The gender shift in infidelity

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Marital infidelity is presumed to be a male-only problem when a husband goes outside a marriage and cheats on his spouse. While various reasons surround the illicit acts, not one factor stands out. However, recent data paints a much different picture, with wives having affairs at the same rate as their husbands.

From boredom to neglect, studies reveal that many women have affairs simply because they have a desire for physical or emotional encounters. Even though seemingly happy with their marriages, if they see an opportunity with a close friend or coworker, they will likely act on that impulse.

Taking control

Whether one or both spouses are looking outside their relationship, the emotional impact of an affair is significant, affecting married couples, children, and others close to them. Historical norms seem to be evolving with certain ingrained concepts shifting. The presumption that women are not as sexual unless they are in a committed, monogamous relationship may no longer be the case.

A power dynamic comes into play for women who seek affection from another partner. Regardless of how much time has passed, certain traditions still exist that put women in subordinate capacities to their spouses. In that dynamic, they are taking back their own form of power after feeling chosen instead of making choices for themselves.

Taking control can also take the form of open marriages, something that more women are interested in as an option to an affair where they would not have to lie or sneak around. They may love their husband and not want to leave what they consider a good life. They just want variety when it comes to sexual partners.

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