The exact reason for why more women are having affairs and open marriages is unknown. It is assumed that the cause for this phenomenon is a societal attitude change in the way extramarital relationships are viewed. However, a study performed by the University of Washington's David Atkins, indicates that the number of women having extramarital affairs increased by 45 percent between the years 1991 and 2006 while 90 percent of U.S. residents still think all extramarital affairs are immoral. The problem clearly lies elsewhere.
Ex-Marriage counselor Diane Sollee, founder of "Smart Marriages," believes that most cases of infidelity are a matter of opportunity. In a modern world, the opportunities to have affairs and open marriages are increasing. Women now find it easier than ever to reach out to other men and women over the Internet. There are also many Websites available to help spouses cheat. The result of this increased opportunity is sometimes an affair or discussions of an open marriage. Most often for women, however, Internet affairs are considered emotional affairs. These emotional affairs are thought to open the doors to a physical affair or open marriage.
Habits made before a marriage can sometimes influence the likelihood of women having affairs or open marriages. Recently a trend of "friends with benefits" has emerged. With women especially, these friendships are held over into marriage minus the benefits. However, since the barriers are no longer up with this friend, it is not uncommon for a woman to later slip into a sexual relationship with that friend again. Other habits like taking on multiple partners before marriage can also affect whether a woman is likely to have an affair or open marriage. However, the studies on the issue of promiscuity before marriage are under fire as being biased accounts of reality.
After studying the habits of women in over 48 countries throughout the world, Dr. David Schmitt from Bradley University believes that the majority of women who cheat in their early thirties are, in a way, searching for an acceptable father. It is suggested that women in their early thirties are beginning to feel their biological clocks ticking. This is part due to the biology of decreased reproductive abilities and part social stigma of age and beauty that seems to increase yearly. For this reason, a married woman will sometimes seek out a man she sees as a suitable father compared to the spouse she chose in her late teens or early twenties who she chose based on attraction and likability alone.
With an increased acceptance of homosexuality in society, many women are feeling empowered to act upon their bisexual fantasies. Typically, this results in affairs with other women.
As recently as the mid-1990's, women found it more difficult to keep the lines of communication open with any extramarital partners. With the increased popularity of cell phones and email, it is now easier than ever to keep an affair secret. These technologies also make it easier to agree to an open marriage since the jealousy issues are considered to be avoidable if the spouse's partners are kept a secret.