- Gender and Relationships
Cheating from a Woman's Perspective
Just like men, women cheat also. A tri-nation study conducted in Jamaica, Haiti and Dominica Republic indicated that more women are cheating on their partners (Caribbean360). While it is estimated that roughly 30% to 60% of all married couples in the United States will engage in infidelity at some point in their marriage (Buss & Shackleford). But the confounding question many spouses seek to ponder is, "Why?"
I was one of those women who said that she would never cheat on her partner. However, that belief went downhill 6 years into my relationship. My boyfriend and I had an argument and I felt really hurt to the point of bitterness. So, as I withdrew from him, I drew closer to a friend and colleague at work. We spoke on numerous occasions and as we joke around he began to help me 'feel' better. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months until I started to really like this guy.
Types of Cheating
Cheating comes in many forms and it is not limited to simply having sex with someone who isn't your spouse. These forms include:
- Sexual infidelity
- Emotional infidelity
- Combined sexual and emotional infidelity
- Internet infidelity
Sexual infidelity, as its name suggests, refers to sexual activities that are engaged in with someone other than one’s spouse or partner. Activities that constitute sexual infidelity include all forms of physical intimacy, from kissing to sexual intercourse. Research has shown that men are more susceptible to this form of cheating than women.
While women tend to fall prey to emotional infidelity which can also lead to sexual infidelity. According to Peggy Vaughan, author of the Monogamy Myth: A Personal Handbook for Recovering from Affairs, "Emotional infidelity is an emotional connection with someone of the opposite sex that you keep a secret from your spouse."
Basically, emotional affairs occur when one partner is channeling physical or emotional energy, time and attention into someone other than the person they are in a committed relationship with to the point that their partner feels neglected.
The big red flag is the secrecy. Emotional cheating is about breaking trust with your spouse, not having sex with someone else,” she adds.
On the other hand, Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry of New York - Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell School of Medicine noted that, "Many emotional affairs do not move into a sexual affair." If they don't, a cheating partner may easily argue that he/she is not doing anything wrong.
However, the problem Saltz says is the attachment to this other person which will impact the marriage or relationship. “Ultimately it ends painfully one way or another: the marriage ends or the cheating partner got to give this person up."
For me, emotional infidelity is as dreadful as sexual infidelity (I was cheated on before). I witnessed my partner hurting in a way that I have never seen before, my heart was also literally split in two with the battle of giving up the other person or watch my relationship sink. While the other guy was torn, because I would never choose him over my partner of 6 years.
Then again, cheating has now become ubiquitous with the aid of the Internet. This is known as 'cyber affair' and it includes a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone other than the spouse/partner, which begins with an online contact and is maintained mainly through electronic conversations.
Top 5 Reasons Why Women Cheat
The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation. - Cheryl Hudges
Being emotionally invested creatures, women want to 'feel' wanted, loved and entertained in their marriage or relationship. A lack in fulfilling these desires may cause a woman to stray, which can be broken down into the top 5 reasons why women cheat.
- Boredom: It is the same ol' same ol', nothing new... Just old. After being with someone for an extended period. It is always good to try something new once in awhile. It can be something simple such as a 'surprise breakfast in bed or dinner with her favorite dish and drink, a gift certificate to the spa or a surprise basket/roses delivered to her office or at home or a reminder every now and then as to why you love her.' For most mature women, while an expensive gift is nice, it's the simple things that matter most. Connect with her emotionally and get out of the house every now and then; even if it is in your own back yard. Also, keep yourself well-groomed; as women love men looking fine. Boredom is something that can be resolved with a little to moderate amount of effort as long as both parties are willing. Spontaneity is vital as well as each partner knowing what he or she desires.
- Low self-esteem: When a woman has to seek validation outside of herself, she puts herself in a position to be hurt and to hurt others who love her. To this end, this validation may be intellectual, sexual or emotional. A woman who doesn't value herself is unstable in all her ways. Even though she knows her husband/boyfriend loves her she will seek that which she craves for until that desire is filled. If it is not filled, as it cannot be without her own effort, her insecurity will fester and may cause damage in the relationship. To rectify this issue, self-help books will be required and/or counseling to improve self-esteem.
- Revenge: Being hurt can lead to bitterness which may lead a woman to 'get even.' My experience was is a prime example of revenge. After my boyfriend hurt me emotionally, I sought to get back at him and to make myself feel better by reaching out to someone who held back nothing I desired at that moment. While I never set out to tear him to pieces because some men portray themselves as 'unbreakable'. I never thought that he would hurt that bad. On the other hand, being cheated on is very devastating. To this end, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Some women may turn against their spouses or partners to let them know how the blunt of that cheating knife feels. But the truth is, cheating never solves the problem. Intimacy, communication, and partnership are better solutions to any relationship issues.
