Women Cheat More Than We Think. What To Do If That’s You.

"Men and women cheat. Stop it."—Unknown

Love & Relationships

Yeeeeah. If there was ever an article that needed the disclaimer "Hey, don't shoot the messenger" before it, this would have to be it. Not because I am someone who is shocked by what I'm about to share (when you're a marriage life coach, you tend to hear it all); it's more that, when it comes to the topic of cheating/infidelity, and who participates in it, it really does seem a little one-sided when it comes to gender. C'mon. I know I'm not the only one who can honestly say that, whenever most people think of cheaters and cheating, who they think of is men. But oh, baby. As you're about to see in just a moment, women definitely do their fair share of creepin' around. More than a lil' bit, actually.


But before I dive into all of the stats and whatnot, let me just share a bit of what I have seen from my personal experience and interaction. As far as personal experience goes, one day I'll get into why a lot of women are willing to help a man to cheat. As a former-sometimes-side-chick-in-recovery, I can definitely offer up some insight into that, chile. For now, as far as my married friends and clients go, I'll be really real with y'all. I'd say that as far as who has cheated on whom, it's the wives that have had the upper hand; especially when it comes to micro-cheating, emotional affairs or "oral sex infidelity".

Why? The reasons vary. Some feel emotionally disconnected from their husband. Some are sexually bored and uninspired in their relationship (bookmark that, I'll circle back to it in just a bit). I can't emphasize enough how many don't know how to leave an ex alone. Some aren't sure if their husband is cheating or not, so they decide to sleep around, "just in case". Some are just flat-out delusional because they think that, so long as they only go out with ole' boy (the other man) from time to time or, if they do mess around, no actual penetration transpires, it's not "really cheating".

First of all, yes it has. Secondly, it really is baffling how some folks will justify their own reckless behavior but will find the very same acts inexcusable if they are on the receiving end. But relational hypocrisy is also another topic for another time.

For now, let's look at some of the findings behind why women cheat. Let's not stop there, though. If you happen to see yourself in any of this copy, let's also touch on what you should do to get your own love life back in order.

What the Experts Say About Women and Cheating

Ever since I caught a tweet that simply said, "Black women don't cheat", I've been following it to see what the responses to it would be. They've been interesting, to say the least. While the men have been going ham, I found it fascinating that the author of it seemed to finally get fed up after a couple of days or so. At least this gave me the impression that she is—"Before I mute this, ima just say idgaf who hurt y'all. Don't come to my tweet with negativity against black women, this tweet is not that deep and is in response to black men don't cheat."

I'll say this—a part of the reason why a lot of us struggle so much in relationships is because of the "idgaf who hurt you" mentality that far too many of us have. As much as we don't, we should. Both men and women should. Lord, have mercy. Apathy is gonna be the death of intimacy for a lot of folks out here. But that too is a PSA for another time. My main point for bringing this up is, I wonder if a lot of women have even asked the men in their lives about what led to his first (or second) real heartbreak. I have. 7 times out of 10, guess what it was? Cheating. He didn't do it. She did. And whether it's ego, fear, a very low threshold for emotional pain or all of the above, it had so many of the men shook that many of them still haven't fully healed or recovered from it. And an unhealed person trying to love anyone else is going to result in a lot of emotional turbulence in their future relationships.

Back to how many women cheat. If you just read all of that and was like "7 out of 10, Shellie? You sure you're not exaggerating?", I'll say this—although I am sure that I'm not, let's look into what the stats state, shall we? According to The Institute for Family Studies, 20 percent of husbands and 13 percent of wives have admitted to having sex with at least one other person over the course of their marriage. As far as race goes? It's truly a "SMH" when I say that we take the lead (Blacks sit at 22 percent, whites at 16 percent and Hispanics at 13 percent). While you might want to assume that it's the young folks who do it the most, that isn't the case. Only 11 percent of individuals between 18-34 cheat while 17 percent of people between 35-64 and 18 percent of those over 65 do it. Some other interesting findings are those who are Democrats with some college who did not grow up with both parents and basically only go to church on Christmas and Easter are also the biggest cheaters.

OK, so that's some of what I found about married people. Let's look at some other stuff I discovered that specifically relates to millennial singles. In the article "Why Are Millennial Women Cheating More Than Men?", the author shared that, although via another study she also found that 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women cheat, when it comes specifically to the 18-29 demographic, women slightly cheated more. When she asked 30 of the women why, the reasons ranged for relational dissatisfaction to being under the influence.

However, another author that was interviewed for the piece said, "Women are known to be more sensitive to social pressure than men, and there has always been more pressure on proper sexual behavior in women. Also, they traditionally had fewer opportunities because they were more likely to stay at home with the kids." In response to that, the writer of the article added, "Basically, several decades of feminism have eroded some of the stigma surrounding women's sexuality and given them more financial and social freedom, empowering them to behave like men — and sometimes like dirtbags."

Hmph. I will say this. Although a lot of women that I talk to think that being cheated on is basically the unpardonable sin, if they or a female friend has actually cheated on their partner, suddenly there is so much insight, compassion and—dare I say it?—justification. While when a man does it, he's a dog, end of story, when a woman does it, she has a reason and it should be heard. Hmm…is that empathy or hypocrisy? Y'all tell me.

