Women Don’t Usually Cheat — And This Is Why

Photo: BAZA Production | Shutterstock
Man having affair in a club

Whenever I post about different rates of cheating, some men insist that women cheat just as frequently as men, despite what statistics say

This is inaccurate and speaks to a profound lack of understanding about what motivates women, as well as, the common human bias of taking our own anecdotal experience as representative of the larger world.

As you see below, aside from a one percentage point gap in the female direction when people are so young that it’s unlikely that they have children yet, men cheat more than women over the lifespan.

Photo: General Social Survey 2010-2016

This is because, for the majority of women, their kids become their number one priority as soon as they have them. When you couple this with women’s waning sex drives, particularly after menopause, the above chart makes a lot of sense.

My article 9 Things Your Wife Really Thinks About All Day illustrates this.

Women do not usually think about sex, much to their husbands’ chagrin, over the course of a normal day. Most monogamous women have responsive, not spontaneous, desire, particularly as they age.

The fact that this happens after monogamy does not mean that women go around with high levels of desire for other men but low levels for their own husbands. Instead, their desire drops overall, and their priorities change.

RELATED: 15 Telltale Signs He's Cheating On You, According To Cheaters

The change of priorities with age is normal for all stages.

Kids are supposed to grow into teenagers, who want to socialize with friends instead of play games with parents. This is considered normal and healthy.

When women’s sex drive drops, and they focus more on taking care of their kids than on their romantic relationships, this is also normal.

As women move from their 20s and 30s to their 40s, perimenopause leads to lots of changes in thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Very very few women are focused on an extramarital affair at the stage when they feel consumed by busy lives, including parenting kids who are still at home.

Women are condemned for cheating socially in a way that men are not.

I have many male clients who cheat with escorts or go to massage parlors and have male friends that know about this casual sex and condone it as an "outlet" when the man is in a low-sex marriage.

As women don’t pay for sex, they need to be at least somewhat emotionally involved for an affair to happen.

Both men and women face social censure for having full-blown affairs that risk their marriage, and women’s affairs fall into this category more often because they don’t involve a transactional pay-for-sex model that many men utilize in order to compartmentalize their infidelity.

With all of these variables making it less likely for women to cheat, which women still do it?

Women with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Narcissistic Personality Disorder are most likely, in my clinical experience, to crave the attention and validation of men outside their marriage.

There are also women who cheat when in sexless or low-sex marriages, or when the sex is not what they want. But even in this category, it is likely there are some personality disorder traits that make the woman more likely to cheat than to end the marriage.

RELATED: 4 Little Things Women Do That Men Count As Cheating

This means that the majority of men who get cheated on were likely in more volatile and difficult relationships than the majority of women who get cheated on.

As you are likely aware, people with personality disorders tend to find one another. 

Men with "crazy" exes are struggling with their own mental and emotional issues.

These are the men who flood the internet saying that "all women cheat," just as women with mental health issues and personality disorder traits themselves are the largest contingent talking on the internet about their "narc" ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands.

Then, when men are cheated on, they read these internet stories and think that women cheating is the norm, when it’s really quite rare, and rarer the older women get.

Men who are in low-sex marriages also read these stories and think their wives "must be getting it somewhere else" if they aren’t sleeping with them, which could usually not be farther from the truth.

The reality is that women’s sex drive just drops in monogamy, and they are not interested in sex with anyone at anything near the intensity they felt desire or drive when younger and not a mother.

RELATED: 4 Honest Men Confess The Real Reason They Cheated On Their Wives

If you have been cheated on, it would be useful to introspect deeply about this article and think about how rare this is.

Think about how likely it is that your wife was struggling with other mental health issues that made her different from average women in many ways.

Also, think about why you were drawn to her, usually because you grew up witnessing an unhappy and codependent marriage yourself.

Lastly, if you have been staying single because "all women cheat," it is time to interrogate that assumption and look more objectively at all the red flags that likely characterized your relationship and dynamic far before infidelity struck.

Likely you were either in a Narcissist-Borderline marriage or a codependent one where you were the martyr/enabler. 

After divorce especially, deep reflection about your role in your dysfunctional relationship can help steer you toward healthier and happier relationships in the future.

RELATED: 6 Honest Reasons Why People Cheat, As Told By A Woman Who Did — A Lot

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.

This article was originally published at Dr. Psych Mom. Reprinted with permission from the author.