Why People Cheat In Relationships

Infidelity is the breaking of a promise to remain faithful to a sexual partner, whether that promise was made as part of marriage vows or privately uttered agreements between lovers. As unthinkable as the notion of breaking such bonds may be at the time, infidelity is far from rare. And when it happens, it raises thorny questions: Should you stay? Can trust be rebuilt? Or is there no choice but to pack up and move on?

Men have always been more likely than women to cheat, or at least to report having done so on surveys, but researchers have noticed a shift in recent years. In general, according to the General Social Survey 2010–2016, conducted by the National Opinion Research Council of the University of Chicago, 16 percent of adults—about 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women—report that they’ve had sex with someone other than their spouse while married. But among adults under 30 who have ever been married, 11 percent of women report having committed infidelity, as opposed to 10 percent of men.

For the adulterer, infidelity can be exciting and seductive, conferring feelings of renewal, rejuvenation, and joy. Infidelity is a betrayal but it isn’t necessarily the end of love. The partner being betrayed, however, may feel confusion, anger, doubt, pain, and heartbreak. Relationships require ongoing work, but for a couple facing the fallout from an affair, the challenge can feel insurmountable.

Can Relationships Survive Infidelity?

Infidelity poses a challenge to individuals' personal values as well as to their committed relationships. About 90 percent of the 3,400 participants in a recent survey reported that they consider infidelity to be unacceptable. And yet, both men and women continue to cheat, and to be caught. One key factor determining whether a relationship can survive infidelity is whether or not the extramarital affair was sexual or included emotional attachment as well. According to one survey, 44 percent of men who reported having extramarital sex said that it was in fact, only about the sex, and that they had little or no emotional involvement with the extramarital partner. Only 11 percent of women reported the same.


Deception, Divorce, Marriage

What Is Considered Infidelity?

What actually constitutes infidelity? The line between innocent, playful flirtation and downright betrayal is elastic. Some people argue that confiding in anyone other than your partner, can mean betrayal. Even too much interest in another person’s social media postings can amount to a breach of trust. Still, others think that chatting (online or otherwise) approaches a problem. But if there was no “sex” involved, what is the issue? "Emotional" infidelity, surveys show, tends to be more troubling for women, while men deem sexual interaction as the deeper duplicity.

But the reality is that any activity that takes place without a partner’s knowledge may lead to problems down the road.


Relationships, Flirting

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