Infidelity or cheating has many definitions.
Mariam Webster dictionary defines Infidelity as the act or fact of having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone other than one’s husband, wife, or partner.
Cheating occurs when there is an agreement between two partners to be in a monogamous relationship and one partner violates the agreement and engages in sexual or emotional intimacy with someone outside the relationship.
Oftentimes, people only think of sexual relations as cheating, yet sharing emotional intimate parts of oneself with someone outside the relationship can also be considered as cheating.
However, cheating doesn’t mean the end to a relationship, I believe it can be repaired if both partners are willing to do the work it out.
There is a common misconception that it’s only men who step out on their partners and that women are always faithful.
To that, I say: Who are all these men cheating with exactly? Do married men and men in committed relationships only cheat with single women?
The simple truth is that approximately as many married women cheat as married men.
Research suggests that 10 to 20 percent of men and women in marriages or other committed (monogamous) relationships will actively engage in sexual activity outside of their primary relationship.
And these numbers are likely under-reported, possibly by a wide margin.
In Nigeria especially, cheating amongst women is not often discussed in comparison to cheating in men.
Mr. Obiukwu, a married man living in Lagos, in his own words, has this to say about cheating women.
“The ratio at which married men to women cheat is almost at par. The difference is secrecy, women are more coded and would most times or never flaunt it unlike a man who sees cheating with other women as a quest to conquer or some sort of ego thing”.
Franklin is a bachelor in Lagos who works hard and hardly stays at home except on weekends.
That does not stop his 30-something-year-old married neighbour from making a pass at him.
“My neighbour – a pretty married woman, would always try to initiate conversation with me and when that didn’t work, she got my phone number from our gate man and kept calling me for a hangout with her.
“She even invited me to go with her to an event at her place of work. I always politely rejected her advances. Maybe if I had rudely rebuffed her, she would have kept a distance,” says the Lagos big boy.
The married woman was still on his case at the time of writing this piece.
Femi has a similar story and so does Abdullah, both of whom have been hit on by married women in their 30’s and 50’s respectively.
An independent survey also conducted in Africa by AE affirms the fact that Nigeria with a population of over 160 million, tops the chart for cheating women.
Corruption and a general distrust amongst citizens is largely responsible for this.
None of that, of course, explains why women cheat. Nor does it address the fact that women and men often cheat for very different reasons.
So Why Do Women Cheat?
From surveys carried out over the years, typically, females step out on a committed partner for one or more of the following reasons:
• They feel underappreciated, neglected, or ignored. They feel more like a housekeeper, nanny or financial provider than a wife or girlfriend. So they seek an external situation that validates them for who they are, rather than the services they perform.
• They crave intimacy. Women tend to feel valued and connected to a significant other more through non-sexual, emotional interplay (talking, having fun together, being thoughtful, building a home and social life together, etc.) than sexual activity.
When they’re not feeling that type of connection from their primary partner, they may seek it elsewhere.
• They are overwhelmed by the needs of others. Recent research about women who cheat indicates that many women, despite stating that they deeply love their spouses, their home, their work, and their lives, cheat anyway.
These women often describe feeling so under-supported and overwhelmed by having to be all things to all people at all times that they seek extramarital sex as a form of life-fulfilment.
• They are lonely. Women can experience loneliness in a relationship for any number of reasons. Maybe their spouses work long hours or travel for business on a regular basis, or maybe their spouses are emotionally unavailable.
Whatever the cause, they feel lonely maybe their spouses are emotionally unavailable. Whatever the cause, they feel lonely, and they seek connection through infidelity to fill the void.
• They expect too much from a primary relationship. Some women have unreasonable expectations about what their primary partner and relationship should provide.
They expect their spouses to meet their every need 24/7, 365 days a year, and when that doesn’t happen, they seek attention elsewhere.
• They are responding to or re-enacting early-life trauma and abuse. Sometimes women who experienced profound early-life (or adult) trauma, especially sexual trauma, will re-enact that trauma as a way of trying to master or control it.
• They’re not having enough satisfying sex at home. There is a societal misconception that only men enjoy sex. But plenty of women also enjoy sex, and if they’re not getting it at home, or it’s not enjoyable to them, for whatever reason, they may well seek for it elsewhere.
As with male cheaters, women who cheat typically do not realize (in the moment) how profoundly infidelity affects their partner and their relationship.
Cheating hurts betrayed men just as much as it hurts betrayed women. The keeping of secrets, especially sexual and romantic secrets, damages relationship trust and is incredibly painful regardless of gender.
If a couple chooses to address the situation together, couple’s counselling can turn a relationship crisis into a growth opportunity.
Unfortunately, even when experienced therapists are extensively involved with people committed to healing, some couples are unable to ever regain the necessary sense of trust and emotional safety required to make it together.
For these couples, solid, neutral relationship therapy can help the people involved to process a long overdue goodbye.
But cheating doesn’t have to be seen as the end of a relationship; instead, it can be viewed as a test of its maturity and ability to weather the storm.