Why Women Cheat

Both men and women cheat for a variety of reasons—due to problems in a relationship, or a need for intimacy, or because they have a high sex drive, just to name a few (see why people cheat).

But when focusing on sex differences alone—differences based on biology—men and women cheat in different ways. Men are more likely to cheat opportunistically. That is, they cheat more often and with someone who may be less attractive or desirable than their current partner (see why men cheat).

Women, by comparison, tend to cheat more selectively. Women tend to be more flirtatious, take more risks, and act in sexually provocative ways when they are ovulating (see Thornhill & Gangestad, 2008). Women are also attracted to more masculine and physically attractive men when ovulating (see Thornhill & Gangestad, 2008).

The explanation for this behavior is called the sexy son hypothesis (see article on this in Wikipedia). The argument goes like this: because women are more limited in their ability to reproduce (see why men cheat), women who acted in ways that increased their reproductive success—like mating with the best men available when ovulating—were more likely to have healthy and attractive children. Possessing this trait or tendency would have led to a reproductive advantage, which in turn would have become widespread over the course of human evolution.

In short, men and women are different. Women are more likely to cheat up, while men are more likely to cheat around.

But it also helps to keep in mind that while there may be differences between the sexes when it comes to cheating, men and women are more alike than they are different. Both sexes cheat for a variety of reasons.

For more information on cheating and infidelity, we have put together the following resources:

Truth About Deception – back to our home page.


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