The common perception, when we’re talking about sexual infidelity, is that men are always stepping out on the women in their lives. Needless to say, this idea is antiquated at best. In reality, women are just as likely to cheat as men. That said, men and women tend to think about their infidelity in very different ways and to have very distinct reasons for doing it.
For starters, men are much more likely to seek a purely objectified experience—sex with no strings attached. Meanwhile, women are much more likely to be interested in sex that includes (or at least hints at) some sort of emotional connection. In one study, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher looked at married men and women who were actively cheating on their spouses. She found that 34 percent of the women were happily married, as compared to 56 percent of the men.
Another study of men and women who were actively cheating found that 57 percent of women felt an emotional connection to their affair partner, compared to 27 percent of men. Taken together, these findings (and the results of many other studies) strongly suggest that women, much more so than men, are looking for emotional connection when they cheat.
Of course, the need for emotional connection is only one among many reasons that women cheat—though it is often paramount. Other motivations include: