10 Times Women Cheated and Why
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 needsThe scenario: Clinical counsellor Holly Behiels describes a common scenario she’s encountered in the past, where a successful woman is thriving at work and balancing an otherwise happy and stable home life with her family, but feels that, though her husband loves her, he cannot challenge her or meet her needs. As a result, the women maintains an ongoing affair for a prolonged period of time.
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 awayThe scenario: Psychotherapist Holly Behiels refers to a book by Emily Giffin titled, Love the One You’re With, which tells the story of a happily married woman who settled down with a stable man who “checked all the right boxes”, but then questions her relationship when an old flame who broke her heart comes back into the picture.
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 loversThe scenario: Noting the common pitfalls of people who have committed to marriage at an early age, Holly reflects on the following scenario she has come across: a woman marries in her early twenties, never thinking she would be “capable” of an affair — but finds herself some 20 years later engaged in an ongoing long-term affair. This woman is one who, prior to marrying, had limited sexual partners and experience in mature relationships.
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 triggerThe scenario: A common tale of infidelity often starts: “It began after the funeral…”
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 affairThe scenario: Holly notes that many cases of women cheating relate to the fulfillment of an unmet need — one such need being that of expressing oneself, be it sexually or emotionally or otherwise, without the fear of rejection of judgment from their long-term partner, who the women may feel will not be receptive to these new expressions.
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 sexuallyThe scenario: Sex is a motivator for men as well as women — and though it may not be as commonly addressed from that viewpoint, it often plays a role in the situations that lead many women to cheat. In 2019, it’s about time we start acknowledging women as sexual beings without it being tied to issues in promiscuity or out-of-date rationalizations.
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 desiredThe scenario: Speaking of desire, this is another common trigger for women when it comes to cheating. Whether it be a loss of desire in a relationship that has become stagnant over time, or the lack of desire expressed from a partner who does not quite know how or prioritize displays of the sentiment in their relationship.
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 opportunityThe scenario: Proximity is often the initial source of an affair — whether consciously or otherwise, for many women who end up cheating, explains Holly. “Seeing someone functioning in an environment in which they are confident, successful, challenged and strong can amplify attraction. This relates to being around another person for extended periods of time and seeing them at their best, as well as dealing with attractions.”
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 triggerThe scenario: Holly attributes the “lowered inhibitions” scenario as one that is commonly triggered by alcohol and drug use, which Holly notes can “create a perfect storm of feelings, attraction, desire, or otherwise fueling a grain of unhappiness”.
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 scenario: “A young woman told the story of intentionally engaging in sexual acts with another person she did not feel attracted to with the intention of telling her controlling partner about this. She told her partner with regret and tears, but described feeling relief that she knew he would never forgive her and would end the relationship,” says Holly, painting us a picture.
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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