From the glance you might take at women’s magazines while you are standing in line at the supermarket, it seems that from a female perspective, men are the only ones who cheat. However, the number of women who are having affairs is increasing, and there is some indication that they may be more skilled at getting away with affairs than men are. Just as men and women often look for different things in relationships, they may also cheat for different reasons. In addition, the tactics women use to hide their affairs are likely to be different from those used by men. If the affair is discovered, many men recognize the signs in retrospect, but of course, it is better to be proactive and catch them early in the game.
The Stereotype Versus Reality
If media is any guide, men cheat in greater numbers than women, but for the last two decades, the gap has been growing narrower. It is estimated that 20 percent of men cheat, but women are reaching a rate of 15 percent. It has also been shown that women can be more skilled at covering over their affairs than men. One reason could be because of social perceptions. Since the increasingly incorrect conventional wisdom says that men are more likely to cheat than women, many men do not see the signs or the trail that a woman leaves that shows signs of trouble. Men cheating is more expected and may cause women to be more suspicious of their partners and men to be more complacent about their female partners.
Do Men and Women Cheat for Different Reasons?
A guy gets drunk at a party and hooks up with a woman for a hot and heavy encounter in a spare room. Of course, it was a dumb thing to do, the attached guy thinks, but he doesn’t feel there is anything wrong with it since it was just physical and it was what it was. Women, on the hand, often cheat to fill an emotional void and because there isn’t enough love and nurturing in the relationship. This is what the TV shows would have you believe, but the reality is more complicated. Women can also cheat if it is “just sex,” and men who are in an emotionally arid marriage may find fulfillment through an affair. So don’t assume that because things seem fine on an emotional level that she won’t go for a physical fling because women “don’t do that.” She can and she might.
What to Look out For
One of the biggest signs that your female partner may be cheating on you is if the relationship has become emotionally distant. You may not be able to pin it down to an actual cause but may notice that your wife, fiancé or girlfriend is more closed than she used to be and that you don’t feel as close. You may not be fighting and in fact, she might be more polite than usual, which could be a sign that she is covering over an affair, or at least, that she is overcompensating for something that is sorely lacking.
Another sign is if she seems suddenly autonomous or distracted. The operative word is “suddenly.” You might love and admire her for her independent attitude, but if it has gotten to the point where she doesn’t seem to care what you do, then it may be time to be worried. Distraction can be pinned down to many causes, from family problems to some tough times at work, but if combined with other factors, it is worth paying attention to.
If she used to think in terms of “we” and now talks about “me,” that may be cause for concern. Again, independence is a wonderful trait, but changes that come out of the blue can be suspicious. If she suddenly feels protective of her mobile devices and privacy and wasn’t before or suddenly doesn’t seem to have time for things she did regularly before and is less interested in going out and spending time with you, even doing activities she loved, it may be likely that she is having an affair.
Of course, it doesn’t pay to be too suspicious. Any of the above signs could be explained away by something else, such as a crisis she doesn’t want to bother you with, or at the darker end of the scale, substance abuse or mental health issues. However, you notice sudden changes, it is worthwhile to follow up on it, even if it isn’t an issue of an affair.
What Do You Do?
Of course, even without these signs, some men can feel it in their gut when their wives or girlfriends are cheating. It may be just an emotional affair or sexting on the internet, but in an otherwise secure relationship, even these can be violations. Your gut may be a compulsively jealous gut, so watch the tendency to be too hasty. If you were certain she was having an affair in the past and were wrong, there may be a good chance that you are wrong again, but you could also be correct.
Once you feel pretty certain she is having an affair, the question is how and when to confront her. You may be tempted to get proof by gaining access to her text messages, but this could compromise your integrity, which is not something to do when confronting someone with infidelity. Give her a chance to admit or deny the affair. If it turns out that you were correct, it is up to both of you to decide whether the relationship can be repaired or whether you should go your separate ways. This is the time a counselor can help you sort out what should be done next, how to affect a relatively uncomplicated breakup or to repair the situation and continue the relationship.