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How Common is Cheating & Infidelity Really?

Sometimes I worry that society is becoming immune to infidelity and cheating in a romantic relationship. We hear things like, “Half of all marriages end in divorce” and “Half of people in a relationship admit to cheating.” We become desensitized and perhaps a bit pessimistic by hearing these disheartening statistics repeated over and over again.

It’s become so bad that some people are even making up statistics to either sell their infidelity-helping or infidelity-fighting services. For instance, one common statistic I hear thrown out there is that 50 percent of relationships involve infidelity.

Sadly, that statistic is not based upon any scientific research. It’s something marketing companies just made up and use to scare (or motivate) people into buying into their service.

So how common is cheating, really?

43 Comments to
How Common is Cheating & Infidelity Really?

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  1. This is in line with what I’ve researched and my life’s experience… About 1 in 5 men cheat… about 1 in 10 women cheat… far less than what you see in the media. Ask your friends, “How many cheat?” and you’ll get outrageous numbers, like 75% of all men!

    The GOOD NEWS is that the vast majority of men DON’T CHEAT and the vast, vast majority of women don’t cheat. That’s really good news. The bad news (from statistics) is that the 20% of men who do cheat… get married. Almost all of them. And they don’t change their behavior after marriage. That’s sad.

  2. Yes, maybe the number of people that actually cheat may not be in line with what is reported.
    From my point of view, there are definitely many more that actually think of cheating?
    Is flirting cheating? To some it may be but ultimately a good, strong relationship will give each person the freedom to sometimes do their own thing.

  3. Quote: The short answer is, “Not nearly as common as you would be led to believe.”

    Interesting–all of my therapists have told me that it’s virtually universal and I should make my peace with it. Many of my friends have agreed–the consensus is that I’m dislocated because I prefer honesty in my relationships.

    Everyone says “it’s just sex” and “get over your Victorian mores” (my therapist said that) yet I continue to believe that it’s about integrity rather than sex. I’m almost alone in this though.

    • I share your views 100%. I am 23 years old and have never cheated. Ever.

    • counseling is the worst of the worst, people who modeled counseling were serial adulterers and philanderers and they modelled “counseling” by their own behavior and reasoning. Government supports them and they got fundings and widespread opportunity to spread their behavior to everyone else. This is why researches always show inflated numbers, because that’s also the way to psychologically pave new standards in society and it’s becoming reality.

      You shouldn’t put up with something that causes you pain. It’s not just cheating, try punching the counselor and breaking his/her nose and tell him/her that it’ll heal anyways, then tell him/her that the psychological effect of sexual betrayal simply won’t. That’ll get you arrested, so don’t do that, just remember that counselors are not worth anyone’s time.

      My husband had an affair and I caught them in our house and I told him to leave. He lived with this girlfriend of his and I found a new boyfriend. We lived separated for years and once he abandoned her, my relationship with my ex boyfriend went south, because I secretly hoped that we might make it work. But I found out that he had an affair with another woman in the mean time and I slept with another man out of spite (I know, that was stupid!) and then we went to counseling.
      Our counselor advised us to bring our lovers together in the same house, he just asked if the house is big enough, telling that we should let go our outdated notions of relationships and marriage.

      Needless to say that we were both appalled but I was stupid enough to give it a try, worst thing ever, it caused a lot of damage. There’s one good thing out of it, I never trusted counselors anymore and I ditched both my husband and my boyfriend, I figured out that I should be alone and I stayed alone for almost five years before I coupled with a good gentleman with no emotions towards either my ex husband or anyone else.

      My take is that counseling primarily depends on the way your counselor behaves or reasons. If you are dealing with someone who supports polygamy or relativizes it and tells you to get over it or tries to push it upon you, it’s impossible to have any sane discussion why you won’t accept to live like that, you were raised into an adult who views it as something that you don’t want to be part of and you definitely don’t want to bring your children and raise them in such setting. This is my personal experience and my own reason why I can’t believe that someone takes counseling seriously, my take is that you would better off counseling with your parents, siblings or good friends, preferably together.

    • Your therapist is a piece of sh*t, and I hope you fired them.

    • My therapist wife thinks your therapist is an incompetent putz who’s probably also cheating on a spouse.

    • Its about trust. You are about to invest the rest of your life with this person and if you can’t trust them then whats the fucking point. Stupid therapist is stupid.

