Updated May 18, 2016

Infidelity Statistics: 23 Eye-Opening Truths

Read more about Marriage Statistics

Infidelity is usually kept hush-hush but we were able to uncover some jaw-dropping statistics regarding just how many people cheat. Read on for 23 surprising truths.

© Petras Gagilas (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Get the inside scoop on how many people cheat, what causes them to, and what the average affair looks like.

Infidelity is a hot topic. It seems like stories about cheating pop up everywhere you go. Whether it's a scandal involving a two-timing politician or the latest celebrity break-up, the media always manages to pick up on the scoop. While there's definitely an audience for people who like to rehash the salacious details, it's usually a different story when you're the one who finds out your partner has something going on the side.

Researchers have conducted countless studies on infidelity to find out why people cheat. While they've come up with some good leads, there's no one thing we can point to that signals doom for an otherwise happy relationship. CreditDonkey was interested in just how often men and women are stretching the boundaries, so we gathered up 23 statistics on infidelity that will knock your socks off.

INFIDELITY: MEN VS. WOMEN

Men and women are as different as night and day but when it comes to infidelity, both sides are susceptible to temptation. Our first set of statistics focuses on how frequently unfaithfulness occurs between the sexes and how attitudes about cheating vary.

1. What percentage of men are unfaithful?
If you think infidelity runs rampant among men, guess again. The data we found suggests that only 21% of men have ever been unfaithful to their spouse or significant other.

2. How often do women cheat?
Women tend to cheat less, with only 15% acknowledging an affair in a current or previous relationship. While that's a fairly low number, it represents a 40% increase over the past two decades.

3. What percentage of men would cheat if they knew they'd never get caught?
The fear of getting caught red-handed is a pretty strong deterrent for most people, but 74% of men say they'd step out on their partners if they knew they'd be able to get away with it.

4. How about women?
Surprisingly, 68% of women said they'd green light an affair if there was no chance of their current partner finding out.

5. How many men who cheat are happily married?
Marital discord often leads to infidelity but in at least one study, 56% of husbands who admitted to cheating said that they were happy with their marriages overall.

6. What percentage of cheating wives say their marriage is happy?
In that same study, 34% of wives who were surveyed claimed to be largely satisfied with the relationships they had with their spouses, identifying themselves as "happy" or "very happy."

INFIDELITY: FREQUENCY AND CAUSES

While numerous studies have attempted to link infidelity to one factor or another, pinpointing the root cause is difficult. We decided to take a look at what things may influence the likelihood of cheating and how often infidelity actually occurs.

7. How many people admit to cheating just once?
Among men who've been unfaithful, 23% said it was a one-time thing. Interestingly, only 17% of women who have cheated said the same.

8. How many say they've cheated 2 to 5 times?
Statistically, women appear to be more likely to have frequent dalliances than men. In a poll of confirmed cheaters, 36% of women said it happened between 2 and 5 times compared to 33% of men.

9. What percentage of adults are serial cheaters?
When it comes to multiple infidelities, women are the worst culprits, with 47% of those who've strayed acknowledging at least 6 or more incidents. Men aren't far behind, with 44% admitting to a consistent pattern of cheating.

10. Does income influence cheating rates?
Women who are completely dependent on their husbands financially are 50% less likely to cheat, while men were least likely to stray when their wives earned 75% of their income or less.

11. Does a high IQ make you more likely to cheat?
Intelligence has also been linked to a tendency to cheat. The mean IQ of men who've had an affair outside their marriage is 102.4 versus 100.5 for men who haven't. Among women, the difference is 104.6 versus 101.5 for cheaters and non-cheaters.

INFIDELITY AND RELATIONSHIPS

How someone reacts to the news that their significant other is cheating and how it affects their relationship varies greatly from one person to the next. We looked at how infidelity is viewed by people who are in committed relationships and how couples deal with the fallout.

12. How many women say cheating is wrong?
Whether you believe cheating is a no-no is influenced by gender. Women, for the most part, tend to feel strongly about infidelity and 84% agree that it's wrong if you're married.

13. How many men share that sentiment?
Men, on the other hand, approach the issue with a slightly different attitude. Around 78% say that it's not okay for married spouses to have a romance on the side.

14. How often does infidelity result in divorce?
The divorce rate in the U.S. hovers somewhere around 40 to 50% but oddly enough, only about 15% of marriages break up because of infidelity. Research shows that "unreasonable behavior" accounts for about half of all divorces.

15. How many people consider emotional affairs cheating?
Approximately 60% of adults say they would consider it cheating if their partner entered into an emotional relationship with someone else. Only 18% said that it wasn't the same thing as a physical affair.

16. How often do people cheat with a former sweetheart?
Running into an old flame can be trouble. In one study, 32% of women say it led to an affair. Only 21% of men say they've cheated with an ex.

17. How many people say they'd cheat as a form of revenge?
That old saying about a woman scorned has some weight when it comes to cheating. One study found that 14% of women would have a revenge affair to get back at an unfaithful spouse while just 9% of men agreed.

INSIDE THE TYPICAL AFFAIR

Affairs are often glamorized in films and on TV, but the reality tends to be a lot different. We were curious about what goes on behind closed doors when someone is unfaithful, and what we found was surprising.

18. At what point do most affairs begin?
If you're recently married, forget about the seven-year itch. It's around the 2-year mark when your relationship is most at risk for an affair.

19. How long does the average affair last?
While some infidelities may only last one night, others can drag on for years. The average affair, however, usually lasts about 6 months before finally fizzling out.

20. How many people believe business trips lead to cheating?
If your spouse travels frequently for work, whether or not they're being faithful may cross your mind a time or two. In one survey, 66% of men and women said they worry about their significant other cheating while they're on a business trip.

21. How many people actually cheat at work?
All those people who are worried about their spouses cheating on the job may have good reason to fret. Research suggests that more than 60% of affairs begin at work.

22. How many affairs start online?
Online dating is more popular than ever; the Internet is a breeding ground for people who are looking to start an affair. More than 10% of cheaters say they met the person they were hooking up with in cyberspace.

23. What's the average cost of having an affair?
Bankrolling your basic, run-of-the-mill affair doesn't come cheap. One survey found that cheaters spend an average of $444 a month, financing their extramarital dalliances. Surprisingly, only 32% said their spouses had noticed the added expenditures.

FINAL WORD

Finding out that the person you love has been carrying on a relationship with someone else is nothing short of heartbreaking. But have faith: The statistics we found suggest that it may not occur as much as people think, which is good news if you're worried about your significant other having a wandering eye.

Sources and References:

More from CreditDonkey:

Infographic: Love and Marriage

Marriage Statistics

Infographics: Financial Infidelity by the Numbers

Financial Infidelity: Marriage and Money


Money and Relationship Statistics

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