Women who cheat on husband

12 Reasons Women Cheat, According to an Expert

  • Relationships
  • Love & Dating

Studies show that the infidelity gender gap is narrowing.


Cathy Meyer

Cathy Meyer

Cathy Meyer is a certified divorce coach, marriage educator, freelance writer, and founding editor of DivorcedMoms.com. As a divorce mediator, she provides clients with strategies and resources that enable them to power through a time of adversity.

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Updated on 09/28/22

Reviewed by

Landis Bejar

Reviewed by Landis Bejar

Landis Bejar is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the founder of AisleTalk: Consultation & Therapy.

Brides's Editorial Guidelines

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

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Although social norms and Hollywood portrayals often depict men as the sex more likely to cheat, studies show that the infidelity gender gap is narrowing—especially among younger people. Take, for instance, a research study out of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, which found that among participants with an average age of 31, "there were no significant gender differences in the report of infidelity (23 percent of men vs. 19 percent of women)." Then there's the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey (GSS) from 2018, which found that women between the ages of 18 and 29 were slightly more likely to cheat than men of the same age group (11 percent vs. 10 percent). Further data out of the GSS showed that the percentage of women who cheat rose nearly 40 percent from 1990 to 2010 while men's adultery rate held steady at 21 percent.

The reason for the uptick in women who cheat? Some attribute it to the increased responsibilities (and therefore increased needs and wants) of the modern woman. Empowered by feminist viewpoints and financial freedom, women are less likely to compromise—and better positioned to seek out the emotional and sexual gratification that's missing in their relationship.

"The gap shifted when women went to work and had their own money and choices; with choice comes easier dissatisfaction," explains marriage and sex therapist Angela Skurtu M.Ed, LMFT. "We also expect a lot more out of marriage now. Before, marriage was a vehicle to raise your family and be taken care of financially. Now, we expect happiness, good sex, best friends, and more out of it. We have put a lot of pressure on marriage when it wasn't originally designed to meet all your needs." 

Meet the Expert

  • Angela Skurtu M.Ed, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and nationally (AASECT) certified sex therapist. She is the author of Helping Couples Overcome Infidelity: A Therapist's Manual.
  • Joel Block, PhD, is an assistant clinical professor of psychology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

The question still remains: Why do women cheat? Read on for 12 common reasons, plus expert insight from Skurtu and psychologist Joel Block.

01 of 12

Dissatisfaction in Relationship

This can be seen as the underlying theme of the majority of motivations for infidelity. Dissatisfaction, explains Skurtu, is where it starts. "People justify this by saying, 'We are in a bad patch.'" she continues. "Then the opportunity arises for one person, and instead of stopping things before they start, they justify crossing a boundary, with, 'My partner doesn't care anyway. It's completely innocent.'"

For every relationship boundary crossed, the person has to justify their behavior to themselves first, then they are able to compartmentalize the actions. Not finding satisfaction in a current relationship can trigger someone to seek that satisfaction elsewhere or even use the act of cheating (whether consciously or unconsciously) as a catalyst to end their current relationship.

Be as honest as possible if confronting a partner or being confronted about infidelity. "Often, both partners knew about the gaps," Skurtu says. "The affair just shines a light on the problems."

02 of 12

Low Self-Esteem

When a woman is struggling with low self-worth, it may spur them to look to external sources for the attention and validation that they and their partner are unable to create and sustain. "Low self-esteem starts out looking like, 'Why would anyone find me attractive?' Then when someone starts to show that attention, it feels really good," says Skurtu.

A woman who cheats may rely on affairs to provide them with proof of their value or desirability. When one fling ends, it may cause them to feel neglected or worthless, so they pursue a new romantic interest—and the cycle continues.

03 of 12

Emotional Starvation

While studies suggest that men who cheat are primarily motivated by sex, women who cheat tend to do so to fill an emotional need. And in the case of an emotional affair, sex isn't part of the equation at all. Whether the affair is physical or emotional in nature, a woman may cheat because they crave conversation, empathy, respect, devotion, adoration, support, or some other connection that's lacking in their current relationship.