  4. And quote: “Sometimes I worry that society is becoming immune to infidelity and cheating in a romantic relationship.”

    Bear in mind that television and movies (which many people confuse with reality) are universal in their acceptance & normalizing of cheating too. I’ve always thought it was self-justifying behavior on the part of Hollywood producers.

  5. No data newer than 2007, or before the Great Recession began. Considering how many people have had to move for jobs, and how much the divorces have increased in the world I inhabit, there has to have been an increase in infidelity. There are too many interruptions in normal family life of any kind for there not to be, for the ability of two people to get together long and often enough to maintain a relationship is severely tested.

  6. It is deeds, not words, that define people. Most of the time, infidelity can be discovered if people want to do a little searching. We are a monogamous species in general, so if you feel you are the exception, then find people who support your viewpoint that being intimate with multiple partners will not be harmful or disruptive to the relationship.

    Fascinating how the person who engages the most deviously with infidelity is the most outraged when the partner being lied to is unfaithful in return.

    Projection is a bitch, eh?

    • That’s not really true. I’ve had several girlfriends whom I discovered had lied to me and disregarded my feelings when it came to their interactions with other men, and I went absolutely NUCLEAR when I found out, even though I myself was being faithful and respectful to them.

      • You have the capacity and the proclivity to go nuclear on women. And you wonder why they cheat on you?

  7. Having accidently caught hub in an “emo”affair, has sucked the heart out of me for the last 8 mos, but it only lasted the 3 before that. This just stinks.

  8. This study is severely flawed in that it relies on self-reporting. Whom they should have been asking is the subject’s’ siblings.

  9. soap tv,–spreading the message of discontent and infidelity, family court,- where to go when you(95% women) want to “cash” in your marriage, it all starts on the street, just take a look at straying eyes, arm in arm “with partners”,anyway how can more men cheat when the same number must “by reality” have to cheat with the same number, unless its many men cheaters with just a few or one women cheater,how can the mathematics be different?

    • @jb – I had the same thought to start: shouldn’t the numbers somehow be the same?
      But it’s possible (likely) that men can cheat with prostitutes or with unmarried women. Thus it would be possible for the percentage of men cheaters to be greater than women.
      As you point out, another possibility is the women who cheat, cheat more promiscuously.

    • Ah, subjective opinion – now THAT’S what I call a “scientific approach.”


  10. Well, I think infidelity is becoming more common nowadays. Sometimes I ask the question – why did the two of you get into a relationship in the first place, when you know that you will still end up cheating on each other in the future?

  11. Roughly 2% of couples get divorced in any given year. This equates to a divorce rate of around 50% over time.

    The article says the number is less than 6% of couples in a given year have an affair.

    That tells me that, over time, the number of marriages that will struggle with infidelity is quite high.

    I’m not sure how they are doing their math.

    • I suppose some relationships encounter affairs in multiple years, whether or not they are known and rectified. Most marital relationships would usually only experience one single divorce, not year after year (unlike some affairs), accounting for the varying figures.

  12. I also disagree with the article.

    Just going on my social group, *every single couple* has had one or both members cheat at some stage. Or they’ve had threesomes. Or they’re “open” to sex with others. Or they’ve divorced.

    That’s 100% fail rate on monogamy.

    I felt awful when my marriage failed. Then one after the other my close friends all opened up privately about their own indiscretions. Only one of them has ever seen a psych, from my knowledge, and all of them deny any cheating publicly. But they told me the truth.

    It actually helped me a bit to know I wasn’t alone in the failure of my marriage. I think society places way too much emphasis on monogamy for life, then blames the couples (especially the woman) when things don’t work out. Maybe monogamy never worked in reality – cerainly not for humans who now live 70+ years as a standard.

    Maybe it’s time to rethink how we have our relationships and raise children altogether, and what we define as “moral”. And maybe it’s time we started being honest about the widespread failure of monogamy.

    • Monogamy has certainly worked for me and my husband. We’ve been married 32 years and neither of us has ever cheated.

      • Is that was he tells you? I eventually obtained sufficient evidence by hiding in a closet when I was supposed to be out and caught him… Best. Day. Ever.

    • You need a better group of friends. I’ve been married 35 years, and neither my wife nor I have ever cheated. Of the perhaps 300 married people in our social circle, we know of only one couple that dealt with cheating…And they resolved it and are now managing just fine. We’ve known about a dozen couples who’ve divorced, but cheating wasn’t the cause in any of them. Two criminals, a couple of severe mental illnesses, a few who’ve been unable to get over the loss of a child, one with a vile mother-in-law, and so on. Cheating isn’t universal. Not by a long shot.

