First, let me defend the sisterhood by saying, many, many women don’t cheat. Now, the unfortunate exception: Some do. Okay, a lot
Especially when we’re in happy relationships. If we’re really into a guy, we’re loyal-from-first-kiss. Faithfulness is hardwired into our female circuitry, like our need to cuddle and to buy shoes.
Do: The incidence of extramarital intercourse for women is 25 percent, and the estimate of single women who’ve cheated is even higher.
And if a woman is going to cheat, there are surprisingly specific times when she’s likely to do it.
Pay attention, because even if you’re sure your woman would never stray, the urge may pop up at one of these times. Then put our advice to work, because the follow-through doesn’t have to happen.
She’s Turning 25 or 30 or 35 or . . .
Decade and half-decade birthdays trigger navel-gazing-figuratively, and perhaps literally. A woman asks herself, “What have I been doing for the past 5 years?”
“She’ll think deeply about her love life and its direction, and if it’s not going the way she planned, she might jump at the chance to correct it with an affair,” says Don-David Lusterman, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of Infidelity: A Survival Guide.
The incidence of birthday cheating triples in women who report being in unhappy relationships, according to a survey by infidelity.com.
The plan: Be there.
There are 2 nights when every straight woman wants a man in her bed: New Year’s Eve and her birthday. Leave her solo and you’re giving her permission—and reason—to cheat.
And remember, birthday s*x is about the birthday girl. Presents are good, too. Especially jewelry.
She’s Been Promoted
Women like to have projects and goals. When she reaches a milestone-say, in her career—she may start to think, Now what? says Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., author of Can We Forgive Adultery? Staying Not Straying.
For her next challenge, she may focus on another big part of her life—say, her relationship.
Riding the high of her work success, she’ll feel that goals are achievable, and she’l be motivated to get the rest of her life on track.
Also, women with fat salaries are more likely to cheat.
A University of Washington study found that people who earned $75,000 or more per year were 1.5 times more likely to have had extramarital s*x than those earning less than $30,000.
The plan: Brag about your woman’s promotion.
“Most guys make the mistake of not doing enough to celebrate their girlfriends’ accomplishments,” says Scott Haltzman, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University.
“When she sees you honoring her, she’ll feel as valued by you as she does at work.”
Translation: She won’t look for that emotion elsewhere—like in the marketing veep’s bed.
She’s Moving in with You
Yes, it was probably her idea. But now that you’re together 24-7 and sharing every detail of your lives, there’s not as great a need to keep the conversation flowing every minute.
“She could subconsciously interpret this as meaning that you think she’s boring, says Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at California State University at Los Angeles.
(A menshealth.com survey found that 41 percent of women who’ve cheated did it with a coworker.)
And again, with the whole goal thing-now that you’ve moved in together, she’ll be thinking about the next step, such as engagement or marriage.
“Face it, most women want marriage, and they want to have children,” says Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author of The Power of Two.
“If you’re withholding either or both, you’re inviting the risk of her turning to someone else who can make that commitment and give her children.”
The plan: Make it clear that you’re thinking of living together as a starting point.
Talk about the future. Talk about her in your future.
She Thinks You’ve Cheated
Revenge affairs are common. Women have them in an attempt to restore self-esteem and feel desirable again.
“It comes down to human nature,” Heitler says. “She’ll want to get even.” She won’t necessarily go out looking to hook up, but when she’s tempted, the fact that you’ve done it may weaken her self-control.
The plan: If you are cheating or have cheated before, confess and apologize.
A survey conducted by Peggy Vaughan, author of The Monogamy Myth, showed that 86 percent of couples who discussed one partner’s affair were still married, compared with 59 percent of couples who barely talked about it.
If you’re not cheating, you have one paranoid woman on your hands.
She probably has low self-confidence. Your job: Compliment her, sincerely, specifically, and often.
“You can make her feel better about herself so she won’t become vulnerable to these unfounded suspicions,” Fischoff says.
She’s Not Getting Enough
Oxytocin, a hormone that plays a central role in our urge to bond, spikes to levels three to five times higher than usual just before orgasm.
The hormone is more intense in females than in males, so women develop a stronger sense of bonding through s*x.
“If the two of you are not having as much s*x as you used to, she might interpret this as a sign that you don’t find her attractive and that you don’t love her,” Fischoff says.
“She may seek someone outside the relationship to validate that she’s still s*xually attractive.”
A so-so s*x life could also mean you have unresolved problems between you.
Research conducted by Shirley Glass, Ph.D., author of Not Just Friends, found that 79 percent of cheating women cited dissatisfaction in the marriage as the cause.
The plan: Have more s*x.
If she’s the one who doesn’t want s*x, investigate why. Fix it. Get naked.
She’s Ready to Bolt
One more reason a woman might cheat: She wants to dump you.
Infidelity can break up couples, so she might cheat on purpose as an easy out.
David Buss, a Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The Evolution of Desire, asked 100 men and women which tactic they would use to get out of a bad relationship.
One of the most common answers: Start an affair.
The plan: She sucks—let her go.