"Some people convince themselves emotional is not a real affair. However, most sexual ones start emotional," says Skurtu "I find it pretty rare to have an only sexual affair without some emotions because they usually start as friends. That's how you start crossing boundaries and justify the behavior."

04 of 12

Anger or Retribution

Some women enter into a relationship with an idealized image of how their spouse should behave. When the partner falls short of expectations and can't meet their every need and desire, it can create a divide in the relationship that provides the impetus to stray.

Some women may resent their partner for another reason, such as a partner's past affair, and use their own infidelity as retaliation.

05 of 12

Lack of Excitement

You've likely heard of the term serial cheaters—people who cheat for the thrill of it. They may love their S.O. but yearn for those endorphin-fueled interactions that make a new relationship so exciting.

"I think as a society we don't honestly address how boring work and family life can be at times," explains Skurtu. "I was recently watching the show Good Girls, and they turn to street crimes. It's addressing the same thing: boredom. I feel people are more likely to cheat than to get involved in crimes, but it's the same premise."

In fact, a study at the affair dating website AshleyMadison.com found that 67 percent of heterosexual, married women who cheat sought out "romantic passion," yet 100 percent of the women denied any intention of leaving their husbands; some even "stated their overt love for their husbands, painting them in a positive light."

06 of 12

Sexual Deprivation

Try as we might to keep the spark alive, the excitement that accompanies a new relationship only lasts so long. Predictability and familiarity will eventually overtake the quality and frequency of sex. It's not surprising, then, that some women who cheat are missing those thrilling hallmarks of a relationship's beginning stages, when passion and intrigue have yet to give way to routine. In fact, Skurtu believes this is historically one of the motivators behind male-centric infidelity: "It might have been an expectation that at a certain point, sex was not a big part of marriage so cheating was a necessary evil."

07 of 12


A woman who cheats may have a partner who works long hours, leaving them home with the kids all day. Perhaps they've found themselves in a stage in life when it's harder to make friends or maybe their S.O. is contending with a chronic illness. Whatever the reason, loneliness or feelings of isolation and disengagement can "provide the perfect ingredients for an affair," says Skurtu. "They feel lonely and someone else starts meeting the unmet needs."

08 of 12

Insecure Attachment Style

Attachment theory suggests that early childhood relationships influence how we perceive and behave in our intimate relationships as adults. Depending on the care and nurturing (or lack thereof) that one receives as a child, they'll fall into one of three attachment styles as adults: secure (having well-adjusted expectations and approaches to relationships), anxious (exhibiting fear of abandonment), or avoidant (preferring to retain their independence from others).

People who identify with anxious and avoidant attachment styles are more likely to display characteristics that interfere with a healthy romantic relationship (think clinginess and dismissiveness). Moreover, they're more likely to cheat, as they seek out reassurance from a third-party partner or attempt to avoid the intimacy of the primary relationship. "There's always a sense of 'what's on the other side' and never fully being happy or secure in oneself," explains Skurtu. "This type of person may struggle to be happy in any relationship."

09 of 12

Midlife Crisis

While midlife crises generally affect people between the ages of 35 and 60, the event has less to do with age than extenuating circumstances. Major life events, such as the death of a parent or a milestone birthday, may trigger a midlife crisis in a woman, causing them to wrestle with the burden of greatness; that is, the sociocultural expectation that women can and should "have it all"—a successful career, a loving partner, adoring children, and so on.

"People think, 'I only have so much time left. What am I doing with my life?'" says Skurtu. A woman may act out of character as she attempts to realize her potential and make up for lost time.

10 of 12

An Underlying Condition

According to Block, depression and infidelity go hand in hand. "[An affair is] exciting, so much so that the brain can begin to pump out dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin—neurotransmitters we produce when we’re attracted to someone, but which, not so coincidentally, are the same chemicals produced when we take antidepressants," he says. In other words, a woman who cheats could be self-medicating through their infidelity, even if they don't realize the true reason behind their pleasure.

