How Common Is Cheating and Infidelity?
In This Article
Fidelity is often an important aspect of marriage. But sometimes, marriages are faced with a situation where one partner cheats on the other.
But how common is cheating? If you are in a loving relationship, is this something you must worry about or should you trust your partner implicitly?
The percentage of cheating wavers between 10 and 25 percent of couples, depending on which gender is answering and what survey/study/statistic you read.
Of these, somewhere near 20 percent will never reveal the affair to their partner.
For someone worried about their spouse being unfaithful, no percentage is comforting. So, what is the percentage of cheating?
Does everyone cheat?
And if infidelity is so common, how can you protect your marriage or heal from emotional or sexual betrayal?
How common is cheating in relationships?
If you’ve been wondering, “How common is cheating,” let’s look at some figures. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that when it comes to married couples, between 10 and 15 percent of women and 20 and 25 percent of men are unfaithful.
Does everyone cheat? No.
Not considering married partners who have cheated but won’t admit it puts faithful women at around 85 percent and faithful men at 75 percent. Those are pretty good odds.
If so many couples are staying faithful, why does partner cheating happen?
5 reasons why people cheat on people they love
People will find all sorts of reasons to justify partner cheating. Here are the most common reasons a spouse might be unfaithful to someone they love.
1. They had the opportunity
One of the saddest cheating stats is that there is no real reason why people are unfaithful. Their only motive is opportunity.
Cheating statistics show that partners are more likely to cheat if they are solely focused on their own sexual experience. So, if someone is offering, they think: “Why not?”
Related Reading: 10 Opportunities for Relationship Growth
2. They are bored sexually
Does everyone cheat? No, but if they do, it may be because of sexual curiosity rather than a lack of love for their married partner.
One 2021 study found that some partners cheat to try sexual experiences their partner isn’t interested in, such as group sex or anal intercourse.
3. They got involved in an emotional affair
Some partners in a loving marriage may not have sought out an affair but allowed a moment of emotional vulnerability with someone outside the marriage to spiral out of control.
Emotional affairs are a slippery slope, and you’ll become invested as soon as you share your deepest secrets with someone besides your spouse. This may cause you to neglect the emotional connection with your actual partner and your marriage will suffer.
Even if an emotional attachment never turns into a sexual affair, it can be as painful and complicated to end.
4. They feel underappreciated
In a study of 2000 couples, men and women cited “My partner stopped paying attention to me” as a reason for their unfaithful behavior.
Gratitude is a positive cycle if you can get it started. Studies show that couples who expressed gratitude toward one another were happier and more likely to engage in relationship maintenance.
This maintenance (date nights, sex, emotional intimacy) contributes to feelings of appreciation, which starts the wonderful cycle again.
On the other hand, couples who feel underappreciated start to look out for their own interests, which may lead to starting a relationship outside of their marriage.
5. They had poor role models
For better or worse, many children imitate their parents behavior. Children with one or more unfaithful parents were twice as likely to be unfaithful in their future romantic relationships.
For more information on the rates of infidelity, check out why people cheat on the people they love.
5 effects cheating has on mental health
With all these cheating stats swirling around your mind, you may wonder: is cheating normal in a marriage?
The answer is no. When you marry someone, it is (unless otherwise specified) with the understanding that both partners will be faithful to one another.
Partner cheating isn’t a private matter. Whether it’s kept a secret or revealed in an explosion of truth, it affects everyone involved.
Here are some ways that infidelity can harm your mental health.
1. It creates a change in brain chemistry
Infidelity statistics reveal that cheating can lead to feelings of withdrawal.
When in love, the body releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and euphoria. This is part of the reason why some people feel addicted to love.
The downside to this addiction is that when your partner betrays your confidence with someone else, your body may experience feelings of withdrawal.
2. It puts stress on your parenting
If you and your partner have children, the rate of infidelity in your marriage can make you feel like a failure as a parent.
As a parent, you want to protect your children from hurt. You never want them to question: “Is cheating normal?” or have them feel responsible for you or your spouse’s actions.
Research reveals that children who know of parental infidelity:
- 70 percent will have difficulty trusting others
- 75 percent will experience lingering feelings of anger and betrayal toward the adulterous parent, and
- 80 percent will have altered images of their future romantic relationships.
3. Partner cheating can cause depression
Infidelity statistics show that separation and infidelity can precipitate major depressive episodes.
This is especially true when a humiliating marital event occurs, such as infidelity, walking in on the act, or threats of marital separation.
Research shows that partners who experience such humiliating events are 6 times more likely to experience a major depressive episode.
Watch this video to learn more about depression and its treatment:
4. Infidelity statistics about depression
How common is cheating and depression? Infidelity statistics show that romantic betrayal can cause a form of PTSD called infidelity-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Symptoms of this PTSD include:
- Depressive episodes
- Stress and anxiety
- Feelings of being devalued
Related Reading: 5 Effects of Depression in Marriage and Ways to Cope
5. Cheating can cause doubts
Does everyone cheat? No, but after being burned by a former love, that’s how you’ll feel.
Partner cheating will make you suspicious of everyone you enter a relationship with from that point forward.
With therapy, self-love, and a loving, honest, and respectful partner, you can overcome the doubts brought on by being cheated on.
However, there are still self-doubts to contend with. Finding out your partner has been unfaithful will cause you to wonder what you did wrong or why you weren’t enough for them.
This self-doubt can spiral into low self-esteem, which can take years to recover.
Couples counseling can help partners forgive, identify the triggers that led to the betrayal, and learn how to communicate and move on from the hurt even stronger than before.
Some commonly asked questions
Cheating is an act that can harm a relationship. So, it might make you seek answers to certain questions about it.
What is the average rate of cheating?
How common is cheating in marriage, and when should you expect troubles on the horizon?
According to studies, men are most likely to cheat after 11 years of marriage, while women get the itch between seven and 10 years of wedded bliss.
One of the more interesting infidelity statistics is that married women are most likely to cheat around the age of 45, and men peak in cheating around age 55.
What are the five types of cheating?
- Physical cheating: This is when a partner has a sexual (or physical in some way) relationship with someone outside of their relationship.
- Emotional infidelity: Becoming emotionally attached in a romantic way outside marriage. It’s a romantic relationship, potentially with or without physical contact.
- Financial cheating: This type of infidelity is unique because it doesn’t necessarily involve someone outside of the relationship.
Financial partner cheating is when a spouse is deceitful regarding their finances, perhaps lying about how they make money, how much they earn, or how much debt they’re in. They may also have secret bank accounts or properties.
- Cyber infidelity: Online cheating is an umbrella term for micro-cheating (such as flirting via social media), watching pornography, or engaging in sexual chats with those outside the marriage.
- Object infidelity: Also thought of as a poor work/life balance, object infidelity is where a partner pays more attention to work, their phone, or some other objects that distract them from taking care of their relationship.
In a nutshell
How common is cheating? Infidelity is unfortunately common, whether emotional, physical, financial, micro, or object-related.
The rate of infidelity depends on the person but often occurs within the first 11 years of marriage.
Couples who are religious are less likely to cheat on each other.
Maintaining a close emotional and physical relationship with your spouse and having regular date nights also contribute to fidelity in marriage.
Cheating statistics show that infidelity can harm the mental health of everyone involved.
If you and your partner are struggling to heal from infidelity, couples counseling can help you regain your strength and learn how to move on.
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