What percentage of girlfriends cheat?
Why Women Stay With Men Who Cheat
Stand by your cheating man or kick him to the curb? It’s not a decision any woman wants to make, but many have after their philandering mates were caught. Sure, Elin Nordegren left Tiger Woods. And Sandra Bullock left Jesse James. But not every woman chooses to move on. This Lifescript exclusive digs deep to discover why so many women choose to stick it out. Plus, will your guy cheat? Rate the risk.
They all do it: celebrities, politicians, even the hubby next door. Sure, the names of the cheaters change: Think Tiger Woods, Jesse James, John Edwards, Kobe Bryant, Mark Sanford. But the story’s the same: Husband cheats, gets caught. Wife grimaces, then bears it. In fact, up to 75% of couples rocked by an affair stay together, according to research by Peggy Vaughan, author of Preventing Affairs: You Can Have a Monogamous Marriage, But Not by Just Assuming You’re Immune (Dialog Press). That so many wronged spouses managed to turn the other cheek is admirable to some. But you can’t help wondering: Why didn’t they push their wandering mates out the door?
Lifescript talked to women and experts to find out why beleaguered wives choose to stand by their men. Here’s what they told us: 1. She doesn’t want to be alone.
When your husband takes up with a prettier, shapelier – perhaps even younger – woman, it doesn’t inspire confidence that you still got it goin’ on. Insecurity can be enough of a glue to stick with a marriage. “Fear of being alone keeps people in all kinds of horrible situations and relationships,” says life coach Lauren Mackler, author of Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness and Transform Your Life (Hay House) and host of “Lauren’s Life Keys” on Hay House Radio.
Women are more afraid of going solo than men are, she says. “That comes from believing that they need a man to take care of them. Even though we’ve come a long way, many messages still tell us that.” 2. Her finances take a hit. “Women’s greatest fear is they’ll become bag ladies,” says Gilda Carle, Ph.D., creator of DrGilda.com and author of He’s Not All That (Collins). “In their minds, they’d be leaving him for a life of poverty just because he’s been cavorting elsewhere.” It’s not a completely unfounded fear: A woman is likely to draw the short financial straw in a divorce. An ex-wife’s standard of living drops more than 25%, studies show. They’re also more likely to lose other essentials, such as health insurance and their homes.
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3. He’s not perfect. An affair “may not be a deal breaker,” explains Michele Sugg, a certified sex therapist in Branford, Conn. “We tend to think that once a slippery bit has slid into someone else’s slippery bit, it’s the end of a relationship.” True, that’s how newlyweds think, says Brown University psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happily Married Womenand The Secrets of Happy Families (both Wiley). But, “as people live, age and grow together, they recognize that they have to give up the dreams of the perfect spouse,” he says. They know their mate eventually will disappoint them. 4. Her professional status is tied to his. Many educated women still put their careers second, behind their husband’s. If you’ve been known as Mr. Big Shot’s Wife, leaving that relationship may close doors professionally.
“A wife can lose her status because of divorce,” Haltzman says. “If you’re married to a governor, you’re a governor’s wife.” Otherwise, you’re just his ex-wife. 5. She’ll lose friends.
Adding insult to injury, a divorcing wife risks breaking up her social circle as well, especially if it was exclusively other married couples. Sad but true: A solo woman is considered a threat to the stability of other relationships and married friends often pull away. “If you live in a community where marriage is touted and single women are shunned, do you want to become an outcast because your husband did this?” asks Susan Shapiro Barash, author of Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie (St. Martin’s Press).
6. Her family is against divorce. Natalie (her name is changed to protect her privacy) was recently wed and newly pregnant when she discovered her husband had three other women on the side. For 13 years, the manager of a California nonprofit toughed out countless infidelities before she finally filed for divorce. Even then, her decision didn’t sit well with her traditional Catholic family. They believed, as do many cultures, that it’s up to the woman to keep a marriage together — whatever the cost. Her family and in-laws cursed her. “My mother disowned me,” Natalie says. For five years, her family pressured her to go back to her husband. Her ex lobbied hard, too, getting down on his knees and swearing he’d never stray again. “I said, ‘Yes,’ because I could see my three kids were hoping I’d give their daddy a chance.” But even all the family pressure couldn’t keep her marriage together in the end. “One day he left his pager at home and there was a strange number on it,” Natalie says. “I thought, Not again.”
