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Women Who Stray

Cheating Isn't Just A Man's Game

Raise your hand if you think men stray more than women.

Nice show of hands. If you're like most people, you probably assume that when it comes to cheating spouses and partners, the blame lies with men. After all, studies have proved it: According to research conducted by the National Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the number of cheating men almost doubles that of women.

“Men have higher levels of testosterone, higher sex drives and studies have shown that they're more mentally preoccupied with sex than women — three reasons why they're more likely to cheat,” says Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happy Families.

But the fact remains that despite which sex is having more fun on the side, cheating isn't gender-specific. In fact this year, the tabloids have showcased the most famous members of the female philanderers club: Just last month LeAnn Rimes shacked up with actor Eddie Cibrian with whom she had an affair while still married to former dancer Dean Sheremet. Tory Spelling recently said that her 90210 co-stars dropped her after she cheated on hubby Charlie Shanian with actor Dean McDermott. In April, Whoopi Goldberg admitted on The View that she cheated on her husband five or six times. Even Carrie Bradshaw dipped her toes in the pool of infidelity when she shared a stolen kiss with former flame Aidan in the movie Sex and the City II. ...Read More

The fact is it's just as easy for women to cheat as it is for men. And technology plays a big role in helping unhappy women stray, since a fling is always one or two clicks away. “We can now scroll through thousands of Facebook profiles on our iPhones and Blackberries, and seeing myriad options makes the dating pool seem wider than it is. As a result, many women question whether or not they've settled by choosing their partner,” says New York City-based sex and relationship therapist Jane Greer, Ph.D., author of What About Me?.

And plenty of companies are facilitating cheating. Apple is pushing an application called Tiger Text that deletes both incoming and outgoing messages from the sender and the receiver's phone after a set period of time. And AshleyMadison.com, a personals site created to bring cheating spouses together, now offers iPhone and Blackberry versions. Since the tools are uploaded from phone browsers, cheating women can avoid that pesky search trail. “We created the applications in part because of a dramatic surge in the under-30 female membership,” says Noel Biderman, CEO and President of AshleyMadison. “Women are now joining the site at the same rate as men. This was totally unheard of five years ago.”

No doubt the fact that women are dominating the work force has something to do with it. “Having economic independence gives many women the courage to take a chance with their marriage,” says Haltzman. Their hefty paychecks won't make them cheat, but if the affair ends in divorce, it cushions the financial consequences of her decision.

That financial freedom has also changed the face of marriage. Where it used to be an institution of necessity (women needed a man for financial support), today women choose their husbands by their ability to live up to their idealized standards of true love: Is he aggressive at the office and gentle at home? Is he my lover and my best friend? Can he write poetry and build a home from the ground up? “The result of women having such high standards is that they often look for the nearest exit if their partner doesn't live up to them,” says Greer.

But if we're going to excuse male cheating as “sex addiction”, philandering women may also get a pass, courtesy of science: In a recent study conducted by the University of Texas in Austin, researchers found that women considered beautiful — by themselves and others — have more of the hormone estradiol, a form of estrogen that triggers desire and racy behavior. And scientists say these women are more likely to flirt and sleep with someone who is not her primary partner because they'll subconsciously view themselves as having more options, which prevent them from committing to one man.

But even for the women who don't possess these high levels of estrogen, if they're getting off their birth control pill, their body chemistry may propel them to cheat, according to scientists at the University of Liverpool. When a woman couples up with a guy, she's usually drawn to his unique scent — an indication that they'll have healthy babies due to their dissimilar immune systems. But, researchers found, the pill shifts a woman's sexual preferences toward mates with similar immune systems. Therefore, if she chose her partner while on the pill, then gets off it, she'll likely find herself stuck in a relationship with a guy whose scent repels her.

Yet, if she finds comfort in the arms of another man, happily ever after is unlikely. "The majority of philandering pairs divorce," says Atlanta-based psychiatrist and family therapist Frank Pittman, M.D. "In addition to this new relationship being plagued by guilt and distrust, the qualities that drew you to each other in the first place (spontaneity, unpredictability) usually translate into some very unappealing long term qualities."

In addition to being plagued by trust issues, these couples usually find that those exciting qualities that drew them to each other so quickly in the first place translate into some rather unappealing long-term traits. And once the shine wears off, she's back where she started: in an unfulfilling relationship.

  • Men aren't the only ones who stray: Partners of either sex can cheat if they aren't feeling satisfied in their current relationship.

Women Who Stray
Cheating Isn't Just A Man's Game
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