Expert: More Women Cheating, With Less Guilt

ByABC News via via logo

N E W   Y O R K, July 28, 2003 -- A gender studies professor says she believes most cheating wives don't struggle with guilt.

Susan Shapiro Barash, a gender studies professor at Marymount Manhattan College, interviewed 120 women who cheated on their husbands for her book A Passion for More: Wives Reveal the Affairs that Make or Break Their Marriages.

While Barash wasn't surprised about the reasons women expressed for cheating, she said she was surprised by the lack of guilt.

Barash said that 90 percent of the cheating ladies she interviewed said they felt no guilt.

"They felt very entitled — and felt entitled because they had been so unhappy in the marriage," Barash said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

"It's a fantasy, it's just much more liberating," Barash said.

Barash found the subjects of her book by posting ads in YWCAs and asking women who contacted her to refer friends who were also having affairs.

According to Barash, 65 percent of the cheating women she interviewed said the sex was better with a lover than with their husband. Forty-five percent of the women said they remained married despite their affairs.

Jill Hollister, 41, told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that she cheated on her first husband 11 years ago.

"I was very unhappy and I wasn't connecting on an emotional or spiritual level with my first husband," Hollister said. "I felt like I wanted more. I was longing for more."

Hollister said her ex-husband discovered she had been having an affair and forgave her, but the marriage ended anyway.

She said she went to therapy for five years and learned how to be honest with her feelings before remarrying. She said she told her current husband about her previous infidelity before they were married, and added that she and her new husband have been happily married for six years.

Unlike most of the women Barash talked to, Hollister said she did feel very guilty about her infidelity. She said she cheated out of confusion about what to do about her marriage.

"I felt guilty and horrible and all of those things," Hollister said. "I told my husband that I was very unhappy, but I still struggled with figuring out a way to get out of the marriage."

Hollister said she would recommend that women thinking of cheating seek therapy first.

Barash said women thinking about cheating should investigate why they're looking to be unfaithful.

"Often the lover is actually catalyst to leave the marriage and a bridge to the other side," Barash said.

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