Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why Do Women Cheat?

What's wrong with this picture?

Thea moves to a new city with her husband. Her husband settles into a job that requires long hours and high focus. Thea feels lonely and abandoned. Her husband has a full day of social contacts; she does not even have friends.

Her solution: she joins a website called Ashley Madison, whose purpose is to facilitate extramarital affairs. Of course, she succeeds in finding what she was looking for.

Analyzing Thea's situation, Tammy Worth opines on WebMD that Thea was looking for attention and affection. Her husband was so involved in his new job that he had been neglecting her. Link here.

See also this article from CafeMom site: link here. Via Instapundit.

Thus, her action is simply a reaction to her husband's increased distance. Given that he has a full life and she has an empty life, what's a girl to do?

Perhaps, she envies her husband his life; perhaps she resents the competition his new job presents; perhaps she blames him for taking her away from her friends and family. At some level, she seems to be trying to get back at him.

One should mention here, as the article does not, that if her husband discovers her affair, or even if he senses it, this will probably cause him no small amount of emotional turmoil. And this, in turn will make it more difficult for him to devote himself to his new job.

Just a thought.

Anyway, as I said: What's wrong with this picture?

First, if she is feeling lonely and bored, why doesn't she go out and get a job? And if she does not want to work, what prevents her from making new friends. Is she the only woman who is at home during the day in her neighborhood? Are there no possibilities for volunteering at local hospitals or involving herself in political activity?

If we remain within the parameters set by the article, these are the most obvious questions. And yet, they do not address the issue that the article does not mention, even in passing. The dog that didn't bark, the elephant in the room, is: why she does not think to have a child?

But then again, she may have a child or children. And the children might be at school all day. The article tells us nothing about this married couple's reproductive status.

About this question we can barely speculate. The article is so politically correct that it attempts, no matter what the cost, to eliminate the reproductive aspect of her decision-making.

We do not know why this couple does not have children, whether they want children, whether they can have children... and so on.

To say that what is missing from the marriage is an emotional connection is simply a convenient way to obfuscate the reproductive issue and, effectively, to blame her husband and his job.

Thanks to a poorly researched article we do not know the answers to any of these questions. We are left in the dark.

Let's take this occasion to remind ourselves of the basic Darwinian explanation for why women cheat. Amazingly, it is the one explanation that Tammy Worth does not bother to mention. Simply put, women cheat because they are looking for better genes.

Darwinian theory has an easy explanation for why men cheat: they want to produce the most offspring, to spread their genetic material far and wide.

It's not about-- the more the merrier-- the notion that the more there are the more likely are some to survive. That must have been the question at the dawn of humanity.

As we know, men are more likely to cheat because they can more easily walk away from the aftereffects of their actions.

But that feels like a truncated version of human reproductive psychology. Men are also programmed to protect and provide for their offspring. This means that they need to know whether said offspring are really theirs. Men who discover that their wives have tricked them into protecting and providing for a child that is not genetically theirs often react very badly.

As we know, and as Tammy Worth and her experts make clear, a woman who cheats is running a much higher risk than is a man. Biologically, a woman has much more difficulty walking away from the possible consequences of extramarital sex than does a man.

Thus, women are much more thoughtful about choosing when, where, and with whom to commit adultery.

Again, according to Darwinian theory, a woman is looking for the best genes, but she is also looking for a man who will stay around to protect and provide for her children. Thus, she will require an emotional connection, but she will also be attuned to evidence of good character in the men she might choose.

Yet, finding both in one man requires something of a compromise. A man's willingness to stay around and help care for children must involve his willingness to compromise of his impulse to spread his seed.

I would mention in passing that a woman might cheat with a man because he is physically prepossessing, but is not good husband material. The fact that he does not want to settle down does not make him unattractive.

A woman might feel that she is programmed to respond to such men. On the other hand, she will also feel an enduring sexual attraction to a man who is also trustworthy and reliable.

Sometimes a woman will marry a man who appears to be trustworthy and reliable, only to discover that he is not.

If so, she might feel a need to protect herself by looking elsewhere. If her husband is emotionally detached, she will read that as meaning that he is otherwise involved. Risking abandonment, she might well seek out a new man with better character.

Then again, if her husband is too attached to her, if he is too clingy, that might mean that he is compensating for his inability to provide for her and their children. Thus, she might be motivated to seek out a man who is a better provider. Then, she may look for a man who is emotionally more distant.

All of which to say that this issue is far more complicated than we imagine.

18 comments:

Deansdale said...

"she will also feel an enduring sexual attraction to a man who is also trustworthy and reliable."
I wouldn't call that sexual attraction, as evidenced by so many sexless marriages. What a typical married woman feels for her husband is an emotional bond which is actually _undermined_ by the lack of long-lasting sexual attraction.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I was trying to say that a woman will not be able to sustain her sexual attraction for her husband if she cannot trust him or has no confidence in him.

I do wonder how much sexlessness in marriage is produced by character flaws.

Granted there are couples who are unreliable but who compensate by using fighting as an aphrodisiac, but I believe that this tactic usually has a short shelf life.

Master Doh-San said...

"Let's take this occasion to remind ourselves of the basic Darwinian explanation for why women cheat. Amazingly, it is the one explanation that Tammy Worth does not bother to mention. Simply put, women cheat because they are looking for better genes."

Or perhaps it's simply because "modern" womyn refuse to accept responsibility for their own lives and seek to blame others for their situation.

