Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Common Justifications for Why Women Cheat

Today, I'd like to share a few observations one of my colleagues, Wayne, has to share on why women have affairs. Wayne is an expert on infidelity and is also a member of the Affair Recovery Specialist's Panel and helps with EMS Weekend.

Typically, the driving forces for a woman's affair differ from that of a man. In his video below, he'll share a few but common justifications used by women in regards to their affair(s).

Understanding the reason behind infidelity is crucial to recovery. Without a basic understanding of why someone cheated it's difficult for the betrayed spouse to determine the probability of future safety. The task of understanding the "why" behind their mate's infidelity is further complicated by gender difference.

One of the biggest mistakes betrayed spouses fall prey to is mistakenly assuming their mate's motivations for cheating are similar to what their motivations would be, and usually that's clearly not the case.

Assumed similarities are the primary barrier to understanding the "why" someone was unfaithful.

Over the past 36 months, my staff and I have seen a sharp increase in the number of unfaithful females who are reaching out for help. I also hope this article serves as a warning sign for those who have actually been betrayed, but are also at risk for acting out with an affair of their own.

One of our sayings at Affair Recovery is, "My mate is never my problem (that is not to say my mate doesn't have serious problems), my mate only reveals the problems in me."

As many betrayed spouses will attest to, two people can be in a bad marriage and only one will cheat.

The following poem is an example of a common justification used by women.

*Before you read it, please understand the scenario described below may be true, and it may be painful, but situations like this simply do NOT justify an affair. Other choices are ALWAYS readily available.

World Voices

A wayward wife to her husband

Branded and blackened by my own misdeeds
I stand before you; not as one who pleads
For mercy or forgiveness, but as one,
After a wrong is done,
Who seeks the why and wherefore.
Go with me
Back to those early years of love, and see
Just where our paths diverged. You must recall
Your wild pursuit of me, outstripping all
Competitors and rivals, till at last
You bound me sure and fast
With vow and ring.
I was the central thing
In all the Universe for you just then.
Just then for me, there were no other men.
I cared
Only for tasks and pleasures that you shared.
Such happy, happy days. You wearied first.
I will not say you wearied, but a thirst
For conquest and achievement in man's realm
Left love's barque with no pilot at the helm.
The money madness, and the keen desire
To outstrip others, set your heart on fire.
Into the growing conflagration went
Romance and sentiment.
Abroad you were a man of parts and power--
Your double dower
Of brawn and brains gave you a leader's place;
At home you were dull, tired, and commonplace.
You housed me, fed me, clothed me; you were kind;
But oh, so blind, so blind.
You could not, would not, see my woman's need
Of small attentions; and you gave no heed
When I complained of loneliness; you said
"A man must think about his daily bread
And not waste time in empty social life--
He leaves that sort of duty to his wife
And pays her bills, and lets her have her way,
And feels she should be satisfied."
Each day
Our lives that had been one life at the start,
Farther and farther seemed to drift apart.
Dead was the old romance of man and maid.
Your talk was all of politics or trade.
Your work, your club, the mad pursuit of gold
Absorbed your thoughts. Your duty kiss fell cold
Upon my lips. Life lost its zest, its thrill,
One fateful day when earth seemed very dull
It suddenly grew bright and beautiful.

I spoke a little, and he listened much;
There was attention in his eyes, and such
A note of comradeship in his low tone,
I felt no more alone.
There was a kindly interest in his air;
He spoke about the way I dressed my hair,
And praised the gown I wore.
It seemed a thousand, thousand years and more
Since I had been so noticed. Had mine ear
Been used to compliments year after year,
If I had heard you speak
As this man spoke, I had not been so weak.
The innocent beginning
Of all my sinning
Was just the woman's craving to be brought
Into the inner shrine of some man's thought.
You held me there, as sweetheart and as bride;
And then as wife, you left me far outside.
So far, so far, you could not hear me call;
You might, you should, have saved me from my fall.
I was not bad, just lonely, that was all.

A man should offer something to replace
The sweet adventure of the lover's chase
Which ends with marriage, Love's neglected laws
Pave pathways for the "Statutory Cause."1

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Written around 1885

Little has changed in the last 135 years. For this woman, her husband's neglect made her vulnerable to another's affection. Even so, that's no excuse for infidelity. If that were the case, every married person, at some point in the marriage, could find a justification for infidelity.

Susceptibility never justifies infidelity.

Below, are two videos from our Ask Rick Expert Q&A where I address two specific questions unfaithful spouses have recently submitted. This Q&A is for Hope for Healing participants only.

I hope you enjoy the videos as they'll provide insight into the infidelity-specific questions we discuss throughout our Hope for Healing course. For more information about our course for unfaithful spouses please visit our link: https://www.affairrecovery.com/product/hope-for-healing

  1. World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. New York : Hearst's International Library Company, 1916.



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Add New Comment:


So I’m curious, if neglect is

So I’m curious, if neglect is the driving factor behind women’s infidelity, why didn’t Samuel and Rick’s wives cheat?

This is a poorly executed video and very off base.

Common Justifications for Why Women Cheat

Agreed! I had exactly the same thoughts and comments.

Changing the title alone

Changing the title alone doesn't really address the many issues people have shared in the forums.

Women and affairs

Women also cheat after husband has cheated over a period of years not for revenge but from them feeling not loved and not good enough feelings of worthless looking for someone to make them feel valued.

Very disturbing video

As a BH, this video was very disturbing.
I still don’t understand Wayne’s logic of an UW is “justified” why she had an affair because she craves attention from another man, crave intimacy (without talking about it and keeping it a secret), overwhelmed by the need for being a caregiver (again, without expressing this at all) and feeling lonely because her husband may be working hard for the family. I was in the same married relationship too as my UW. I chose to be faithful to my wife and family.
Question for Wayne: Can I also use these reasons to justify why I can stray and get away with these same excuses in our married relationship in future? Hope you can truly respond!

isn't this self justification?

I have a few questions on Wayne's video:

First, I'm confused as to the intent of Wayne's video. "Why she cheats" seems to give credence to after-the-fact self justification by the unfaithful. Aren't the reasons given classic self justifications as found in "Mistakes were made (but not by me)"?

Second, if these are self-justifications, then why are they not framed as after the fact excuses? As it is, I believe this would not be helpful to a newly betrayed spouse. It would have upset me up till quite recently (I'm 15 months post d-day 1, 13 months post d-day 2).

Lastly, there may be truths underlying the reasons. Wouldn't these be more helpful after some recovery by the betrayed had taken place?