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The Real Reasons Men and Women Have Affairs

    Sometimes, an affair starts off innocently enough. A connection is made with someone other than a spouse or partner—a close friend at work, for example. This friendship grows, and both people become more emotionally involved, especially if that support is missing at home. You begin to feel like that person understands you better than you partner, and it’s easy to romanticize without the baggage of a real relationship. It’s a chance to reinvent yourself, and losing yourself in the fantasy is more attractive than dealing with reality.

    Other times, people can pinpoint exactly what’s missing in their relationship and seek it out on sites like Ashley Madison.

    Couples counselor Mira Kirshenbaum tells Time Magazine

    The image that I have is like someone who has been wandering around with a couple of empty wine glasses who suddenly meets someone with a bottle of wine. And so they want a little taste.

    Men and women from all walks of life can end up searching in the dark with empty wine glasses when their relationships aren’t supporting them in the all the ways they want and need. But what are the underlying reasons that people seek out affairs?

    Users on Ashley Madison search for extra marital partners for a number of reasons. Some are searching for a no-strings casual sex relationship and need the discretion the site provides, while others are searching for the excitement that a clandestine affair can bring. Many members on Ashley Madison emphasize they are happy in their long-term relationships and aren’t looking to change their situation; but are simply seeking a new experience and the excitement that brings.

    Do Men and Women Have Affairs for Different Reasons? 

    According to Psychology Today, there are three primary reasons people have affairs: Relationship reasons (dissatisfaction), situational reasons (work, schedules, location), and individual reasons (personality, religious and political orientation, and gender). In many cases, emotional reasons cause both men and women to stray, but the basis for their dalliances are slightly different.

    The main reasons that women stray from their relationship are:

    • Low self-esteem
      Feeling unattractive to their partner, aging, and low confidence can cause women to seek instant gratification and validation through a prolonged relationship that makes them feel desired.
    • Lack of romance/emotional support
      Romance is different for every couple, but if it’s clear that her partner isn’t trying to keep things exciting or isn’t there for her emotionally, women may look outside their relationship.
    • Feels underappreciated
      A woman who feels like a nanny, chaffeur or caregiver may crave the attention of someone who appreciates her personality, attitude and unique sense of self.

    The main reasons men stray:

    In his book, counselor Gary Neuman interviewed men to get more insight into why men stray. Only 8% said they had an extramarital affair simply for the sex alone.

    • Emotional dissatisfaction
      According to his Neuman’s survey, 48% of men seek sexual intimacy outside of their primary relationship because they’re not being supported emotionally.
    • Lack of communication
      If a man comes home and doesn’t feel heard by his wife, it can lead to alienation within the relationship. According to Neuman, it’s not just about communicating about needs, but an overall feeling of being on the same page as their partner that men need.
    • Insecurity
      According to Neuman, married men usually have an affair with someone who praises and looks up to them. They’re looking to fill an emotional void through validation.

    Experts say both sexes seek extramarital affairs due to unhappiness, curiosity, revenge, validation and ultimately a lack of sexual or emotional satisfaction in their relationship. Men and women feeling the urge to stray often start their exploration online using sites like Ashley Madison.

    Cathy Meyer, a divorce expert, explains that the forbidden nature of an affair makes it more exciting. For some, an affair offers an escape from the stress and responsibilities of real life, a break in the routine.

    Affairs Around the World

    In many parts of the world, affairs are not as taboo as they are in western society. A recent study found that:

    • Thailand has the most marital affairs in the world coming in at 56%
    • Denmark falls second at 46%
    • Italy comes in a close third at 45%
    • 63% of French people believe that you can love someone without remaining monogamous
    • 50% of men stray from their primary relationship in search of casual connections or long-term relationships. They even call them “simultaneous multi-partnerships.”

    Monogamy has also come in question in recent years due to high divorce rates and studies on monogamy showing that 20 to 60% of all married people will have an affair at least once during their relationships.

    This recent shift in attitudes towards non-monogamy has opened the door for many people to explore outside of their relationship without technically having an affair.

    Open relationships, polyamory, and terms like “monogamish” have been made mainstream thanks to people like sex columnist Dan Savage.

    Savage believes straying outside a long-term relationship can actually have benefits for both parties, and that it may even strengthen the relationship. Many people choose to pursue an open relationship or different forms of non-monogamy via adult-dating websites like

    No matter what’s right for you, you can discreetly browse for potential partners on, a community where you can explore your inner-most needs and desires.

    About Ashley Madison

    Ashley Madison is a world-famous dating community that operates in 47 countries. Our site attracts non-judgmental people in sexless marriages looking for affairs, like-minded connections and more. Join today at

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