A recent survey found 22% of participants admitted to cheating on a partner at some point. But beyond this overall statistic, there are revealing patterns in who tends to be unfaithful. Understanding these infidelity demographics provides insight into a complex social issue impacting millions of couples.
Key Factors That Influence Cheating
While individual circumstances play a role, researchers have identified several factors that make someone statistically more likely to cheat:
Gender – Men still cheat at higher rates than women, but the gap is narrowing.
Age – Midlife seems to be a prime danger zone for affairs.
Opportunity – Travel, alcohol use, and peer pressure enable infidelity.
Marital Happiness – Lack of intimacy and communication with a spouse increases cheating risk.
Religious Devotion – Strong faith correlates with reduced infidelity rates.
Cultural Values – Collectivist cultures discourage cheating more than individualistic ones.
Now let‘s delve deeper into recent data on how gender, age, relationship status and other demographics relate to infidelity rates today.
Cheating by Gender
The stereotype of men as more prone to cheat holds some truth, though the gap between genders is shrinking.
20% of men vs. 13% of women admitted to having an affair, according to the 2018 General Social Survey – one of the most comprehensive polls of US adults.
However, the number of cheating wives increased by 40% over the past decade according to UK dating site IllicitEncounters.com. More financial independence enables women to cheat.
"While still higher, the rate of male infidelity has decreased in recent decades as gender roles shift and women gain more power in relationships," explains relationship therapist Dr. Anita Chandra.
Why the persistence in higher cheating among men? Experts point to factors like:
Biology – Men‘s higher testosterone drives sexual variety seeking more than women.
Culture – Men face more peer pressure to "sow wild oats" and have something to brag about.
Opportunity – Higher ranking work positions provide more chances for affairs.
But it‘s a complex picture, as Chandra notes: "Assumptions should not be made about an individual‘s likelihood to cheat based solely on gender. Relationship dynamics and satisfaction are major factors."
Infidelity Across Age Groups
Data reveals interesting patterns in who is more likely to cheat at different life stages:
Teens & Young Adults
- 24% of those aged 18-29 admit to infidelity.
30s & 40s
- 38% of those aged 40-49 have cheated.
- Workplace affairs peak in this career-building stage of life.
50s & 60s
- 24% aged 60-69 admit infidelity.
- Men in this age group (26% cheated) are nearly twice as likely as women (14%).
- 26% of men over 70 admit affairs, compared to just 6% of women.
- Retirement and Viagra may increase opportunity and sex drive.
"Midlife seems to be a danger zone for affairs, likely due to waning vitality in long-term relationships and a desire to feel young again," says infidelity researcher Dr. Scott Haltzman.
Cheating Based on Marital Status
Married people account for a sizable share of cheaters:
Around 16% of married adults under 55 admit to adultery at some point in their marriage.
56% of married men who cheated still claim to be happy in their marriage.
For 34% of cheating wives, infidelity is not due to marital dissatisfaction.
Unmarried But Partnered
- Cheating in live-in relationships is even more common, occurring among around 22% of cohabiting couples per major studies.
This highlights that marriage itself does not prevent infidelity. “In fact, the closeness and availability of a spouse can sometimes drive people to cheat,” says therapist Dr. Tammy Nelson.
The workplace provides a prime environment for emotional and physical affairs:
Up to 60% of affairs start at work, fueled by close contact and bonding over career interests.
30% of physical affairs are with a colleague, according to the Journal of Marital & Family Therapy.
Certain professions like medicine, policing, and education show higher rates of workplace infidelity.
"Banning relationships between colleagues is unrealistic," says corporate ethics expert Tyrone Payne. "Instead, companies need to foster a climate of integrity through policies, training and leading by example."
Coping with Betrayal
Recovering from infidelity is challenging but possible. Steps partners can take include:
Seek counseling to understand the roots of infidelity and rebuild trust.
Practice self-care through exercise, hobbies and leaning on friends. Don‘t neglect emotional needs.
Communicate openly and honestly about feelings and relationship issues.
Consider relationship "check-ups" to keep intimacy alive and prevent future affairs.
While infidelity demographics highlight trends, it‘s unwise to stereotype groups as more prone to cheat based on gender, age or other factors. Each instance involves unique circumstances and relationship challenges. If cheating does occur, compassion and hard work from both partners can mend even seemingly irreparable damage.