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The Facts of Infidelity
Part 5: Why Do People Cheat

There are a number of reasons people stray from marriages and other committed relationships. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of several of them.

What causes or enables cheating?

Polyamory: Romantically loving more than one person at a time

And when it comes to cheating for emotional reasons, or becoming emotionally involved in something that started out as just a fling, for both men and women it is possible to have feelings for more than one person at a time. For most, it is pragmatically difficult to actually truly romantically love more than one person at time, but it is possible. It is called polyamory.

New technology is enabling more cheating

Then there is technology and the multitude of new forms of communication it presents. Between email, texting, chat room and now social media sites like Facebook, a straying spouse has at his or her disposal a plethora of ways to communicate with another lover, plan discrete encounters and more, while their spouse remains in the dark about it. In fact, there are even entire websites that exist for the sole purpose of people finding other people to have affairs with.

Cheating as rebellion

Children who are raised with strict rules against sexual offenses often grow up with a desire for the “forbidden fruit”. They can also become the most moralistic adults in an effort to keep temper their own desires for those same sexual acts forbidden them as youth. Some say this explains the growing number of high profile religious figures busted while secretly indulging in the same acts they urge other to resist. As an example, Utah has been noted as being the state with highest number of Internet searches for the term “hot girls”.

Workplace Affairs

With more women entering the workforce, the chance for male and females coworkers to get involved in inappropriate personal relationships is increasing. Here are some statistics on office romances.

  • People who work outside the home while their spouses remain in the home also show higher rates of extramarital sexual involvement (Atkins et al., 2001). This is likely due to the fact that the work environment provides the opportunity and time to get to know coworkers more. (Treas & Giesen, 2000).
  • In clinical samples, 46% to 62% of individuals reported that they met their extramarital sexual partner at work (Glass, 2003; Wiggins & Lederer, 1984).
  • The likelihood of extramarital involvement at work is also related to the degree to which the job involves touching clients, discussing personal concerns with colleagues or clients, or working alone with co-workers (Treas & Giesen, 2000).

Reasons for Cheating

“Very Happy” vs “Pretty Happy” or “Not Too Happy”

Respondents who reported that their relationships were “pretty happy” and “not too happy” were two and four times more likely, respectively, to have reported extramarital sex than respondents who reported that they were “very happy” with their relationships (Atkins et al., 2001).

Cheating is not just physical. It is often emotional

Initially, the decision to cheat is rarely rational or premeditated, and affairs don’t always start off physical. For women especially, they generally start off emotionally. They cheat emotionally on their husbands before physically. In some cases, a wife may never actually have sex with a man other than her husband, but emotionally, she is a cheater nonetheless.

Many people feel they married the wrong person

Unfortunately, many people believe they did not marry the right person, and they find a more suitable mate than their husband or wife after they’re already married.

Monogamy is difficult for humans

There is evidence that suggests that long-term monogamy is difficult for humans to maintain, but not impossible. (Barash and Lipton).

Married people and their fantasies

Almost every married person admits to having fantasies that involve someone other than their spouse (Hicks and Leitenberg).

Now that we’ve covered several reasons why people cheat, in Part 6 we’ll discuss the factor that social roles play in infidelity.

Contact Tim D. Wilson Investigations

To learn more about Tim D. Wilson Investigations and how we can provide the help and support you need, visit us online  or call us at (713) 956-1111.

Other articles in our infidelity series:


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