by Katherine Lee, LCSW
Women who cheat on their partners often experience a barrage of emotions. Guilt mixed up with excitement from the affair, as well as shame and loneliness are quite common. Not only is it hard to risk judgment from others by talking about cheating; society often pigeonholes men to be the ones to step outside of a relationship, leaving females in this position feeling especially stigmatized and isolated. The truth is, current research reveals that women are as likely to cheat as men.
It may be quite easy for anyone, including a woman, to feel as though they have become swept up in an affair. Oftentimes people do not necessarily go after the idea of becoming involved with someone else. It is not frequently planned. An affair or a secret bout of romance can start abruptly, even when the one cheating was not necessarily aware of feeling dissatisfied in the first place. Therefore, the act of cheating can bring much to light about what one is missing. And this can be awakening, albeit feel quite painful.
Some women who cheat have the automatic goal of trying to fix their relationship or marriage. This may seem like the easiest way to get rid of guilt associated with the behavior. I encourage, and enjoy working with women on an individual basis when they have found themselves in such a predicament. While couples counseling is an ideal way to address communication issues, individual therapy allows the woman a judgment free zone to work through feelings, to uncover what may have led to the affair, and to better clarify what it is she wants now.
For a female, an affair goes much deeper and is more complex than being a “home wrecker” or a “slut,” and oftentimes this secret goes undisclosed to absolutely anyone. Having the opportunity to talk with a therapist can elicit feelings of relief, as well as curiosity about what’s happened. Simply put, individual therapy may help you to feel better, and to move forward in whichever direction feels most right to you.