Do women and men cheat for different reasons?


Fact Box

  • Relationship experts claim that there are four different types of cheating: physical cheating (“sexual or physically intimate acts”), emotional cheating (“sharing intimate details about your life or marriage”), e-cheating (seeking out connection and relationships “over social networks, dating sites, email, or text”), and mental cheating (when the feelings you have for a fantasy “make it difficult to focus on your current relationship”).
  • According to a Health Testing Centers poll, 54.5% of relationships ended immediately after one person admitted to cheating. 
  • The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy reports that 57% of men and 54% of women cheat on their significant others at some point in their lives.
  • An Institute for Family Studies report revealed that men in their 70s were most likely to cheat.

Maha (Yes)

While both men and women cheat, several studies show that their reasons for two-timing their partners may differ. 

According to a Superdrug Online Doctor study, women are more likely to be emotional cheaters. For American female respondents, the top reason to cheat or consider an affair was that their partners neglected them. In second place was that the person they cheated with was more 'there' for them than their current partner. As for American males, their motivation to cheat was based more on physicality, as the main reasons men cheat are because someone else was 'really hot' or because other people hit on them. It wasn't until the third reason down the list that both men and women agreed to cheat: for having doubts about their current relationship. 

Another study reveals women may also cheat for sexual reasons, yet their motives differ from men even then— noticing someone who is “really hot” isn’t enough. According to Alicia Walker, Ph.D., unsatisfied women who feel constrained and disempowered by their role of dutiful wife 'outsource sexual pleasure.' That way, they can fulfill their needs while saving their relationships with their primary partners and families.

Further, despite the obvious differences between animals and people, evolution may also be used to explain the genders' varying reasons for cheating. David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton claim that males in the animal kingdom are indiscriminate about who they mate with due to their reproductive capacities. Meanwhile, females are more likely to 'cheat' with healthier, more eligible mates. 

Regardless of why women or men cheat, both must deal with the aftermath of their choices. And the guilt about infidelity is definitely the same irrespective of the adulterer's sex. 

Davon (No)

When people admit their reasons for being disloyal to their significant others, every answer will vary; however, in the grand scheme of things, both men and women cheat for a few core reasons.

One reason involves something being wrong with their current relationship. Kelly Campbell from Psychology Today shares that relationships with dissatisfaction are at high risk for infidelity. Some examples of dissatisfaction include lack of sexual chemistry, inauthentic feelings (because some relationships exist purely out of fear of being alone), or emotional incompatibility. 

Another reason could tie into insecurities. When someone has already experienced a relationship where their partner cheated on them, the feelings from such an event can linger for a while. And sometimes, the emotions can carry over into their next relationship. They may fear being cheated on again, and they'll cheat first to avoid being hurt first. 

Lack of essential communication is another primary reason both men and women cheat, as ineffective communication can lead to disengagement and apathy. Sometimes, it can even lead to more violent scenarios like yelling, manipulation, or fighting. Although breaking up would be the healthier option, sometimes the idea of being single doesn't sit well with people. Cheating fills a void for people who aren't getting their needs met in their current relationship. 

While the reasons for cheating generally fall into one of these main categories, no matter the gender, studies by the Institute for Family Studies show that men are more likely to cheat. However, regardless of who cheats more, all cheaters cheat for reasons that could be fixed by better communication, working through insecurities, or leaving a relationship that is no longer working.

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