LEVEL?s resident sexpert breaks down the common causes of infidelity
Illustration: Janet Sung
Women get naked and slide into my DMs daily.
Just to clarify: I don?t get any nudes. Because of the work that I do as a public sex and relationship educator, though, my inboxes tend to serve as a confessional for those looking to expose their fears, forks in the road, fails, and fuck-ups.
The numbers don?t lie. You might want to dip into her DMs and see what?s going on. (Actually, no. Don?t do that. Ever.)
If she?s taking classes, having vision-board events, going to the gym, and learning Spanish, you?d better have your own goals too ? or she could look for someone who does.
Here?s the awful truth: Since 1990, the rate of married men who report cheating on their spouse has remained the same, about 25%. For women, that number is smaller?but it?s also shot up in recent years, increasing by 40%.
Do I have your attention yet? Good. Let?s consider the question of why she?s cheating on you.
- Because she?s bored to tears. We?re creatures of habit, attracted to routines?but routines also breed personas. Just like you have versions of yourself tailored for work, we often fall into personas tailored to our romantic partners. We get takeout on Tuesday. We have sex on Saturday. You get a blow job on your birthday, maybe on vacation. When things get rote, women check out. In these cases, cheating can be seen as an act of preservation; an opportunity to prove to themselves, and get confirmation from another, that they?re still likable. So: what did she like to do when you both first met? How often did you have sex? How often did you travel or watch certain shows together? How often did you actually have conversations? If those things have changed a lot, be clear that she may have checked out. And could be searching for your replacement.
- Because you?ve stopped trying.There?s a theory called the self-expansion model that states that we bond romantically as a means of expanding ourselves. When we first meet someone we?re exposed to an entire new world: their interests, expertise, network base, resources, and personality strengths. This leads to a burst of self-expansion, but if each partner does not continue to progress independently, there becomes nothing new to gain from one another. If she?s taking classes, having vision-board events, going to the gym, and learning how to speak Spanish, you?d better have your own goals too?or she could look for someone who does.
- Because she can.In previous generations, if you were caught cheating you?d lose not just a husband, but a home and a means for survival. Today, women cheat because they can now afford to?both financially and socially. Cheating is no longer a cause for social exile (and in some states, isn?t even grounds for legal retaliation). Does your woman depend on you completely for all finances? She may be faithful. Is she financially independent? It?s not a definite–but it can happen.
- Because that?s just who she is.Some people simply aren?t cut out for monogamy?and even worse, some people get a rise out of defying it. How do you spot these people? You can?t. Cheating doesn?t have a look, but it does have a personality. If you?re into monogamy, avoid people who get bored easily, put themselves in high-risk situations, and don?t seem to have an inner moral code that they unconditionally abide by. (If you?re that person, maybe you don?t need to be in a monogamous relationship either.)
But here?s the big one:
5. She?s cheating on you because you?re cheating on her.
You think she doesn?t suspect? She probably does. And she might confront you about it. But you know what else she might do? Get all the facts, prove that you?re being unfaithful?and then step out and find the perfect boy toy for herself. No, an eye for an eye doesn?t solve any problems, but it can satiate a grudge in the short term. If you?re cheating on your partner, best believe she?s likely returning the favor.