Men are thought to be hard-wired to commit infidelity -- but in reality, women are cheating more than men in the modern age, according to a recent infidelity survey by Coffee and Company, a British marriage bureau.
Of the 3,000 respondents, over 20 percent of women admit to cheating. Similarly, in the Great Male Survey 2010 and Great Female Survey 2010 by AskMen.com, 5 percent of women confessed to cheating -- compared to less than 3 percent of men who admitted to infidelity.
Psychologist Gail Saltz and Kelly Wallace, chief correspondent at ivillage.com, stopped by the Today Show to uncover the reasons for the surge in female infidelity. Although loneliness and the desire to feel appreciated are usually the main culprits behind cheating, the contributors found four other surprising motives.
A woman who has been wronged may cheat as payback towards her spouse.
"If he cheats, the wife might not even want to cheat but [she] thinks that it’ll be the only way hell know the pain he caused her," Wallace says.
If the woman’s only goal is to hurt her partner, cheating is a surefire way to success. According to Bonnie Weil, Ph.D. of DoctorBonnie.com, men are not as empathetic as women so they usually can't feel the same pain unless it is done back to them.
But if women are seeking to heal the relationship -- or themselves -- revenge-seeking cheating will hardly even the score.
"Once she has [cheated], she still ends up feeling guilty," Saltz tells the Today Show. "It still blows up the family and relationship and everyone still pays the price."
They want to get caught
Women in unhappy marriages or relationships may use cheating as a vehicle to escape. Wallace labels this kind of infidelity as an exit affair.
"There are women so unhappy in their marriages -- particularly married mothers [who] feel too guilty to be the ones to say 'I'm done honey,'" Wallace says. "They want to have a reason."
Since men are less likely to forgive infidelity, they will most likely initiate a break-up -- alleviating their wife of the guilt of either breaking the relationship or family.
Having an affair may also ensure that the woman won’t be alone after the bust-up of her marriage.
"The woman gets into the affair to have someone to leap to when she actually wants to [end the relationship]," Saltz says. "It's a stepping stone."
Relive their past
When a current relationship hits a rough patch, a woman may turn to her ex-boyfriend for comfort.
"Sometimes going through one's Little Black Book is an easy way to find a sex partner who will temporarily make them feel better," relationship expert Seth Meyers, Sc.D., Los Angeles Psychologist, tells ivillage.com.
Many times, this type of infidelity isn’t about capitalizing on resurfacing feelings for her former lover, but rather the desire to feel like the woman she was at the time of their union.
"Reverting to her youth makes her feel alive again," says Weil. "It makes her feel younger, more carefree, sexier and more attractive."
Near-death experiences don’t always bring two partners closer together.
Women who have experienced a life-changing trauma -- be it an accident or illness -- may actually rethink their life choices and start to look outside their marriage.
"[When] you come head to head with your own mortality, you start questioning everything -- your job, friends, family and your partner," Wallace says.
If time seems unlimited, women may cheat to make the most of what time they have left -- especially if their spouse was unsupportive during the near-death experience.