Why do people cheat?

If you’ve ever been cheated on your first thought was probably “Why?” 

The thing to remember is that infidelity is rarely just about sex.  Research recently published in The Journal of Sex Research has revealed the motivations behind cheating. The survey participants were quite young (average age of 20) so the results are not strictly the outcome you might get from couples in a long term relationship but the study confirmed what science already knew - “lack of love” is mostly to blame. 

The participants listed 77 different motivations for infidelity which researchers grouped by commonality to come up with the 8 most common:

77% cited lack of love
74% for variety of sexual partners
70% because they felt neglected
70% because of a situational reason (such as being drunk)
57% to boost their own self esteem
43% out of anger
41% because they felt little commitment to their partner
32% for physical sex

When split between the sexes the study found that men were more likely to cheat for variety, situational reasons and sexual desire whilst women were more likely to cheat because they felt unloved or neglected. 

So all the typical reasons you read about why men and women are likely to be unfaithful are actually true! Men are in it for the sexual desire whilst women mostly feel their needs are not being met in the relationship.

But can science tell us when we’re more likely to cheat?

In 2017 a research team from Israel conducted a study which found that the window when women were more likely to be unfaithful was between the 6-10 year mark whilst men were more likely to cheat after 11 years.

Another study in 2014 found that men were more likely to consider having an affair when their age ends in the number 9, ie. just before they turn 40 or 50 they decide they’re having a mid life crisis and want to find love with someone else. 

A study published by the University of Queensland in 2014 found that infidelity was more common among people who had specific types of oxytocin and vasopressin receptor genes. The study found that 40% of instances of infidelity in women and 62% in men were related to genetics.

A 2011 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, found that about 23% of men and 19% of women in heterosexual relationships reported having cheated on their partner. And a 2017 study has found that males and females are now engaging in infidelity at similar rates.

A 2017 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour followed 500 participants and asked them to report their own infidelity and whether they knew or suspected that their partner had been unfaithful. Participants who had reported being unfaithful in the first relationship were three times more likely to report being unfaithful in the second than people who hadn't reported infidelity. And participants who reported that their first partner had cheated on them were twice as likely to report that their second partner had cheated on them.

So there you have it, basically the who, why, when of cheating. But please keep in mind that everyone is different, every relationship is different, every marriage is different. The honeymoon period in any relationship doesn’t last forever but what breaks up a marriage after 4 years and what keeps love flourishing in a marriage after 40 years can’t be explained by statistics.

44 Comments

  • Austphil
    More than a month ago

    Doing a study where the average age was 20 is ridiculous! They were asking people still in school or in UNI. At my age most of the people I know have cheated at some time and half the population is divorced. I will quote you some reasons, the partner is now a BBW, and he was supposed to be ok with her gaining 60 kg and his fault he didn't find 60 kg of fat attractive. She didn't want sex any more at 50, so he was supposed to never have sex again. They argued all the time and could not get along and he was furious when she was attracted to some one who was interested in her. You can leave any time you want, most people cheat because they need some thing from sex that they are not getting at home, but still want their partner in their life and when they get caught they are the bastard. Just walk out and start a new life and your "moving on" Try and fill a hole in your life, that your partner doesn't give a rats ass about and keep your relationship and your the biggest ass wipe who ever lived.

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    WhippedClit
    More than a month ago

    Well my partner doesnt consider it cheating, I when all he does is stalk the ladies and their friends and hands out his number, hides his phone, absolutely goes troppo if i go to take a look. He says he is just looking lol, yeah right, the intention is there and he really is a bad liar.

  • Aysianlover
    More than a month ago

    When someone cheats on you, it reflects so much more of who they are and not so much of who you are. Recognise that them cheating is a reflection of their insecurities and don’t let that amplify your own if you cheat on someone that is willing to do absolutely anything for you or guess what ? You actually cheated yourself out of true loyalty. Cheating a good person is like throwing away a diamond and picking up a rock and cheating can be really subtle.
    Cheating doesn’t have to be kissing, meeting or getting physical with someone else. As soon as you see yourself deleting those messages to hide them from your partners, you’ve already started it. It may not be cheating yet, but it’s planting a seed and cheaters don’t think cheating is wrong until they get cheated upon. It’s so important to understand this, people don’t cheat because they don’t respect their partners, people cheat because they don’t respect themselves.

