Simply thinking about infidelity can make the most reassured partners feel a little anxiety. Heck, I've felt personally threatened by studies about affairs even when I was 100 percent single. It's a tough topic, but learning more about the surprising differences between female and male cheaters is wise for anyone. It's good info to have on hand for current or future relationships alike.
That said, infidelity is notoriously difficult to study, because so many people would be inclined to lie about it. If the affair was a secret, why would the cheater admit this to a stranger? And to make matters even more confusing, every person has a unique idea of what constitutes cheating. For a couple in an open relationship, for instance, having sex with other people is fine. For another couple, hugging another person for too long may be off-limits. Really, cheating is a tricky topic to study.
That said, there do seem to be differences in the way males and females cheat in relationships. And although some of these findings are so stereotypical you'll want to roll your eyes, there are some surprising trends as well. Read on to see how cheaters may differ in the world today.
1Males May Cheat Around Milestone Birthdays
Some people celebrate the beginning of their 30s, 40s, or 50s by running a marathon or throwing a big party. Others cheat. As it turns out, males who are on the edge of a milestone birthday are more likely to seek an affair, according to a 2014 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Females on the edge of a new decade also show an increased tendency to cheat, although to a much lesser degree.
2"Hotness" Matters Most For Males
How much do looks really matter? Both American and European males cited the other person's hotness as a top reason for cheating, according to a survey of over 2,000 people from Superdrug. Females, meanwhile, cited a lack of attention from the current partner as a top reason for cheating.
3Loneliness Drives Female Cheaters
It looks like a need for togetherness tends to drive female cheating. "Your typical cheating woman isn’t driven by arrogance, ego or lust, but by a sense of loneliness, thanks to a lack of satisfaction in her marriage," said Christian Grant, spokesperson for IllicitEncounters.com, in The New York Post. The site pulled information from over 10,000 profiles to determine traits that are most common among people who cheat (at least among users for that particular site).
4Females Are Cheating More Often Now
Even cheating changes with the times. In fact, the rate of married females who admit to cheating has increased by 40 percent since 1990, according to Esther Perel, author of State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, in CNN. The rate for males has remained unchanged.
5Males Cheat More Overall
In general, 20 percent of males reported having sex with someone other than a spouse, compared to 13 percent of females, as data from the General Social Survey was reported in IFS. The split is much more pronounced for older generations, and married females ages 18 to 29 are actually more likely than males to cheat, as the data further revealed.
6Wealth May Encourage Males To Cheat
Sure, the fact that rich people cheat is hardly news. But as it turns out, straight males who believe they're more loaded than peers may feel more inclined to cheat on romantic partners, according to a 2016 study in Frontiers in Psychology. Simply believing in their own relative wealth was enough to make these males appear more entitled to cheating.
7Females Feel Worse About Emotional Cheating
Although males tended to feel worse about sexual infidelity, females reportedly felt guiltier about emotional infidelity, according to Live Science. Although the exact reasons for this finding are not entirely known, it does show that emotional fidelity is often an important part of relationships for females. Of course, how this or any other potential sign of cheating plays out in daily life depends heavily on the couple involved.
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