The incident reaffirmed her first decision and this time she left for good. “I was angry and resentful because I allowed myself to get hurt again. And my children were devastated.” 7. She’s emotionally invested in her man. For many women, their husbands are an essential part of the family tapestry and disentangling it would be devastating. “Over their lifetimes, these women can see their men for the contributions they’ve made, for the role they play in their lives, in their families,” Haltzman explains. So they think hard before throwing it away. “Women struggle to see the whole picture,” he says, and try to figure out if their husband’s stupid mistake will dissolve the family or help it endure and grow. Of course, a woman is more likely to take this view if it’s a one-time tryst rather than an extracurricular relationship or pattern of infidelity that’s gone on for years. That was the case with Deb (identified by her first name only for privacy). She learned that her husband had slept with one of her girlfriends shortly after she gave birth to their second child.
The Arkansas radio host thought about leaving him but decided to stay. Now, 17 years later, they’re about to celebrate their 21 st wedding anniversary. “I thought, I invested my time with this man and we have two kids. I worked through the denial, the anger, the hatred and I just tried to put it behind me.” But she hasn’t forgotten it — or let him. “Is there a smidgen of me that wouldn’t like to choke his neck? Yes. And I’ll carry that around for the rest of my life.” 8. She has a hidden agenda. Consider Hillary Clinton, who stiff-upper-lipped it through Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky because she had her own political aspirations: “She must have thought, It’s better to stay married because if I divorce, I’ll still have this albatross around my neck and I might not get what I want at the end,” says sex and relationship therapist Stephanie Buehler, Psy.D., director of the Buehler Institute in Irvine, Calif. This devil’s bargain can pay off, if you make it with eyes open and a clear head. It doesn’t work “when we stay out of fear or low self-esteem because that causes suffering,” Mackler says. When does it work? If there are benefits to staying and you feel good about them, she says. “Then who cares?”
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9. Infidelity could make the marriage stronger.
An ordeal like this could improve your relationship. If you’re both willing, therapists say, an affair can get you talking about those long-avoided issues – sex, money, careers, housework, emotional distance. “If there’s a foundation of friendship and love, you can use this crisis as an opportunity to understand what’s not working in the relationship and take some action to fix it,” Mackler says. That will take work and perhaps couples therapy, but in the end, you both may grow closer and your relationship stronger. And who wouldn’t stick around for that? Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, a frequent contributor to Lifescript, writes about health, relationships and sexuality for national magazines, including Marie Claire, Family Circle and Prevention.
How is it possible to cheat when you love your partner?
First, let’s understand that the human mind is masterful at rationalizing just about anything. (In How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie quotes mobster Al Capone as saying, “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.” Even his extensive involvement in organized crime is nothing that could not be justified to himself!)
Perhaps you and I have never been part of the mafia. But certainly we’ve done things we know are wrong and rationalized it along the way. (“That scratch was probably on that car already. I barely touched it with my door…”) It is a natural part of the human experience. And when powerful feelings like love or lust are the motivator, it’s not hard to imagine that someone could rationalize away the pain they may at the same time be causing someone else. (I am not by any means condoning such behavior; I am just laying out that since this is something many normal people do, it is possible for straying partners to do so as well.)
Let’s also recognize that temptation is powerful. Even if your relationship is a happy one, nobody is immune to it. It is normal human functioning to be attracted to other humans, to want to connect to others emotionally and sexually. Marriage doesn’t mean that you suddenly stop feeling those things for the rest of your life; it just means that you take it upon yourself not to pursue them for the rest of your life. People in committed relationships don’t suddenly find everyone else unattractive. It takes work and discipline to continually refocus yourself towards your partner.
When temptation comes around, the natural reaction is to feel the attraction. It is a conscious act that makes us turn away out of commitment to our partner. One who fails to do that may have transgressed the boundaries of the relationship, but it does not mean that the relationship wasn’t real to begin with. Love is not enough to stop the natural pull towards someone else – it takes forethought, grit, commitment, intellectual honesty – all kinds of qualities that can fail without it saying anything about the love that person feels towards you.
And, just as it is possible to feel sexually attracted to more than one person, it is possible to feel loving feelings towards more than one person. Anyone who has more than one child can attest to this! You don’t stop loving your firstborn when #2 comes along; you just add to the love you feel. It’s no different when the other person is an adult – you don’t necessarily stop loving one adult just because another came along. Human experience has room for adding love without diminishing from what was already there.
Relationship problems do sometimes lead to infidelity.
All this is in a relationship with no major problems! Every relationship encounters bumps in the road. There’s no such thing as a relationship where the partners never disagree, never fight, never mess up and say the wrong thing. Even people in good, loving marriages can have big fights and low periods. Relational breaches like these can open up space for a third party to squeeze in between beloved partners.
And certainly it is easy to grow apart as the years (or decades) go on, leading to feeling of emotional distance that is not synonymous with “falling out of love.” That feeling of distance breeds vulnerability to the attention of and connection with someone else. We can be very much in love, but if you’re busy with your projects and I’m busy with mine, and I’m not getting much attention from you, then the advances of someone at work can be a lot more alluring.
Then there is the obvious question of sexual issues in the relationship. I want to reemphasize that not every person who engages in extramarital sex is sexually unsatisfied in their marriage! People can be very happy with their sex life and still make the choice to cheat on their partner.
This can happen for any number of reasons. It could be that the affair was primarily emotional and simply progressed to a physical relationship without real intent (“one thing led to another”). It could be that the straying partner got pulled in by the excitement of something new. (Esther Perel and others have written at length about the challenge of maintaining newness in a long-term relationship; an affair provides feelings and experiences that are difficult, if not impossible, to recreate in a secure and stable long-term relationship.) It could be that they simply felt attracted to both their spouse and the affair partner at the same time. It could be that the person has a sexual addiction and cannot be satisfied with any quantity of sex! Again, there are many explanations that do not involve the absence or disappearance of love for their partner. (And again, none of this is to excuse the choice a person makes to violate the commitment of monogamy to their partner.)
All this said, yes, it is possible for someone to look elsewhere when sex is lacking or unsatisfying in their relationship. But this too is different from saying they couldn’t possibly love their partner. Two people can be very much in love but not be on the same page sexually and not know how to address that. (Couples counseling is a great way to gain the tools to deal with this kind of problem; sexual differences do not necessarily mean that two people are incompatible.) And a sexually frustrated partner who interacts daily with an attractive and interested coworker is at great risk for an affair.
None of this takes away from the fact that a huge breach has occurred in your relationship. None of this means you shouldn’t be hurt, or that your partner isn’t responsible for the choices they made.
What it does mean is that it’s very possible that your partner does truly love you. It’s possible that they made a colossal mistake not out of a lack of feelings for you but for any of the abovementioned reasons and many others. And it’s possible to repair your relationship and reclaim a loving, meaningful connection, if you want to.
I am sorry for the pain you are in right now. It can be overwhelming. But you don’t need to do this alone. Why risk letting things get worse? Get in touch with us to connect with an experienced professional who can guide you through this mess, whether it’s on your own or as a couple. Love can still win out.
Husbands Who Earn Less Than Wives Are More Likely To Cheat
Guys who make less than the women they love are more likely to stray.
Men who are financially dependent on their wives and live-in girlfriends are five times more likely to cheat than those who made the same amount of money, according to a study that looked at trends in infidelity.
But ladies, if your guy makes a lot less than you do, it doesn’t mean you should call off the wedding — or hire a private eye — just yet.
«Don’t take these results and panic and think they’re directly applicable to you and your relationship,» Christin Munsch, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Cornell University and author of the study, tells Shots.
Munsch says that each relationship is still unique, and infidelity remains a relatively uncommon occurrence. About 7 percent of men and 3 percent of women cheated in the study’s six-year period.
Nevertheless, Munsch says that the results may be counterintuitive. «It’s not exactly rational,» she says. «If you’re economically dependent on someone, you probably shouldn’t cheat on them.»
Well, matters of the heart rarely adhere to hard-boiled logic. When a man makes less than his female partner, the discrepancy can challenge «the traditional notion of men as breadwinners,» Munsch writes in her analysis of the results.
So some men may feel the need to prove their manliness on the sly. The trend is particularly strong in subgroups that may hold the idea of traditional masculinity in high regard, like Latino men, she found.
Women, on the other hand, were more faithful when they were financially dependent on their male partners.
In her research, Munsch looked at data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth taken from 2002 to 2007. She focused on married and cohabitating 18- to 28-year-olds who were together for longer than a year.
Freeloading men aren’t the only troublemakers. Munsch’s work, which was presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting on Monday, also found that men were more likely to cheat when they made a lot more than their partners.
The safest matches, Munsch says, are those where each person made the same amount of money, and those where the husband made a little more.
The study also found that the more often people attend religious services, the more education they have and more satisfied they are with their relationships, the less likely they are to cheat.
Now, we did wonder how much to trust the answers of people responding to survey questions about adultery. Munsch concedes people probably aren’t 100 percent honest about their infidelity. But the likelihood that some people failed to fess up about straying wouldn’t undercut the study.
In fact, she tells Shots, the ability to detect a relationship between financial dependence and infidelity — even with the limitations of a survey — gives her confidence it exists «in the real world.»
Her results haven’t been published, but she says she’ll submit them soon to a peer-reviewed journal.