Infidelity can be defined very differently depending on who you ask. While
some may define infidelity narrowly as sexual intercourse with an individual
who is not your spouse, others see it more broadly, including sexual activities
and/or emotional entanglement.
So how exactly should people be defining infidelity? To put it simply,
if you break the rules of sexual or emotional intimacy and commitment
within your relationship, it is considered infidelity. Your relationship
may have much different rules than your co-worker or friend’s relationship
does, so you shouldn’t define infidelity on their standards.
However, when it comes down to it, most people see sexual intercourse as
the main issue of infidelity. A majority of studies done over the last
few years have shown that 1 in 5 and 1 in 4 married people will admit
to having sexual intercourse with an individual who is not their spouse
during marriage. Experts also say that nearly everyone has thought about
or fantasied about cheating, whether it be harmless flirting with a co-worker
or dreaming about Brad Pitt. Does this mean that everyone is at risk for
having an affair? Not exactly.
Determining whether you or a spouse are truly at risk for cheating can
be challenging, but examining the five factors below can help give you
1. Transition Phase in Life
The year before a major milestone age often signals a serious change for
people, making them more prone to infidelity. According to research, there
is a roughly 10-year cycle for this vulnerability, with individuals at
the ages of 29, 39, 49, and 59 being more likely to cheat on their partner
or spouse. Many studies also show that the middle years require individuals
to be more focused on careers and families, while the younger and older
years leave more room and opportunity for affairs.
2. History of Infidelity
Those that have cheated in the past on a partner or spouse could be at
a higher risk of having an affair. However, researchers say this depends
on what the previous affair was based on—the individual or the relationship.
If it was about the individual’s dissatisfaction and not the relationships
failings, then they are more likely to cheat again.
3. Satisfaction Level Within the Relationship
When an individual is not satisfied with their relationship, it is much
easier to fall into having an affair. Relationship dissatisfaction is
a major factor in infidelity. Comparatively speaking, men are more prone
to act on sexual dissatisfaction while women are more likely to act on
emotional dissatisfaction. Similarly, women are more hurt by their partner
engaging in an emotional-style affair while men are more hurt by a sexual one.
4. Opportunity for Affair
Without the clear opportunity for an affair to occur, individuals are much
less likely to engage in one. When a person works with attractive co-workers
or travels frequently for work or leisure and is around compatible individuals,
it creates more opportunity. However, there doesn’t always have
to be “unintended opportunity.” While a majority of people
don’t seek out infidelity without having an alternative partner
in mind, there are some websites and resources that now make finding this
“opportunity” easier to find.
5. Thrill Seeker, Narcissist, or Avoidant?
Individuals who are extreme thrill seekers or love excitement may be more
prone to engaging in an affair. This secret, “forbidden” relationship
is often used to satisfy the craving for an extreme thrill. Similarly,
individuals who are narcissistic (have a high view of themselves) or are
avoidant (afraid of committing) can be at a greater risk for cheating.
Have you or your spouse struggled with infidelity? In need of compassionate
mediation as you seek to restore or
dissolve your marriage?
Call Center for Mediated Divorce for counsel and guidance during this time.