Too often, cheating is considered a betrayal reserved exclusively for men. In 2019, we think it’s time to open up the dialogue about infidelity as it relates to women as the guilty party, and the triggers and thought process behind their actions. We sat down with registered psychotherapist and Canadian certified counsellor Holly Behiels to get the inside scoop on the 10 most common situations that lead women to cheat, and the motivations behind their infidelity.
She feels her partner is unable to meet her needs
The expert take:“Women are increasingly independent and seek a lover, rather than a provider. For the many benefits of this in modern society, it is paired with an extremely high expectation that a partner must be many things — but no one can be all things,” says Holly. “Sometimes, if external friendships are not cultivated or a sex life is dwindling due to obligations and stress, when an opportunity appears for these needs to be met through another person, a women can enter into an affair or brief infidelity to meet an unmet need.”
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She wonders about the one that got away
The expert take:“It is not shocking forwomen who have affairs to have it with someone they once loved… This might begin with something as simple as a social media connection or randomly running into each other at a bar, but can progress quite strongly because it is a rekindling of old feelings,” says Holly.
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A lack of experience with other lovers
The expert take:Speaking to some of the antiquated and misguided societal norms that only normalize male sexual needs and desires, Holly says, “It is often socially acceptable for men to “sow wild oats”, but for women to settle. Many women find themselves unsatisfied and with a drive to enjoy new experiences.” Speaking to the numbers behind this, Holly adds, “Statistics show consistently that the younger you are when you get married, the more likely you are to divorce. It could be argued that there is more time to divorce, but it could also be related to the lack of experiencing other people — whether for sexual reasons, psychological reasons, or simply the drive to see what else may be out there.”
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When tragedy is the trigger
The expert take:"The number of individuals who cite an affair which begins following a personal tragedy such as death is high. It tends to bring out vulnerable feelings,” says Holly.
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She can “be herself” in the affair
The expert take:"Cheating can provide a safety net for a woman to be who she might long to be, but she feels unable in the context of her long-term relationship. When this is allowed in the safety net of cheating, it is perceived to be an absolute secret to be sexy, to try new things, to worry less about rejection, and to have new experiences without the normal day-to-day life being impacted,” explains Holly.
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She feels unfulfilled sexually
The expert take:Affairs triggered by sexual motivators are a thing. “Cheating is generally about a great deal more than purely sex, but women who feel sexually unfulfilled in their relationships are likely to engage sexually with another person who makes them feel desired,” shares Holly.
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She wants to feel desired
The expert take:“Humans have a deep need to feel desired. We generally want to experience this in the context of our relationship, but experiencing desire in a cheating relationships can be thrilling and briefly fulfilling,” explains Holly.
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Proximity as an opportunity
The expert take:“Research points out that many affairs are starting in workplaces,” says Holly. To this point, Holly references Dr. Shirley Glass, who is considered the “godmother of infidelity research” and has been at the helm of many of these studies. Holly explains, “This is related to the amount of time spent wit another person in the workplace, and can be amplified by work trips, night shifts, and unhappy relationships. The workplace relationship often does not see you grocery shopping on a Saturday morning with no makeup and a ponytail.” Adds Holly, “These relationships also allow a woman to feel admired and respected for her talents and abilities, and viewed as a person who is more than a wife/mother/cook/cleaner/carpool duty/etc.”
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Lowered inhibitions as a trigger
The expert take:These instances, says Holly, often lead to instant regret or a recognition of a long-term unhappiness upon some reflection.
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She needs an “exit strategy”
The expert take:As Holly explains, “Sometimes the function of cheating is an escape, which can exist in different ways, whether to find someone new and engage in an early rebound of sorts, or to create an unforgivable situation.” While it may not be common to think of women in the role of cheating as an “exit strategy”, it is a fairly common occurrence and allows the guilty party to establish an “out” that neither person in the relationship is likely to renege on.
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