads to infidelity is just a symptom that something else is wrong in the marriage.

5. Trying to be a man. This is perhaps the biggest lie being fed to women and one that is, in my opinion, very much responsible for the rise in adultery among women. Women’s liberation and its current message to women is that men and women are actually alike. Generations of women have been told that they can do anything a man can do and that, in fact, they are no different from men. So why wouldn’t women begin to “act more like men”, which then manifests itself in destructive ways, such as adultery?

Women believe if they express their sexual needs, they are acting like  a man, which is alright, since they’ve been told they are men. How confusing and harmful. Women want to compete with men and, in doing so, maintain the mindset: “Well, if a man does it, so can I.”

These reasons are of course not the only reasons women commit adultery, but they are certainly a few worth considering. So let’s open up the conversation…

Why do you think adultery is up among women? Why do you think women cheat? Do you believe this problem will continue to rise?

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25 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Women Cheat”

  1. I think number 3 and 5 have had a huge impact in this statistic. Plus, we are seeing more and more images and examples through pop culture and the media that sexual exploration and “self-nurturing” are fulfilling to a woman emotionally. Which plays into #1. What we don’t see is the aftermath. Women who ruin their lives, their marriages, their kids lives and their spiritual health by having affairs.

    If we saw that side of the story it wouldn’t all seem so appealing.

    1. Karis,

      You bring up such a good point regarding pop culture and the media. They have such negative, damning impact on young women and their self-image.

      You are right too…we never see the aftermath. The movies tie things up with pretty little bows. She cheated, now she’s happy…no kids, no mess, just fun and contentment.

      Let’s you and I produce a realistic portrayal of the effects of adultery. Our own movie…whatdya say?

      1. Sadly, a lot of these observations appear to have some degree of merit. On the other hand, if men historically cheated, one has to assume that most of them cheated with women. Is it possible that women cheating is now becoming more open, rather than merely more common? Perhaps there are at least two things happening here. Cheating in general may be more common, and what used to be excused as “boys will be boys” is now an area in which many women are saying, that “that goes for girls too!” Mind you, I’m NOT condoning any of it, just noting that historically, it was almost “expected” of a great deal of men, and women were stigmatized, thus hid it more. Unless we think that men cheated with someone other than women, that is!

        1. Mary,
          You raise some great questions. I wonder if there is any way to know if historically, perhaps from the 1950’s-1970’s, if men were cheating with other married women or single women?

          I agree too that on some level, adultery and the discussion of it, is in fact becoming more open. Which begs the question: Are women more open to talk about what they have always been doing or are women now committing adultery because it has more openly been discussed?

          I agree too that many women now think that the cheating game is no longer a man’s only game and sadly, set out to “win” so to speak.

          Thank you Mary for the thoughtful comment and for joining the discussion…great stuff.

    1. It’s Matt right?

      I think that is a great insight! Really. It sounds so simple, but it is true.

      With the death of the housewife and women entering the workplace, more and more women are able to have affairs than ever before.

      I think there may really be something there.

      1. I think we have to be careful – the rise of industrialization pulled men out of the home a few generations before women’s lib did the same for women, and gave us just as much opportunity to cheat.

        So if we’re going to criticize feminism in this regard (not that anyone necessarily is, granted, but i’ve heard this line of argumentation before), we should do the same for men. Returning to a 1950s family model doesn’t actually fix any of the problems Nicole elaborated above.

        1. Jr.
          I apologize for responding so late. I did not have internet access yesterday unfortunately.

          I agree that industrialization pulled women from their homes long before women’s lib. However, I believe that the values asserted and held between the two eras are quite different and thus produced in women very different outcomes.

          Industrialization never asserted that women don’t need men or that they are men. It said, do a man’s job…for a while if need be. Women’s lib said, “You don’t need a man” as well as, “Act like a man” with the latter I think compelling some women to think that adultery, while once was man’s game, is now open to women.

          Of course this is all conjecture, but it is still fun to theorize.

          As for a 1950’s home not fixing any of the problems listed, again I’m not so sure. I would once again highlight values. The 1950’s held a different set of values, many of which I think does address the “reasons” I listed.

          1. Hey Nicole!

            I wasn’t complaining about women leaving the home during industrialization… but MEN. In the pre-industrial world, both men and women were in the home, and more-or-less shared all work equally. Both were responsible for raising children and taking care of everything.

            Industrialization changed all that, because suddenly men were leaving the home and women didn’t have anything to do AT home (because suddenly laundry took a couple of hours, not a whole day, for instance). This sudden and unexpected overabundance of time is what fertilized the ground feminism/women’s lib/whatever grew in.

            Of course some aspects of the 1950s culture were commendable – all cultures and times have some good. But – for instance – you and I wouldn’t be having this sort of a conversation because women were relegated to the ‘home/private’ sphere, and weren’t considered worthy of having a voice in the public sphere.

            Back to your original point, while fewer women were (probably) cheating in the 50s, certainly fewer men were not (which makes me wonder about the first stat). I don’t think returning to those values and gender roles/stereotypes is actually going to fix anything (nor is it probably possible).

