Social Question

CugelTheClueless's avatar

Why do single women knowingly sleep with married men?

Asked by CugelTheClueless (1534points) December 24th, 2011

I was reading about Newt Gingrich’s sordid past. His latest wife (his 3rd) was a staffer that he had an affair with and left his 2nd wife for. He left his 1st wife for the 2nd. His 3rd wife is supposedly a devout Catholic (Newt has converted).

Now why would a women who in principle thinks adultery is wrong get involved with a man she knows is married? Is she just stupid? Or do some men have some sort of evil seductive power that allows them to lead otherwise upright women astray?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

blueiiznh's avatar

Each case is different but there is some sort of vulnerability going on I suspect.
A lack of self confidence coupled with a feeling of not feeling wanted is a huge reason for the vulnerability in many cases.

CWOTUS's avatar

All sorts of reasons.

1. Anyone can be duped and lied to; sometimes people believe the lies: “My wife doesn’t understand me,” or “I’m leaving her; it’s all over but the paperwork,” and so on.

2. Sometimes it really is true that he’s leaving her, but they jump the gun and then get caught.

3. Once in awhile both partners are cheating on each other, and all parties know that.

linguaphile's avatar

IF she knows he’s married… it could be:
Lack of confidence
Getting a feeling of value from being with someone who is esteemed
Craving attention and feeling valued by someone, anyone
An underlying power grab—if he likes me better than her… I can provide better than her, etc
Thinking, “I’m better for him than she is”

Blondesjon's avatar

For the same reason everybody fucks around. Their peepees control their actions more than their brains or their hearts.

Coloma's avatar

Immaturity, insecurity, vulnerability, stupidity, lack of integrity, lots of “itys” lol

That’s one slippery slope I am grateful I never wanted to climb.

Earthflag's avatar

I know this answer will be “horrible” for most people… But…
It is because married men are also men. Just because one is married, doesn’t mean he is untouchable, or desirable.
Married men should be the ones who stop. If not, he isn’t mature enough to get married anyway.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

A married man is “safe”. He can be a stable, somewhat discreet sexual & emotional relationship to fill the void while the single woman keeps an eye out for Mr. Right. I don’t think it works for most but hey, look at the current Mrs. Gringrinch.~

Blondesjon's avatar

@Earthflag . . . I used to work with a guy that summed it up pretty much the same way only conversely.

He said that it was wrong for a married man to want to beat the ass of the fella his wife was messing around with. In his words, “Dude is just being a dude. He’s being offered some free ass. She’s the one givin’ that ass away.”

Eureka's avatar

And another thought – some women have such low self esteem that they figure if some other woman wanted him, then he must be worth having.

nikipedia's avatar

Some people believe that because the marriage vow is between the man and his wife, the other woman has no moral culpability.

Blackberry's avatar

A piece of paper doesn’t alter biology.

Gabby101's avatar

I love that you bring up that she is a “devout catholic.” It is wrong to sleep with a married man or to have an affair while you are married. It is the ultimate betrayal.

People want what they want, any many people won’t let ethics get in their way – money or sex, no difference and in the case of Newt, she was getting both, with a little celebrity as well. Not many people would pass that up.

Smashley's avatar

A single woman sleeping with a married man is not committing adultery.

She does what she wants for her own reasons. For fun, companionship, to attract a long term mate, or some combination of many factors.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Maybe they like what seems like “a challenge”, even if it is not much of “a challenge” at all.

kess's avatar

Thats just women, they would once they know they can get away with it and even when they know they cant…

Ultimate responsibility lies with the men…why make the commitment if you know you are susceptible to breaking it…

Its better for all to remain single than to have such situations hanging over their heads.

wundayatta's avatar

Generally it’s because they have taken a strong liking or lust for the man. The reasons for that liking are as varied as there are men and women.

As to why someone would go against the rules of their religion—well, maybe religion isn’t as all-powerful and as wise as most people like to pretend. There is a lot of hypocrisy built into the Catholic faith, in particular. Prohibitions against pre-marital sex and abortion are not supported by most Catholics in the US. The Church and indeed, I would guess that most churches do not have much moral authority within the ranks. It has some authority, but I think that most believers see church teachings as a kind of cafeteria offering—they get to take what they like and leave the rest.

Part of this is probably because of the whole idea that it’s all or nothing. Either you believe everything, or you are a hypocrite. It’s kind of ridiculous, but that’s the way many religions have set it up. All or nothing.

But the reality is that it isn’t all or nothing. We pick and choose what makes sense to us for our lives at the time. It’s a kind of happiness cost/benefit analysis. With a lover who is married, you have many things in the equation. Some include how lonely you might be. How much you like the guy. How close he is to his wife in your perception. How much it would hurt her compared to how much she has hurt him. The impact on his children. Maybe based on your own childhood.

Some people like to act as if it is a single black an white rule that you never mess with another woman’s man. I think the rule makes sense under some conditions, but it is not as universal as people might like to have it. I suspect that people are more likely to follow the rule when they know the other woman. The closer the ties to the other woman, the more likely they will not poach on her territory. But if you don’t know her and she lives in a totally differently world, then what do you owe her? How is it going to hurt you if you horn in on her “territory?”

I think that there is an element of competitiveness to it, as well. Married men are proven commodities. Some woman already desires them. Another woman might come along and may have experienced that all the untaken men are untaken for a reason. So the married man can seem more desirable.

On the man’s side—why do they make a promise they can not keep, or can be tempted to break? Once again, I think that the rules that we have received from milleniums are not necessarily rules that make sense to many people. We’ve been raised to believe the rules are morality without question. But if we were to remake all the rules now according to what really works best in today’s society—I wonder how many people would choose the same set of rules as the best set of rules.

I don’t believe that what people say they believe is what they really believe. I believe that people behave what they truly believe. If someone is stealing another person’s partner, I don’t believe they think it is stealing, nor do they think it is wrong to behave that way. If they did, they wouldn’t do it.

Given the way people actually behave, I’d say that the commonly accepted rules of morality aren’t actually all that accepted. I would not call this hypocrisy, since most of us were never even asked for our opinions when we made up the rules. You might say that no one forces us to make marriage vows, but I would say it is very difficult to go against the rules that have the weight of centuries behind them. It’s easier just to mouth the words and hope for the best, and if you find yourself doing something different, well, you never had any say in it in the first place.

Life as she is lived is different from life as she is writ. People do what they think is best for them personally, not what the rules say.

Male's avatar

I’m guessing it’s for a variety of reasons…

ego boost
getting and wanting “what you can’t have”
forbidden fruit

CWOTUS's avatar

Let’s not be naïve, here: one of the primary reasons is avarice and thinking that they can “get them some” of whatever it is the man has. Love, lust and liking (for the man) may play no part in the calculation.

CugelTheClueless's avatar

Thanks for answering, everyone. I’m liking the vulnerability theory that some of you have suggested. But then the man must be able to exploit that somehow, which I imagine must require some combination of character defects and charisma on his part.

Not buying simple lust as an explanation. BTW blondesjon, women don’t have peepees. It must be more than gonads—I can’t believe that mere physical desire would be the primary motivation for getting into bed with the Newt.

JLeslie's avatar

Some women are afraid of committment, and a married man does not typically give the pressures in a relationship a single man might.

Some women get an ego boost from it probably, feel like they are competing.

Younger women and never been married women are more likely to not really get the marriage relationship. I know some people might be offended by that, I certainly think the majority of women understand married means hands off.

No matter what it is really up to the person married to be faithful. But, it would be nice if everyone, not just the two in the marriage, respected the marriage as a don’t touch deal.

linguaphile's avatar

There’s one more that I just thought of related to someone I knew—they might not see anything wrong with it. I knew one girl whose mother used to serially date married men and had affairs while married—she caught her mom almost each time. When she hit her early 20’s, she would date married men and on one level, knew it was wrong, but on another level, saw the married men as fair game because they reciprocated her attention. She grew out of it after a few years and enough heartbreaks. She’s been in an affairless relationship for quite some time now.

abbynormal's avatar

Simple answer. They are selfish and like the attention.

Smashley's avatar

Wow. Lots of sexism going on here….

@CugelTheClueless – How does any ugly bastard get laid? There’s charisma, social standing, access to resources… or maybe the lady just is attracted to that shape. You don’t have to have a “character flaw” to be attracted to who you’re attracted to.

As far as morality: whatever this particular woman’s interpretation of an already muddy Catholic doctrine, she wasn’t the one who made a commitment to another person. Catholicism doesn’t prepare people well for dealing with the emotions of a relationship that you might objectively have called “wrong” before engaging in it, and rationalizing is very easy, especially when your own crime is barely worse than being impolite.

