The Type Of Cheating That Hurts Women The Most

This type of cheating leaves a deeper wound.

Last updated on Jun 27, 2024

Woman is hurt more by the emotional affair than the physical cheating cottonbro studio | Canva

Cheating is hurtful, period. Cheating means there is a secret, a double life of some sort. However, if you are asking me, a marriage therapist who has worked with thousands of couples dealing with infidelity, what hurts more, physical or emotional affairs, I have a clear answer. Emotional cheating hurts more; significantly more. Betrayal is hurtful enough. However, when the woman believes that the man has deep feelings for another woman, that hurts even deeper.


Most women thrive on the emotional connection with their partner. That is the foundation of their aliveness; not the physical connection. The intimate connection flows directly from the emotional connection. I have seen women respond painfully but overall, not as painful when they hear the words: "I had no feelings for that woman; it was pure lust." Not good but not as devastating for most women. For example, I just finished doing a couple of intensive sessions with one couple. They were ready to divorce. He had over the last 3 and a half years developed an increasingly flirtatious and deep relationship with his secretary. There was no intimate touching.  


RELATED: The Alarming Number Of Men And Women Having Emotional Affairs, According To Research

The wife was devastated. He was talking to his secretary about personal issues, including his marriage. They laughed together and she enjoyed his company. Meanwhile, the marital pair was emotionally disconnected. I have another couple I am seeing where the man had a one-night stand (two times) with women he met on the Internet. The wife was angry and disgusted. Both are difficult marital situations. However, whereas the second wife was angry and had lost some respect for her husband, the first wife felt emotionally displaced.

RELATED: The Vastly Different Reason Why Men & Women Cheat


A woman’s hormonal system is much more sensitive to how connected she feels to her partner (and others.) In the first couple, she felt disconnected. This can lead to significant depression and anxiety as this feeling of being disconnected and insignificant can lower important hormones such as oxytocin and estrogen.

In the second example, the husband was acting out intimately and had some issues with adult video addiction. It was easier for the second woman to see the problem as his problem. 

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On the other hand, the first woman felt betrayed by her emotional core and experienced the discovery of the secretive close relationship he had with his secretary as a personal message that he chose another woman over her. Of course, even in the first situation, the problem is still his, and during the weekend intensive, she made clear that his immaturity and passivity were a major factor in his avoiding his wife and getting closer to someone else. In their case, he is working hard to grow up and she can see how she can help the marriage as well so I feel good about their marital prognosis. Still, it is a longer healing period for a woman in her shoes than the second woman.


RELATED: 5 Little Ways Emotional Cheating Is More Painful Than Physical Cheating

Todd Creager is a marriage and intimacy therapist, author, and speaker. He has been seen on Dating Advice, Celebuzz!, Playboy Radio, and more.