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The Facts of Infidelity
Part 2: Who Is Cheating?

In this article, we’ll share an overview of statistics on cheaters, broken down by a variety of categories.

How many people are cheating?

Up to 60% of married people cheat.

30 to 60% of all married people in the United States will commit adultery at some point in their marriage. (Buss and Shackelford). With such high cheating rates, it is wonder that in this country the divorce rate is over 50%.

94% of married men and women had only one sex partner (their spouse) in the past 12 months, 4% had 2-4 partners, and 1% had over 5 partners (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).

Who is cheating the most?

The National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey is the oldest continuous source of data on American behavior. Over the past 40 years, the survey finds that following are most likely to report extramarital affairs:

  • By Gender: Men
  • By Age: Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964)
  • By profession: Executive and managers
  • By region: Southerners
  • By race: African-Americans

Cheating by age

Baby Boomers (ages 49-66):
Males: 29%
Females: 16%

Generations X and Y (ages 18-48):
Males: 20%
Females: 15%

People under 30 are cheating more: Adultery is becoming increasingly common among those under 30. Experts believe this increase in due to married couples in that age range spending greater amounts of time away from their spouses, thus creating a greater opportunity to cheat, as well as young adults becoming more promiscuous before marriage. Multiple sex partners has become culturally accepted, and in some cases, even celebrated. This makes it more difficult for young adults to transition into monogamy.

Cheating among college students

While they are not as likely to be married, for college students, there are four key predictors for cheating in a committed, sexual relationship:

  1. The number of pervious sexual partners
  2. Level of dysfunctional impulsivity
  3. Satisfaction with current relationship
  4. Quality of relationship alternatives (this was the strongest predictor)

The study also concluded that men reported a greater inclination to engage in extradyadic sex than females, although no significant effect of gender was found in the prediction of extradyadic kissing inclination.

Other social and demographic factors:

The following were associated with an increased risk of infidelity:

  • Having been part of a couple for a long time
  • Having had a high number of prior sex partners
  • Being male
  • Living in a central city
  • Thinking about sex several times a day

Relationship history plays a big part

  • Divorce: Divorcees and those who have separated are twice as likely to cheat: For men it’s 28% vs. 14%. For women it’s 19% vs. 7%.
  • Previous promiscuity: The previous number of sexual partners is also highly predictive for both men and women: The more sexually active the person has been prior to marriage, the more likely they are to cheat while married.

In part 3, we’ll go into more details about Men and Cheating, and you may be surprised by some of the findings.

Contact Tim D. Wilson Investigations

To learn more about Tim D. Wilson Investigations and how we can provide the help and support you need, visit us online or call us at (713) 956-1111.

Other articles in our infidelity series:


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