CugelTheClueless's avatar

@Smashley I said, “But then the man must be able to exploit that somehow, which I imagine must require some combination of character defects and charisma on his part.”

Both the character defects and charisma I referred to were the man’s (I had in mind his willingness to exploit her vulnerability, cheat on his wife, lie, etc.). I take it you thought I meant a combination of character defects on HER part and charisma on HIS part.

I don’t know why you would read it that way, but now I’m curious. Did anyone else read my sentence the way Smashley did?

Taciturnu's avatar

Married men are “emotionally unavailable.” I think some women are as afraid of a stable, loving relationship as some men.

Coloma's avatar

While I agree that the fault lies primarily with the husband or wife that cheats, by no means do I let the affairee ( lol..I like that word ) off the hook.

Bottom line, character is character, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to become involved with a married man at 20, 40 or 90. Just wouldn’t happen.

I’m not saying people don’t make mistakes, and don’t deserve to be forgiven, but IMO, for the most part, you either have character or you don’t.
It’s not something you can get if you don’t already have it hardwired into your soul and psyche.

submariner's avatar

@CugelTheClueless I read your statement the way you intended. While the sentence structure is not completely unambiguous, I think the meaning is clear from the context.

In Callista Gingrich’s case, maybe it’s a case of power being an aphrodisiac. Also, there are unfortunately those within the Catholic Church who are trying to turn the Church into a subsidiary of the GOP. Callista may have gotten mixed up with them, perhaps by way of the abortion issue, adding ideological fervor and maybe hero worship into the mix. Add naiveté and she may have been an easy mark. I wouldn’t rule out the other two factors you mentioned in the OQ, though. Some unscrupulous men just seem to know which buttons to push, like skilled salesmen or police interrogators do. And any woman who thinks the cheater whom she steals from another woman won’t cheat on her in turn is stupid.

@wundayatta Hypocrisy is not “built into the Catholic faith”. It’s a big tent, and even if we confine our attention to those who attend Mass regularly, we will find people at different stages of their spiritual journey and different views on many issues. Diversity is not hypocrisy. In any case, no Catholic who deserves to be called devout thinks adultery is ok—there is no appreciable diversity of opinion on that point, though there may be some like the latest Mrs. G. who have stumbled in practice.

@Smashley Adultery is no worse than being impolite? (And yes, it is adultery for both parties. I gather some jellies have difficulty grasping this, which depresses me.) Thanks for reminding me that whatever the failings of my church may be, what’s on offer outside it is even more f’d up. I’d rather be taught to feel guilty about looking at porn than be taught not to feel guilty about breaking up someone else’s marriage.

Smashley's avatar

@submariner – Breaking up someone’s marriage? Hardly. If a marriage ends because of adultery it’s because one of the members committed adultery and their bond was not one that could overcome the transgression. No third party can come in and break up a couple. It is uniquely in the control of the couple. It might be a social grace, but the third party has no allegiance to any spouse. They aren’t the ones who made the sworn commitment in front of their families and/or friends.

In our lives we make many decisions about whether to put the feelings of others above our own. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. Sure we might feel guilty on occasion, but there’s nothing magic about fucking that dictates how we must feel, any more than we must feel guilt when we lose our tempers at the slow cashier at the Safeway. Why does it matter so much more to Catholics when there’s genitals involved?

Check the size of the human genitals relative to body size and compare that to the animal kingdom. Check the frequency that humans are open to sex against the frequency of sex in the animal kingdom. Check the duration of human sexual acts against the duration of animal sexual acts. Check the frequency we’re willing to have sex against the frequency that women are actually fertile. We are born fucking machines, and frankly, we’re just not that good at monogamy. It can be done, but the odds are stacked against us. Adultery kinda sucks, especially if you’re exposing your partner to STI risk without telling them, but it’s not at all surprising, it’s not the worst thing you can do to a partner, and it’s absolutely not something you can blame an outside party for.

I stand by impoliteness. I’m sorry it depresses you. Maybe you need to get laid, or at least watch some porn.

Ela's avatar

Thats just women…” Did I read that correctly, @kess?
I was in a faithful relationship for 23 years and even though I often felt there was something missing, I never once looked outside of my relationship for it. I have been approached by a few married men who initially gave women the impression they were single. Once you know someone is married, you have a choice to make. Crossing that line was never an option for me.
I would say it’s more of a breakdown in morals than in the church.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther