Why women cheat: Ashley Madison study finds women want better sex just like men, but are judged more harshly
A new study has found that while women find marriage purposeful, they find it sexually unappealing — and when they aren't getting any at home, they are prioritizing their sexual pleasure.
About 45 percent of the women who took part in the study have cheated to experiment sexually while 42 percent said they wanted more frequent sex than they were having with their partner — with 64 percent of them admitting that they were sexually neglected in their primary relationship. What's worse, almost half of the women surveyed did not receive oral sex, rarely or never, from their spouse and 40 percent rarely ever reach orgasm.
Among the 2,066 female participants of the study, surveyed between July 25, 2019, and September 12, 2019, a staggering 92 percent said they are criticized much more than their male counterparts. The study, conducted by Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people aims to clear out misunderstandings about women and infidelity — they do it as often as men and they do it for sex.
The underlying reason for this misconception is sexist too. "We don’t like to think of women as cheaters. We want to project a ‘goodness’ onto women, to think of them as mothers, the women who care for us, who take care of us, who nurture. We don’t like to think they can lie or be duplicitous. It’s uncomfortable to think they are actually sexual beings," relationship therapist and sexologist Dr Tammy Nelson told MEA WorldWide.
The study also found a stark difference between the way men and women handle infidelity. While they both cheat for the same reasons — emotional connection, attention, and better sex — women viewed it as a supplement to their marriage and not a threat. In fact, they also said sex had become better in their marriage post affair. As for feeling guilty, 37 percent said they feel that cheating is morally wrong but they don’t feel guilty and 25% said they definitely feel guilty, but they do it anyway.
The study says women are having affairs to save their marriages by supplementing it sexually, with 22 percent happier in their primary relationship while 31 percent felt less tension. About 74 percent of the women surveyed said they still loved their spouses.
So when do they most cheat? During the seven-year itch, says the study, something that was so far only associated with men. "My guess is that the newness wears off of the relationship, and the companionship, while more comfortable, doesn’t allow for adventure or variety after more than half a decade together," she says. It could be the kids and the decrease sexual satisfaction between partners. "Young kids reduce marital satisfaction and decrease the amount of sexual satisfaction between partners," she adds. For women, it may be a way to remind themselves of their identity outside of being a mother, parent or spousal role.
The results told us much of what we already knew to be true, said Isabella Mise, Director of Member Relations, Ashley Madison. Women appreciated marriage and monogamy for the stability and domestic function but they were bored sexually and not getting the pleasure they were in search of. "While they still loved their spouse and had little interest in dissolving their marriage, husbands seem unresponsive to their needs and so they sought to outsource the physical intimacy with the goal of preserving their primary relationship. Affair sex was their ticket to keeping their happiness — and home life — mutually intact," she said.