When cheating happens in a marriage, the whole marriage is in jeopardy. Some couples manage to work things out, and one partner manages to forgive the other, ultimately saving the marriage and putting things back on track. Other married couples can’t forgive each other for cheating, so they decide to get a divorce and go their separate ways.
Some married couples don’t want to save the marriage after one partner has been unfaithful, but divorce and separation become complicated because of children or other responsibilities.
Some married couples opt for an open relationship, in which both partners are free to see and have sex with other people. In this case, there may be some ground rules about the relationship, such as no sexual partners in the shared home, complete honesty about what each partner is doing, or not mentioning one another’s experiences at all.
However, unless you’re in an open relationship and you’re following agreed-upon rules, sleeping with another person when you’re in an exclusive, monogamous marriage is disrespectful to the other person and can cause a lot of emotional distress, broken trust and damage to the relationship.
In this article, we’ll explore the nature of the cheating wife. We’ll discuss why women cheat on their husbands, the most common signs of infidelity, and how to approach your situation if you suspect that your wife is cheating on you.
Characteristics of a Cheating Woman
Below are the typical characteristics of a cheating woman:
- Rarely shares about her personal life
- Spending too much of her time outside the house
- Becomes a workaholic or is pretending to be one
- Does not show as much affection
- Suddenly becomes very concerned about her physical appearance
- Displays narcissistic tendencies
- Always seeking validation
- Lies and invents stories
- Habitually accusing one’s partner of cheating
- Decreased or increased sexual appetite
- Unusual behavior when using phones, such as hiding messages
- Too friendly and flirty towards other men
- Gaslighting you as her partner
- Quickly gets bored when she is with you
- Avoids spending quality time with you
- Becomes extra nice without any reasonable cause
- Is easily angered when you commit small mistakes
- Has cheated in the past
- Does not plan the future with you
- Is afraid of commitment and never takes responsibility for the relationship
It is important to note that some characteristics above may coincide with the natural traits of some women. Therefore, if a woman displays any of these characteristics, do not assume right away that she is cheating. Read this article further for elaborate details related to cheating.
10 Questions to Ask Your Unfaithful Spouse
Let’s begin with some questions that you can ask your unfaithful spouse to learn more about why they would have been unfaithful.
- Why did you allow yourself to cheat?
- When did you start cheating on me and how many times have you cheated?
- Have you felt any guilt afterward?
- Have you fallen out of love with me?
- Do you still care about me and our relationship?
- Does your lover know about us?
- Do you love this other man more than me?
- What does he have that I have not given you?
- Do you imagine your future with him?
- Are you willing to work through this to stay together?
It is important to understand where you stand with your spouse before working on moving forward. Below we outline some common reasons that women cheat on their husbands, as well as what the signs are and what you can do if your partner is cheating on you.
Why do some women cheat on their husbands?
1. Women cheat because of relationship dissatisfaction
Perhaps the most common reason why anyone cheats, man or woman, husband or wife, is dissatisfaction with the relationship. Marriage is a life-long commitment, and the idea of sharing your life with someone can feel daunting when things aren’t going as well as before, such as in the early days of the relationship or the honeymoon phase of your marriage.
People often justify moments or periods of infidelity by blaming their behavior on a bump on the road as far as their marriage is concerned. They might see that there is some emotional distance in the relationship or that there are more arguments than usual, and instead of working on resolving the issues, they ignore it.
Then, an opportunity for something (someone) new and exciting comes along, and instead of resisting the temptation, they allow a boundary to be crossed. They let something happen and may rationalize their behavior by amplifying the dissatisfaction within the marriage.
2. Women cheat because of emotional dissatisfaction
An article published in Trends in Psychology reports that while cheating behaviors (emotional and sexual) are similar in rates among men and women, men tend to engage more often in sexual cheating. In contrast, women are more likely to engage in emotional cheating.
The study found that cheating is most often a ‘relational phenomenon, suggesting that a sense of dissatisfaction in one’s relationship is the main reason for infidelity.
