Author Susan Shapiro Barash explains the rise of women's infidelity
Gender expert Susan Shapiro Barash shared her three decades-worth research on women and infidelity in her new book, A Passion for More, disclosing how gray divorces and affairs are on the rise. Women married for several decades are actively seeking lovers. The study pertaining to American women, reveals that those in their fifties and sixties are engaging in extramarital affairs. Excerpts from an interview.
Major findings of the research
70% of women will engage in an affair at some point in their marriages/committed relationships. 78% say that their lover is the opposite of their partners 60% view their lover as an escape. 70% of the women believe their lover is their wake-up call.
What drive women to pursue extramarital affairs?
"Women have affairs because they are disappointed in their primary relationship. Whatever is missing in the marriage/partnership is found in the lover - and this is compelling. If there isn't enough sex, the affair is about it. If there isn't enough emotion, it is about emotions," explains Barash. A lover makes unappreciated women feel special, and for others, affairs are about their personal power.
Is the concept of open relationships valid between married couples?
"Open relationships are tricky in a culture endorsing monogamy. They are often lopsided - one partner is involved with someone outside the marriage and the other isn't." Since promising to be faithful is part of marriage vows, straying is viewed as a betrayal. "An open relationship can be hurtful, and what is agreed upon can still feel like 'cheating' in certain cases," Barash explains.
Most women stay in the primary relationship despite an affair...
"According to my ongoing research, about half of the women who have an affair stay, and about half leave." "Only 35% end up with their lover who is often a bridge to the other side and shows the women what they have and do not have in their marriages/partnerships," shares Barash, whose diverse interviewee pool spans American women from their 20s to their 80s.
Why do women have affairs with a sense of entitlement?
"A majority of the women in my study view the affair as a way to understand themselves, what they long for, and a form of self-exploration," says Barash. "When they view it this way, they are not apologetic or remorseful but have a sense of entitlement about the affair," she explained. 90% of the women surveyed have zero remorse and actively pursue an affair.
How are today's affairs different from the yesteryears'?
More women are having affairs now, than 20 years ago. The author says, "Affairs are different in terms of access - much more access is available today. From cyberspace affairs to emotional affairs to affairs of the mind." "Women have cell phones and this makes things more separate than in the past. Also, both younger and older women are engaging in these extramarital trysts."
Signs that indicate your partner is having an affair
If your partner's schedule changes or there is unaccounted-for time, that is a sign. "If your partner is paying more attention to their appearance, possibly going to the gym more or dieting or purchasing new clothes... And for women, who say they are happier in their marriages because of their affairs, there is also an uplifted mood and more smiles," informs the bestselling author.
How can one prevent their spouse from having an affair?
"There isn't any magic potion that I know of... Better communication between the couple and closeness between the partners would, of course, make it less likely to happen." "Then again, there are no guarantees, based on my research. In the 'Love Affair' section of the book, there are women who end up meeting a lover unexpectedly, and it is life-changing," Barash signs off.