According to stereotypes, men are the sexually voracious cheaters and women are the emotionally hungry commitment seekers. But these heterosexual tropes are pretty reductive and fail to take into account that women like sex, too. In fact, plenty of women seek emotional and sexual satisfaction outside of monogamous relationships.
Studies have shown that not only do women have affairs about as often as men do, but some of them might also be genetically predisposed to the kinds of desires that lead to infidelity — yes, really. In a 2014 study, researchers found a significant association between variants of a certain gene and infidelity in women. They didn’t find any such link in men.
Of course, people cheat for all sorts of reasons — sexual desire, emotional fulfillment, a life crisis, revenge, and boredom are just a few common motivations for both genders. But if there’s research suggesting that women are just as prone to affairs as their male counterparts, why does it often feel like we hear fewer stories of female infidelity?
Whatever your stance on cheating, learning more about how women act on their emotional and physical desires is important to understanding the dynamics of couples, as well as the full scope of female sexuality. To gain some insight, we talked to six women who’ve had affairs and asked them what drove them to cheat. These stories don't represent all women, of course, but they'll help paint a fuller picture.
*All of the names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.