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?

22 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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

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