The John Edwards scandal shows how infidelity is easier for men.
Why is it that we so often hear about high profile men cheating, but we rarely hear about women doing so? Perhaps it's because societal structure combined with differing motivations for infidelity mean it's simply easier for men to cheat.
John Edwards was supposed to be one of the good guys – he seemed like the kind of husband who'd clean up around the house and take his wife to chemo. But it turns out he was yet another married man lying about an affair (with Rielle Hunter, a woman who produced his campaign videos) and he only came clean after being cornered by the media. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, already knew about his mistress when the news broke and she has stuck by his side throughout the scandal. Why is it that we so often hear about high profile men cheating, but we rarely hear about women doing so? Perhaps it's because societal structure combined with differing motivations for infidelity mean it's simply easier for men to cheat.
Despite knowing that men stray, not to mention the oft-repeated statistic that most marriages end in divorce, women still put time and energy into making relationships work, especially when compared with men. There's no doubt that dudes today are more invested in their relationships than they were in cavemen times, but their commitment doesn't create mega-hits like Sex and the City, a show about four women talking about men, or reading articles like "The Secret Girlfriend Weapon," which details psychological tricks to improve your couple bond, or "How To Emerge From a Fight More in Love," actual articles from Cosmopolitan.com, whose print version is the top-seller on newsstands. By putting so much of their time and energy into the fairy-tale idea that relationships can be perfect, women set themselves up to be disappointed--or to at least look like big losers--when their man has an affair.
Luckily, the statistics show that we aren't as naïve as all that. Women are only seven percent less likely to cheat than men, according to a study released this week from the University of New Hampshire. All the unmarried twenty-something women I interviewed for this piece turned out to be cheaters who'd rarely been cheated on. Lauren S., 25, has fooled around in three of her serious relationships. With one guy, she says, "I was uncomfortable with him physically, and I felt smothered. He didn't let me be my full self. So when he went out of town for a few weeks I went to a party and ended up crashing in a bed with some other guy, and cheated." While she felt guilty, and her boyfriend forgave her, Lauren broke up with him a few months later for the same reasons that drove her to cheat in the first place. Cynthia, 28, has also strayed repeatedly. "But I do it at the end of relationship, when it's all but over anyway, and then I have to break up," she says.
In an MSN.com/iVillage survey of 70,000 people, taken last year, female respondents were twice as likely to use an affair to get out of a relationship. They also cheated to find a better emotional connection or to be with someone who made them feel sexy and wanted. Men, on the other hand, said they cheat for sex--more sex, better sex, variety of sex. Sex, sex, sex.