  • Tourmaline71
    More than a month ago

    There are so many “talk to your partner” comments on here ... sound advise if you are both communicating. When the other party refuses to engage in even the most simplest of communication, talking about your “needs” and “feeling neglected” is never going to happen or be resolved. Don’t be judgemental. You never truly know a persons motivation for being on here.
    And I’m sorry to say to the people that have been cheated on (I’m one of the statistics), you have contributed to that situation as well. Occassionally we bury our heads in the sand about what’s going on until we are confronted with it, or we subconsciously know what’s going on and only deal when there is irrefutable proof. Talking isn’t always a viable option and the leaving is not possible.
    As for the cheaters who refuse to grow up or understand their motivation, that’s on them and they’ll regret it in the end.
    Be kind. And have lots of fun. X

    • MeetsandTreats Photo
      MeetsandTreats
      More than a month ago

      I totally agree with your comment. I currently have a secret liaison with a married woman... very month or so over the last three years.
      She has constantly tried to communicate with her husband on her feelings and needs, but he refuses to acknowledge these issues but rather spend his spare time playing card games on his iPad..... so if some of you think some happily married chitter chatter around the kitchen table is going to fix 17 years of a dull sex life, you’re sadly mistaken. All other parts of her marriage she finds very satisfying ........ just not those between the sheets.

  • jambon007
    More than a month ago

    Can see all the hard done by's
    so many.

  • DaisyChainBlue Photo
    DaisyChainBlue
    More than a month ago

    Today's society is a throw away society ....
    Why show effort of care, by being truthful and talking things out with your partner .. Much easier to deceive and cheat ... Why put extra effort in trying to fix a partnership/marriage, when it's easier to toss it and walk away ...
    .................
    And as you progress with being a deceitful, cheating slug ... Your first sense of guilt fades away ... That itself confirms you've gone from someone with substance, to something shallow ... You have become a "throw away" ....
    ...................
    Let's be honest, most of us, still prefer our partners to be monogamous ... If you met someone who said, hey, I really like you, want to get to know you and spend time with you, however I want you to know I deceived and cheated in all my relationships ... Would you really take on "a tosser" ??

    • Leolady727 Photo
      Leolady727
      More than a month ago

      I agree on some of your points, but disagree about monogamy. I don't mind if my partner/friend/whatever is seeing other people - just be honest about it and allow me the same latitude.

      I always say that there is a reason why monogamy and monotony sound similar ;-)

    • DaisyChainBlue Photo
      DaisyChainBlue
      More than a month ago

      As in misogny, autonomy, philogny ....etc
      Words that rhyme ... We could play on all night ... And the point would be ???

      I agree with you whether you prefer through way traffic with your partner or whether you prefer monogamy .. The fact is most partners don't like deceitful cheating tossers :-)

    • strechticles
      More than a month ago

      Oddly enough I know a couple that meet as cheaters and have stayed together for more than a decade.
      In their case though, they both address the "hall pass" as being "openly cheating" and in some crazy way seems to work for them.
      Can't say that's ever gonna be the norm but at the very least they're honest about it to each other, maybe even brutally honest.
      So while I still think cheating is pretty fucked, I still respect them for their ability to trust that they will cheat on each other and thus somehow have mutual trust from that communicated understanding.

  • strechticles
    More than a month ago

    All just empty excuses for lacking the moral fortitude to be committed to a relationship. Basically being gutless, too gutless to fix it, too gutless to end it.
    I knew early on in life that I wanted to try all the exciting different varieties of sexy time, so I stayed single through my 20's, knowing that I wouldn't be committed to a relationship if I was experimenting, with all the variety of partners & fetishes on offer, so I chose single life instead, until I had gotten it out of my system (assuming it'd ever be enough).
    Maybe if everyone was capable of choosing what is really important to them, rather then what society expects you to do, then perhaps there'd be less cheaters and dishonest partners, because you'd be actually committing to what you wanted in life.
    Guess we'll never know, since excuses aren't actual reasons, nor are they reasonable motivations.
    Just excuses for gutless people.

