For most people cheating in marriage is the ultimate sin. When you commit to someone, you are supposed to be exclusive and loyal – a fact that has been etched in stone since time immemorial. Unfortunately, infidelity statistics prove otherwise. Let’s try to understand the general misconceptions that surround infidelity — or the myths and facts about cheating!
While statistics can have several contexts to each aspect of cultural, racial, financial and social indicators – they definitely indicate that cheating is far more common than what we assume. The research-based scientific facts about cheating also indicate that not all relationships suffer the same fate in the wake of infidelity. Besides, cheating happens on different levels and in different forms.
The question is: do we know everything there is to know when it comes to infidelity?
20 Myths And Facts About Cheating In A Marriage
According to Pew Research Centre, over 90% of Americans consider infidelity immoral yet around 30% to 40% of Americans cheat on their partners. In another study by YouGov.com, 19% of respondents claimed they had engaged in sexual activities outside of their current relationships.
In popular culture, infidelity is usually ‘the end’ when it comes to relationships. Even in the case of famous personalities – from John F. Kennedy to Princess Diana to Bill Clinton – the judgment by the public is harsh and punishment swift. But if you step back and look at each case objectively, there are a lot of things that can be learned.
So here are some myths and facts about cheating in a marriage that may make you question all that you know about adultery.
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1. Myth: Affairs always break a marriage
An adulterous man or woman can definitely cause a lot of hurt but once an affair is outed, the reactions are varied. One of the interesting psychological facts about cheating is that a lot of times spouses who are cheated upon feel guilty or responsible for their significant other’s transgression.
Therefore it is a myth that affairs always break a marriage. Mutual understanding and forgiveness can lead to a stronger relationship between two people in the future. Although cheating isn’t too forgivable an act, sometimes there are two sides to everything and listening can be a good way to restart.
So, in many cases, the cheater might be forgiven by the spouse. On the flip side, it might lead to the divorce courts.
The cumbersome process of a divorce, the fear about societal reaction, children’s future, etc are some of the reasons why some marriages survive affairs. So while affairs can definitely shake the foundations of a marriage, a large percentage of marriages survive infidelity.
Fact: Some relationships come out victorious even after one of the partner engages in an affair outside the marriage. This is purely subjective and depends on the current mental state of the people in these relationships. If one has the tolerance and reason to believe that they can move past the said betrayal, a lot of couples tend to adopt therapy and continue with their lives. According to a new survey conducted though, only 16% of the relationships can survive an affair.
2. Myth : Affairs that break up a marriage last longer and are stronger
Most people who indulge in affairs get cold feet when it comes to actually breaking their current relationship. So in the event that infidelity breaks a marriage, it means the cheating partner will be steadfast about their new affair, right?
Not really. In many circumstances, affairs that have been said to be stronger when they break a marriage, is a myth. They mostly fizzle out as soon as the excitement of the affair dies. When it comes to getting completely committed to another without the thrill of running around or hiding, most people tend to back out.
The guilt, the label of being an adulterer, the judgment that goes on inevitably take a toll. The extramarital affair has to be super strong for it to outlast the negativity and pain. Not all extramarital affairs can be lifelong ones or culminate into second marriages.
Fact: Only 5-7% of the couples in an affair survive after their marriages are over with their respective partners. This is a grim rate with which to comfort yourself if you’re the one having an affair.
Related Reading: 15 Shocking Things Cheaters Say When Confronted
3. Myth: Cheating husbands stay married for a long time
Some men are compulsive or serial cheaters. Being in a committed, solid relationship makes no difference to their roving eye. But there is a strange belief that husbands who cheat on the sly tend to stay married for a long time.
This is because they may try to be over-caring, probably to get over their cheating guilt. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is little chance of them maintaining a healthy relationship especially if they have a history of infidelity.
Evidently, it is a myth that cheating husbands stay married for a long time or that they’re even happy in their relationships. The burden of guilt and over-compensatory habits can never buy anyone happiness. A relationship without the strong foundation of trust and comfort cannot be treated as an example to follow.
Fact: There’s simply no evidence or concrete facts about a cheating boyfriend or husband that indicate that it can improve the quality of the primary relationship. At least not cheating if is underway.
4. Myth: Cheating in a marriage is always caused by sexual attraction
Sexual attraction toward someone other than their partner plays an important role at the beginning of an extramarital affair. However, that is not the only reason. Often relationships develop due to emotional closeness as well. That’s why people have to deal with their spouse’s emotional affairs.
If a person fills a void or fulfills some need that a person is not getting out of their current marriage, it can lead to a strong emotional connection. Behind the physical manifestation, lies an emotional need so sex can’t be the only reason why an individual strays.
If a partner in the relationship feels neglected, used and overlooked, they tend to resort to secondary means. They often go around searching for that one reason to wake up each morning in order to feel purposeful again. Therefore, cheating in a marriage is not always caused by sexual attraction and the reverse is absolutely a myth.
Fact: In a recent study, 20% of the men having an affair said that it was to fulfill their emotional needs and not physical.14% did it to get their partner’s attention.
5. Fact: Women can cheat as often as men
It’s strange but cheating in a marriage is often associated with a man. It is assumed that a woman is more loyal than a man in a relationship. Let’s throw some infidelity statistics here. According to statistics published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 57 % of men overall admit to committing infidelity at some point while 54% of women too admitted the same.
Among married couples, 22% of married men admitted to having an affair with the same being true for 14% of married women. In a nutshell, while men are perceived to have more of a tendency to cheat, women are equally capable. People who go around claiming that the male sex is more responsible for breaking the marriage are clearly unaware of the reality and must have a check on the numbers. Women can cheat as often as men and that is a fact.
It’s important to be mindful of such facts about a cheating girlfriend or wife to make sure you don’t ignore tell-tale warning signs of cheating.
6. Fact: Popular culture supports cheating in a marriage
Sure, society looks down upon those who are found cheating in marriage. But here’s the irony. As much as everyone would like to assume the high moral ground, popular culture often glamorizes adultery.
Think of TV shows, movies and books. Right from the days of Fatal Attraction to current web shows like Dark Desire, cheating is given an aura of glamour and sex appeal. Pop culture makes tasting the forbidden fruit seem aspirational.
In the age of Netflix and PrimeVideo, every show and movie is available at the touch of a finger, even the ones that provoke the wrong kinds of thoughts. Illicit relationships, sneaking around, making poor decisions while being drunk — all these actions seem to look ‘cool’ to the newer generation. By creating such notions in the minds of young people, it has become a fact that popular culture supports cheating in a marriage.
Related Reading: 9 Psychological Effects Of Being The Other Woman
7. Fact: Every marriage can fall prey to infidelity
There is no marriage that is immune to infidelity. Even the most secure of relationships can get dented because of some reason. This is why it is not just important to fall in love but also to maintain and sustain it. You need to nurture a marriage to make it happy and strong and immune to temptations.
So while it is a fact that every marriage can fall prey to infidelity, there are always ways to reduce the chances of that.
This means spending time with your spouse, taking care of their needs, having an open channel of communication and maintaining mutual respect. Especially in the digital age when cheating in marriage has become rather easy, you need to make an effort to keep the spark alive.
8. Myth: Confessing to cheating in marriage can save it
Most people would rather hear about their spouse’s infidelity from the horse’s mouth than from any other source. A lot of people who are overcome by guilt when they cheat also believe confessing to their ‘sin’ might make it easier for their partner to forgive them.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As much as we would like to affirm it too, the truth is that this saying of ‘confessing to cheating can save your marriage’, is actually a myth. The pain does not lessen if you hear about your beloved’s cheating habits from him or her directly. The reaction will entirely depend on how the un-involved partner processes the news.
This is just one of those facts about cheating in relationships that you must accept and be aware of if you’re entertaining thoughts of crossing the line of fidelity.
Fact: People might not always respond how you want them to and there is simply no statistic that proves confessing is a guaranteed method of saving your marriage. Sometimes, it makes matters worse.
9. Myth: Sexting or cyber sex is not cheating
Is sexting cheating? Does indulging in sex chats or carrying on an affair with someone through the use of technology (even if there is no sex involved in real life) considered to be cheating? Well, the jury is still out on this one.
But it is in fact a myth that sexting or cyber sex is not cheating. Any relationship developed outside of the structure of your committed relationship is cheating, especially if it is done without the consent of the partner, in stealth, or with a sense of guilt. A virtual affair can have pretty much the same repercussions as a real one.
It’s vital to point out a few interesting facts about cheating and how it goes too far here: sexual tension in the virtual world often leads to real-life transgressions. What may begin as harmless flirting can over a period of time turn into a full-blown extramarital affair.
Besides, the digital footprint that you generate in the course of sexting or cyber sex — sharing nudes, erotic videos and such — can be misused by the person at the other end, leading to problems a lot more complex than the aftermath of cheating on your marriage.
Fact: Most of the partners who were a victim of cybersex cheating said they felt neglected, not cared for and absent in the relationship. This is exactly how a person would feel if their partner has real physical relations with someone else. It is often thus concluded that virtual or real, physical relations outside marriage induces the same end-result. Therefore, cybersex and sexting is synonymous to cheating.
10. Fact: Some affairs last for years
It might not exactly be called an ‘extra’ marital affair, but some relationships formed outside of marriage can last longer than the marriage itself. It might have all the ingredients of a healthy marriage – love, care, affection, sex, minus the ring.
However painful it is for the other partner in a committed marriage, sometimes the extra marital affair does outnumber the total years spent together in the marriage itself. While it is immoral and unethical, it is definitely a fact that some affairs last for years.
If both partners share a symbiotic relationship and have accepted the fact that they perhaps can’t be legally married, they can continue for years and have a lifelong extramarital affair. Case in point being Prince Charles and Camilla who carried on an affair pretty much throughout their respective marriages.
11. Myth: An affair means the marriage is troubled
It is easy to dismiss an affair as the result of a troubled marriage. A lot of people who indulge in adultery justify it citing problems in their relationships. But cheating in marriage does not always happen because there is something wrong with it.
Often affairs can be the result of immense sexual attraction, the temptation to casually date, because they are sure they won’t get caught, as a pursuit of excitement or simply to feel young and desired again. Remember Unfaithful? Diane Lane gets into a hot affair despite being married to a kind Richard Gere!
Therefore, it is not always right to blame the marriage if a partner decides to have an extra marital affair. Sometimes people cannot help their own insecurities or issues and fall prey to cheating. In such cases, to say that an affair means the marriage is troubled is surely just a myth.
Fact: The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy conducted a national survey which found out that 15% of married women and 25% of married men form relations outside of marriage even when their marriage is an absolute text-book fairy tale. Thus, happy marriages also become victims to infidelity.
Related Reading: What Are The Consequences Of Affairs Between Married Couples?
12. Myth: Adulterers can’t be good parents
Parenting skills have nothing to do with an individual’s tendency to have an affair. A person might be a wonderful parent but may not be attracted to their spouse leading them into the arms of another. While children can be a great hook to stay on in a marriage, it is not enough to keep them married. This is just one of those sad facts about cheating in relationships that people remain in denial about.
Yes the parent might not always be morally correct in his life, but he is a human too and must not be expected to be perfect. Infidelity has nothing to do with parenting and the ‘adulterers can’t be good parents’ is a myth that should be discarded.
Often it is also believed that parenting, being a full-time responsibility, will not allow a person to look elsewhere for gratification but in this day and age, an affair is just a WhatsApp chat away!
Fact: There is absolutely no rule in the book that says that a person who could not have a happy marriage will never be able to have a happy relationship with their child. These assumptions are ridiculous and based on false pretexts.
13. Myth: It is best to disclose all about cheating in marriage
While confessing to an affair is desirable, sometimes, depending on the situation, it is best to keep mum.
Or if an affair is over and you are sure you won’t get back with your lover again, it can be treated as a closed chapter that your spouse need not know about. Of course, it’s tantamount to lying, but if a confession will result in more misery, why rake it up?
Myths propogating the disclosure of cheating in a marriage mustn’t be accepted blindly and instead, must be weighed against one’s own situations to take the right decision.
Fact: Some households report a fear of domestic violence and a toxic home environment. Such circumstances are extraordinary where the person is safer not confiding in their partner about their affair. Although the best way out is honesty, silence is golden too.
14. Fact: Infidelity is a choice
You can choose to stay loyal. You can choose to stray. Yes indeed, the choice is yours. It is a fact that infidelity is a choice. Cheating in marriages rarely happens because you were forced into it. While there are temptations and opportunities galore to seek pleasure outside of your marriage, giving into them is entirely your choice.
Even if you are in a miserable unhappy marriage, you can choose to walk out or work on it. You need not get into an affair with someone else. So infidelity is definitely not organic, but an informed choice your mind makes.
Related Reading: How To Survive Betrayal In A Relationship? 8 Ways To Figure It Out!
15. Fact: The betrayed spouse goes through a tough time
No revelation of cheating in marriage is easy. It is one of the most difficult challenges any marriage can go through. The betrayed spouse cycle includes a person either fighting the adulterer or avoiding them. It is the toughest time for the betrayed spouse and it takes a lot for them to heal; this is a fact.
This is because of the gamut of emotions that the uninvolved partners go through when they discover that the marriage has hit the rocks. From being in denial to being depressed to blaming themselves, they go through a lot of torment before finally accepting the truth.
16. Myth: Your partner won’t stray if your sex life is good
It is a myth that a good sex life can make a man or woman more committed in a marriage. As mentioned above, sex is just one of the many – albeit, important reasons – why people stray. A lot of people find monogamy boring after a point.
Even if they try and spice up their sex life, there is no guarantee that it won’t lead to the desire for another person. Especially among youngsters leading a fast and restless life, there is less judgment about cheating in a marriage or in a stable relationship.
Fact: Studies suggest that only 20% of the men who cheat do so because of a sexually dissatisfied marriage. The remaining 80% have a variety of reasons which range from emotional vacancy, insecurities, revenge etc.
17. Fact: Cheating cuts across classes and cultures
There is a fallacy that cheating in marriage is more common among the rich and famous. Indeed, cheating scandals in high society capture the imagination of the public more than others, but the fact is that adultery is common across genders, age groups, socio-economic classes and cultures.
Sure, the acceptance of adultery may be different from one country to another – for instance, the French are known to be more lenient in their attitude toward infidelity than Americans. But the occurrence is common everywhere, from traditional to modern societies. Therefore these prejudiced ideas have nothing to do with infidelity and people who say so like to believe in these myths.
18. Myth: Men and women are mostly monogamous
Monogamy is eulogized and desired in most cultures and prescribed by religion, but that does not mean that monogamy is accepted by all. Among the crucial facts about cheating in relationships is that humans are not monogamous by nature. Monogamy is a societal construct, and some people find it harder than others to conform to it.
Also, being monogamous does not mean that attraction for people other than your partner simply gets switched off. If you are in an exclusive monogamous relationship, you need to establish boundaries about what is acceptable and what is not.
So it is a myth that men and women are naturally monogamous however, it is the preferred road on which to travel. Otherwise, every relationship has the potential to go down the slippery slope.
Fact: Only 17% of all human cultures are strictly monogamous whereas a large chunk still believes in the system of polygamy or polyandry. Our lineage never really speaks of strict monogamy but even then, men and women did form long-term arrangements to stay together.
19. Myth: Affairs can be beneficial to a marriage
Can an affair be beneficial to a marriage? This is a rather idealized premise that says if a couple survives an affair, they emerge stronger. It’s probably because they realize what they could have lost and will put in extra effort to preserve it. Not necessarily!
Infidelity is a secret act that involves a lot of lying and hiding facts. A couple may be able to forgive it and decide to put it behind them, but the wedge it creates is very real. There can be nothing beneficial about the hurt, negativity and suspicion that may arise in the future.
It is among the undisputable psychological facts about cheating that it impacts the psyche of both partners and changes the relationship forever. Yes, if handled correctly, it may help a couple emerge stronger than before. But that can be achieved even by simply committing to making a conscious effort to work on the relationship. You don’t need the setback of infidelity to fix your marriage. So for the ones trying to make themselves feel better by saying that affairs can be beneficial to a marriage, it is only just a myth.
Fact: PISD or Post Infidelity Stress Disorder is a thing very few people know about. The symptoms are very much similar to those of PTSD. Some people have trouble connecting with people ever again, whether sexually or emotionally. People develop sleep disorders and clinical anxiety too. Whether the marriage has broken or not, PISD is real and no one has ever really found comfort in the fact that they were taken advantage of and were ultimately betrayed.
20. Myth: Affairs by one spouse leads to the other having one too
Often, a hurt spouse may end up having an affair to get back their cheating partner or avenge the shame caused by his or her partner. But that happens in very few cases. In most cases of adultery, the cheated person is too shocked and angered to think about paying back in the same coin.
If the marriage has been otherwise strong, he or she might be tempted to take the high ground and use his/her partner’s adultery as a solid ground for seeking divorce and alimony. There is no truth in the fact that affairs by one spouse leads to the other one having an affair as well. Such myths cause further misunderstandings in a marriage. After all, evidence of cheating in marriage strengthens the case if a person decides to go seek the legal route.
In a nutshell, an extramarital affair can happen to any relationship and it is a very personal and subjective matter for every couple. While it is extremely common these days, a bit of understanding and peeling of the layers to dig deeper might perhaps help you to cope with a situation of adultery better.
Fact: While some people do resort to taking revenge from their partners and end up having an affair too, statistics show that revenge being the reason for cheating is one of the least probabilities. Generally, the partner develops so many insecurities and worries that he is not able to focus on anyone except himself/herself.
A marriage may survive an episode of infidelity and emerge stronger or can crumble under the pressure at the first instance. It depends entirely on how a spouse reacts to being cheated upon and if a couple wants to get past it.
According to studies by the American Psychological Association, around 20% to 40 % of marriages cite infidelity as the reason for a divorce. Adultery is one of the major causes of separations though the reasons leading a person to cheat vary from one relationship to another.
It is difficult to trust a cheating spouse because there is no guarantee that he or she will not stray again. A man or woman might forgive and get back with a cheating partner but the trust element will be drastically reduced.
The pain caused by infidelity will last for a long time as it is your trust that has been broken, but over a period of time, if the person who has cheated makes the effort to rebuild the relationship and regain the trust of his or her partner, it is possible to be happy again.