Cheating can be a catalyst for Relationship Improvement
Cheating might feel like it’s everywhere, but experts have a hard time pinpointing exactly how many people cheat. It makes sense that nobody wants to be honest and own up to the fact that they do it.
“The general belief is that if a person is lying to their partner, why wouldn’t they also lie to a researcher?” says Anita Chlipala, LMFT, a dating and relationships expert. One expert we spoke to, estimated that 25% of men and 14% of women cheat in a lifetime; another said they thought it was between 20-60% of couples in a lifetime.
So it’s hard to say at this point how much it happens. Not to mention, most studies are done on heterosexual couples, so there’s a big subset of the population that’s not even being included in those estimates.
Definition of Cheating
Cheating also encompasses a spectrum of behaviors, and every couple has different definitions for what cheating really entails.
Open relationships, or sex outside of an otherwise monogamous relationship with the consent of both partners, is not cheating — by definition, cheating involves lying. Chlipala suspects that the number of people who cheat might actually be growing because of these flimsy definitions.
“One of the prime reasons why people cheat is because of opportunity and circumstance,” she says. “Now, people have access to dating apps, or they can reconnect with an old flame on Facebook. Some people are surprised that emotional cheating is actually a thing.” Many cheating scenarios start innocently and spiral, she adds. One survey found that 76% of women thought it was cheating to send flirty texts, compared to 59% of men.
Here’s a way to open the subject with your partner 🙂
Invite them to accompany you to this award-winning movie which is followed by a discussion with the producer, local actor Ben Mortley and two relationship counsellors, including myself Francess Day 🙂
It’s a topic every couple should be able to have a light-hearted conversation about.
What we do know is that socioeconomic background matters, and affluent men are more likely to cheat, but the reverse is true for women, says Andrea Bonior, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships.
Chlipala says that she thinks infidelity can be contagious, and you’re more likely to do it if people around you are. In fact, research suggests that divorce could be contagious, so it’s not far-fetched to think affairs could work the same way.
“We derive social norms from looking around, so it’s reasonable that a group of friends who are being unfaithful to spouses would be more likely to consider that,” Bonior says. Even though your infidelity threshold could change, she adds that “norms are a powerful thing,” so you have to be careful about what you consider acceptable behavior.
Breathe a sigh of Relief
So, whether or not infidelity is actually a “part of life” for everyone, it’s pretty clear that the statistics aren’t quite there to back up that claim. We might have some insight into factors that affect someone’s likelihood to cheat, but it’s definitely not true or worth it to say that cheating is the norm — because, as far as we know, it’s not.