It's difficult to remember when I was first introduced to the concept of infidelity. Perhaps it was onscreen, a sub-B plot of a Disney Channel Original Movie, or the crux of a classic rom-com. Typically, these narratives would follow a somewhat predictable scheme: Men would take the initiative to stray from their relationships, women would cry into their pillowcases at night, but ultimately find it in their hearts to forgive their philandering partners. To me, this was how men cheated: with righteous authority and driven by passion. But how do women cheat? As a pubescent girl, I had little-to-no clue.
As I grew older, and some of my friends' parents began to divorce after alleged affairs, infidelity became less of a conceptual plot line to me, and more of a reality. I realized that the lessons that had been engrained in me about cheating were, in fact, falsehoods. Both men and women take the initiative to cheat, many do so without malicious intent, and it isn't always so easy to forgive and forget. Additionally, I came to understand that sometimes infidelity can stem from other issues within a relationship that are beyond my comprehension, and that I shouldn't be so quick to judge a cheater. Every relationship is defined differently by the people in it, and oftentimes, the choices made by those individuals are not as black and white as Blockbusters had lead me to believe.
An October 2018 study released by Ashley Madison, a site for affairs and discreet dating, reveals that my vision of infidelity was even more skewed than I previously believed. According to the new data 45 percent of female cheaters often take the lead in meeting potential affair-partners within their first week of connection. Moreover, 45 percent of female cheaters will only wait one date before getting intimate with someone new. So what do these findings demonstrate? That women show greater initiative when it comes to taking charge and finding what they need out of an extramarital pursuit.
Remember, this statistic in no way means that women are solely to blame in extramarital affairs: People of all genders participate in infidelity. The study also doesn't aim to suggest that women enjoy cheating more — there is no way to judge the nature of a relationship that you are not in. When it comes to another couple's experience with infidelity, there's no use in playing the blame game.
So why do these women cheat? According to the same study, their reasons can range from loneliness and neglect, to revenge and sex addiction. In other words, there is no one reason for why women cheat — and generalizing about infidelity won't address the root of the issue, or the source of the pain.
If you or your partner has been unfaithful, communicate with each other about how you've both been feeling. Address all of your issues directly, beyond just the affair. Just because a relationship has experienced cheating in no way means that it is doomed to fail. If you both believe you can rebuild the trust in your relationship from a foundation of love, then confidently take that next step, together. And if you do choose to leave a partner who cheated, know that you will grow stronger because of it. Time truly does have the power to heal all wounds, and love does have a way of surprising you when you least expect it.
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