I write a lot about relationships, including the hopeful beginnings of partnerships (the honeymoon period) and how to keep romance alive and well.
One of the more destructive issues of relationships that I commonly hear about in my therapy sessions, especially when working with married couples, is the unnerving matter of cheating.
In fact, I’m hearing more and more about cheating, in my practice, the media, and from various people I meet.
I was recently checking out one study (Buss and Shackelford), which stated that about 30 to 60 percent of all married people in the U.S. will cheat at some point in their marriage.
That’s a staggering figure!
Now, I think I have a fairly good grasp on some of the basic reasons why men and women betray each other:
To feel wanted…
To feel cared for…
To feel acknowledged…
To feel respected…
To feel adored…
To have better sex…
To feel less bored…
To experience the excitement and novelty of a new connection with another…
The bottom line?
TO BE WITH SOMEONE ELSE OTHER THAN THEIR PARTNER!
Cheating & gender – some questions
But, I’ve been specifically wondering, without undue judgment, about cheating and gender.
It has me asking questions, mainly because I think the possible answers may have a direct bearing on the dynamics of today’s relationships, marital and otherwise.
Some of these questions:
Who’s really doing the cheating, these days?
Are men and women cheating in equal numbers?
Are men cheating more on the women, or vice versa?
Are women cheating more than men?
Are women more susceptible to cheating, by virtue of things like expanding work roles and more movement “out there” in society?
Here’s some of my thoughts on the issue:
Women are out there more
Women are more involved with society – they’re out there working and socializing more, which gives them greater access to available (and not so available) men.
And with this increased involvement and greater societal circulation, there’s simply more chance for cheating.
Social media and the internet
Have you checked out websites that make cheating so accessible, like AshleyMadison.com?
Or maybe you’ve read some of the hot and heavy communication happening on social media sites lately?
Who needs Peyton place when you have the internet?
With a simple click, cheating has never been so easy!
Better finances = more options
There’s no question that women have a greater ability to make money than in “the old days”, when they were routinely relegated to the kitchen. After all, back in the optimistic 50’s, Mrs. Cleaver never paid the bills; Ward did!
In today’s presumably less patriarchal society, women have the option to make money and financially take care of themselves, without having to rely on a man for support.
With more financial options, getting out of a bad relationship or ending a marriage, is less of a hassle and more of a realistic option for more and more women.
When there’s more options, there’s more choice.
And with more choice, there’s more opportunities to cheat.
Since the 70’s, we’ve lived in the “me generation,” which still is the case today.
We want what we want, and if love doesn’t measure up, or we fall out of love, we bolt – we just split the scene.
If we’re not happy with our partner, we can simply get a divorce, with none of that old time stigma hanging over our heads.
Let’s face it: in today’s hi-tech world, both men and women can easily, and more equally, find another more satisfying hook-up.
A new love is always just around the corner – or so we think.
We live in a culture where love is overly romanticized and routinely idealized. Just check out the media, the movies, and our favorite fairy tales.
Little girls’ skewed version of love didn’t emerge from nowhere. Just look at the toy industry and what they typically characterize as true love. It’s more like pure fantasy, marketed in the plasticized form of needy princesses and overly-protective princes – but always with a happy ending.
So when this learned and internalized form of love doesn’t pan out, we dissatisfied adults begin to look everywhere for what we think true love is all about, which isn’t true at all!
The resulting disappointment, combined with things like the relative ease of divorce, has undoubtedly, and unfortunately, led to more cheating.
We live longer
You wouldn’t think that the fact that we’re living longer has much to do with cheating, but it just might.
Because it’s a lot more challenging to stay partnered up for decades upon decades (let alone at all!) in today’s fast-paced and time-pressured world.
And with all these challenges of staying together and keeping a long-term relationship fresh and exciting, it would logically follow that there would be more time and opportunities for both genders to cheat on each other.
Are men or women more satisfied in their partnerships?
Sorry ladies, but statistically, it seems that men are.
Studies show that men are generally happier with their relationships then women.
Hard to say.
But, that’s a whole other issue for another day and another blog!
With more women in the workplace, increasingly acting as the sole “providers,” and men tending to stick around the home more, this modern role reversal has definitely had its consequences.
Is it possible that this contemporary phenomenon has created feelings of resentment among women, to the point where they’re more likely to cheat on their supposedly more contented male partners?
With the media and all those images of beautiful men and women constantly shown to us, we tend to have very high, perhaps too high, expectations, when it comes to who we choose to love.
We become easily disappointed with our partners, instead of accepting their imperfections and choosing to “hang in there with them,” without the necessity to find fulfillment elsewhere.
Then again, maybe we need to accept our own imperfections and challenges, before blaming our partners, as a justification or excuse to cheat outside the relationship.
The normalization of casual sex
Is casual sex becoming more acceptable to both genders, especially to women?
Is casual sex becoming normalized?
All those torrid T.V. shows and fleshy flicks would have us thinking that!
Or, do most women still want to be emotionally connected to the person they choose to make love with?
I would hope that it’s generally the latter…
So, there it is; just a few of my own brief thoughts about cheating and gender.
Something to think about, huh?
If you have some thoughts of your own on the subject of cheating, please leave your comments in the section below. Now, be honest, and for god sakes, don’t cheat! Also, to learn more about contemporary relationship issues, check out more of the articles on this website, as well as my book.