Worried your wife may be cheating on you? Unfortunately, that might not be paranoia. One report from Indiana University found that nearly a fifth of women polled had admitted to cheating on their current partners, while a study published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy found that up to a whopping 55% of married women “engage in an extramarital sex at some time or another during their marriage.”
If you’re worried your wife might have something going on the side, here are the biggest warning signs you should be aware of.
1. She’s in her 30s.
Rates of infidelity start to rise among women in their mid-30s after they’ve been married for 7 years, according to infidelity experts.
2. She works.
Working women are more likely to cheat than stay-at-home moms. And they’re most likely to cheat with a coworker, according to the late Shirley Glass, Ph.D., who was an expert on female infidelity. Ditto with men who cheat. It’s partly an opportunity thing; we tend to love the ones we’re with, according to research by Cindy Hazan, Ph.D., associate professor of human development at Cornell. But it also reflects the reality of today’s office life, where intense side-by-side work forges deep connections.
3. She makes more than $75,000 a year.
Same goes for men. The highly paid are more likely to cheat, according to National Opinion Research Center data-obviously because they can afford the bar tab.
4. She was married before.
“Second marriages are higher in divorce and adultery than first marriages,” according to marriage therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D.
5. One of her parents had affairs.
Children of cheaters are more likely to repeat family history, says Weil.
6. She’s unhappy with you.
Women who say they’re “not too happy” in their marriages are nearly four times more likely to have an affair than women who say their marriage is “very happy,” according to a sampling of 544 adulterous adults who were polled by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). And nearly half of all women think an affair is perfectly okay if the marriage stinks; she’s just keeping it together for the kids.
7. She has a 1-year-old child.
Two-thirds of wives report a significant decline in marital satisfaction around this time, according to a 6-year University of Washington study of newlywed couples.
8. She doesn’t go to church or synagogue.
Women who never attend religious services are 2.5 times more likely to cheat than those who attend more than once a week, according to data from the NORC survey.
9. She’s watching “The Bachelorette” while you’re at poker night.
Couples who enter therapy after an affair report that they had been spending less time together than typical married couples do, according to a study by David C. Atkins, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Travis Research Institute in Pasadena, California. Men like to think that, once they’re married, they’ve “got that covered.” Then their wives wander off with someone who makes them feel adored again.
10. She has low self-esteem.
A major benefit of an affair, says women who stray, is the ego boost, according to a study by University of Texas evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss, Ph.D.
11. She’s a little bit nutty…
A number of studies suggest that women who tend to be narcissistic and who crave sexual variety and excitement are more likely to jump ship than women with less neurotic personality traits. Also, women who are friendly and extroverted get propositioned the most, according to a study by David P. Schmitt, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
12. She’s hot.
In which case, face it: She’s getting plenty of feelers. “Such people get used to being adored,” says marriage therapist Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., in her book Everything You Know About Love and Sex Is Wrong.
13. And getting hotter.
Is she working out at Bally’s? Changing salons? Buying new clothes? Enhancing her physical appearance is a top tactic of female “mate poachers,” according to studies by psychologists Buss and Schmitt.
14. She wants you to wear this harness.
If your wife introduces sex toys or has a favorite new position that seems outside of her usual repertoire, she may have learned from a substitute teacher, says Don-David Lusterman, Ph.D., author of Infidelity: A Survival Guide.
15. She’s ovulating.
New research by Steven Gangestad, Ph.D., at the University of New Mexico, reveals that women’s sex fantasies of other men nearly double during their days of peak fertility. In other words, she’s thinking about her boss on the very day he could become the father of her next child. Not that you’re worried.