Sharon spent two years observing as her husband's emotions drifted farther away. Like a developing cancer, she noticed the early warning signs. Late nights at the office became more frequent, as did the unavoidable business trips. When not at the office or traveling, he needed more time to unwind, more boys' nights out, more work related lunches and dinners, and basically, more time away from her.
Soon she began noticing strange charges on the credit card bills, the scent of another woman's perfume on his clothes, and secretive "work related" calls that came at odd hours. She tried everything to regain his interest. Working out at the gym, sexy lingerie, candlelight dinners, but nothing seemed to work. It took a while for her to admit it to herself, but she was still unable to get him to confess that he was having an extramarital affair.
He was a good father to their two boys when was around, always ready to play catch or toss the football. And he frequently brought her flowers and gifts back from his trips, in the beginning. Now, he just complains about he tired he is, and shows little interest in initiating sex, unlike the first four years of their marriage when he couldn't keep his hands off of her.
Then one day she met the nicest guy while working out. He was pleasant with a great personality, easy to talk to, and complimented her efforts in the gym. She found herself making it a point to get to the gym when she knew he would be there. She enjoyed his company, and his attention, and by the time he invited her out for coffee at a nearby Starbucks, she had already made up her mind that she was going to have an affair.
A Growing Trend in Extramarital Affairs
Sharon is not unusual. Infidelity is no longer just a man's dirty little secret. Women have now gained equal standing in their marriages, and are proving that it is no longer business as usual when it comes to extramarital affairs. Men have long been known to be less faithful in marriages than women, but women have quickly made up for lost time by exploring new emotional opportunities outside of their marriages.
Recent statistics indicate that more and more married women are having affairs. Some researchers believe that between 45 and 65 percent of married women have participated in some level of infidelity during some point in their marriages. The numbers are misguiding because fewer women admit to affairs than men, but it's no doubt that women's views about cheating have changed over the past 50 years.
Why Women Are Cheating
There is never a legitimate reason for married couples to be unfaithful in their relationships. But where men seem to commit adultery more out of available opportunity and curiosity, women tend to blame abuse, emotional abandonment, and believe it or not, revenge for their extramarital encounters.
In her book, "Undressing Infidelity: Why More Women Are Cheating", Diane Shader Smith interviewed 150 female adulterers to find out what made them abandon their marital vows to enter into relationships outside of their marriages. She found that the actual reasons for cheating were as varied as the women interviewed, but that most were actually looking for something that their marriages didn't provide.
Who Are Women Cheating With?
Smith found that some women were in search of greater self esteem, some were in search of more passionate relationships, some women simply enjoyed the excitement of risk, while some women cheated because they became emotionally attached to men outside of their marriage. What is most interesting is that the women ranged from corporate executives, to a Midwestern school teacher, making it difficult to develop a preconceived idea about who might, or who might not cheat.
Women appear to be more particular about who they cheat with than men. Most women feel that they have to develop a comfort level with a man before committing to him sexually. For women, infidelity is less likely to be about a one night stand. Women prefer instead to have an emotional encounter. But while some women cheat with men who have similar characteristics as their husbands, most women gravitate towards someone completely different.
For many women, cheating leads to the fulfillment of a fantasy. They seek out men who provide an escape from the reality of their day-to-day lives. Cheating allows exploration in areas that may be taboo in their relationships with their husbands, but perfectly allowable in their extramarital relationships. They explore sexual variety, spontaneity, intensity, and even risk in fulfilling the curiosity of their affairs.
But cheating is never the solution to marital problems. It causes more feelings of guilt and anxiety in women than it does in men, and though statistics show that women are less likely to be caught cheating, they are just as likely as men to admit an affair when confronted. Extramarital affairs always have repercussions, and the fallout can be greater for women than it is for men.