The Facts on Cheating

Stats You Need to Know

Up to 60 percent of men and 55 percent of women in a committed relationship cheat sexually at some point during their years together, according to a study at Hofstra University.

As for the approximate age in which men and women are most likely to cheat, you’d be surprised to learn that cheating during middle age is more likely to occur than cheating in their twenties. According to research at the University of New Hampshire, men’s peak cheating age is 55, while women’s is 45.

The same study indicates that women are more deliberative about cheating on their partner, putting off opportunities when they first arise. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to just do it.

With the ease of swiping right or left on a location-savvy smartphone, the act of “hooking up” has have never been easier. It’s almost as if the Internet was designed with cheating in mind. Morally-agnostic, the Internet couldn’t care less if users commit emotional infidelity or physically violate a bond with a partner. Monogamy, on the other hand, was better suited to the predigital age when social media and mobile devices didn’t exist.

Here are some facts about cheating today that might surprise you.

  • Men tend to cheat a little more than women. It's well-documented that men have both more opportunity and drive for sex outside of their primary relationship. This is especially true if they are not feeling satisfied sexually in their relationship.
  • Ashley Madison, the social networking site whose motto is “Life is short. Have an affair,” claims that more than 54 million members have joined the service since 2002.
  • In a survey of 1,000 people by Women's Health magazine, 60 percent said they consider “emotional cheating” a form of infidelity.
  • Women are more likely than men to pursue emotional infidelity. They are often more easily lured into feeling “chummy” with people at work, on the playground, or even with their neighbors. When they don't feel understood by their partner, they're more likely to look for that missing understanding and companionship outside of the relationship.
  • Women will actually leave a current relationship to pursue a new love, but on the flipside, men will just stay and cheat even if they're unhappy. Over the long haul, men feel as if they owe something to their wives. Women don't necessarily feel that way. Looking for a partner who is a better provider is more common for women than men.
  • Nearly 3 percent of births are the result of infidelity. Still, men will often raise a child they don't think is theirs in order to maintain the status quo.
  • One of the biggest opportunities for infidelity is traveling for business. A hotel bar in a big city can be ripe with people looking to have a one-night stand. It's estimated that 36 percent of men and 13 percent of women have cheated while traveling.
  • The workplace is a fertile ground for cheaters. Women are more likely than men to fall in love with a co-worker, but men are more likely to use one of their co-workers for sexual relations. Nearly a third of relationships that start in the office end in marriage, according to CareerBuilder.com.
  • The more money a man makes, the more likely he is to cheat. Whether he feels empowered by his wealth or simply entitled that hard work should be rewarded, higher-income males go to the head of the cheating class.
  • Monogamy isn't impossible; it's just very hard to maintain over many years.
  • Children don't help with the stress of keeping a marriage together, especially during periods of sleepless nights characterized by crying infants. Sometimes, children will drive partners further apart rather than bring them together.
  • Serial cheating while maintaining a long-term relationship is more likely with men than women. A woman is more likely to leave for her new lover than stay in a loveless marriage. This is especially true if there isn't a prenuptial agreement in place at the start of a marriage; the man knows that going through a divorce would take him through the financial wringer.
  • History tends to repeat itself. If you know that your partner has strayed from a relationship in the past, it’s likely to happen again. “Once a cheater, always a cheater” is an expression that still resonates.
  • Recognizing that your partner may cheat on you will keep your expectations more grounded in reality than constructing a fantasy that cheating will never happen to you. You’ll have to decide how much you’re willing to put up with: zero-tolerance, some compromise or free love. It's entirely up to you, but you do need to think about what strings to attach to your relationship and what you really want.

It's Mostly Biological

Genuine monogamy is difficult. Of all the world’s species, only 3 percent are monogamous. Even those that practice monogamy occasionally slip up. Others cross the line regularly. Men are especially driven by biology to want to have sex with as many partners as possible, perhaps unconsciously helping to perpetuate their species.

Men are greater consumers of pornography than women, which is why an entire industry caters specifically to men’s sexual desires. How you view a male partner partaking of porn in private is something for you to think about. Do you consider it a betrayal of your relationship or a safety valve in helping to preserve your relationship?

Top Reasons Men Cheat

There are basic differences why men cheat on their partner more than women. Men are much more likely to cheat if they find themselves in an unsatisfying sexual relationship. Men have been described as having sex on the brain, and it’s true. They like to experience sexual pleasure regularly, so finding new partners or initiating one-night stands are common desires. Enjoying the conquest is part of the reason men cheat. At the same time, men also tend to stay in an unhappy relationship longer if they can find sexual satisfaction through an extramarital affair. Men may also feel that they deserve to stray from a relationship especially if they make more money than their partner or are the sole breadwinner in the marriage. It's almost as if they feel they’ve earned the right to cheat, which is one of the top reasons men do it.

Top Reasons Women Cheat

Women have their own set of reasons for cheating. Usually, it’s not for basic sexual desire alone. If a woman is in an unsatisfying relationship, she’s more likely to crave a closer emotional connection elsewhere and find it with a new partner. Sex doesn't typically drive a woman’s conquests as much as her needs for love and fulfillment.

Another reason women cheat is that discord in a relationship can drive them to seek a rapport less stressful with a new partner. Women also tend to “cheat up,” seeking out partners who are more successful and better providers than their current ones or better looking. It's common for women to trade up to a new relationship while still in their present relationship. They don't like to wait for a breakup to happen. Women, on average, are choosier than men about picking their sex partners.

Key Differences Between Men and Women Regarding Cheating

There are several prime differences in the ways that men and women cheat. One of the biggest is that men like to look for sex if they aren't receiving enough with their current partner. Men don't feel as guilty about cheating if they aren't getting what they want sexually in a relationship. They almost feel they have a right to stray. Women, on the other hand, cheat to look for more emotional connections with others. The tendency to not feel understood by their current partner will drive them into the arms of another. Women can be highly selective with whom they cheat because they are more focused on finding another relationship. Men just want to have sex all the time and in many forms. They aren't necessarily looking to leave their marriage. Women are much more likely to leave for a more successful, better looking, and emotionally-giving partner. The result—infidelity—is the same, but the reasons behind it for men and women are quite different.

Types of Personalities Most Likely to Cheat

Is there a certain personality type that is more likely to cheat? Yes, absolutely. Those who are confident, outgoing or demonstrably selfish tend to cheat more than your average introvert. People who are also less in touch with their feelings or emotionally-challenged are also more likely to cheat.

The definition of a sociopath is one who exhibits antisocial behavior and lacks empathy. Although not all cheaters are sociopaths, the trait does indicate someone with a personality disorder that could result in cheating. It’s partly because they don't care about others’ feelings. They are thinking solely of themselves and their desires when they look to cheat. A sense of entitlement also gives the cheater an inflated sense of self that leads to adultery.

Attractiveness and status also contribute to two-timing. Many people in positions of power feel like they deserve to cheat. Being married shouldn’t weigh them down, and even a long-term relationship means little when it comes to being faithful.

Next Step: Warning Signs of a Cheating Spouse
Learn about Surveillance Gear