Learning about an affair is gut-wrenching. Nobody wants to discover that their beloved partner has betrayed them that way. But infidelity is common—far more common than most of us want to believe. In fact, throughout the world, infidelity is the number one reason why relationships and marriages crumble.
Just how common is cheating on a spouse? Take a look at the data below to find out.
What Counts As Cheating?
Cheating is infidelity, which means any emotional or sexual activity that goes beyond the agreed-upon boundaries of a relationship or marriage. An affair can be sexual in nature, but it can also be emotional and without sex.
Cheating has been often defined as any of the following:
- An emotional affair
- Compulsive sexual behavior
- Coveting someone else
- Online flirtation
- Sexting someone else other than your partner
- Desiring two people at once (existing partner and another)
- One night stand
The main theme here is lusting after or cherishing someone else equally or more than your current partner or spouse. Again, these depend on the individual. How you see cheating might be different than how your spouse defines cheating. Therefore, you should communicate and set up clear lines about what you will and will not tolerate.
Why Do People Cheat?
Most people assume that cheating happens when one partner or both are dissatisfied with their relationship or that there are issues. But that only begins to scratch at the surface. The LA Intelligence Detective Agency notes that “those who commit infidelity rate their marriages as happy or very happy.”
Another found numerous reasons people cheat:
- My partner stopped paying attention to me
- The other person supported me or listened to me (more than the partner)
- I was doubting my relationship
- The other person was very attractive
- My partner and I weren’t having sex
Many of these reasons fit into HALT—Hunger, Attention, Loneliness, and Tiredness.
Interesting, European and American women who took the survey selected “my partner stopped paying attention to me” as their main reason for cheating. Meanwhile, both American and European men chose “the other person was really hot” as their first reason for cheating.
How Common Is Cheating On A Spouse?
Now that we have some insight into why people decide to cheat, it’s time to consider how often cheating happens.
A 2021 Health Testing Centers Survey gathered a group of 441 people and found:
- 46% of the respondents in a monogamous relationship stated they had had an affair
- Almost 24% of the marriages affected by cheating had decided to stay together
- 47.5% of the relationships affected by infidelity had to rethink their relationship and establish rules, such as sharing online accounts and absolute transparency, to prevent affairs from happening again
Another fascinating poll is conducted by the Truth About Deception. It’s ongoing and is updated daily. Currently, there are over 94,600 respondents.
As of March 2021, their data collected showed that:
- 43.7% of the female respondents and 22.2% of the male respondents had cheated on someone that their spouse knew.
- 53% of the cheating women had a one-night stand, while 72.% of the men had one.
- 40% of women and 30.5% of men had engaged in cybersex with someone other than their spouse or partner.
- 53% of the female respondents had cheated more than once, while 66.9% of the males had multiple affairs while married.
Do Different Genders Cheat Differently?
Yes, there is a difference. As seen in previous sections, men and women have dissimilar behaviors. Men are more likely to cheat with someone who is attractive, while women are looking to cheat with someone who gives them attention. According to HuffPost, 70% of women believe that developing emotional connections to others is cheating.
Other data from a poll of 1,000 people by YouGov also discovered that women tend to recognize the signs of emotional infidelity sooner than men.
Furthermore, most people assume that men are visually tempted; this isn’t always the case. Psychologist Robert Weiss stated that the ulterior motivators for infidelity are often the following: low self-esteem, immaturity, sexual addiction, cowardice, childhood abuse, revenge, and so on.
All of these aim towards more than just boredom or attractiveness.
Who Cheats More Often?
Generally, men cheat more than women, because they are prone to opportunistic cheating. According to the General Social Survey, about 20% of married men said that they had an affair, while only 13% of women did. However, in recent years, the rates of women cheating have gone up around 40% over the course of several years.
Some researchers also postulate that women are more prone to cheating, but they are less likely to admit their betrayal to their partners.
That said, there are also age groups to consider. Did you know that Millennials are far more likely to use dating apps like Tinder to cheat on their spouses? 11% stated that they use apps for that very reason!
Older people are far less tempted to cheat than younger individuals, but the age bracket that cheats the most happens to be women between the ages 50-59.
How Long Do Affairs Last?
While affairs are becoming more common, the length of an affair hasn’t changed much. Affairs, generally, don’t last long. Numerous studies have found that 25% of all affairs end within a week; 65% end within 6 months; and only 10% are considered long-term, lasting for more than 6 months.
Yet, that doesn’t mean that there is only going to be one occurrence of infidelity within the average time frame. Cheaters have a 350% greater chance of becoming repeat offenders, which means that they may even be cheating on multiple people at the same time.
Be More Than Just A Number
How common is cheating on a spouse? It’s not an everyday occurrence, but it is happening more often. With a vast digital landscape, dating apps, and other ways to meet people, the temptation is always there. If you’re worried about fidelity in your relationship, it’s time to sit down with your partner and talk about it.
You can also enroll in marriage coaching or counseling, like Couples Academy. Strengthening your bond and learning how to communicate correctly will only benefit you and your partner. Interested? Fill out the contact form to learn more about our services at Couples Academy.