Finding a job or volunteering somewhere would be a tacit acknowledgement of that responsibility for one's own life.

Marsh said...

Most women who have affairs don't have them b/c they go looking for one.

Are you familar w/ Dr. Harley's work on affairs? He says that everyone is capable of having one.

If you have poor boundaries and allow someone outside your marriage to meet your emotional needs, it is a slippery slope.

When someone meets your top emotional needs and make huge deposits into what he calls your love bank, you "fall in love."

Most marriages survive infidelity, although they don't usually recover from them. Dr. Harley has a program that has helped thousands of couples recover their marriages from the devasation of affairs.

Marsh said...

Also, Dr. Harley calls himself a coach, he does not use therapy to help couples recover their marriage.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

By all the evidence most women who have affairs do not seek them out.

But one needs to understand that a woman who finds herself compromising her marital vows is going to feel better about herself if she can say that it was an accident.

I didn't want to give the impression that many married women were looking for affairs, even though that impression was probably communicated through my choice of an article that opens with a wife getting bored and signing up for Ashley Madison.

Anonymous said...

Ideally - a woman is looking for a guy to provide alpha genes, as well as hot sex and a feeling of adventure, and a nice schlub of a beta to hang out and provide support, once the alpha genes have been procured.

Marsh said...

"But one needs to understand that a woman who finds herself compromising her marital vows is going to feel better about herself if she can say that it was an accident."

That's true. Those are the types of women who won't recover their marriages. Even though they may stay married.

"To say that what is missing from the marriage is an emotional connection is simply a convenient way to obfuscate the reproductive issue and, effectively, to blame her husband and his job."

Yes, it is. Each spouse is 50% responsible for the condition of their marriage prior to the affair. However, the cheater is 100% responsible for the affair.

If the wife was unhappy she should have voiced her unhappiness to her husband, sought MC, or chosen divorce.

"As we know, men are more likely to cheat because they can more easily walk away from the aftereffects of their actions."

I think when most people cheat they do so b/c they think they can get away w/ it. I don't think they begin affairs thinking about how they can get out of their marriages if need be. At least not at the beginning of an affair.

Marsh said...

Anonymous said...
"Ideally - a woman is looking for a guy to provide alpha genes, as well as hot sex and a feeling of adventure, and a nice schlub of a beta to hang out and provide support, once the alpha genes have been procured."

Most women's top emotional needs are conversation and affection. Anyone who can meet those two needs will win a woman's heart.

How else do you think it is possible for the geekiest of men to hook super models types?

Marsh said...

"Biologically, a woman has much more difficulty walking away from the possible consequences of extramarital sex than does a man.

Thus, women are much more thoughtful about choosing when, where, and with whom to commit adultery."

I don't believe this. Most people who have affairs, don't begin them thinking about leaving their marriages. Otherwise, why hide the affair?

Also, most wayward spouses "affair down" when they choose someone to cheat w/. Someone who is willing to cheat w/ a married person have a low moral character to begin w/.

The "other people" are usually people the wayward spouse would never have considered dating if they were single.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Most women's top emotional needs are conversation and affection. Anyone who can meet those two needs will win a woman's heart.

That is feminist, PC drivel. My husband is a man of few words, is affectionate some of the time but not excessively so, and I don't feel neglected in any way nor do I feel starved for conversation and affection.

What women need to do is grow up. Marriage is not the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. It is wonderful for those mture enough to appreciate what marriage is meant to be: two people loving each other in spite of their faults, working together to overcome life's challenges and enjoy it's triumphs.

Oh yes, and you have to be able to live without sleep for 3 months straight every couple of years once the babies start coming and have a sense of humor about it.

Marsh said...

"That is feminist, PC drivel. My husband is a man of few words, is affectionate some of the time but not excessively so, and I don't feel neglected in any way nor do I feel starved for conversation and affection."

Well, perhaps your top emotional needs are different than most women's.

However, there is a reason why the number one complaint from wives is that their husbands don't talk to them enough.

Just as there is a reason why most husband's number one complaint is that their wives don't want to have sex enough.

Sexual fullfillment and recreation are the two top emotional needs of most men.

If I want to make my husband feel loved. I know which needs of his I need to focus on.

Isn't the ideal marriage one in which both people are in love? And enjoying a passionate marriage?

Obviously, there are times in a marriage (like illness or other difficulties) when it is not possible to meet your partner's top needs.

But, when we can, shouldn't we want to?

Anonymous said...

Of course, if he came home at 5pm, then wanted sex afterwards, she would have a headache or whatever ailment that seems to be in vogue.-Norm

globalman100 said...

"All of which to say that this issue is far more complicated than we imagine."
Nope. It's not ciomplicated. Women cheat because they can and no-one will hold them accountable for this action any more. When a woman cheats it's because HEs not fullfilling her needs and she deserves to have her needs fulfilled. When HE cheats it's because he's a low life scumbag.

How about you report what is accurate? It's not rocket science to see that when there is no punishment for pleasurable behavior women will do it. They have no self control.

ViviVenci said...

Woman do have self control, hence why not every woman cheats when they have ample opportunity to. It's how one considers the boundaries that result in "lack of self control". The same goes for men, men cheat to, for similar reasons, but it's considered worse in many cases and that's just how it is.

Anonymous said...

because it is in their nature to cheat. most of these women that cheat are filthy pigs anyway.

Marcia said...

What namely you are writing is a horrible mistake.

Irma said...

Pretty helpful data, lots of thanks for your post.