Although statistically, there has been a change in the number of people admitting to having an extramarital affair, there is still no accurate information on how common affairs are. Fear of disclosure is still skewing survey responses significantly. While there has been an increase in the number of women admitting to extramarital affairs, men are still more likely to have an affair than women.
But what is changing, is the opportunity for women to engage in an affair. As more women have moved out of the house and into the paid workforce, there has been a greater opportunity to meet a prospective lover. Research has indicated that most affairs occur with someone from their place of work. Also, increased economic power is making women less risk adverse because they are now less dependent on their partner for support.
Although both men and women engage in affairs, there is a difference between genders. Research has suggested that women are more likely to be driven by emotional needs which are not being satisfied in their relationship. For men, the engagement in an extramarital affair is often independent of their happiness within the relationship.
Past research has indicated that men who engage in an extramarital affair may not be unhappy in their relationship. On the contrary, many have stated that they were happy in the primary relationship. Now new evidence suggests, that this may not be the case. Men are now admitting to being emotionally and sexually involved with their affair partner. This may now suggest that men are as equally affected by the emotional attachment to their primary partner as women.
Once infidelity has occurred, then partners are likely to look back at their primary relationship and see it as having been flawed all along - which may be an attempt to reduce cognitive dissonance.
Experts like McCarthy suggest, that there are many different factors that may lead to an affair, which may have nothing to do with the marriage. The most common reason for people engaging in an affair is high opportunity. McCarthy suggests, that most people fall into an affair rather than plan them. Another common problem that can contribute to an affair is desirability. Many people do not feel desired in their marriage. And they want to check if they are still desirable to others.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington