Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Why Do Women Cheat?

Achieving equality in adultery.

With women in 2012 dominating in college attendance and workplace equality  becoming mostly a rear-guard battle fought in class action lawsuits, blogs and articles are chronicling a new development in  sexual equality. Marriage and Family therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., quoted surveys in the 1990s that showed that 50% to 70% of American men and 30% to 50% of American women will have an affair while married. But the incidence of women straying  has accelerated in the last decade. The Archives of Sexual Behavior reports that researchers at the Kinsey Institute found that women are now committing adultery at the same rate as men. 

 Granted that both men and women are failing at their relationships, science and the media have attempted to explain why adultery has become such an unprecedented epidemic in America. Robert Wright, senior editor at New Republic magazine, reported in a Time magazine cover story that the theory of evolution can explain the decline in marriage. According to evolutionary psychology, it is "natural for both men and women- at some time, under some circumstances- to commit adultery or to sour on a mate."

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Time magazine essayist Lance Morrow, in another cover story devoted to the war between the sexes, measured the conflict and concluded, "Perhaps American men and women should face the fact that they are hopelessly at odds. Or anyway that they are a little bit sick of each other at the moment."

The Kinsey study found that although men and women commit adultery at the same rate, they cheat for different reasons. The researchers found that men tended to act on impulse and cheated for sexual excitement, while women committed adultery with thoughtful deliberation because they were dissatisfied with their marriage or  they clashed with their husband's dissimilar sexual beliefs.

Women can prevent this sad result by practicing smart courtship. Instead of making marriage their goal, women should make it their aim to developing a mature, intelligent, long term heterosexual relationship that may lead to marriage. That means not hanging out in singles bars and jumping in bed with the first guy who shows interest in you. Instead of developing relationships based on physical attraction and charm, women should get to know the person first and find out if they share similar goals, beliefs and interest and have compatible personalities. That includes discussing possible relationship enders like your future husband sexual beliefs. If women want to feel empowered in relationships and sex, then they have to take affirmative steps to make it happen.  It's easy to get married but it's hard to have a happy marriage that can weather the storms of life when it is based on the sandy foundation of  frivolous values and deceit.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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