11 of 12


Few acts of infidelity are premeditated, asserts Skurtu, but rather a result of an unexpected opportunity. "They feel down and another person in a similar boat crosses their path. They start commiserating and then it moves on from there," she adds. People in this situation usually can't explain the reason behind their infidelity. "It sort of just happens, even though, really, there are specific moments of truth that can make or break the potential affair."

Similar opportunities exist in the digital realm, too. Social media, dating apps, and texting have revolutionized the ease at which we can connect with others, sometimes serving as a springboard for affairs—even if the interactions start innocently.

12 of 12

Numbing Difficult Feelings

People can develop a wide variety of coping mechanisms to deal with difficult emotions, sometimes choosing strategies that have emotionally numbing effects as an easier option than facing them. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and other addictions or compulsive behaviors are just a few examples.

"An affair is an escape from reality," says Skurtu. "[When] women struggle to be honest about what they want with their partners and instead seek out a fantasy world that not only numbs but creates an amazing jolt to the system, there's an adrenaline rush to cheating. "

"The first way to proceed here is raw honesty between the partners about what they want and need to be happy," suggests Skurtu. "The more real and honest, the more they will start to be authentic and feel their feelings again."

What to Do If Your Partner Wants an Open Relationship

Article Sources

Brides takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Mark KP, Janssen E, Milhausen RR. Infidelity in heterosexual couples: demographic, interpersonal, and personality-related predictors of extradyadic sex. Arch Sex Behav. 2011;40(5):971-982

  2. ORC at the University of Chicago. The General Social Survey,

  3. Scheeren PA, Apellániz IAM, Wagner A. Marital Infidelity: The Experience of Men and Women. Temas Psicol. 2018;26(1):355-369

  4. PsyPost. Middle-aged women missing passion (and sex) seek affairs, not divorce. Updated Aug. 17, 2014

  5. Psychology Today. Who Is Likely to Be Unfaithful, and Why? Updated Nov. 5, 2013

  6. Russell VM, Baker LR, McNulty JK. Attachment insecurity and infidelity in marriage: do studies of dating relationships really inform us about marriage? J Fam Psychol. 2013 Apr;27(2):242-51. doi: 10.1037/a0032118.

Why Do Women Cheat on Their Husbands

In This Article

If you still believe that it’s mostly men who cheat, you are right to some extent, but the reality is that nowadays infidelity among women is pretty rampant too.

In fact, research has shown that approximately 14% of married women cheat on their husbands while the corresponding statistic for men is around 22%. This answers, how often do women cheat. 

Although both men and women are known to cheat, often their reasons for doing so are very different. Lets’s delve into a key reason for female infidelity as well as male infidelity.  

For men, it is usually much more focused on physical pleasure, whereas for women there is a focus on emotional intimacy.

This begs the question, what makes women cheat on their partners? 

This article will discuss some of the revealing reasons women give for cheating. Read along to know the real reasons why married women cheat. 

Here’s why women have affairs

1. I was lonely and bored

For a woman, being lonely while married seems like the ultimate disillusionment.

Don’t you get married so that you will always have a personal best friend at all times, and so that you never need to be lonely again? 

Sadly it does not always work out that way, and so this is probably one of the biggest reasons why women seek comfort elsewhere. 

When there is a lack of attention and intimacy in a marriage relationship it is a recipe for infidelity.

A woman who is not having her relationship needs to be met in terms of intimacy, physical touch, mental and emotional attention, is very vulnerable.

If some caring man comes along and starts giving her the compassion, attention, and compliments she craves, she can very easily slip into an emotional affair that could well become a physical given time.

2. All he does is work

Sometimes husbands can think that as long as they work hard and bring in the money to support a comfortable lifestyle, their wives should and will be happy with that. After all, what more can a woman want?