Maybe there's less understanding for men because, when a man cheats, women think that it's purely a carnal and selfish act—full stop. But when a woman cheats, automatically, it's more complicated in their eyes. At least that's what the article "The Reasons Why Married Women Cheat on Their Husbands" implies. In it, the author shares that the reasons for women's cheating are as layered as each woman is. But what did come up quite a bit was sexual dissatisfaction; the same thing that I hear in my sessions. Ah, so maybe a part of the reason why more women are cheating is because a lot of them are not tolerating not getting their needs met—both in and out of the bedroom. And when I say, "more women", I mean just that. Just peep what, Alicia M. Walker, an associate professor of sociology at Missouri State University, stated in the article:

"Way more women are cheating than we think. We just don't like to talk about it, and we don't like to think about it. You don't want to think that your neighbor, your Sunday school teacher, or your friend is doing this. But the reality is, you know a woman who's cheating, you just don't know that she is."

Hmph again. The more that all of this is unfolding, it sounds like the whole "If a forest falls and no one is there to hear it, does it actually make a sound?" question.

Is it really that men cheat more? Or is it that women get caught less?

Because just because no one knows what may have went down, that doesn't mean that cheating did not occur. Right?

Now here's what's "funny" about all of this. Even with all of research that I've read on this particular topic (which is far too much for this article), as a woman, I'm not offended in the least. As someone who is working on deactivating some of my triggers in other areas, none of this applies to me personally, so there's nothing to get all bent out of shape about. If anything, I think stuff like this is a wake-up call to whether we want the cheating that goes on in relationships to stop period, or if we simply want to keep playing the blame game despite what data reveals to us? Or, do we want to do what our current administration does daily—deflect to "the other team" so that we don't have to take a long hard look at our own behaviors? (Ouch and amen.)

What If YOU Are the One Who Cheats?


So, what if you read all of this and saw some of yourself in it? What should you do? Although that is its own article series, I will do my best to share three ways to get you started on the road to faithfulness:

1. Don't justify the behavior. One couple I worked with, the wife was cheating on her husband with an ex. Her justification was her husband wasn't romantic enough. Then it turned into her needing to go to her hometown (where her ex lived) to see her family. While she was there, she would "happen" to run into her ex. Then it was, "We kissed a few times, but it's not like we've had sex or anything. Besides, if my husband was more affectionate, this wouldn't be a temptation for me." It was a steady decline from there. Listen, one of the easiest ways to not take responsibility for your own actions is to justify your own behavior. All of us have reasons for the good and bad that we do. But as long as you've got excuses, you'll never really be able to do the next point so that you can break free of the pattern. That is, if you want to break free. Do you?

2. Get to the root cause. I already know what some of y'all who've been reading this are thinking—"This is stupid. If you're gonna cheat, just be single." In theory, you are exactly right. But some people—especially married people—don't think that way. It's because, to them, ending the relationship would cause more complications, not less. This is oftentimes the case if there are children involved, things that both people's names are on, or even if both individuals still have strong feelings for each other, but certain needs aren't being met. In other words, they're not dissatisfied enough to leave; they are just unhappy enough to cheat.

This is why getting to the root of the cheating is so important. If it's relational dissatisfaction, are you and yours open to counseling? If it's sexual dissatisfaction, have you relayed that to your partner? What effort have you put in to make things better? If it's boredom, when's the last time you and yours have tried doing something new? If it's an ex, what is unresolved that needs to get resolved?

Although there are some people who cheat because they're simply horny jerks who are too emotionally immature for a relationship, for many individuals, that is not even remotely the underlying issue. Cheating is a Band-Aid to a wound, but there is definitely a wound that exists. A lot of folks are out here ranting about the Band-Aid rather than peeking to see what it's covering up.

3. Accept that cheating CHEATS you. I've helped people cheat. And, as karma would have it, I have been cheated on. In all of the scenarios, no matter how "good" the sex with the other person may have been for the cheater, it certainly didn't make anyone's life less complex or convoluted. All of the sneaking and lying and deceiving can be utterly exhausting. It can also desensitize you and even cause you to go numb, just so that you can quiet your conscience. What kind of existence is that?

If there's one thing that all of this revealed, it's that cheating doesn't prefer a gender. It's down for whoever wants to do it.

But if you're out here thinking that it only affects—or potentially infects—the person you are cheating on, or that somehow your mindset for why you are doing it isn't "that bad"…pardon the pun, but you are cheating yourself out of so much.

One thing that cheating does is makes us settle. If we're not getting our needs (or wants) met, rather than fix our relationship or wait for the one who can truly fulfill us to come along, we sacrifice time, energy, resources and emotions on what has a slim chance of ever getting right—let alone lasting. I'll be honest. I know a couple who cheated on their spouses, got married and are still married some 20 years later. They will be the first to tell you that they are dealing with some consequences that they never saw coming—like being able to fully trust one another.

Personally, I am over the whole "Black men don't cheat" and "Black women don't cheat" narrative. I actually like what one of the people said in response to the tweet that I shared earlier. All he did was add a comma and it changed everything—"Black women, don't cheat." Same goes for Black men. Shoot, men and women, in general.

Don't do it simply because of what cheat means—defraud, swindle, fraud by influence, violate rules, trick, victimize, deliberate dishonesty. Again, there's no way you can cheat on someone else and not cheat yourself in the process. This applies to men and women. Not one more the other either. As you just read.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Monica Will Never Blame Another Woman For A Man's Infidelity

Truths From A Former Side Chick

How To Tell Your Partner Your Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met

Why Do Men Cheat? 7 Underestimated Reasons Married Men Have Affairs

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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