Women are partners in affairs. For
those who believe women are intrinsically more faithful
than men, current research shows that women engage in
intercourse with multiple partners as readily as men when
they have the freedom and opportunity.
A woman's sexuality has often been more feared than
celebrated. In many cultures only women, not men, can be
adulterers. Despite all the constraints and punishments,
women have affairs.
Women are usually insightful about their affairs, knowing
exactly why they wan a lover. Contemporary women areas
sexually active outside their marriages as their
foremothers, probably more so.
Surveys indicate that the percentage of women who have
extramarital sex has increased during the last three
decades. Not only has the number of women who have
affairs increased, the age at which they have their first
affair has decreased. In the 1950'sand 1960's, women had
their first affair during their 30's and 40's. During the
1970's and 1980's, the highest rate of infidelity was
among women between ages 26 and 30. Now, in the 1990's,
women start affairs in their early 20's.
do women have affairs
Women have affairs for their own emotional gratification.
They say their affairs enhance their self-esteem by
giving them positive feedback, both physically and
The women survey described their affairs as
"fun," "casual," "a chance to
know someone," or "just an affair." About
20% became involved in affairs just for sex. Dr. Ralph
Meyering, Professor Emeritus at Illinois State
University, notes "Married women seem to see
extramarital sex as something quite different from sex
with their husbands. In sex outside their marriages,
women appear to feel freer to repudiate their repressions
and explore their preferences."
Other reasons women have affairs include loneliness, the
desire for adventure or experience, looking for a new
husband or because their friends have affairs. Only 7%
7 Reasons Women Have Affairs
||She enjoys the attention and
compliments about her abilities as well as her
||New and varied sexual experience
||She feels freer to experiment
and explore with a lover than with her husband
||she desires emotional closeness
||she needs someone to talk with
who will listen to her
||Deeper understanding of self
||she learns from exploring her
feelings and thoughts with someone who cares for
||Feel younger and sexier
||her lover's desire for her
sexually makes her feel playful and free
||fear of aging
||she is afraid getting older will
eliminate her attractiveness to men
are not swept off their feet
Contrary to the romantic notion, women are not
"swept off their feet" when they become
involved in an affair. In fact women are thoughtful. A
1982 study by Lynn Atwater, Ph.D., indicates that half
the women she surveyed knew their affair partner for
several months before beginning the affair; the other
half knew them for a year or more. On average, they
considered having an affair for at least a month before
it began and usually discussed the possibility with a
When asked who initiated their affair, one-fourth of the
women said they initiated it and half said it was mutual.
Men unilaterally initiated fewer than one-fourth of the
are not consumed by romantic love
Women consider romance to be important in both marriage
and affairs. However, over 80% say they care for their
lover or consider him a friend but are not "in
love" with him. Women seek emotional involvement in
their affairs, but also limit the level of their
While sex occurs in most affairs, communication is a
feature women value highly. Women want someone to talk to
and confide in. Men are more verbally expressive with
their lovers than with their wives.
Women Prefer Married Men
Married women tend to have affairs with married men -
rather than with single men - for several reasons.
Married women and married men have a similar amount of
discretionary time available. While much of their time
may be committed to their families, both can secretly
take a few hours to be together during the day, in the
evening or on the weekend. Married women believe married
men will not become overly dependent on them, that they
won't tell and that they are less likely to have a
sexually transmitted disease.
Wives believe this type of relationship adds to the
stability of their marriage. They also believe their
married lovers will be faithful to them.
Women who are employed full-time outside the home are
more likely to have an affair than full-time homemakers.
Travis and Sadd reported that 47% of wives who were
employed full-time and 27% of full-time homemakers had
been involved in an affair before they were 40 years old.
New Woman magazine found that 57% of employed
wives who had an affair met their lover at work. The idea
that women can subsidize an ailing marriage with an
affair seldom works out. The contrast with a more caring
relationship, in fact, makes the marriage unbearable.
are more likely to have sex during ovulation, but....
Women are more likely to have intercourse during
ovulation with their lover but not with their husband.
Bellis and Baker found that there was no pattern to women
having sex with their steady partners, but that sex on
the side peaked at the height of the women's monthly
fertility cycles. Several evolutionary psychologists
suggest that this willingness of a woman to mate with and
bear children with a man other than her husband is a
primitive biological drive to keep her gene pool diverse
and healthier and to ensure the woman additional
resources should her primary mate disappear.
The sexual drives women feel while they are ovulating can
easily lead to unwanted pregnancy. U.S. News &
World Report states, "Studies of blood typing
show that as many as 1 out of every 10 babies born in
North America is not the offspring of the mother's