Your partner is someone who understands you like no one else. In healthy cases, they make you feel safe, loved, and empowered to live your best life.
Most relationships come with clear boundaries to be romantically or sexually active exclusively with each other. Non-monogamous relationships also have boundaries on who it’s okay to share certain activities with, so that if infidelity happens, it’s clear that a line was crossed.
Feeling like you lost trust with the person you had it with most can be devastating, and sometimes lead to serious mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Let’s talk about infidelity and just how common it is today.
Studying infidelity is hard because people have different definitions of it. If your partner goes to a club and pays for a lap dance, is that cheating? What about if they flirt with a coworker but never do anything physically suggestive—is that cheating?
What the Research Says
Still, studies have happened before, though they can vary greatly. One 2021 study found that around 20% of men cheat while around 13% of women do. (However, currently married adults under 30 break down differently—with 11% of women cheating vs. 10% of men.)
People in relationships are more likely to admit to it within the week that follows than people in committed marriages are.
The Choice to Leave or Stay is Always On the Table
No matter how “common” cheating is, (it does NOT happen in the majority of relationships) it’s still a clear way to break a loved one’s boundaries and leave them with emotional damage. If you were the one cheated on, remember that you don’t have to talk yourself into staying or leaving just because of its commonality. Your preferences and the intimate details of your unique relationship are all that matters.
One study showed that 54.5% of relationships that experienced infidelity broke up immediately, compared to 30% that tried to work it out but ultimately broke up, and 15.6% that stayed together.
The same study showed that married couples experience around 10% more cheating than non-married couples, and one-night affairs are only 5% more common than long-term affairs.
Why Infidelity Happens
Infidelity is usually a sign that something deeper is going on under the surface, whether it’s in the relationship or in the person who cheated.
For example, in one survey, most women who cheated said they ultimately decided to share the affair with their partner because they weren’t happy with them and wanted them to know. This is also the most common response in marriages that experience infidelity. Most men, however, listed “guilt” as their #1 reason.
Here’s the thing—around 70% of people who cheat say they regret doing it. While cheating often starts the conversation about underlying problems in a relationship, it certainly should not be your first attempt to open that conversation.
New 2019 research shows that people who suspect their partner of cheating are actually more likely to be projecting their own fears of being infatuated with someone other than their partner. Thinking your partner is flirting with a friend of yours could actually insinuate your own fears about feeling attracted to a friend of theirs.
In some ways, observations of their partner flirting were accurate to their partner’s self-reported number of “check-outs”, but projecting is still more likely to be the cause of the accusation.
Whether or not infidelity occurred, working with a couples counselor is a great way to unload frustrations in any relationship. If you choose to work with me, I can get to know your relationship’s unique history, goals, and current strategies in accomplishing them.
Many couples come back from infidelity, but many couples also decide it’s best to go separate ways. Whatever you decide, I’m here to support you through it. Schedule your first appointment with us today.