Infidelity Statistics: Shedding Light on the Realities of Cheating

Updated July 15, 2021
Upset couple sitting in bedroom

Relationships are complicated; and the standards that people hold themselves to in relationships in the 21st century are ever-changing. Marriage, monogamy, and infidelity have taken different shapes than their historic predecessors, leaving people with the opportunity to determine what they individually think fidelity in a relationship means. Take a look at people's experiences with infidelity around the world and see how your own expectations on the subject match up to its realities.

Perceptions of Infidelity

With the arrival of conscious nonmonogamous relationships and polyamory, the cultural definition of infidelity is changing. One study performed by YouGov in 2016 showed that a little over 30% of adults between the ages of 18-44 wouldn't be opposed to starting an open relationship. Certainly, the vast majority of people around the world still believe that infidelity describes the physical or emotional betrayal of a person to their partner with a separate individual. Let's take a look at how infidelity is perceived on a global scale:

Global Ideologies on Infidelity

According to one Pew Research Center study, the top ten countries in which people consider extramarital affairs to be 'unacceptable' are:

  1. Turkey
  2. Palestinian Territories
  3. Egypt
  4. Jordan
  5. Indonesia
  6. Lebanon
  7. Pakistan
  8. Philippines
  9. Tunisia
  10. Malaysia

However, it's vital to note that the cultural and legal conditions of these regions are much different from the west, and in many of these countries, people who engage in extramarital affairs can be given criminal sentences that require them to pay fines or serve jail-time. For example, the Philippines and Indonesia have extremely strict legal ramifications surrounding adultery and infidelity. Similarly, several of these countries are largely Muslim, who have their own cultural practices and expectations surrounding infidelity.

Thus, while global statistics like these are accurately curated, they don't paint an appropriate picture of the moral conditioning that contributes to the responses from their pool of volunteers. For instance, a person would not admit to the appropriateness of infidelity, even if they had committed it at some point in their life, if they faced potential jail-time over the act.

General Social Survey Results

A rather comprehensive view of American infidelity in the 21st century comes from the General Social Survey, which involved interviewing couples who had been married between 2010-2016. Their findings are rather interesting, positing that infidelity actually increases with both men and women during their middle ages, though people younger than 30 and older than 70 are less likely than these middle ages to dissolve their marriages when an affair occurs. This can be partially attributed to the instability that many people face in the early adulthood and older years, compelling them to prioritize security over faithfulness.

Similarly, it seems that of people who were married and cheated on their spouse, only fifty 50% of them are still married, in comparison to 76% of those who never cheated on their spouses and are still married. Additionally, there does appear to be a confirmation of the rumor that men cheat more than women, given that 20% of the men surveyed reported that they had cheated on their spouse while they were married, with only 13% of women stating the same.

Interesting Infidelity Statistics

Health Testing Centers Reports

Another significant and recent study was conducted by the Health Testing Centers, which interviewed 441 individuals about their cheating history. Some of the information that was revealed from the study includes:

  • People in marriages wait longer than those in relationships to admit to their infidelities, with 52.4% of people in relationships saying they'd confess within a week in comparison to only 29.2% of those in marriages saying they'd confess within a week. Meanwhile, 47.9% of people in marriages said that they'd confess within 6 months or longer with only 20.4% of those within a relationship who admitted to the same.
  • You've got a 50/50 chance of breaking up after you admit that you've cheated, as 54.5% of people surveyed reported that after they confessed, their relationship immediately dissolved.
  • The reasons that people were compelled to confess are generally moral ones: 47% said that they felt they had to confess because of guilt, while a lack of happiness in the relationship and the partner's obligation to know were close second and third reasons.
  • People are much more likely to admit to past affairs than they are to current ones, as 76% people admitted to their new partners of past infidelities, but only 24% admitted to the person they cheated on that they cheated on them.

Inconclusive Data About LGBTQ Infidelity

As it currently stands, there isn't any easily accessible data regarding infidelity on a national or international sampling for the LGBTQ+ community. The most recent data comes from 2012, with a sampling number that amounts to only 5% of the total number of people surveyed. Not only does this prove that researchers have thus far been largely interested in cataloging heterosexual infidelity, but it also indicates that there needs to be more concrete surveys completed within the LGBTQ+ community to better understand their atypical relationships and marriage conventions, as based on what western society dictates is 'normal.'

Infidelity Is Difficult to Calculate

Ultimately, all the statistical information that you can find on infidelity proves that the subject is very difficult to track given the moral standards that countries have put in place, the changing definitions of fidelity and marriage conventions in the current cultural climate, and the fact that studies rely on people being entirely honest about an act that has significant religious and social taboos associated with it. However, there is still facinating information for you to find about infidelity; as this is an incredibly exciting time to witness so many major social changes happening in such a short period of time.

Infidelity Statistics: Shedding Light on the Realities of Cheating