What prompts women to cheat on their significant others and spouses? You might be surprised to learn that in many cases, it’s the typical relationship problems, but amplified until there seems to be no option but to look outside of the relationship for emotional comfort. We asked marriage and divorce experts to share some of the main reasons why women cheat, and their answers surprised us.
Lack of emotional support. “Most women cheat because their relationship is lacking the emotional strength they need and/or want,” explained Jackie Pilossoph, creator of Divorced Girl Smiling. She cited women telling her that they have tried over and over to engage with their spouses, only for their partners to never acknowledge a problem in the relationship. “Many times when women cheat, they have exhausted every option to try to save their marriages first.”
Dissatisfaction with themselves. But sometimes, it’s not about their significant others. “There are people who cheat because they are unhappy with themselves and are looking for a quick fix,” said Pilossoph. “Instead of looking within, or looking at their life, they use another person to fulfill their happiness, which is usually only temporary.”
Divorce and parenting coach Rosalind Sedacca looked at the same notion with regard to the constraints of a family: “Women have affairs because they are unhappy in their relationship but don’t have the courage to make a dramatic life change. They may have children and don’t want to rock the boat at home. They may be financially secure in their marriage and don’t want to lose that security base. They may be fearful about ending their relationship and find it safer to maintain the present facade and sneak out for emotional and physical fulfillment. This is always a risky business that can lead to dire consequences if the affair is discovered, but women take the chance because they can’t see another option available to them.”
Reacting to positive attention. Relationship coach Norva Abiona shared some reasons for affairs, gleaned from conversations with her clients: Similar to the above points, women often “feel invisible to their spouses, so when they get even a little attention from another man, it makes them feel special.” Or perhaps a woman feels sexually unfulfilled, yet when she mentions it, the problem doesn’t get fixed.
Idealizing other people. The other common thread Abiona noticed was that women might be curious about other men, especially if they’ve been married for years or decades. And with curiosity comes the tendency to fixate on new men as potential romantic partners: Confiding in a colleague about being belittled by her spouse might become a case of “one thing led to another.” In other cases, a woman might become friends with a man, yet romantic tension simmers; sometimes it takes dissatisfaction in the marriage for that platonic relationship to go to the next level, sometimes it happens even without preexisting issues.
Technology. Relationship coach and author of Grant Me a Higher Love Cindi Sansone-Braff cited a more literal reason for women starting affairs: “Many of my clients tell me that technology has greatly contributed to the rise in commitment-phobia and infidelity among both men and women. People go on dating sites and see a whole host of people responding to them. When they do meet someone special, they don’t want to call it a relationship or commit, thinking that there are all these other people they need to check out first.”
“Technology also makes it easier for people to cheat. In the past, people had one family phone or computer and a person’s clandestine activities couldn’t be hidden for long. Now, people lock their phones or have secret phones and they can hide what they are doing.”
Like anyone (man or women) who thinks about having an affair, women often don’t stop to consider the consequences before moving ahead. They may feel like they don’t have other options, or get caught up in the experience, and forget that there are better decisions for them and their partner.