    • Account Closed
      More than a month ago

      Your on the wrong site lickspital.
      Take your low motal values and flush them dowm the toilet with your boring tit of a life.

    • Leolady727 Photo
      Leolady727
      More than a month ago

      I agree with you - I think cheating is a low act. If you make a commitment to a person you owe it to that person to be honest and tell them it's not working, or you owe it to them to not behave like a spoilt child who can't cope with having to behave like an adult (like my ex).

    • Leolady727 Photo
      Leolady727
      More than a month ago

      And, WOW, Rauchy (whatever the f*ck that means), 3 spelling mistakes in one short message :-)

  • smokingeyes
    More than a month ago

    My ex an i had an open relationship and he still found a need to cheat!! Ps its not cheating if partners know and consent.. what i object to is the slyness many employ... if its that bad and your partner doesnt agree with external partners.. you can just leave.. shrugs...

    • allinmymind
      More than a month ago

      Although having a hallpass isn't cheating, the general public may not agree. I dunno, I suppose I am just in a downer about it lol.

    • Leolady727 Photo
      Leolady727
      More than a month ago

      Smokingeyes - my situation was similar to yours. My ex and I were in the swinging lifestyle and he still felt the need to go behind my back and cheat. I could not understand why until we had a frank conversation when we split - he said it was just the thrill of the chase, not about sex at all. Still, I was pretty pissed off because I had plenty of offers and turned them down because I thought he wouldn't cheat on me, so I wouldn't cheat on him!

  • LadyAstrid Photo
    LadyAstrid
    More than a month ago

    My ex-husband (of 30 years) cheated with: the babysitter, the lady I shared my office with and the piece de resistance - my sister-in-law when I was undergoing chemo. Nice bloke, that's why he's my ex.
    I was on my own for many years before I ventured into the dating scene again. A work colleague introduced me to AMM and after the initial shy period I've loved it.
    I changed my thinking - any partner of mine can screw anyone he wants to, so long as I know he's off enjoying the delights of another woman.
    I do need to be the number one "romantic love interest" but I can compartmentalise sex from love.
    So - bringing you up to 13 years after my divorce (best money I ever spent) I am now in a wonderful open relationship with the most wonderful man. We love each other and get great joy in discussing our "satellites" - we are a whole planet on our own and we play with our satellites whenever we have the time.
    It's so amazing to have such open communication with a like-minded person. I'm loving it.
    Out only problem is finding women of a suitable age, and mindset, to play with my man.
    I'm 63 and he's 56 so he would prefer a more mature woman. Any ideas people?

    • miguel45bttm Photo
      miguel45bttm
      More than a month ago

      Imagine if you started life in a relationship such as you have today. I believe that with a different mindset society would be a much happier place if we were all open to such a lifestyle as you now have.

      Certainly, I believe, you would have saved yourself and your ex I daresay, a lot if pain and stress.

    • coolMcool
      More than a month ago

      Great to hear your story Lady Astrid, hit me up sometime. id love to hear more

  • miguel45bttm Photo
    miguel45bttm
    More than a month ago

    People that cheat, I'm guessing, for the most part, don't view their actions S really cheating. No more than spending a few hours on a round of golf or an afternoon catching up with girlfriends.

    If they feel the pangs of guilt, then they're cheating but in most cases that passes.

    It's just sex, they tell themselves. Something through which they can experiment and reassure themselves that they're still alive.

    Long term relationships never start out with a statement from either party that tells the other 'I'm a hirmbsg and just about anything goes, including the kinkiedy thing you can come up with.'

    So they start off fairly vanilla and it's almost impossible to break away from that? How do you tell your partner of 5 years or more that the almost repetitive sex you're having with them is boring the shite out of you? You love them still but geez! Where is the wild sex that once made her scream, where is the nymph ths once orgasmed several times in a session and you thought she was going to drain the life out of you.

