Are You Doomed To Cheat?

woman cheating golf

Science says some women are more likely to stray than others.

In the game of love, few moves are more damaging than cheating. And yet, according to one recent survey, 25 percent of women say they'd be willing to cheat if someone piqued their interest (only 9 percent of men said the same thing). Women More Likely To Cheat Than Men, According To Science

Studies have found that some women are at greater risk of straying than others. Powerful people, for instance, are more likely to cheat,  according to reseach in the journal Psychological Science. "We found that power increases infidelity mainly because it increases feelings of confidence," says study author Joris Lammers of Tillburg University in the Netherlands. 

That correlation between power and infidelity explains why more men cheat than women, says The Secrets of Happily Married Women author Scott Haltzman. When it comes to office politics, men are in power more often. Haltzman adds that testosterone may also be a factor. "Researchers believe that powerful people have more testosterone. It's correlated with drive and a desire to dominate. Simply being in power can increase testosterone levels."

So making it to the executive suite may actually raise a woman's testosterone. Add to that the larger network of men at the top and work travel that creates opportunities, and suddenly Ms. CEO is at greater risk of cheating than her cubicle-dwelling employee. Study Says Power Leads Both Men And Women To Cheat

Timing plays a part, too. Women report greater attraction to men who aren't their partners when they're in the ovulatory phase of their cycle (the most fertile time of the month, which falls 15-18 days before menstruation), according to a study conducted at the University of California. But only if the new potential partners were more sexually attractive than the primary partner. "This fits with a much larger body of literature that has demonstrated that at high fertility the features that women find most attractive shift toward features that are expected to be indicators of good genes (e.g. symmetry) whereas at low fertility they place relatively greater emphasis on more relationship-related qualities," says study author Elizabeth G. Pillsworth. In other words, there's a science to your fondness for a fine genetic specimen like George Clooney at certain times of the month.

And here's a doozy: One study found that women with prominent chins are more promiscuous and thus potentially more likely to cheat.Attention Ladies: Here's What Your Chin Says About Your Libido

While Haltzman notes that this too may be related to testosterone levels, none of these studies truly explain, or excuse, the decision to cheat. "What bothers me about those studies is that having affairs is a complicated experience," Haltzman says. "It's a combination of emotional and biological needs being met or not being met. [The findings of these studies] may create biological pushes to reproduce. They may cause higher sex urges. But that doesn’t necessarily mean women are going to cheat."

Just because women may be more emotionally inclined to cheat during fertile times doesn’t make them more likely to cheat in real life, Pillsworth says.

Are you at risk of cheating? Take the quiz below. If you’re answering "yes" to any or all of the questions, back off your flirtation, stat. "The best way to prevent this type of emotional connection from developing into an affair is to break off relationships with that person," says Haltzman.

At the same time, talk to your partner about the attraction—and the issues that may be causing you to look elsewhere. "When you remove the mystery and intrigue from a possible affair, it loses some of its attractiveness. This is not an easy conversation, to be sure. But remember that it will be a much easier conversation than one that takes place after an affair has started," says Haltzman.

Whatever you do, don't dismiss your wandering eye as harmless, especially if marriage troubles are driving you to check out other guys. According to Halztman, "you should be redoubling efforts to improve the quality of your marriage, rather than seeking to go outside the marriage to solve things."

Are You At Risk of Cheating?

1. Are you attracted to someone else (at work, a neighbor or online)? Are you beginning to form a close friendship with that person?

2. Have you kept this friendship a secret from your husband?

3. Are you increasingly critical of your spouse, turned off by small things that never bothered you before?

4. Is your close social circle full of people who are having affairs? Or people who are divorced and dating a lot?

5. Are you putting extra care into your clothes, hair and makeup before you go anywhere you might run into a certain other guy (even if you insist to yourself you’re not interested in him)?