  13. I agree on questioning the math behind these statistics!

    Most polls give a percentage at a particular point in time. Depending on the aged of the subjects, and the length of time they’ve been married, this could wildly skew the results. For example, if the poll contained majority newly weds, they haven’t really had the time to become bored or to source another partner!

    I’d like for these tests to have an age and length of marriage analysis applied. I’m sure that by the end of 60yrs marriage, the rate of infidelity will be a LOT higher than 6%!

    This isn’t even taking into consideration the rate of sexual monogamy in the animal kingdom. Social monogamy is pretty common, but sexual monogamy doesn’t really happen – extra-pair copulations are rife. So there are plenty of other species pretending to be in monogamous relationships, but getting something extra on the side!

    Relationships should be set-up as institutions for raising successful offspring. Expecting anything more is delusion.

    • The 6% figure relates to the percentage of relationships experiencing infidelity, IN NY GIVEN YEAR. So that number does accumulate over time, but the 6% is for a single year

  14. Interesting issues here. We strongly recommend Peggy Vaughan’s “The Monogamy Myth” for a concise explanation of WHY affairs happen. It is a choice made by the individual, above all, in order to supplant or escape or provide some emotional issue. Peggy Vaughan was a decades-long leader in the field of infidelity and healing. Personal recovery IS personal regardless of whether the marriage ends or mends.

    Executive Director
    Infidelity Counseling Network

  15. I do think that the media, especially TV & moview glorify infidelity without any stigma attached to it. In a way they are conditioning the population to accept infidelity is fine and has no costs. The impact of such depiction on young minds could be dangerous.

  16. Most women nowadays are the biggest Cheaters since they like sleeping around with all different men.

  17. My husband went to the Ashley Madison web site which is a site encouraging affairs less than 4 months after we were married. He propositioned a coworker at least a month before that. We have an incredible sex life, we make love every day, on average, twice a day. It’s not just a quick sexual act, I don’t just lie there, it’s loving, sensitive, & passionate. I have not denied him anything he wanted to do. And I’ve always done it because I want to, not because I feel obligated, so he knows it’s because I love him and I want him. Everything else in the relationship is also solid & fulfilling. Yet he decided it wouldn’t hurt me because he was clever & I wouldn’t find out. He said he feels there is value in having sex with people you don’t know. I really don’t have any comprehension as to why he would do this to me, to us, especially so soon into the marriage. He is nearly 54 years old, was married for over 20 years before (unhappily for about 14 years of that) & did not cheat, was promiscuous in his 20’s, but when with a girlfriend did not cheat. I have done everything to make him feel how much I need him, love him, want him, find him attractive, find him sexy, I do all kinds of little things for him every single day. When he comes home I smile ear to ear my eyes light up, & I go up to him & we hug & kiss. So, I’ve been researching, listening to books, & can find absolutely nothing that even compares by example to the situation anywhere to help me cope. I can’t find an example of a man happily married with an extremely active, satisfying sex life, seeking out strangers whose faces he didn’t even see until he met them at the motel to have sex. He tells me it was exciting, his big thing is it was an ego boost, & his sole answer as to why he decided it was ok, was no one would get hurt, & it excites him to perform oral sex on a woman & get her off. To me this is excruciatingly painful, because I can’t understand why that would be exciting, or some unmet need, with a total stranger who you don’t even know, thst could have a disease. These women were with many other men. To make things worse, I was abused physically & emotionally throughout my entire childhood until I moved out at 18. I found my birth father at the age of 23, only to have him rape me on a daily basis for 5 months along with extreme physical violence. There was also an attempted rape where I was injured fairly severely by a coworker. My husband seems to be very empathetic, sensitive, loving, intuitive. I opened my heart to him, & he knows more about everything that happened to me than anyone ever has including my counselor. Yet despite knowing I’m a very strong woman, but still fragile, & somewhat insecure that he’ll look for someone else, he swore to me that he would never even think of such a thing. Now here we are. I found out about the first one immediately. 3 weeks later he had set up the next one with another woman. 3 weeks after I found out about that & confronted him with the evidence about the entire thing so he finally knew I knew all about all of it, he confessed to all, but at that 3 week mark, at work he picked up the phone & called another woman whose number he had kept that he hadn’t met yet. He spoke to her for 20 minutes on Friday, & then called her back the following Monday for another 15 minutes. He admits they were discussing sex, the size of his genitals, things he would do to her, & was considering doing it again. This would fly in the face of him thinking I would never be hurt now wouldn’t it? He said he wouldn’t have gone through with it, not after what he’s seen me suffering through, & I am NOT a stupid woman, & extremely intuitive, & I believe he is being truthful & he couldn’t have followed through with it…This time. But just the fact that he picked up the phone & thought about it again makes me sick. We have been married now 7 months as of today, December 3rd. I do have the satisfaction that I used to cell phone number of the second woman that he had set up a meeting with that hadn’t gotten there yet, it was set for several days away, I wrote a letter to her husband, printed out all text, her profile from the sex site with her photo on it, and the text that she sent me the morning I was writing the letter to him calling me a bitch, and basically thinking herself so deep into the ground with the things that she said to help me prove it was true, it’s not funny. She was completely stupid. She also is not attractive in any way, so I don’t understand my husband’s interest. That’s the only one who knew what she look like first. I went to her house, & I handed her husband the stack of evidence. No one deserves to be made a fool of like that.