    You love her/him but something's got to give.

    So you can't talk about it.... Welcome to married life as is the norm. So either party gets an opportunity to stray. Maybe they don't at first but it's hard to get rid of the seed that's been planted in your head

    Is it cheating? Is it if you happen to not be chasing game but accept any opportunistic fun that comes your way and rings your bells?

    It'll be viewed as such and it will be considered no differently to a full blown extra marital affair.

    These things wouldn't happen if people started off honestly with each other.

    In a society where sexual honesty was the norm, there would be almost no cheating and a hell of lot more happy couples.

    Blame upbringing and blame religions but most of all blame yourself if your "cheating" fucks up yours and your family's life.

  • Huntedsnark
    More than a month ago

    I have 'cheated' on my partner - her health (due to a collection of conditions) was such that she could not enjoy sex.
    When I talked with her about needing some female sexual companionship she was outraged and did not approve.
    She ended up leaving me when she found a hotel swipe key in my car and accused me of cheating on her.
    She did not believe me when I explained that I and a friend had booked a third friend into a hotel after a lengthy dinner when she was not in a fit state to drive - the third friend had just lost her job and invited herself to dinner and then overindulged.
    My friend transported our under the weather friend and I booked the room for her and was given two swipe cards, one for the room and one for the carpark.
    It is ironic that looking after a friend who was having a tough time caused me to be considered guilty of 'cheating.'
    Such is life!

    • Zamboon Photo
      Zamboon
      More than a month ago

      Not sure if I would’ve believed you .. and I’ve come up with some pretty long stories ...

    • allinmymind
      More than a month ago

      That is why outdoor sex is a better alternative.

  • 1DoorMan Photo
    1DoorMan
    More than a month ago

    Hi most of you know the consequence of Cheating on a spouse you get caught out some how. Be a grown up and have the conversation about why you want to meet another sexual partner. Its the first step to staying happy within yourself you did the right thing. Deceiving a partner is so devastating to the other partner. With most times a very bad result for all (partner and kids if any).

    • Account Closed
      More than a month ago

      This! Just be honest - duh.

  • friskypuz
    More than a month ago

    I have a lover but with my husband's knowledge and consent but l am the other woman with my lover, l feel more like cheat if l was to see another without my lovers knowledge than my husband..go figure, each to their own really...

    • Zamboon Photo
      Zamboon
      More than a month ago

      The fact that you are on amm and your profile reads the way it does means that you are open to cheating....

    • KinkyCouple4044
      More than a month ago

      To me, being "the other woman" is the same as cheating. You're aiding someone else in cheating, no better or worse.

  • Zamboon Photo
    Zamboon
    More than a month ago

    I’m guessing that with so many”it’s complicated” and “in a relationship “ and “ married” that there’s a lot of cheating going on here ...
    Strange in every day life if I know a man is cheating on his wife I am not impressed at all - but there are circumstances that can kind of justify it and those have been explained to me mainly by women so who am I to judge - just so long as no one gets hurt I guess - some of us march to the beat of another drum and that can happen later in life as well , with the relationship being normal at home but lacking in sex and adventure? And being totally honest can backfire - there was a lady on here who regularly met other guys with her husbands consent - thing is he actually wasn’t that consenting and he used to play tennis where he met someone else and left her ..was he cheating?

  • Tassiegirl555 Photo
    Tassiegirl555
    More than a month ago

    Insecurity and lack of communication remember the old saying its not greener on the other side of the fence like it looks