Actually, a lot more!

If a man comes home late every day and is too tired to have any meaningful conversation with his wife, he will probably soon find out that she has become frustrated, disengaged and distant.

When the husband is a workaholic, he may just be using his work to avoid engaging emotionally with his wife and family. 

And after all, as stated above, emotional engagement is what it is all about for a woman. So again, in a situation where the husband works all the time, the wife becomes a prime target for an affair.

Also watch:

3. It made me feel confident and wanted

It is well known that a lot of women suffer from low self-esteem and a general lack of confidence.

There can be many reasons for this and they are usually rooted in childhood somehow.

It can affect anyone, even the most attractive, appealing and competent women sometimes feel unattractive and incompetent.

These negative feelings can be fuelled by a spouse who is either insensitive and demanding or even abusive and derogatory.

Then imagine if a handsome work colleague notices (and makes it know that he notices) the positive qualities in such a woman.

The rush of confidence and the feeling of being desirable can be intoxicating, like the whiff of a home-cooked meal to a starving person.

Many women have affairs because it makes them feel better like they are still attractive and wanted by someone, and it boosts their confidence.

4. He cheated first

So now we come to the ugly little word called ‘revenge’ which is one of the top reasons women cheat on their husbands. 

The husband cheated and she found out.

The pain was excruciating, the betrayal, the hours and hours of replaying every little clue that she missed, and the shame and reproach she felt, that somehow she just wasn’t good enough anymore.

But he was repentant and they decided to patch it up and carry on.

She thought she had put it behind her, but it always seemed to be lurking at the back of her mind and then she met this gorgeous man and they just seemed to ‘click’ from day one, he understood her like hubby never had.

One thing led to another, and all the while she told herself, “Well, he cheated first – if he can do it, so can I.”

5. I needed a way to escape my unhappy marriage

Some women think that if they have an affair it will function as a kind of ‘exit strategy’ from an unhappy and dysfunctional marriage.

Their marriage ship is sinking, so before they find themselves plunged into the icy cold water of singleness, they jump ship and cheat with another man.

This may indeed accomplish the goal of ending their marriage but is likely to make the affair partner feel used.

An affair could also be a cry for help, to try and show an unresponsive husband how deeply in trouble the marriage really is, in the hopes that he may be willing to change and get help.

There are many ways of dealing with an unhappy marriage, but having an affair is not likely to be a good one.

6. I really didn’t plan it

There is a wise saying that goes something like this, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

This is particularly true when it comes to having a successful marriage.

Unless you plan to make the most of your relationship with your spouse, giving it all you’ve got and constantly seeking ways that you can strengthen your bond, over time you are likely to drift apart.

Think of it as a garden: on your wedding day your garden was exquisite and immaculate, with flower beds in full bloom, lawns neatly trimmed and fruit trees laden with fruit.

But as the times and seasons passed, you neglected the garden, left the grass unmown, didn’t bother to weed or water the flowers, let the ripe fruit drop to the ground.

Maybe you thought the rain and wind would do the job for you? No, just like everything else worthwhile in life, marriage is hard work.

It is wonderful and rewarding work, but it still works, and both of you need to be fully committed.

If not, an affair may ‘just happen’ and you could find yourself saying, “I really didn’t plan it.”

How to tell if a woman is cheating


When you have found solace in the arms of the woman of your dreams, the last thing you want to do is look for reasons why women cheat or signs of a woman seeking affairs.

However, alongside taking an overview of the reasons shared in this article that corroborates, “why do women cheat”, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the signs your wife is cheating on you and watch out for any of these red flags in your relationship.

Finding out that your partner is cheating on you is painful, but you would rather know the truth than to live in oblivion. Right?

We don’t encourage you to go nuclear on your partner, suspecting them to be cheating on you without any grounds for the accusation. However, if you sense something is off and the relationship may be running to the ground, taking stock of signs of cheating can be helpful.