    • I’ll keep this brief, but I went through something like this where I treated him like a king because I loved him.constant sex, fed him and loved time, I realized he was selfish and it was just that I had a good heart. It took me years to realize this fully. To stop believing his excuses and see him for exactly who he was. When your in love you believe the best in that person because you know how well you are reading them and it’s sometimes impossible to see that maybe they aren’t a good person. After I went through enough, I just stood up for myself. He only starting tasting me better after I continually put him in his place. The problem then was I lost all respect for him and started to hate him. Cheating is selfish. I believe some people don’t cheat. I haven’t. But that didn’t mean that just because we bend over backwards to treat them perfect and amazing will change anything about their character. You’re just making it great to live with while he also still has his fun elsewhere. This dude isn’t good for your heart. You deserve someone that will love you in a genuine way.

      • *how well you are treating them. Goofy phone. 😊

  18. And treating me appropriate auto correct puts tasting in place. Haha.

  19. Infidelity in my eyes is never the answer. I don’t understand how you can cheat on your spouse or your boyfriend/girlfriend. Why would you cheat on the person you love the most just to get a little something from someone you barely know or who isn’t your partner? It’s one of the worst things you can do to someone!

  20. Well most women nowadays are the Biggest Cheaters since they just Can’t stay with only One Man anymore.

  21. The alternative explanation is that the people responding to online questions are more inclined to be putzing about online, and thus more inclined to have access to and other cheating sites, than are people who are at Home Depot (or answering their landlines) and responding to anonymous survey takers. (Yeah…I need to get off this computer now.)

  22. Hi John,

    Cheating for me has something to do in how you are in your relationship. If you are doing fine with your spouse/boyfriend, etc, you will not be tempted of cheating.

    The problem is that any relationship has problems, that is a fact, but the issue starts when you see in someone else the answer to your problems, that’s where all your problems will start.


  23. Cheating is fairly common if 25% of married partners have done so (which does potentially add up to 50% since a marriage contains two partners).

    This is an issue, but becomes devastating when a couple defines cheating as an “end of relationship” level event. If the couple can be understanding and forgiving, it’s less devestating.

    (However, there seems to be a belief that somehow forgiving and moving on is akin to giving permission. A common ground must be found.)

  24. With much more women Cheating more than ever is the real reason why the Divorce Rate is very much out of control today.

  25. Let’s all pretend that the people asked to take the survey. Wanted to be honest about their infidelity. I wonder what the real numbers would be. As far as I know this is a shameful act that most people would prefer to water down or hide all togather. Unless they are placed under a lie detector test. So is to say what’s true and what’s made up

  26. I’m ashamed to admit it, but ever since I read this article I’ve been beating my brains out trying to figure out what to say about it. I’ve also been engaging in the act of eating my own feces. The Dr said if I don’t shake this habit then I’m not welcome at his practice anymore….especially with the way I eat.

  27. Hi everyone , I’m Isabella and I’m here to share my experience with you and to use this medium to tell everyone about Michael my savior. I’ve been seeing this guy for 6yrs and been spending all my money on him not knowing he has been making a fool out of me and scamming me. Thank God for Michael who helped me discover what I’ve been blind to see these couple of years , he was able to help hack into his phone without him knowing and all he requested for was his phone number. I got to discover a lot of things he has been hiding from me including a secret bank account that he opened with the woman he has been cheating on me with. I’m not ashamed to say this because I know a lot of people out there need this too. You can contact him on this [email protected] good luck guys.



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