Is Infidelity an Epidemic?


We would all like to think that we have a safe and happy marriage and that our spouse would never cheat. The scary fact is that statistics show infidelity is more likely than ever. Does this mean it has reached epidemic proportions? And if it has, what are the causes and consequences? There are no hard and fast answers to these questions, but researchers and journalists are attempting to answer them. Here’s what they say about it.

Infidelity: The Statistics

The problem with statistics on cheating is that they tend to be all over the map. In a series written by a U.K. journalist, the incidence of infidelity in both the U.S. and Britain is stated to be epidemic. The Internet and mobile devices, according to the story, have allowed men and women alike the opportunities to cheat more than ever before. The journalist admits that facts are variable, but finds that 25 percent to 70 percent of women have cheated. The figure for men stands at 40 percent to 80 percent. In an American study, infidelity rates were found to be as high as 70 percent.

Other sources of statistics are less alarming. A review of research on cheating found that most men and women (up to 80 percent) deny ever having an affair. Most of the numbers in the review came from studies that asked men and women to self-report cheating. This type of data gathering is always flawed. Participants were asked if they had cheated any time in the last year. According to this question, cheating rates are as low as 6 percent. However, when taken over the course of an entire relationship,the likelihood of one partner having an affair could be as high as 25 percent.

Infidelity: Causes and Consequences

Whether or not infidelity has reached epidemic proportions is uncertain. Statistics are contradictory, but the fact that many add up to big numbers tells us that infidelity is not a minor issue. Why are we seeing more cheating? It may be that technology has allowed us to do it more easily and with a smaller chance of getting caught. With the rise in popularity of social media sites, many people are able to connect,sometimes with lovers from their past.

Other experts cite the changing attitudes about marriage. The idea is that we have come to depend too much on our marriages and our spouses. We expect this relationship to provide us with everything we need and our sense of individuality has gotten lost. We rely on our partner to be a best friend, a partner in parenting, a perfect lover and an intellectual equal. A healthy relationship is one in which each partner can go outside of the marriage to have certain needs met. This could mean spending more time with friends or even just engaging in certain activities and hobbies alone.

The consequences of infidelity are highly personal, but some experts think we should also consider the societal consequences. Higher rates of infidelity may be a gauge for how happy or unhappy we are as a society. Some would say that monogamy just isn’t for everyone and that we shouldn’t expect it, while others argue that cheating coincides with low marriage rates and high divorce rates, all of which spell doom for civilized society. It’s hard to come up with answers to all of the questions about infidelity in society at large. It’s easier to deal with it on a personal level. Cheating is still highly personal and an issue that many people and relationships go through.

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