Experiences of illicit relationships vary from person to person depending on the circumstances, however, one sex therapist claims that there are only really two types of cheating.
According to Tammy Nelson, resident relationship expert at Ashley Madison, a website for married people seeking affairs, adultery falls into one of two categories.
Speaking to Business Insider, Nelson explains the concept of “can-opener” affairs, whereby one partner cheats as a way of ending a relationship as opposed to confronting any issues directly.
This kind of cheating is more common among women than men, she adds.
As for why there might be a parity in terms of how different genders cheat, dating coach James Preece explains that women are more likely to cheat as a way of making a statement than men.
“They know that if they get caught doing so then it's going to bring about a quick end to the relationship,” he tells The Independent.
This ultimately saves them time, he adds, and easily leads to a swift ending as the partner who has been cheated on will feel that their pride has been damaged, making forgiveness - and any chances of mending the relationship - difficult.
The second type of cheating - more commonly committed by men - is the kind that acts as “a way of filling that one part of their life that their marriage doesn’t,” says Nelson.
In other words, one partner may feel like something is missing - either sexually or emotionally - and therefore looks to fulfil that absence via an illicit relationship because they are afraid of addressing it with their partner.
This person might not necessarily want to end their existing relationship, but is more likely to be looking to quell some sort of insatiable desire they feel can’t be satisfied by their current partner.
This fits in with research carried out by Ashley Madison which revealed that the most common reason people sign up to its site is because people feel their marriage has “lost its spark”.
However, Preece explains that cheating can also be a case of being tempted by third-party flirtations, something he says is also more common among men.
“Men need much more validation than women,” he explains, “so they will cheat if they get attention from someone else.
“It makes them feel younger, more virile and wanted.”
This can be particularly prevalent when a couple has children, he adds.
“Quite often they feel their wife has lost interest in them, especially when kids become the new priority.
“It can be a massive ego boost to know they are still desirable.”
Despite the generally negative repercussions - as dramatised in endless films and TV shows - affairs are actually surprisingly common, with a YouGov study from 2015 revealing that one in five British adults have had an affair.
The poll also revealed gender discrepancies in terms of motivations for cheating, reporting that men are more likely to have affairs due to sexual dissatisfaction whereas women mostly cheat out of emotional deprivation.
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