  • Beyond4000 Photo
    Beyond4000
    More than a month ago

    Average article, identifies and talks about studies already done and published, and doesn't offer any reasoning or solutions, but lets look at the stats,
    77% cited lack of love
    caused by hectic lives, financial reasons, misunderstandings blossoming into all out arguments and points of view(being something like "they don't love me", "they just don't understand me", "they just don't care"). Chances are, a perceived lack of love is just that, a perceived lack of love, it is possible in over 50% of these cases, with some "couple" time without kids/family/friends could reunite the "love", better communication of expressing better peoples feelings, instead of short, sharp, nasty verbal "stabs" (as the youth of today are good at).
    74% for variety of sexual partners
    caused by a feeling of mundane ritual of sex, could be solved by "spicing things up" and/or getting some "adult away time"
    70% because they felt neglected
    Comes back to lack of communication and lack of showing feelings!
    70% because of a situational reason (such as being drunk)
    Comes back to lack of communication and lack of showing feelings!, life pressures, bad day at work/home, financial reasons, all can be solved simply by better communication and patience!
    57% to boost their own self esteem
    some people say they get a kick out of cheating, but why?, because they think others will see them as "studs/hotties", in other words they have underlying issues of self esteem (as the statistic says), and in most cases can be dealt with by the individual, but in some cases needs counseling.
    43% out of anger
    The anger bit is most likely caused by lack of communication and/or misunderstanding, or laziness/boredom by one/both in the relationship, communication and commitment to work on things can tackle this!.
    41% because they felt little commitment to their partner
    comes back to misunderstandings and/or lack of communication and/or lack of adult time
    32% for physical sex
    in other works, the sex life is boring, this can be fixed by spicing things up!

    • AMM.Editor Photo
      AMM.Editor
      More than a month ago

      The article isn't mean to offer advice, it's just sharing research findings on a topic.

    • triXXXi66 Photo
      triXXXi66
      More than a month ago

      Geez... are you a relationship councellor by any chance.. are a statistics analyser? Lol... communication and honesty is a key to any good relationship

    • KinkyGirl101 Photo
      KinkyGirl101
      More than a month ago

      I disagree that 32% for physical sex means their existing sex life is boring. How can you make that assumption? Maybe they just like sex, maybe their sex life is good but their partner has a lower sex drive, maybe due to medical or physical issues their partner can't have sex. Do swingers keep looking for other partners because they are bored with their sex life? No, they just enjoy sex. Remember being single and meeting someone and within minutes just wanting to take them home and tear their clothes off. That's physical sex.

    • Beyond4000 Photo
      Beyond4000
      More than a month ago

      all valid points, but it is good to see that there is a lot of worthwhile discussion on how to avoid being a statistic, other than just quoting the obvious!

  • trusted8 Photo
    trusted8
    More than a month ago

    I can tell you that communication between couples on all levels will help those who feel that they need a reason to be unfaithful. Whatever, the reason in your own mind, doesn't justify the retaliation. Even though the sex with another can be amazing, often its shallow, unfulfilling and egotistical.

  • Milkshakes99
    More than a month ago

    I gotta laugh. My ex husband cheated, and Even though he is in a new relationship he is still cheating ( funnily enough stumbled across his active profile on here lol) Sometimes people just can’t be happy. And that’s on them. End of the day we are human and we know what’s right or wrong. And we need to be able to communicate that with our partner.

    There is no excuse for cheating I believe. If your not happy talk to your partner, heck you partner might just be feeling the same or want the try new things. And if if that doesn’t work seriously consider if the relationship is right for you and if not end it.

    I’ve been cheated on and I don’t tolerate it. Shows a lack of respect you have for your partner. Qualities that aren’t appealing.

    • Account Closed
      More than a month ago

      ‘If you are not happy, talk to your partner’ is the best advice - I mean really talk. It can be hard but relationships cannot evolve, or allow for other considerations (taking of lovers), without it.

    • Davidw696
      More than a month ago

      I agree with you I've been cheated on its not good the way I found out

    • meandutime
      More than a month ago

      do you ever bait your ex when you look at his profile?

    • Account Closed
      More than a month ago

      Meandyoutime. Nah why would I? 1) I have no interest in him 2) I’m not going to waste my time 3) I’m here for me and my fun

    • AmyF2016
      More than a month ago

      Its easier for people to cheat and justify than step up and have the difficult conversation with their partner I find

    • meandutime
      More than a month ago

      Milkshakes, you definitely sound like you are over him LOL, good for you to be able to move on so well

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