Female infidelity, a taboo that persists

Despite changes in society towards greater equality between the sexes, marital infidelity is still very often considered a more serious misdemeanor when committed by a woman. A study carried out in 2019 by Ifop for an extramarital dating site revealed that around three out of four European women feel that their nearest and dearest are generally more shocked when it’s the woman who cheats on her partner. We have the figures for 2022 and it’s still rising.

This moral taboo can be explained by persistent gender conditioning, which tends to delegitimize female sexuality outside the framework of the established couple. “We observe a harsher judgment of female adultery, particularly in cases of pregnancy or long separation from the couple”, says the study.

Couple adultery (UnlimPhotos)
Couple adultery (UnlimPhotos)

Infidelity in practice: gender gaps narrowing

Yet the figures show a steady rise in female infidelity over recent decades, from 10% of French women in 1970 to 37% of all European women in 2019. However, this level is still lower than male infidelity rates, reaching as high as 55% among Italians according to other Ifop studies.

In France, 46% of men have already cheated on their partner, compared with 38% of women in 2022*. These disparities are tending to narrow, but illustrate the persistence of a highly gendered relationship to extramarital sexuality.


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“Female infidelity reveals the adoption by women of a more hedonistic approach to sexuality, breaking with the norms restricting their sexual activity to the couple”, analyzed François Kraus, director of the Genres et Sexualités division at Ifop.

Women’s infidelity takes many forms, including virtual ones

Far from limiting themselves to motivations such as a spouse’s lack of attention, women also justify their infidelities by a purely physical or sexual attraction to a lover, as do men. The study also shows the diversity of forms taken by female infidelity: fantasies, virtual exchanges, touching… affecting almost one woman in two.

Among young European women, half even admit to having engaged in virtual infidelity via social networks. This phenomenon is linked to the boom in extramarital dating sites. The proliferation of these platforms bears witness to a growing demand for this type of parallel encounter.

The rise of extramarital dating sites

The development of the Internet and new technologies has made it much easier to meet people outside the bonds of marriage. In recent years, a number of dating sites have specialized in bringing together people looking for extramarital adventures.

One of Europe’s pioneers in this field is JM Adultere. Under the slogan “Discreet online dating”, the platform even offers a one-week trial period for the price of a coffee…

JM Adultère (UnlimPhotos)
JM Adultère (UnlimPhotos)

Other sites with ambiguous names such as or share this booming adultery market. They emphasize the discreet, confidential nature of their services to reassure cheating members.

The proliferation of these specialized platforms testifies to a growing demand, on the part of both women and men, for this type of dating parallel to married life. A phenomenon no doubt linked to the growing liberation of sexuality and morals in our society.

Experiences with varying consequences

However, female infidelity is not experienced lightly, with a third of women regretting their indiscretions, according to the study. And in over a quarter of cases in France, the extramarital affair even led to the formation of a new official couple.

While there is a growing awareness of sexual equality, it has to be said that marital infidelity is still marked by numerous gender clichés and inequalities between men and women. A taboo that persists despite greater freedom of expression for women’s sexuality.

(*source 2022 statista)