Emotional dissatisfaction in a relationship stems from a perceived lack of emotional connection. A cheating wife might engage in infidelity because she craves intimate conversation, respect, empathy, as well as adoration, emotional support and encouragement, and displays of affection and devotion, which their husband may fail to provide.
To some, emotional cheating is ‘not really cheating’ because they view cheating as purely sexual. However, the vast majority of sexual affairs begin with an emotional connection, so developing and pursuing an intimate emotional connection outside of one’s marriage may be a prerequisite for sexual infidelity.
3. Female infidelity may occur because of sexual dissatisfaction
A strong sexual connection is important in a marriage. It’s natural for the spark to dull a little bit as the years go, but a healthy sex life is still possible even after years or decades of being together. Unfortunately, too much familiarity and predictability can quench the spark entirely.
As the quality of sex dwindles, along with the frequency, one or both spouses might feel that something is missing from their sex life. We’re human, so we have sexual needs, and it’s completely normal, and even healthy, to want to satisfy them.
In her article “The Secret Lives of Cheating Wives,” Alicia Walker, Ph.D., writes:
“For these women, the release they experienced through sex with an affair partner saved their marriages. Before participating in an affair, they doubted their own ability to stay in the marriage. They simply didn’t know how much longer they could live sexlessly or with a sex life absent pleasurable release. However, the thought of dissolving their marriages evoked sadness and despair. But the sexual relief of being a cheating wife made them feel capable of continuing to stay in those marriages—something they very much desired.”
When a woman misses the thrill and excitement of sex in her marriage, she may be inclined to satisfy her needs elsewhere. The same is true for men. There may have been a lot of sex and passion at the beginning of the relationship, and one or both partners may have come to expect that passion to continue. If it doesn’t, they might feel compelled to seek another lover.
4. Female infidelity can be due to thrill-seeking
All of the above feelings of relationship dissatisfaction may stem from a distinct lack of excitement in the relationship. We all love a thrill, and it’s hard to ignore the reality that sometimes a monogamous family life can feel a little dull.
Still, it’s important to seek healthy, respectful ways to achieve the thrill and excitement we seek when things get boring.
Some people even cheat for the thrill of it. The feeling that one is leading a second life and is having a rendezvous with a forbidden lover is just what some people think they need to feel like life is once again exciting.
One study found that over two-thirds of cheating wives were unfaithful as a means of pursuing romantic passion, all of whom claimed that they did not intend or even want to leave their husbands or get a divorce.
Read more about the difference between joy and happiness here.
5. Self-esteem issues can sometimes lead to a cheating wife
Low self-esteem is a difficult feeling to live with. People who struggle with a low self-esteem lack confidence in themselves. They might feel bad about their appearance, their intelligence, or the ability to manage their lives and handle their emotions.
Low self-esteem often stems from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety but can also arise through experience. If a person grew up with a harsh or overly critical parent, they might learn that they’re not good enough and eventually learn to view themselves in a negative light.
Similarly, if one’s partner is constantly critical and puts their partner down, fails to show them affection, and implies that they are flawed or not good enough, the person might come to believe those things about themselves.
A wife who struggles with her self-esteem may feel driven to find sources of affection, validation, and approval external to the marriage. If she experiences thoughts such as ‘I’m not attractive’ or ‘How could anyone like me?’, then she might easily be swept off her feet when someone else shows her interest and affection, such as a co-worker.
6. Anger or revenge can lead a woman to cheat
If a woman’s husband has cheated in the past, then she might have an affair as a means of evening the score. Perhaps he apologized, and she expressed forgiveness, or at least allowed the marriage to continue and went about her business as usual.
However, deep down, she might carry a lot of resentment and anger for what happened. She might replay the situation repeatedly and resent her husband not only for cheating but for causing her to spend countless hours, months, or even years thinking about what happened.
If an opportunity to have an affair comes along, she might engage with it. She might feel entitled to have her own sexual fling, given that her husband was unfaithful in the past. Human relationships are complex, so what might start out as a fling, or a once-off sexual experience, may go on and become a full-blown affair.
7. A cheating wife may be due to feelings of loneliness
Loneliness is a natural but often deeply uncomfortable experience. A wife who feels lonely because she doesn’t get to spend as much time as she would like with her spouse might seek a lover for closeness and intimate connection. Perhaps her husband works a lot or has to travel a lot for work, leaving her at home in an empty house or always in charge of the kids.
Loneliness can lead us into various coping behaviors, one of which may be having an affair. The connection and intimacy she shares with a lover may fill the void she’s been experiencing regarding her loneliness.
8. Insecurity can sometimes lead to a wife cheating
Our earliest relationship, the child-parent relationship, significantly influences how we approach relationships in adulthood. Bowlby and Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory suggests the quality of this early formative relationship creates one of two broad attachment styles in a child, the qualities of which rise to the surface when that child becomes an adult and enters into an intimate relationship.
There are two main attachment styles – secure and insecure – and three types of insecure attachment – anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. People with a secure attachment style typically have healthy relationships.
They can trust their partner and are able to manage their own expectations and emotions. People with insecure attachment may find it much harder to feel safe and secure in a relationship.
People with an anxious or avoidant insecure attachment may struggle with trust and vulnerability, which gets in the way of having a healthy, mature relationship. Anxious, insecure people tend to cling to their partners, which can drive the partner away and may lead them into seeking a more grounded and regulated person with whom they can share intimacy and closeness.
Avoidant, insecure people dismiss their partners and resist vulnerability out of a deep sense of fear that they will be hurt anyway. Partners of avoidant insecure people might feel ignored or neglected, causing them to feel lonely and uncared for, ultimately driving them into another’s arms.
9. Unhealthy coping can lead to a wife cheating
When life gets stressful, we need to figure out how to cope. Some of us use healthy coping mechanisms in the face of overwhelming and emotional distress, such as getting adequate sleep, reaching out to friends or family for support, journaling, eating well, and exercising.
Others take an unhealthy or maladaptive approach to coping. They might use substances such as alcohol or cannabis to regulate their mood and emotions, withdraw socially, turn to violence and aggression, or they might cheat on their partners.
Many life circumstances force us to try to cope. A midlife crisis, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, or a deep need to escape our current life because we’re not happy with it can make us seek opportunities to change our lives.
What are the signs of cheating?
If you suspect that your wife is cheating on you, you might be feeling angry, anxious, or even paranoid. Before we take a look at the signs of a cheating wife, bear in mind that if your wife is engaging in any of the following behaviors, that’s not always a clear sign that she’s cheating. There may be plenty of reasons why she’s acting strange or differently lately, so try not to jump to conclusions.
Many marriages have broken down not through suspicious behavior but by one partner jumping to conclusions and projecting their paranoia onto their partner, who then learns that there is a lack of trust in the relationship. Trust is the foundation for any good relationship, so the whole relationship is at risk if it’s lacking.
Make sure that you pay attention and also understand that your wife’s behavior may have nothing to do with you, secrets, or the marriage. She may be simply trying to maintain a private life, something people often struggle to keep once they get married.
Bearing the above in mind, there may be some telltale signs that she’s cheating. Remember that cheating can mean different things to different people, so it’s not always about sexual intercourse. Cheating may be developing an emotionally intimate relationship with someone else or engaging in sexual activity online behind a partner’s back.
Finding out that your wife is cheating is a horrible experience. It can make you lose faith in the whole concept of marriage and can create a wound so deep that it takes a long time to recover. However, the truth always trumps ignorance, so if you do find out your suspicions are true, that’s okay.
It’s not the end of the world if a partner has been unfaithful. All you have to concern yourself with is how you’re going to take care of your mental and emotional health and well-being after the fact and commit to keeping your head above water.
Now that you’re ready, read on to discover some of the common signs of cheating in a marriage.
Communication is a fundamental part of any relationship. If your communication seems strained or is simply not happening, there may be an underlying problem.
If your wife is cheating on you, then she might try her best to hide what she’s doing. She might worry that if you were to communicate as normal, she might give something away and reveal her infidelity. As such, she might try to shut you down entirely.
Shutting down communication is known as stonewalling and is characterized by the following behaviors:
- Changing the subject when there is confrontation looming
- Ignoring you
- Leaving conversation without an explanation
- Dismissive body language (avoiding eye contact, rolling eyes)
- Passive aggressiveness
Time, appearance, and activities
It’s normal and healthy to take care of ourselves, dress nicely, and keep ourselves fit and active. However, if you notice that your wife is suddenly paying a lot more attention to her appearance and at the same time you’re suspicious of her other behaviors, you might suspect that she’s cheating.
Perhaps your wife has taken up a new hobby or pastime that takes hours out of her day, and any time you see her get ready, she makes an extra effort to look nice. When you ask her about it afterward, she becomes dismissive or completely changes the conversation. Such behavior may be a sign that she’s hiding something.
Over-protection of her phone
If your wife is cheating on you, then she might begin to guard her phone with her life. Perhaps her secret lover is messaging her or tries to call her, and she doesn’t want you to see the text messages or missed calls. She might know that you’re already suspicious, which would make you more likely to have a snoop through her phone and see if there is really something going on. She may also be protective of her social media platforms or Facebook messenger.
Once dishonesty enters a marriage, the red flag goes up. If your wife is cheating, she is likely to become dishonest about her feelings and her whereabouts. If you question her about a time when you suspected she was cheating, she might make up an excuse or avoid the question altogether. Pay attention to any changes in her behavior that may make her avoid you.
If she’s cheating, she might engage in some of the following avoidance behaviors:
- Spending less time with you
- Avoiding confrontation
- Sending you less text messages then she used to
- Suddenly changing her mind about future financial plans and large purchases
- Hanging out with ‘friends’ a lot more than usual
- Picking up a new hobby out of the blue
What can I do if I think my wife is cheating?
It can be hard to know what to do if you think your wife is cheating on you. You might feel hurt, betrayed, or deeply disrespected and struggle to know what to do next.
If you believe your wife is cheating or have a gut feeling that she is, the most important thing to do is to take a step back and try to relax. If you get tense and stressed, you’ll likely become anxious and may act in a way that strains the relationship, especially if it turns out that she’s not cheating.
Communication is key. If you suspect that your wife is cheating, try to talk to her about it. It can be hard, especially for men, to show such vulnerability, but she might be able to ease some of your worries if you have that difficult but necessary conversation.
In reality, there’s not an awful lot you can do if you think your wife is cheating. What’s more important is your mental health. You might feel tempted to snoop through her phone or even follow her when she goes out, but prying is extremely unhealthy and likely makes you feel worse about the whole situation.
Speak to friends or family if your suspicions are getting the better of you. Whether she’s cheating or not, you won’t know until you know, so while you’re in this suspicious and paranoid limbo, reach out to those you love for some emotional support.
What can I do if my wife is cheating on me?
If you’ve found out that your wife has been cheating on you, it’s understandable if you now feel lost, confused, and betrayed. Infidelity in a partner creates a deep wound that can take a long time to recover from.
You might feel angry at your partner, and that’s okay, but you must remain mindful of your anger. You might want to resort to an aggressive outburst, but that’s not going to serve either of you very well.
Give yourself some to assess the situation and come down from the immediate aftermath of shock or sadness; after you’ve given yourself time to relax, try to communicate with your wife about how you feel. Ask her whatever questions you need to reach closure, but remember that real closure takes time to achieve.
It is also important to remember that if someone cheats within the relationship, it doesn’t always mean that all hope is lost. If both parties and willing to work on the relationship and rebuild trust the marriage can be saved. However, this is not always the solution for every marriage and both parties aren’t always willing to work on the relationship to get it back on track. This is why it is so important to talk with your wife and see where she is at and decide for yourself how best to move forward.
Since infidelity can have a significant negative impact on a person’s mental health, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional if necessary.
Therapists can help you process one of your more complex emotions and teach healthy and effective coping skills to help you get through this difficult time. Don’t forget to reach out to friends and family for support, advice, and encouragement if you’re feeling lost.