Obvious signs your wife or girlfriend is cheating on you

  • If she has checked out of the relationship, she will fight more often
  • She is discreet about her phone password and usage in front of you
  • She keeps talking about being in an unhappy relationship
  • She is suddenly more concerned about her appearance and grooming
  • She projects her cheating guilt onto you
  • She spends more time away from you
  • She avoids hanging out with you
  • Her social media profile does not reflect your couple images
  • She doesn’t include you on her trips, anywhere
  • Your relationship has fizzled into a friendship

Don’t learn the hard way, why do women cheat

For those men reading the article and feeling curious to know more about the dynamics of female cheating, or why do women have affairs when it seems to be a perfectly happy marriage,  a good place to start would be to understand women better.

To gain more insight into reasons that help explain the difficulty women have with marriage and long-term fidelity, it is recommended for men to read Women’s Infidelity: Living In Limbo: What Women Really Mean When They Say “I’m Not Happy.

The book dives deep into the realms of female infidelity psychology and answers the pertinent questions like, why do women cheat, what goes on in the mind of a woman cheating on husband, and why women cheat on good men who are the providers of financial stability and social validation to them.

Why do women cheat? Every woman has different reasons for her relational transgression.

The question, why do women cheat will evoke a variety of responses.

When an affair wrecks a relationship, leaving it in the rocky shoals the damage to repair is massive.

But, for a relationship to thrive and not die, it is crucial to understand what drives a woman to latch onto another man.

Don’t wait to learn the hard way, why do women cheat.

Be the partner in the relationship who can take the corrective steps to change the narrative of the story just by being mindful of why do women cheat and what can be done to prevent infidelity in marriage.

Related Reading: 7 Reasons That Reveal Why Women Cheat on Their Partners

7 reasons why women cheat: from bad sex to self-esteem problems


Who cheats more often - men or women? Ha ha, you say, men of course! Statistics and truth from decade to decade confirms the main weakness of the stronger sex. Surveys conducted by researchers at Boston University as part of a large-scale project to study family relations found that, on average, 20% of men have cheated on their significant other at least once, compared with 13% of women. nine0003

However, in an American study in 2018, psychologists found a nuance: the infidelity of ladies in the age group of 18-29 years outdid the male. Adult women, as it turned out, are not up to adultery, while restless men continue to do this, increasing the gap in the score.

Another indicator that has long determined the sex differences in adultery is the causes of rampant behavior. It is believed that men are more likely to cheat for the sake of sexual diversity, and women - because of dissatisfaction with the relationship. An update of the Boston University polls published by experts this year eliminates the usual difference. These days, the gender gap in infidelity has all but disappeared: men and women cheat for similar reasons and with the same enthusiasm. nine0003

It is interesting to know the opinion of experts on why women increase the activity of cheating. What are they, in the sense, we? And where will the trend for boudoir adventures lead us in general? Here is what psychologists say, explaining the reasons for what is happening. First of all, women cheat...

1. Sex for the sake of sex

If someone convinces you that men cheat for carnal pleasures, and women because of romantic foreplay, laugh in the face of the ridiculous translator of medieval ideas. “Women, like men, value good sex and can easily become unfaithful to whoever turns them on,” says New York-based sex therapist Tammy Nelson. “A study published last winter in the Journal of Sex Research confirms once again that most men are seduced into infidelity out of a craving for diversity, but a thirst for experimentation also tops the list of causes of female infidelity.” nine0003

2. Dissatisfied with relationships

In the same study, the second most popular reason was revealed: women cheat because they are not happy with the one who is next to them. The one who is married, with whom they live or have a long romance. Even if love is still glimmering, a woman who is tired of current relationships (quarrels, boredom, domestic troubles, financial problems) will look for an object for flirting on the side. A love affair adds adrenaline to life - women of any age and status will confirm this. nine0003

