Surveys looking at the rates at which men and women cheat on their romantic partners…
Age, Personality Type Predict Risk for an Extramarital Affair
Are you the type of person to have an affair? Is there even a “type” of person who is more likely to cheat on a partner? Well, the answer appears to be a little bit yes and a little bit no. Here are a few of the factors that make someone statistically more likely to engage in infidelity, some of which have to do with who you are and some of which have to do with where you are in your life or your relationship.
Gender and Personality
First, the bad news. Some of the things that make us statistically more likely to cheat are simply born with us. For one, being male makes you more likely to have an affair. Most of the data shows that men cheat at about twice the rate that women cheat, although research also suggests that women have been steadily closing the gap in recent decades.
Certain personality traits also make a person statistically more likely to cheat. Low scores on two of the “Big Five” personality traits are common to a strong majority of cheaters: agreeableness and conscientiousness. Other traits not considered to be part of the “Big Five” have also been associated with infidelity, including narcissism, thrill-seeking and overall avoidant personalities.
Age Can Predict Likelihood of Infidelity
Another factor that we simply can’t help is our age. The bad news is that we are apparently much more likely to cheat when we reach specific ages or certain larger age groups. The good news is, of course, that our age changes every year.
Overall, people between the ages of 35 and 50 are the least likely to cheat, because these tend to be the ages we are most heavily focused on pursuing our careers and raising children. If you are outside this broad age group, you may be more likely to commit infidelity.
One recent study also found that people are more likely to cheat before milestone birthdays. Specifically, the year before entering a new decade (i.e., 29, 39, 49, etc.) is a major danger zone for cheating. This trend is almost certainly due to the anxiety that many people experience upon reaching these milestone birthdays and related concerns that they are too old, are no longer attractive or have lost the variety and excitement that their lives once had.
Opportunity, History and Relationship Satisfaction
Now for the risk factors over which we can exercise much more control. The first of these factors that make people more likely to cheat is simply opportunity. Contrary to what many people believe, cheaters don’t always set out to have an affair. Frequently, the opportunity simply falls into their laps, at which point they can choose to take or ignore said opportunity. Frequent travel, long work hours and even living in densely populated areas make it much more likely that the chance to cheat will come your way.
History is also a factor, and yes, people who have cheated in the past are more likely to cheat in the future. Nevertheless, you still have control over the decision to be unfaithful, just as you did the first time around. If anything, being aware of the statistics may help you to stay self-aware and resist the temptation to cheat again.
Finally, relationship satisfaction definitely plays a role in who cheats. While a surprising number of people cheat despite reporting that they are happy in their relationships, people who are unsatisfied are still statistically more likely to cheat. If you are unhappy in your relationship, cheating is not the best solution. Recognize the risk and work to fix what’s wrong or break it off before you fall into the cheating trap.