Lately, the news has been filled with stories of men cheating on their wives, but what you don’t hear about in the news is women who have affairs.
According to our sources, women who cheat are not as uncommon as you might think.
But, unlike men, women in long-term relationships aren’t usually straying because of wanton impulses. Evanston’s Carol Cann, who provides psychotherapy and counseling to couples and individuals, says, “There’s usually a problem boiling underneath in the marriage.”
Here are some of the main reasons women have affairs.
1. Anger or Disappointment in the Marriage
Women who cheat are frequently resentful over what Cann calls a husband’s “absence of presence.” She sees marriages where a man (often well-intentioned) works late, comes home exhausted, and pays little attention to his wife. The woman, desiring more intimacy and validation from her mate, ends up feeling neglected and let down.
“When the relationship doesn’t meet a woman’s expectations of what marriage should be like, she takes the opportunity to have an affair,” Cann says.
Peggy Vaughan, author of “The Monogamy Myth,” says our society contributes to this disillusionment by promoting an idealized view of marriage that doesn’t hold up in real life. “When we get married and find that this fairytale version of marriage is untrue, we become disenchanted and look for romantic love in an affair,” she writes.
2. Response to Crisis or Escape from Stress
Middle age is often a stressful time of life and an affair can provide a woman with a welcome escape. Problems like aging parents, volatile teenagers, financial pressure and even death and loss, can make a woman despair—especially when something is missing in her marriage. “An affair is like creating a fantasy world within your own life,” Cann says.
3. Boost Self-Esteem
A new romance can make a dissatisfied woman feel desirable, sexy, and youthful again, perhaps for the first time in years.
4. Excitement and Exploration
With all the deception and secrecy, conducting an affair can be thrilling for women beyond the sex. However, Cann says, some women seek out new partners to express parts of their sexuality they’re too ashamed or afraid to explore with their husband (such as S&M).
A woman whose husband has cheated might be so hurt and angry she feels justified in having an affair to get back at him.
6. Create Change
Finally, women have affairs to bring their unhappy marriages to resolution. “An affair is a big deal,” Cann says. “It turns things inside out and creates a call for change.”
Cheating can be devastating, but surprisingly, only a third of affairs end in divorce. The majority of couples stay together and, if willing to tackle the issues that led to the affair, can even emerge with a better relationship.
Cann says, “Even when things look the bleakest, a marriage can be saved and end up stronger if people are willing to do the work.”