Why do women cheat? The simple answer is because they hurt. They have pain related to loneliness, the rejection and betrayal of a cheating spouse, an unexciting and unsatisfactory relationship, or feeling poorly about themselves.
Why do women cheat? Because of emotional needs not met and the hurt that accompanies this lack. Is it sometimes just physical lust? Occasionally, but I do not see much of this.
Loneliness is one of the primary reasons that women seek out affairs or are susceptible to advances. Women who are in an unsatisfactory relationship may feel even lonelier than if they were still single. A partner who is over involved with his work or hobby may severely limit the attention and admiration he gives to his mate.
She then feels unattractive, uncared for, and hopeless about getting her needs met. While this is a reason for working harder on the relationship, not seeking relief from another man, it is easy to understand the pain that makes the whole thing possible.
And then there is Revenge. I am seeing much more of this as a motive in recent years. Today’s woman is not willing to just sit still and “take it.” Unfortunately, the “eye for an eye” approach has become more acceptable and a woman who feels betrayed and rejected may well return the favor.
Sometimes a woman needs only to hold a suspicion that her partner is cheating to be susceptible. She may have painful memories from other, earlier relationships in her life, and she may have an expectation of being hurt in this one, as well. This is where a “self fulfilling prophecy” can take over and create pain for everyone.
One reason for a woman’s affair is similar to one for men: boredom. An unsatisfying, dull, and predictable relationship that is not growing in depth can make the excitement of a new relationship very attractive.
The affair is not only exciting due to the new person involved, but also to the whole experience of sneaking around and hiding it. This can be a huge adrenaline rush. It’s not saying it too strongly to say that it can even be mildly addictive. Women who have multiple affairs may be experiencing this kind of stimulus.
Underlying all these reasons for cheating is a poor sense of self-esteem. We all need an adequate amount of affection and admiration from our partners. One way or another this attention falters at times and the person can become insecure and start looking for the attention is other places.
Women can especially have this problem since our culture puts so much emphasis on physical beauty, sex appeal, and the ability to attract men. The truly secure woman knows that her value rests not in these attributes but in her depth of character, her spiritual self, and in her self-reliance.
Unfortunately, there is very little in our culture to encourage this self awareness and many women unconsciously find their worth in the attention they receive from the men in their lives. And, when it is not coming from their partner they are susceptible to receiving it from other men.
Few would say that any of these reasons for cheating are justifiable. Whether it is boredom, self-esteem, revenge, or the pain that relationships often bring, the answer is to go to work on the relationship, not to have an affair. We can understand the motivations for affairs, but we still know that they are harmful and someone usually gets hurt badly.
So, what are we to do about all of this? Stay tuned. Next week we’ll spell it out!
Steve Roberts is an experienced Marriage and Family Therapist who shares tips and real life relationship secrets from over 20 years of practice. Married 27 years, he has personally known the peaks and valleys of the couple experience.