After polling over 100,000 people, Chrisanna Northrup published extensive research on infidelity in her book The Normal Bar. Her findings explored not only the prevalence of cheating, but also perhaps more interestingly, she learned the situations that were most likely to encourage committed partners to stray.
- The Business Trip
For frequent travelers, life on the road comes with loneliness and stress—two circumstances that make meeting a beautiful stranger a welcome distraction.
36% of men and 13% of women admitted to cheating on a business trip. Respondents claimed that the sexual liaison was just too enticing to pass up, even if they had a robust sex life at home. Researchers concluded that the infidelity was related to sex, but also with the thrill of being wanted sexually and being able to engage and get away with it.
How long into a relationship is the business affair most likely to happen? 6-9 years.
- An ex
Even though the relationship maybe over, the feelings can still exist—especially for women. 32% of women admitted to having a fling with an ex or old interest, compared to 21% of men. Those who cheated with an ex reported a satisfying sex life at home; however, the forbidden nature of sleeping with someone who still holds emotional connectivity proved tempting.
How long into a relationship is an ex most likely to tempt? 2-5 years.
- Boredom in the bedroom
A mundane sex life is a big reason men and women entertain the idea of getting their needs meet elsewhere. 71% of men and 49% of women cheated after claiming boredom in the bedroom. Often times, people cheat because they are ashamed of their bedroom preferences. In an effort to avoid the conversation, people will suppress their desire and ultimately engage in an affair later to indulge it or, unfairly, project the shame onto their partner.
- Revenge infidelity
After a partner cheated, 9% of men and 14% of women admitted to cheating for revenge.
- An inability to be monogamous
Despite entering a committed relationship, many people just can’t dismiss the urge to cheat. 46% of men and 19% of women who strayed and were asked why said, “I just can’t help myself.”
But are there reasons people cheat that are beyond their control?
We are ultimately responsible for our decisions, but some factors can certainly cloud our better judgment. After meeting someone interesting and attractive, the brain produces a surge of dopamine. The dopamine rush triggers an intense, addictive euphoria—a euphoria that leaves us begging for more, even if it’s outside of the confines of our relationship.
There could also be a genetic propensity for cheating. In one study, researchers surveyed 294 participants and discovered that those who had at least one parent cheat were twice as likely to cheat as the participants who had parents who maintained committed relationships.
Is there hope after infidelity?
Ironically, affairs don’t necessarily indicate a broken marriage. Although difficult, one of the biggest hurdles to getting the relationship back on track is working through the “victim/perpetrator” mentality. According to Dr. Joe Kurt, Ph.D., LMSW, the betrayed partner can start thinking that because he or she was cheated on, it’s up to the cheater to make everything right again. This blame-focused approach will ultimately sabotage any chance at reconciliation.
The best hope for a couple is to talk through the cheating—both the cheater’s experience and the injured partner’s response—in the presence of a counselor or therapist. Together, they can figure out the best ways to rebuild trust and demonstrate transparency.