The gender gap is narrowing when it comes to cheating.
A recent study by the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey shows that the percentage of wives having affairs increased 40 percent during the past 20 years to nearly 15 percent. The percentage of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 percent. And the Chicago-based American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports an increase in the number of divorce cases caused by cheating wives.
Although men statistically cheat more, the increase in unfaithful women reflects many trends, including greater financial independence, feeling like they have less to lose from a divorce, and greater access to men who might be interested and available to them.
The internet and social media has made cheating easier, too.
So, what is causing these women to stray?
“To the extent that men play a role, it reflects a certain inattentiveness,” say relationship experts and authors Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels. “Relationship neglect is often (but not always) a primary cause of infidelity.”
Women feel that the economic consequences of being unfaithful aren’t as great as they used to be. Since salaries have become more equitable, cheating doesn’t seem as much a financial risk.
Additionally, personal fulfillment is more important than it’s ever been, says psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig.
“It’s the idea that if your marriage isn’t making you happy, then you can always get out and find another partner.”