3. Impulsive act on emotions

Reason number three - something went wrong. Circumstances arose, the mood coincided, and the woman gave herself up to the situation, which she would later justify to herself and her friends as: “it was a mistake.” “Sometimes there is no other meaning to an affair than an opportunity that a woman could not or did not want to miss at the moment,” adds Dr. Nelson. “Everyone makes mistakes, and even happy married women can act impulsively or out of revenge and regret it later.” nine0003

4. Lack of emotional intimacy with a partner

Physical or emotional intimacy are basic needs that we as social beings naturally desire to satisfy. If a woman does not get enough intimacy in a current relationship, and someone is around who is ready for this very intimacy, the chances of a mutual attraction increase significantly. “A survey from our university determined that women engage in side contacts with more sensual feedback than men. Lust for intimacy and romance are exculpatory aspects of female infidelity,” explains Boston University psychologist Alison Hardy. nine0003

5. To feel wanted

Both women and men cheat because they want to feel like an object of love and adoration. “The lack of attention in a relationship pushes a woman into the arms of another, in words and deeds confirming his love for her. It's hard to ignore attentions, compliments and genuine passion, no matter the family values ​​and the seriousness of the relationship in which she is, ”says Nelson.

6. Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can also motivate a woman to look for feelings on the side, says Alison Hardy. “If a partner is stingy with approval, but unreasonably generous with criticism, the accumulated need for love and understanding will sooner or later force the woman to seek outside support. Even if she is used to neglecting her own desires, the subconscious will find a way to remind her that she deserves more, and fate will throw a meeting with someone who is ready to see all the good that is in her.


They want a divorce

Sometimes cheating is a hidden manifestation of the fact that a woman is ready to end an existing relationship, but finds it difficult to announce her decision. Such behavior is unfair to the partner, although it is understandable from a psychological point of view. Tammy Nelson also notes that sometimes cheating expresses an urgent need for change in current relationships.

“Change is destructive, but does not necessarily mean the end of the couple, and sometimes it provides an impetus for change for the better,” says the sex therapist. - Events can develop in two scenarios: divorce without protracted efforts or acceptance of existing problems and working together to solve them. If you love each other and want to be together, in time you will rebuild trust, and your bond will grow stronger through these trials.” nine0003

Smirnova Natasha


  • relationships
  • Psychology
  • Love and sex

At the peak of a romantic relationship, men often do incredible things that win the hearts of ladies.

However, over time, this ardor subsides, former emotions and passion disappear, trust between partners is lost. nine0003

When the fairy tale ends and marriage turns into a routine, women often begin to look at other men, and often they themselves are afraid of their actions and cannot explain them. Sexologist Yevgeny Kulgavchuk, in an interview with 5-tv.ru, explained what pushes the fairer sex to infidelity.

The expert noted that there is no single reason for this act, but often the motive for adultery is either the search for new experiences or relationships. Moreover, according to the expert, men are more inclined towards the first model of behavior, and women towards the second. Summarizing the behavior of most women, Kulgavchuk gave his own classification, but warned: each case is individual. nine0003

Married without a husband

“People say about such a situation “the husband ate too many pears”, that is, in other words, there is a formal husband, but he does not take an active part in either the emotional or sexual life of a woman: it can be reduced emotional intelligence, or shifted priorities for a career, or there is enough attention, but for others "," the specialist noted.

As a result of such behavior, the expert believes, a woman is looking for another man who can help her find the missing emotional and sexual connection. However, such women do not plan to separate from their spouses at all - on the contrary, they can appreciate and respect their partner. nine0003

Adventure seekers

In this model of behavior, according to the sexologist, although a man is an interesting and promising creative person, this is not enough for a woman, and she is looking for no less interesting partners.

“She herself resembles a bright butterfly that lands from flower to flower” , Kulgavchuk added.

Elusive avengers

The reason for this betrayal may be hidden not so much in the search for emotional or sexual intimacy, but in the desire to take revenge on your partner. However, sometimes women only worsen their situation, regretting what they have done. nine0003

“Far from all women admit this, so the event has a dubious meaning, but sometimes pride is flattering.

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