- Poor sexual performance: Disappointments in the bedroom should be a major concern to men. If a woman experiences routine sex, little to no sex, non-emotional sex, no climax or men ejaculating 'quickly' now and then... she may eventually lose interest in the relationship. Good sex for a woman is like good wine. The dissatisfaction will cause her to spit it out, and to open/seek another brand that is tempting to the eyes. For her, the gratification can be sexual and/or emotional to give her that 'right' feeling. For that reason, communication is vital as she state her desires and you both work out the 'kinks' to rekindle the passion. A visit to a sex therapist is optional.
- Lack of attention and intimacy: For women, attention, intimacy, compliments, physical touch and emotional attention are paramount. If she is not receiving one or more of these desires, it will be a matter of time before she finds someone who will give them to her. That is, from an attentive male friend, co-worker or a nice guy she just met. Sometimes men will find the time to do everything else, except attend to their women's emotional need. An emotionally depraved woman is more likely to become a cheating wife/girlfriend. Ensure that your woman's desire is attended to; if you are unsure as to what she needs, ask her and ladies, let him know upfront what you desire.
Behavioral Indicators of Her Cheating
- She either leaves for work early or leaves work late.
- She becomes unreachable at certain intervals and does not answer your call.
- She is spending more time with her girlfriends than she usually has in the past.
- She no longer needs you as much as she used to.
- She stops nagging you. Women who are getting closer to another man will become withdrawn.
- Infrequent to no communication. That is, she has found someone else to share her personal time with.
- Erases text/WhatsApp messages and call history
- She insists that an acquaintance is 'just a friend' even after concrete evidence that she is lying.
- She decreases the amount of time she usually spends with you (with frequency increasing).
- She takes less interest of planning or discussing the future together.
Cheating Tolerance Level
Which scenario below would you pardon and mend your marriage/relationship?
The Recovery Process
5 factors that influence the recovery process of cheating include each partner’s:
- Communication skills
- Tolerance for conflict
- Capacity for honesty
- Acceptance of personal responsibility
- Attachment style
The recovery typically progresses through three (3) phases:
- Trauma Phase: following the discovery, the betrayed partner experiences shock and significant emotional trauma as a result of finding out about the affair. He or she may feel angry, vengeful and hopeless. This phase is often a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from loss and grief, to rage and frustration, and can be accompanied by bouts of tears or conflict. Both partners struggle with thinking clearly during this phase, and both may experience physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight.
- Issues Clarification: it is during this time that couples begin to examine what led to the affair. Although there is still a great deal of emotional instability, partners want to understand why the affair happened. The sooner couples can begin this process, the sooner they can reap the rewards of closure. Enlisting the help of a therapist is vital during this extremely psychologically stressful time.
- Addressing the Problem: this is when the real work begins. As emotions become more manageable, spouses can tackle the difficult task of working on the issues that led to the affair. There will be highs and lows as guilt and anger become mixed with longing for the relationship as it once was, but couples who persevere through this phase will be able to finally address the issues that are at the root of much of their discontent.
How Women Feel About Cheating
My Recovery Process
Being grateful that my actions didn't cause my relationship to crumble. I must say that it wasn't easy to regain my partner's trust. It was one of the most horrible experiences I've been through, I cried a lot; the pain I gave, I received it back 3 fold. It was so terrible that I don't even entertain guys when I realize their motives from the onset. Also, I'm happy I could take away some lessons from the issue - I learned about myself, my partner and rebuilding a relationship.
After his rage subsided, we began to have a renewed relationship. He became my best friend once again and we spent time exploring new ventures, reading books and taking entrepreneurial risks together. I know that he still remembers what I did. However, he no longer taunts me with my wrongdoing.
The trauma phase was sorrowful and confusing because he was being awfully nice by showering me with gifts (which made me feel worse). But the issue clarification was more dreadful for me as I didn't want to repeat the memory of what I did. But I had to talk about it especially when questions came to his mind. Whereas addressing the problem took us 2-3 years before we got to a place where our relationship had strong communication, some level of trust and passion. All in all, it takes the willingness of the betrayed partner to fix a broken relationship/marriage with the humbleness of the other partner.
Also, many usually say, 'once a cheater always a cheater.' But I beg to differ. Some women who cheat does it as a 'one-time fling'. A repetitive cheater shows signs in their behavior as also a person who refrains from cheating again. If that woman cheats again after the first encounter, it would be ridiculous to continue that relationship. Then again, it's how much you both love each other.
In the end, it only boils down to two things... Break up or Rebuild. It won't be easy, but it is do-able! The willingness from each partner is the first step to making it happen. For more help during this difficult process, I recommend the book, "After the Affair, Updated Second Edition: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has been Unfaithful."
After the Affair
© 2015 Michelle