3 Important Facts About Affairs

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Infidelity is not a rare phenomenon. It’s one of the most prevalent issues impacting marriages and committed relationships regardless of race, religion, cultural background, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. The reason I wrote this post is to show you some of the mind-blowing statistics about the true impact of this problem and our susceptibility to it. These numbers came from a recent study that was published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. There are three main points that I want to convey to you through sharing this data.

Fact # 1: Infidelity Is More Common than You Think

In 41% of marriages, one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional.

57% of men and 54% of women admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had.

74% of men and 68% of women say that they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught.

This is a large number of the population in which one or both partners have committed acts of infidelity or are actively thinking about it but not acting on it due to the fear of consequences. Keep in mind that this estimate might actually be higher due to people’s tendency to not disclose such sensitive information.

This number shows that we are all susceptible to infidelity. This means that good people make bad choices, because the only other alternative explanation to this high number is that more than half of the population is a barrel of rotten apples, which is a very unlikely possibility. This number also proves that there are many people who are currently unsatisfied in their relationship, but find it easier to cheat instead of addressing and treating the individual and relationship problems that are contributing to their dissatisfaction.

It’s noteworthy to mention that recent advances in technology have made it easier for people to cheat. Nowadays, we have social media, dating apps, and websites that are specifically designed for people who are unhappy in their relationships and looking for likeminded individuals who are interested in engaging in affairs. Keep in mind that infidelity should not be blamed on the advances in technology. The desire and motivation to cheat has always existed throughout the ages It’s just that the new advances in technology make it easier to act on those impulses.

What Are Some of the Factors that Make Some People More Vulnerable and Susceptible to Infidelity?

The factors that make some people more susceptible to cheating reflect the actual causes and driving motivations behind the act of infidelity, which we will discuss in more detail in later chapters. The most common factor shared by all couples dealing with infidelity is the lack of mastery of one or more of the following skills: ability to asses needs of self and partner, ability to communicate effectively about those needs, ability to make necessary compromises to meet those needs, and the ability to adapt to life stressors and changes that may get in the way of meeting those needs. The lack of mastery in one or more of these skills is the cause of the majority of relationship problems. Keep in mind that observing the lack of these skills in you and your partner does not mean that an affair already took place; it simply means that you are at a high risk for inviting infidelity into your life.

Fact #2: A Large Number of Affairs Are Born in the Workplace

36% of men and women admit to having an affair with a co-worker.

35% of men and women admit to infidelity on business trips.

It’s very common for individuals to have affairs with co-workers. Think about it, we spend more time with co-workers than we do with our family. Not only is the quantity of time higher, but we also work with them in a team oriented environment in which we share certain responsibilities and tasks. The team environment often requires the development of a strong emotional bond since we are engaged in some sort of a professional partnership to perform our occupational duties. You hear people joke about the concept of a work spouse. That joke becomes a reality when people blur the lines of professional and emotional bonds. This is especially true when you have two individuals who are unsatisfied with their current relationship at home and have shared that dissatisfaction with one another. This allows the coworkers to over identify with each other’s struggles which, in return, causes them to play the nurturing, supportive role that should be exclusively reserved for their spouse. This leads to a situation in which the co-worker becomes a surrogate spouse. Furthermore, having a job that requires travel on business trips makes it easier and more tempting for individuals to cross those boundaries with their co-workers or seek affairs in faraway places without raising suspicion of the partner who assumes that the unfaithful is working.

Fact #3: Many Couples Are Able to Survive Infidelity and Manage to Rebuild Their Relationship

31% of marriages last after an affair has been admitted to or discovered.

This is a very optimistic number, especially when considering that infidelity is one of the most hurtful acts one can commit in a relationship. What is impressive about this number is if you ask anyone on the street whether or not they can forgive acts of infidelity, you will find an overwhelming majority say no. This mirrors what I often hear my clients say: “I never thought that I would consider forgiving anyone who cheats on me, but now that it happened, I am not sure anymore.” This uncertainty is not a reflection of weakness or lack of respect to self; it’s a reflection of the fact that relationships cannot be defined by single acts of selfishness, regardless of the ugliness of those acts. The truth of the matter is that despite the pain experienced by the betrayed, sometimes they are able to see the goodness of their partner and are able to remember a time when the relationship was amazing before it was tainted by the act of infidelity. This is especially true if the relationship had a strong foundation prior to the onset of the factors that created the right environment for the affair.

Published in Personal, Relationship, Sex Therapy
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