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Infidelity

This is the number one reason why women cheat

Marie Claire

Settled, happy and still in love… so why risk losing everything? MARIA RAY explores female infidelity and decodes why women who have it all embark on affairs

‘It started out as lunch, then an occasional glass of wine after work − pretty run of the mill,’ my friend Aisha* tells me breathlessly one morning as we jog through the park. ‘But then I began to realise the dynamic I had with Matt; it was like he was activating a more brilliant version of me. One night we went to a work dinner and ended up kissing in the Uber home, the next I’m arranging to meet him for sex in a hotel.’ Harmless enough if Aisha wasn’t in a seven-year relationship with the father of her child. ‘The thing is, I love Peter and he’s a great dad,’ she adds as a qualifier for her infidelity. ‘But with Matt, I become a different person − lighter and happier.’

There was a time when infidelity was thought to be motivated by long-term dissatisfaction with a partner; where love and lust had waned. But things have changed. Aisha isn’t the only thirtysomething mother I know in my circle who is having an affair. Today, infidelity is more closely allied to female sexual assertiveness − a sense of ‘I’m taking this for me’. It’s what acclaimed sexual psychologist Esther Perel has identified as a desire for self-actualisation, where women are straying because of dissatisfaction with who they have become, rather than unhappiness with their partner. ‘In truth, we are not looking for another person,’ Perel says. ‘We are looking for another self.’

Outside my anecdotal experiences at the school gates and among colleagues and friends, there is solid evidence of a shift and the stats are intriguing, particularly as we enter opportunistic party season. According to a YouGov study, at least one in five British adults have had an affair (defined by infidelity on a physical basis, it doesn’t reach into the blurred bounds of sexting). Within that, the traditional ‘infidelity gap’ between the sexes is decreasing: research by the Kinsey Institute reveals a 40 per cent jump in female affairs since 1990. And a study conducted by relationship expert and biological anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher found over a third of adulterous women were ‘happy or very happy’ in their marriages. That’s a sizeable chunk of happy women straying.

astral sex

 

‘There are, of course, plenty of affairs grounded in the misery of matrimony,’ continues Perel. ‘But more and more [women] come to me who’ve always believed in monogamy, who have a solid relationship – and still cheat.’ Perel finds today’s clients describe situations where infidelity has been triggered by desire for a new or former version of themselves, and believes Gen Y and millennials expect more from life than previous generations. ‘We live in an age of entitlement and discovery; where sex is a right, linked to our individuality and self-actualisation − and infidelity can be an expansive experience that involves growth and transformation.’

This resonates with me. I had extraordinary rapport with a man I met at an awards event last month and we stayed out all night drinking. This was a man who, within an hour, made me feel like the person I was before I had a responsible job to get up for in the morning, and young children. In his company I became someone more fabulous, more ‘me’. He brought out facets of myself I didn’t recognise or I’d forgotten, and I was suddenly glimpsing my more confident, risk-taking self. It was magnetic. I didn’t cheat or go home with him, but I spent that evening lying in bed thinking about him and the new possibilities that had opened up to me outside the strict confines of my usual routine. When he texted me the following morning as I was eating cereal with my kids (I shouldn’t have given him my number − what was I thinking?) I deleted it instantly. I was suddenly struck by how easily I could have wrecked everything I have.





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Date: 10.12.2018, 01:31 / Views: 32261