Written by Tunde Ajaja - Nigeria
While many believe that men have an unrivalled reputation for being unfaithful and for representing whatever infidelity stands for when it comes to relationship and marriage a new study has revealed that women are bigger cheats than men. The study also shows is a narrowing gap between men and women when it comes to infidelity. The study claims women are catching up fast in the game of cheating, adding that they are more likely to lie about it and a lot less likely to get caught. Simply put, it seems women are better at having extra-marital affairs than men.
A 2010 survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago, United States, found that the percentage of wives admitting to extramarital affairs rose by almost 40 per cent over the last two decades, even though women behave differently from men when they cheat.
Beyond the revelation by the NORC's data, some researchers had 918 men and women fill out an online questionnaire on whether or not they have cheated on their partners and why they did it. The result revealed that 19 per cent of women admitted to straying outside their relationships. It was further revealed that while men still outpace women, seeing the numbers on the rise for both sexes was alarming for the researchers.
Some of the women noted that it was not just attractive men that lure them from their relationships, but rather, they were led astray because of their discontent with their relationships. The study stressed that the most common reasons for infidelity include feeling lonely and disconnected from one's partner, lack of communication, love and attention deficit, boredom, sexual disconnect or lack of intimacy.
The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, found that women who experienced any of these coupled with their high-fertility period were significantly more likely to find fault with their partners, therefore looking for comfort elsewhere.
In a separate study by Dr. David Holmes, a psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University in England, he found that women are having more affairs than ever, even as much as they may be lagging in equal pay with men or less dominant in politics like men. The study revealed that women are more psychologically sophisticated, which helps them to be better liars and cheat their spouses with lesser stress.
Holmes said, "Women are also better at mental multi-tasking. You can keep all the different strands of a lie in your mind, remember them and make them convincing. Men lie, too, but they are much more likely to forget something, or make a mistake and get caught. Emotionally, women make plans and have strategies, while men are more impulsive.
"When men have affairs, they tend to be bigger risk-takers and naÃ¯ve about how obvious their cheating is to an emotionally astute partner. They will also be bursting to tell someone about it. Men have more 'trophy affairs' than women. They will often want to brag about it, or be so taken up by the sexual thrill of the affair that their behaviour is a giveaway. Women, on the other hand, are much more cool and rational, even when they are in the grip of passion."
This probably explains why men who have extra marital affairs are eager to tell friends about their escapades, pushing their exploits too far until they leave a clue or get caught by their wives or anyone else who should not have been in the know. On the other hand, it seems, biologically, women are programmed to be more careful about revealing an infidelity than men who would rather brag about it until they are caught.
Holmes noted further that women often keep the secret because they're much more conscious of how much there is to lose, and to protect the other people involved, hence, they compartmentalise their emotional lives and don't let the affair bleed into the rest of their lives.
"Whenever we question men about fidelity," says Dr. Holmes, "they will very often admit to their affairs. But if you then ask the same men if they think their wives or girlfriends have had affairs, too, they will be shocked at the very thought, or laugh and call it ridiculous."
In other words, men want to think their women don't cheat, and women want men to think they don't cheat. No wonder women are better at secret affairs.
"The biggest difference is that women are much better at keeping their affairs secret. If you look at the studies into paternity, even conservative figures show that between eight and 15 per cent of children haven't been fathered by the man who thinks he's the biological parent," he added.
In the words of Dr. Hokemeyer, a family and addictions therapist, there are three main factors driving more and more wives to cheat; women have become more financially independent, social stigmas have been lifted and attitudes about women engaging in sex have changed.
Hokemeyer explained that it is easier for women to cheat because they keep a lot of secrets, making sure that no one else knows, while bearing in mind the 11th commandment, 'don't get caught.'
Interestingly, when studies about sexual partners or fidelity use a mixture of face-to-face interviews and anonymous computer questionnaires, men will give the same answers to both, but women will report much higher numbers when the answers are anonymous.
An enquiry by these researchers from the women who affirmed that they once cheated revealed that lying about their external affairs may be a good way to cover their acts.
"Why do women lie? Because we must, and because we can. In spite of apparent equality and a more sexually open society, we are still more harshly judged for our sex lives than men.
"In fact, we lie so much and for so many reasons that often we don't even think of it as lying at all, but as 'relationship management,'" they said.
Another survey of 3000 people found that women are more likely to cheat than men. The poll, taken by British dating firm, Coffee & Company, showed that while nine per cent of men were certain they'd be unfaithful if they fell for somebody else, a whopping 25 per cent of female respondents said they would definitely have an affair if an outsider pleased their interest.
The survey said many look for love elsewhere out of feelings of neglect or when emotionally undervalued, and if sex becomes boring and predictable, women may wander away to find someone else who can spice things up. Humans have a natural proclivity to move toward what feels good.
Needless to say that a number of men place a higher value on the fidelity of their wives which seems to produce a strange kind of emotional blindness in many men once they have selected a partner to settle down with, no wonder women with intention to cheat do so unsuspected.
According to Winifred Reilly, a marriage and family therapist, there are many reasons for infidelity such as revenge, boredom, the thrill of sexual novelty, sexual addiction, but that most of the time, motivations for such differ by gender, with men searching for more sex or care and attention and women looking to fill an emotional void, say attention and affection.
"I don't think women are doing it because they want to have more sex. But I don't think they mind if they get it. It is not really about sex per se as much as the experience of being with somebody," Reilly said.
Reacting to the study, a psychologist, Dr. (Mrs.) Bonke Omoteso, said she would agree with the findings of the study because it appears acceptable for men to cheat and have many girlfriends which women would dare not do, hence, if they have to do it, it would be done discreetly.
She said, "We have even heard stories that there are children born into some households and the husband won't be the real father, which is a result of cheating on the part of women. So, it is likely for women but they do it secretly such that their husbands would not get to know."
However, Omoteso said apart from women who have psychological problem, the reason why women would cheat varies, ranging from revenge, economic purpose to psychological mania.
"The wife may want to do it because the man is also doing it. She could do it to raise money if the husband is not taking proper care of her and probably the children and if women feel too lonely as a result of neglect by the husband, they may look for a way out for themselves.
"However, we have some women who have psychological problems, in which case they can't be okay with one man, so they have to cheat on their husbands."