Surveys looking at the rates at which men and women cheat on their romantic partners sometimes have widely varying results, but most agree that men cheat about two times as often as women cheat. However, further research has discovered that this is not the only difference between men and women when it comes to infidelity. Not only do men and women cheat at different rates, but they also cheat for different reasons and often conduct their affairs differently.
Men Often Cite Sexual Reasons for Straying
Men who cheat on a spouse or partner are more likely to report sexual reasons for their infidelity. They may be dissatisfied with the frequency of sex, especially in very long-standing relationships, or crave additional surprise and excitement in their sex lives.
The majority of men who cheat do so despite claiming to be happy in their relationships. Most men who cheat also say that they are still in love with their primary partners, and men are less likely to fall in love with the person they cheat with. Despite the fact that infidelity can spell the end of many relationships, many men do not enter into affairs with the intention of breaking up their primary relationship.
Women Seek Affairs for an Emotional Connection
In contrast, women are more likely to pursue affairs for emotional reasons. They are more likely to feel lonely or unhappy in their primary relationship before cheating and to seek a strong emotional connection with an extramarital partner. As a result, women are more likely than men to fall in love with the person with whom they have an affair.
Only 34 percent of women who cheat on their primary partners say that they are happy or very happy in their relationships. Women are more likely to see an affair as a way out of an unhappy relationship. They are more likely to want leave their current partners and to see an affair as a way to transition from one relationship to another without having to endure a period of being lonely and single.
Women tend to think longer and more carefully about having an affair rather than just stumbling into it. This also means that they are more likely to have prolonged affairs as opposed to one-night stands.
Is It Genetics or Something Else?
These are trends rather than rules, and both men and women may have affairs that defy the typical behavior of their gender. Men can feel emotionally unsatisfied in a relationship and fall in love with an affair partner, and women can cheat on their partners because they are sexually unsatisfied.
There is also some evidence that the difference between the genders may be leveling out: although women still cheat less frequently than men, more women are cheating now than ever before. If women eventually cheat just as frequently as men, the variations in why men and women cheat may also largely disappear.
On the other hand, there may be genetic and evolutionary reasons why men and women pursue affairs for different reasons. Some experts theorize that, historically, men have slept with as many partners as possible in order to spread their genetic material. In other words, their primary motivation was sex. In contrast, this theory states that women who formed relationships with more than one partner got the benefit of additional support and resources to help with raising their offspring.