            And probably most importantly (to me), the 1950s family structure isn’t a biblical family structure. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it either,but as Christians, we don’t have to feel obligated to defend it or chase it (again, not that I’m accusing you of that; i just see that happen a lot, especially when christians discuss these sorts of issues). In their own way, the 1950s were as broken as we are today.

  2. Hey Nicole!

    In my personal experience, I have mostly seen 3-4. I have several friends who have cheated or been cheated on, and it’s nearly always the same thing – the couple (or one person in the couple) blames their dissatisfaction on the fact that they got married too young and ‘missed out’ on… something… so they cheat (and feel not just entitled, but nearly obligated!).

    I think the Church has failed in large part to communicate what a good, healthy marriage looks like – warts, problems and all – and so young married couples aren’t prepared for the bumps along the way, big and little.

    I’m anxious to hear your thoughts about solutions. What do you think we can be doing to promote stronger, healthier marriages?

    1. Hey Jr.! How’s it going? Good to hear form you.

      It is so sad, but I have witnessed the same thing among my own friends. As you said so well, it is as if they think being married young affords them the right to cheat.

      I think you nailed it in stating that the church has failed to communicate not only what a healthy marriage looks like, but how to actually do it.

      I have a lot of thoughts on that issue. I think enough people have asked following this series that I’m going to write a post on protecting our marriages from adultery.

      I’d love your thoughts too!

      1. I would be glad and honored to contribute to your discussions, as always.

        IMO, our whole culture has lost the ability to form true friendships, especially between men and women. The only two categories a male and female have to be able to relate are causal acquaintance or lover.

        I see the same problem with men as well – there’s no such thing as a BFF for guys (think about the Hobbits in LOTR – why does everyone make fun of them for being ‘ambiguously gay’? Because we don’t have a category for close, straight male friendship.)

        IMO what we really need is a radical redefinition of intimacy across the board. This would go a long way towards healing our marriages as well.

        1. Jr.

          What great insights. Wow. I could write 2 whole posts on those points alone.

          I am personally of the belief that men and women can never really be friends, at least not in the way we like to think of friendship. Yes, call me Harry from When Harry Met Sally. I wrote a post on this topic, if you’re interested.

          I do agree about male friendships being lacking and devoid of real intimacy. Where are all of the David and Jonathan’s…Paul and Timothy’s…Jesus and John? It is sad. I think if more men had those kind of relationships, then yes, they would certainly not need to be seeking out more intimacy with another woman. Such a great insight! Really, I love it!

          This nails it: “we really need is a radical redefinition of intimacy across the board.” Agreed. So let’s get on it, whatya say?

  3. I read this post a couple years ago and it has stuck with me ever since http://flowerdust.net/2007/07/13/i-could-cheat-on-my-husband/. I think she does a good job bringing to light the fact that we shouldn’t just assume that we would never ever cheat. The reality is that men and women both do and the church needs to be more vocal and realistic about that.

    #3-5 definitely match what I would think would be the reasons for a woman to cheat. Of course I believe they are excuses for bigger problems in the marriage as you say. If you’re dissatisfied or think you missed out, then you’re probably not trying to work on your marriage and are looking for an easy out. I hope and pray that I never find myself thinking like that.

    Great post! (Also congrats on the new lil babe you’re growing. So exciting!)

  4. I am going to point right back at the men on this issue. I think the reason some women cheat is the men.

    It takes two to tango.

    Men are tasked to be the head of the household, to take the initiative, to lead the women. Men are taking the lead to cheat with married women. Men are putting the priority of the family in second place when cheating with a married woman.

    1. Kenny,

      This comment makes me smile. I love that you brought up men needing to take leadership of their families. I think that point hits on the general disregard for families, in general these days.

      Two selfish people committing adultery are not thinking of the other people involved…two other families…two other homes. Great point. Thanks for commenting.

  5. You should check out Michelle Langely Woman’s Infidelity book, basically tells you all you need to know about cheating woman pretty scary stuff but true.

  6. Emotional needs….if a man can not satisfy a woman’s needs completely … She is likely to stray afar and find that attention else…”Emotional dissatisfication” I believe plays the biggest role as to why some women cheat. We are emotional creatures; and if we ate fulfilled by our better half-we are likely to not find that attention else where. In my opinion.

  7. I think women cheat – because it is part of being a woman.

    They make up stories in their minds about the man in their lives. To screw him over,
    the copulate with men. I call those women, Peanut Butter Legs – I have been married to two.

    I think infidelity should be capital punishment in the world.

    They cheat because they are raised to manipulate the men around them to control. They
    increase their self-image rubbing their sex organs on new men. I have seen all this.

    Women are raised to manipulate men, with smiles, touching, opening up to strange men to feed their poor self-image.

    I think they should be handled politely – and used to test lethal injections.

    What do you think?

  8. Many women that Cheat just Can’t stay with just only one man, and have a need to Sleep around with so many different men.

  9. A woman cheat, first because of fear. Fear of being hurt. So before they get hurt they will hurt their partner first. Second, financial problem. Women attracted to other stabled man than their current partner, a lady hope to have a better life. Third, women are not totally satisfied in bed. They found new romance to other guy. Forth, not totally committed to his partner. If you love and respect your partner, you will not cheat. Fifth, communication. How your partner treat you will have a big impact. How you see yourself with him forever. ^_^

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