I am developing an area of expertise I hadn’t really planned on pursuing. I mean, in every other subject matter in which I would claim some sort of knowledge, there were trainings and certifications to be deliberately chased. There was no stumbling by accident into the kind of qualifications I have earned. But, this particular body of knowledge has been gifted to me in the trenches of couples therapy, and I am sometimes surprised by it myself. Here it is folks: I am becoming an expert on female infidelity.
Now, when I tell people that I am a couples therapist who works with couples struggling with affairs, they make some assumptions. You can imagine what those assumptions look like. They’re envisioning some philandering jerk and his sexpot coworker, or an unassuming chap who fell for the wiles of a skanky ex-girlfriend. Nope. That’s not the constituency of my practice. The vast majority of the clients I see for infidelities are there because of a cheating female partner.
I’ll let you take in that counter-intuitive bit of information for a moment. Are you scared yet fellas?
Over the past decade, I have seen lots of couples for infidelity. And, true to stereotype, it used to be mostly males who were doing the dirty. But, over the past five years or so, I have noticed a shift. Women are discovering that two can play at that game. Husbands, gather around the camp fire and I’ll tell you a spooky story…you might want to take notes.
Don’t misunderstand; every situation is different and complex. I don’t mean to make light of the fact that affairs feel like terrible tragedies to the couples suffering through them. However, there are some common threads that run through most of the stories I hear. I would like to share them with you so that if you recognize some echo of these in your own life, you can start now–today–working on it. In that spirit, here are the top 3 reasons the ladies are giving for stepping out on their mates.
1) Dude, where’s my adulthood: Girls tell me that the boys they loved in their early and mid-20’s were so cute with their frat boy antics and ne’er-do-well attitudes. However, playing Call of Duty for 6 hours in a row in your underwear just isn’t as charming when you’re in your late 20’s and 30’s. The girls you loved have become women with real lives, real careers and real kids. They don’t want boys. They want men. They want men who are interested in having grownup conversations about the future that incude financial planning, travel and retirement. They want to be your partner, not your mommy or your housekeeper. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, you need to articulate appreciation for the stuff she contributes to your life. If you want to keep your chick, you must check that extended adolesence stuff at the door.
2) Talking Heads: Any guy who has been through couples therapy bootcamp with me can very handily illustrate how to ask your girl about her feelings. This stuff is important because women are tempted to cheat when they don’t feel emotionally intimate with their partners. The guys who want to make off with your ladies know this, even if you don’t. One of the reasons women often struggle more intensely to decide if they should end their affairs is because they may feel understood by their affair partners in ways that they don’t feel accepted by their primary partners. In fact, they may feel that their affair partners are just generally more interested in them altogether.
It’s impossible to really “get” your wife or girlfriend without taking the occasional joyride through her emotional landscape. Besides that, girls are just like you. They want strong friendships complete with common interests and inside jokes. They like to have conversations for the sake of having conversations. The process of being asked about one’s life and telling an interested partner about your hopes and fears is a goal in and of itself. Guys, you don’t have to solve the problem in order for the conversation to be considered a win.
3) Let’s Talk about Sex Baby: I am surprised at the number of men who think women won’t cheat for physical intimacy. Just in case you didn’t get the memo, girls like touching, kissing and yes, orgasms. Most human beings have some desire to connect through touch. In the past, men have not been encouraged to talk about the fact that they, too, sometimes struggle to make sense of issues of desire and performance. I think this is to some degree still true, and it is a great tragedy to suffer in silence. Though it is possible that something is awry physically, (and you can always go see your MD to be certain) emotional difficulties cause sexual problems for men too. If you feel disconnected from your partner, it can be difficult to be sensual with one another. This is something that can be talked about sensitively and resolved successfully.
So, there you have it–a quick introduction to some of the more common reasons why women cheat. Though there are more, and nuances to each of the ones I have listed, this should get you thinking. Are you worried about the state of your union? Would you like to learn more about how you can make your relationship as strong as it can be? Why don’t you come on in so that we can talk about it.
Your Partner in Healing,
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