The Future of Infidelity Is Female
Due to shifting social norms and economic leaps, women are now as likely as men to have affairs
Unlike most everything else she did in her life, Amanda, a 41-year-old executive at a Boston-area creative agency, began her affair without much thought. It was just drinks with an old friend. When drinks turned to dinner, and dinner turned to sleepovers four months in, she didn’t stop it. It wasn’t weakness at play, she thought, but something else.
“As awful as it was to my family, and I knew it was awful, I couldn’t resist the draw,” Amanda, whose name we have changed to protect her privacy, says today. She had a thriving career (and salary to match), plenty of friends and interests, a devoted husband, a beautiful home by the beach. And yet what she liked most, she says, besides the great sex, was the ability to be someone else for a while.
Once assumed to be the purview of powerful men — a notion #MeToo has done little to debunk — adultery has become something of an equal opportunity endeavor. Several studies, including research in progress at the University of Kentucky’s Sexual Health Promotion Lab, has found that women are now cheating at nearly the same rate as men, according to director Kristen Mark, PhD. Numbers from the National Opinion Research Center’s 2016 General Social Survey, meanwhile, show that although the percentage of men who admitted to infidelity has held steady over the past two decades, the percentage of wives who reported having affairs rose almost 40 percent — a trend that’s holding steady in 2018, says Tom Smith, director of the survey.
Experts think there are a few practical reasons for this shift. There’s the internet, of course, which has made finding a better or different partner — not to mention your high school boyfriend — easier than ever. There’s also economics. The increasing number of female breadwinners means more women are not financially reliant on men. Combine those factors with a cultural shift that has women increasingly willing to push up against prescribed gender norms — in this case, that men cheat for sex and pleasure while women cheat for love and attention — and you’ve got a recipe for change.
“The gender gap in…